Monday, May 02, 2011

Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

Remember those old public service announcements? It's ten o'clock. Do you know where your children are? Well, there's a phrase we use in screenwriting about not wanting to kill our babies which basically refers to our inability to let loose of an idea once we have committed it to paper. But therein lies the beauty of losing your final draft. You also lose all your babies and don't have to consciously kill the ones that don't work. They just die on their own.

When I switched computers and somehow deleted my final drafts and put a final draft date on a preliminary noodling-around-in-my-head outline of last year's Nicholl entry (color me stupid), I didn't kill my babies. I simply lost them all. That wasn't such a bad thing when I sat down to start over. I remembered every idea and, of course, I had all my note cards. But there was great freedom in not already being committed to any one course of action anymore. There was no chain reaction if I removed or revised something.

I've always know that's what a rewrite is supposed to be but have I ever really done it? I mean REALLY put it into practice and made the tough decisions? Probably not. This time, I had no choice.

I'm not going to pretend that this amended version of my screenplay is as good as the one I worked on for two years. Of course it's not. Or, at least it's not as good as my memory of the final draft since I don't actually have a final draft of it anywhere. But I do believe in some respects, the revision is a little better because I was absolved from killing my babies. They were already gone. The decision was already made for me so I could move on.

The cold reality here is that this version is not as polished as my other and doesn't read like a final draft to me. But I've learned much about me as a writer and as a storyteller and most importantly? The earth didn't fly off its axis when I sent out something I would normally be utterly humiliated to admit came from my pen. Instead, I'm confessing it on the world wide web in the hope that my fellow writers will learn what I did. Sometimes, teachable moments come disguised as ... oh, who am I kidding? I am never, ever doing that again!


E.C. Henry said...

MaryAn, you SHOULD save your work on a CD or a floppy disc. JUST relying on your hard drive isn't smart.

Glad to read you're editing your work -- me too! Just finished a 1st draft. It's at 160 pages. Got a lot of work to do. Lots of babies to kill. (That sounds so sadistic)

Good to read another post of yours. Lots of goodies in the noodle of yours. You should post more often. Rock on girl!

your biggest fan: E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Naturally, E.C., I did back up my files and I'm not going to pretend I know how this happened but my final draft copy, the backed up copy, the back up version of the backed up copy and even the PDF I emailed to myself -- it's all that original playing around rough draft. I've been over every scenario. Maybe when I was cleaning up my computer and opening old files, there was a power failure and an auto save and when I was looking at files later, I looked at the mouse-over date? No. No. That's more outrageous than I just mislabeled them. It's all so impossible that I've given up on figuring out how I did something so juvenile. Bottom line here. I'm more human than I care to admit. Thank you for your continued support!