Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Getting Away

A couple of months ago, I started taking a screenwriting course. I felt I could use a refresher, I was looking forward to writing with a deadline, and I wanted to root out a general sense of irresponsibility in my writing. It's something I didn't realize at the time, but I wrote as though I was someone who didn't have to care about the end result. In a way, I didn't.

Thus far, and with only a month left to go, I've received from the class all those things. One thing that has struck me though, one thing that I didn't expect, is how much my writing has changed since the last time I took it seriously, almost two years ago, around the time I graduated from college. It comes off as subtle, I'm sure, and to use a cliche, I think it's clear that I've matured as a writer. Example? Well, two years ago, it was difficult for me to inject comedy into my work. It would always pop up as a backlash, as a way to stick it to the faculty and students that didn't appreciate the weight of my drama. Now it seems I've come to understand the world (maybe?) as comedic, if only in the Checkhovian sense. There's also an appreciation and humanity toward my characters that has made them much more three dimensional than I could have managed while in the halls of the DDW.

I got to wondering what exactly might have caused this change, and I don't have any kind of concrete answer. Time? Growing up? The break I took from writing? Maybe. When I was studying acting, there was a scene study class where I got into a verbal altercation with my teacher. She was giving me notes, I was stating my case, we each had monumental egos, and we weren't listening to each other at all. Needless to say, we ended up apologizing to each other the next day, but she left with an odd note: she mentioned that I walked the halls of the studio like I was a 40-year old. She left it purposefully vague, but I'm sure I drew from it what she was suggesting - namely, that I was acting more mature than I was, and that I was putting too much pressure on myself.

I bring up this story (and there are plenty more like this) because the difference between faux maturity and the real thing is staggering. For me, the real thing, ironically, required a certain amount of immaturity, which, in turn, helped me open up and...well, relax. Of course, actually growing up and struggling since entering the real world has helped me not give a crap about the things I thought were so important for the past three or four years. I take pictures to frame the memories of my life, like I'm shooting my own movie, but the images themselves have changed, and it's helped my writing in ways that could never have been learned in a classroom.

...I just had to be in a classroom to realize that.


I was in Connecticut this weekend with some friends from college - an old group of us that date back to the first days of living in New York. We were there to see Video Games Live, which is an orchestrated concert of video game music, and while I suspect this was something I would have eaten up a few years ago, while flipping through the pictures I took of the weekend, the images of the concert meant the least to me. In fact, the concert itself was silly, disappointing, and nothing more than a masturbation vehicle for co-founder Tommy Tallarico. Seriously. Playing an electric guitar during "One Winged Angel?" Gimme a break.

The thing that stands out the most from the weekend wasn't that concert, nor my personal satisfaction with getting to play a Wii again (which we all did, in earnest), but rather being there with my old friends. The best part? Taking walks, eating dinner -- the human aspects of the trip that weren't the intention, but instead were the result.

It makes me wonder what parts of myself were honest. I was gamer, I guess, but never hardcore. What does it say about oneself when the things that used to be exciting are exceptionally bland? It just seems that I've lost more and more interest in my past these days, which, I propose, is ultimately a good thing. However, in this age of instant nostalgia, it can be a little sickening.

Yet, mix all that with optimism for the future. There are visible signs of growth, and at least I'm dealing with nostalgia and a desire to shift focus rather than a crippling fear of change. After all, as I've seen with my writing, I'm able to do things now that I never could in the past. I feel like I live life more fully and can express and share things that might not have been possible. There's a strange relationship brewing between the stories I want to tell and the way I go about my day. I've written how the status of my current projects affects the way I behave, but I'm understanding that it's a relationship that goes much deeper and works both ways.

In other words, I'm not thinking of it anymore as a debilitation. If nothing else, and for lack of a better word, I'm starting to think of it as a strength.

Write on...

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