The other night I had a great conversation with my friend Robin (hi Robin!) about our respective call centre jobs and why in the world people would choose such a way to make a meager living. She pointed out that basically the reason people do work such as ours is to live a double life, doing something else you’re passionnate about yet for some reason doesn’t pay the bills.
It’s true that in the past few days I’ve been a working stiff again, I’ve been having more and more time to think about the feature film script I’ve been doggedly working on for the past two years. I think I have finally had a breakthrough on it. I’ve realized that certain elements which were there in the beginning have kind of petered out, such as a sub plot about a dead brother. At the same time a much stronger theme of the effects of living in poverty has manifested itself in a much more interesting way. I’ve discovered that the past two years of writing has really been workshopping my characters, and that I need to do a total overhaul of my script to make it have more of a structure, as well as paring away the various sub plots which are needlessly taking away from the main story. It’s pretty humbling to realize that of fifty-five pages I have written so far, I will probably only be keeping thirty pages or less in the final draft. Such is the life of a writer.
At the same time, ideas are starting to sparkle and shine again, which is great. I’ve been in a bit of a writers block, probably because I went back to school for a year, and that took up my intellectual headspace. But now I am freed, ironically enough, by a job that I don’t have to take home with me. While it’s sad to not be working in my field of expertise, at the same time I’d much rather devote my creative energies to my own projects.
Whenever people ask me what I’m working on and I say a feature film script, I can almost always feel the internal eye rolling. I suppose it does sound kind of pretentious or something. The kind of project someone could embark upon and never complete, yet gives them some kind of weird cachet. In truth, sometimes I have nearly thrown in the towel. I sit to write and my characters get grumpy and don’t want to say anything, sometimes I have a brilliant idea but “reality” says I shouldn’t write it that way. Mostly my struggle has been getting this little feature to have a stronger direction and message, while it has thus far prefered to meander in aimless conversations between characters.
But I’m finally optimistic. I’m going to try and set a deadline for myself so I can take it to some scriptwriting workshops and hone it even more. I refuse to rush a final draft just so I can say I wrote a feature. I want to be able to say “Hey, I wrote, directed, and edited a really important feature,” and have it be something I can be proud of. One of the things I’m liking the most is that even though it’s tackling some really quite dark material, it’s still pretty comedic. Even though I do love creating quite dramatic serious work, my first love is and always has been comedy with a political message.
So call centre work’s not so bad when exciting scenes from an unborn film are running through your mind.