I’ve been working on a webseries with Errol over the last few months. Actually, it was the entire reason I started up this blog. I wanted a space to talk about my writing process and maybe the occasional post about amusing things.
I may have gotten a wee bit distracted.
But now, after many months, the webseries is almost done it’s second draft (it’s hard to write with a full time job…oy…). It didn’t actually start as a webseries actually. It started as a small sketch in my head involving two sidekicks who meet up and bitch about their jobs for the superheros. It was simple, neat and a good palette cleanser after the very intense process of NaNoMusical….I still can’t believe we did it…
But then…the script began to disobey me.
I’ve heard other writers talk about how their characters “disobey” them and do things that the writers don’t expect them to do. And to be honest…this was always the face I made when I read about it…
Then I started to write this webseries and suddenly I can’t think of any other term to describe the process. To say that “I changed the script and got different ideas” would imply that I felt any sort of control over it. Which I don’t, at all.
It all started simply enough. The series would simply be an extended version of the original sketch idea I had. Two characters, one location, and mostly an excuse to poke fun at superhero tropes. Easy.
But then the waitress came in. I needed a waitress. I had them in a cafe after all. And of course she would need a line or two to offer the two main characters coffee. Except then she started speaking more. And more. And getting a character. And then I realized she was starting to become one of those “integral parts to the script” I had read so much about.
Fine. That didn’t go exactly as planned, but I still had the meat of the series to back me up. But then, for whatever reason, a story began to bubble to the surface. It made sense at first, I would need SOMETHING to link together the episodes, perhaps an over arcing plot the characters could follow in between jokes.
Only the plot and story began to take the forefront. The characters began to get their own arcs and motivations, some of which I had discussed with Errol, but some which kind of snuck in there without me knowing until the director pointed it out to me.
I was a little discouraged. This wasn’t exactly the direction I saw it going. It wasn’t as though I was TRYING to make it different either, it just…seemed to do it on its own. I continued to write though, certain that at some point it would simply circle back around to my very simple, very funny idea and the world would be at peace.
Then suddenly one day I looked at the script I had written and it dawned on me that what I was writing was not so much a story of sidekicks as it was a story of my most important friendships and the feelings of inadequecy that I’ve been facing in the real world for the past seven years. It also, amazingly enough, seemed to be a statement on the very nature of male/female relationships.
Whuh?….When had this happened? Where was my simple little script? I had not intended to write anything that “meant” anything, but somehow poof…there it was.
I fought the urge to scrap the whole thing. After all, it was not what I had wanted in the beginning. Clearly I would have to start over.
But thankfully my friends and creative partners were wise enough to step in and say “Uhhhhh, nope, this is what you have. Stick with it.”
It’s been an interesting lesson. The product I’ve ended up with is vastly different from my initial vision. It’s taken some mental jumping jacks to convince myself that this does not mean it’s a failure…it’s not necessarily better either…it’s just different.
Suddenly Neil Gaiman’s talk about his newest book “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” made a lot more sense to me, how something can evolve and run away from you without even realizing it. It’s like a disobedient dog. Your only real choice is to run after it rather than stomping your foot and waiting for it to come back to you.
Of course I’m talking about this script like it’s some sort of genius. I’m not even sure if it’s GOOD. But it is uniquely mine and Errol’s and that counts for something. I’m rewriting the last episode now. I am trying to tell it to behave and listen to me, but I get the feeling it doesn’t want to obey.