Monday, 4 October 2010

Year Two Begins...

The passing of August marked the first year since handing in my final piece of university work, and therefore the beginning of Year Two in the big wide world. The quick passing of September (this post is somewhat overdue) clearly marked the first month into the second year.

It's quite fascinating how things and yourself can change within a twelve month period, and how you adapt under high stress from a continual pressure and expectation, not to mention intimidation by various ambitions ahead, life, the future, and everything. But my answer is: ignorance is bliss, and so is distraction. Not to mention, application.

For ignorance, I have found it easier to avoid and ignore the conversations and opinions of Joe and Joanne Public (non media related and everyday persons) regarding film education and university, screenwriting courses, film criticisms, and the "So where were you before this?" line, and the corkers, "What do you plan to do next?" or "What are you up to at the moment?", slide by the "You went to uni and you're now working here!" line, and if possible, but not probable, their 'valuable' input on your potential career and ambitions (take with a pinch of salt), and on some occasions, avoid the topic of screenwriting all together.

What's also wise and easier not to do is to butt in on a related conversation and give your opinion and/or insight just because you have one. But that is unless you find a like-minded person who you know or detect occupies the trenches with you. Then you can take cover and find solace. But even then there's still a line not to be crossed, and one if you want to be taken seriously. Otherwise it's all wasted conversation that is there to serve your own ego, to look good and nothing else. And in the end, you have accomplished nothing but being removed a little further from reality. If it's not constructive then it's not worth participating in, however tempting.

No disrespect intended to Joe and Joanne Public but when you're currently on a step at ambition's door, and don't want to think about the 100th and being categorised and judged in that respects, it disrupts the flow and confidence a little. It can be a little frustrating, although it is lessening the more it occurs. But if you ever find yourself in the same situation, just follow the golden scriptwriting rule, less is more because it truly is. Don't be too eager to show your hand. Leave them wondering and guessing. Let subtext breathe and give your own story and character power and a life of its own. If you're willing to talk too much and reveal all in the real world, then what is there left under the surface and to say in your writing?

For me, it's a simple case of I don't need reminding, as I know the deal. I just want to get on with it, and ideally, to be left alone to. I know the conflict is good for me in order to learn how to deal with it, but sometimes it would be nice to stay in the confident, peaceful, and enjoyable zone and mindset, and not have it interrupted every now and then. But after all, I am still learning.

And the important thing with that, I believe, is the fact that I know my place within the world of all this, I know my level, where I want to go, and have an idea how to get there. I'm not trying to be someone I'm not. I'm trying to be someone I know I can be.

What also, and just as crucially paved the way for change over the last year, is having the freedom to do, and the doing, which I term, distraction. And that's to get some paid work, structure, and responsibility, earn money, treat yourself, develop relationships, practice the arts of what you love, find new interests, meet new people, have new experiences, all to learn new things, have fun, develop personally, to widen your experience, and broaden your horizons. To live basically.

The third and just as important, is application, to keep reading, writing, watching and analysing, to develop professionally, set provisional goals, learn self-discipline and the ways of your mind, get involved with other writers and learn from them and their work, make and develop contacts, read scriptwriting blogs and leave supportive and constructive comments, create your own related-blog or write relevant online articles, and if possible, apply for work experience, help out on short films, make short films, etc. All one step at a time and of course, with vigour.

Everything in ignorance and distraction informs application. All that you do, every encounter, decision, observation, or new experience, has the power to change you and develop your writing and professional self. Every strand of your life is more important than you may realise. Everyday and every moment is an opportunity to be had, and further knowledge and perspective to be gained, to move you forward to where you want to go and to help you do it. Keep that in mind and even more so on a negative day or moment, because there's still something to learn, a new experience to be had, and ultimately, if reacted to positively, an opportunity to develop.

Inevitably it brings me back to the old chestnut of university, as it was home for awhile and quite a profound experience, and one naturally, has taken time to process and move on from. Essentially it was a place that appeared to be selling dreams in respects to screenwriting, a tin box (and an expensive one) that packed you in rather tightly, and one where the everyday reality was lost, until you leave that is. Then you slowly apply what you learnt there (and/or acquire what you didn't learn there) to real everyday living. To correct the off-set in balance and restore equilibrium. As well as apply what you learnt about the craft of screenwriting to a new era of writing, and discover new lessons and insights as each project passes. To ultimatley keep a healthy momentum of output, learning, enjoyment, and a steady increase in confidence.

But fundamentally, a university screenwriting degree isn't a means to an end and reaching a dream. It's a means to a beginning and that dream transforming into an ambition. It's a start that I feel glad to have taken and look back proudly having made the right choice.

So generally that's how I've coped this last year and have been enjoying the post-university freedom and dealing with its pressure and external expectations. But importantly and key, striving to do that in a patient, constructive, and positive way.

One of the major things realised and accepted, is that everything takes time. No matter how large or small. Even the smallest achievement takes effort and time to conquer. But it's about doing what you can realistically achieve and not trying to do too much and being overwhelmed, and potentially underachieve. That leads to putting your ambitions and projects into perspective and into steps. Then it's a process of taking each step as they come. Whether you start now or later on. But as long as you stick at it, remain patient, optimistic and enjoy it, then you can't go wrong.

All this may sound strict and by the book but it's really not. When you're having fun, being engaged, challenged, and enjoying every aspect, it doesn't feel like a chore or set rules to be followed. Once habit kicks in. It's living. And it's an infinite education. That's the beauty of it.

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."

- Gandhi

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