Why is it so hard to say goodbye?
I’ve just finished a script I’ve been working on for ages. I think it’s the best thing I’ve written so far. So why am I finding it so hard to cut the cord and send it out into the world?
I’ve not had this feeling before. Is a weird mix of hope, trepidation, self-doubt and excitement, but more than that it feels like a full stop on a project that’s been a big part of my life during lockdown. I’ve fallen in love with my characters and the story world more than any I’ve done before. And I don’t really want to let them go. Even though some of them are arseholes.
For possibly the first time ever, I’ve actively enjoyed the whole process – writing, editing, workshopping, editing, editing, fretting, editing. Even the frustrating parts where I can’t seem to write myself out of a corner have been a joy compared to other projects.
Usually I’m desperate to send out my work, to get feedback and to meet new contacts off the back of it, but this time it feels different. I’ve clung on to this as tightly as I tearfully clung on to my mum on my first day at nursery (calling Dr Freud).
I couldn’t work out why I’m so attached to this project, and I think it’s because I feel like I’ve finally found my voice. I never really understood what a voice really was – despite hearing umpteen people explaining it. The idea of it made me cringe slightly, as if I was expected to meet other writers and we’d nod sagely while letting each other know what our voices are.
Over the years I’ve spent time looking for my voice while dutifully chasing genres – trying to second-guess what the industry wants. In double-quick time I managed to notch up a romantic comedy, a thriller, a horror, a historical drama – always looking for something that hit. And I don’t think I ever got any closer to finding my voice.
And while I enjoyed writing those projects, and some of them have been optioned and garnered good feedback – nothing feels as satisfying as the project I’ve just finished.
Publishing Crawl defines the writer’s voice thusly
Voice is, I think, the way a story is told. Just as how the same piece of music sounds quite different if played on a violin versus a flute (or sung by a choir or a rapper), a story that involves that same plot, characters, world, etc, can still change a lot depending on the voice used to tell it.
This rings true to me. I’ve written this project in a way that makes sense to me, and it’s been great fun. It’s felt natural and easy throughout in a way nothing has before. Whether other people like it or not is another matter.
After trying to write what and how I thought people (and by ‘people’ I mean the prose and screenplay industrial complex) wanted to read, I just wrote a story I felt passionate about, that is commercial and that I could write in a way I wanted. Concerns about whether it was a) the right genre and b) a play on something else successful in the marketplace were banished. I just wrote what I wanted to, in a way that made sense to me.
But now it’s time to say goodbye. Like my mum at nursery all those years ago, now I’m the one to pull my hand away and say ‘get off – the pubs open in ten minutes’. Only joking mum.
Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash