Mean Girls

I’m writing a screenplay. And it’s fucking hard. I was really, really, really hoping I’d finish it by this Wednesday, because that’s the deadline for the Austin Film Festival, but I just don’t know if it’s going to happen.

I finished the first draft sometime in January. Shared it with my writers group, got some amazing feedback, and took about a month to organize my new thoughts and put together an outline. It’s what you call a “page one rewrite,” meaning it’s basically completely different from my first draft and I’m starting over. I’m not just going back and fixing things here and there. It’s a whole new script. (Because the first draft was pretty fucking awful.)

So I’ve been working on it a lot. I mean, it feels like a lot to me, but I guess if I’m really going to call myself a writer I need to be doing it like, all the time. Which I’m not. I try to dedicate three or four days a week to writing. At least, a good chunk of my day. Usually hit a wall after three or four hours, where I just feel like I can’t possibly produce anything the least bit good.

That’s the point I’m at right now, which is why I’m writing a blog instead of staring at my screenplay. As it’s been recently, I haven’t known what I’m going to blog about until Monday, when I realize, fuck, I have to write a blog. I sat here for a little, not knowing what to write about. But I just keep worrying and stressing about this screenplay so I might as well just write about that.

Naturally, my script follows a girl living in LA who flies home to New Jersey. That’s all I’ll say right now, but it’s been crazy how Jersey keeps coming up in my conversations with people. It’s been super helpful and validating, too, because I’m really trying to capture the essence of Jersey people in my script and I was starting to feel like it’s not a thing. But I’ve had a number of conversations with people, who are not from New Jersey, and love people from Jersey and/or love Jersey, in general. It makes me think that this thing that I’m writing will really have an audience. And it’s not just this stupid thing in my head. People are going to connect with this, and that excites me.

The other thing that has been happening a lot, is people asking me about my script. “What’s it about?” And the thing is, they’re not saying it in passing, these people are really saying, I want to know all about your screenplay, you have my attention. And a lot of these people are strangers, people I’m meeting for the first time. And it’s been a great exercise for me. One, because, I need to stop being so God damn self-deprecating. Oh, a girl living in LA trying to be an actress flies home to New Jersey. Eye roll. Like c’mon Lindsay, you NEED to be proud of what you’re writing! And I am, I really am, but I have so many doubts and fears about it all and I’m always second-guessing all my decisions, but I need to just knock it off. And the more people who ask me about it, the better and more confident I get.

It’s not only strangers. LStever called me recently, And she asked me about it. I really got into it with her. Spent at least 10-20 minutes telling her my story. And at the end she was like, “I feel like I just saw that movie in my head! I think it will be really good.” It’s a cool thing because people react to different things you tell them. Things they connect with, or things they don’t really understand, or they instinctively have ideas without you even asking for help, even though really, that’s why I’m talking it out. I will take any and all feedback and suggestions. Like my sister, Christine. I called her and spent an hour on the phone with her. It sounded loud where she was. And I told her, I want to tell you my whole movie. Do you have time right now? “Yea. Go ahead.” It sounds loud where you are. “No it’s fine, I’m at the high school lacrosse game.”

Of course she is.

Christine is funny because she almost cuts me off a few times to tell me what “really” happens, as if this is a true story. Like I’m telling her my movie and she’s like well no, they’re not mad, they’re just upset that she’s leaving. You’re right, Chris. And I take notes. She’ll stop me and say well you need to show this. I’m like, yes, I completely agree, do you have any ideas how to do that? “Well no, I’m not a writer, so I have no idea.” (My head is reeling that even this, is something someone from Jersey would say.)

And as I’m telling her my story, she periodically yells about something that is happening. And it’s always the same tone. First she’s fired up at the ref for making a bad call, then she’s fired up that her team isn’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing, then she’s fired up when a kid from West Deptford scores his 100th goal. A person could react very differently to all these things, but Christine literally has to tell me every time what just happened, because she sounds the same every time. Mad, excited, pumped, pissed – they all sound the same.

This is Jersey. She doesn’t know this. Because that’s where we’re from! And that’s where she lives. These are the little things I’ve started to take notice of. Or, when I’m acting “Jersey” people point it out to me. So I’m more aware of my Jersey attitude. Because it’s totally an attitude.

My friend Jackie is constantly telling me how mean I am. And I have to remind her every time that one, I’m not mean, I’m honest, and two, the “meaner” I am or the more honest I am with you, the more I like you. Because if I didn’t like you, I wouldn’t give enough of a shit to tell you how I really feel.

I’m all over the place with my thoughts right now, just like I am with my script.

I guess my overall point to all this, is that even when I’m not writing, I am. Because everything that happens in my life, I’m applying it to my script. Seeing how it fits in with what I’m trying to say. And I’m having so many cool realizations and it’s been really fun.

But it’s fucking hard. So this post ends the same way it starts. Writing a screenplay is fucking hard. I hope I reach my deadline by midnight on Wednesday. If I do not, I will immediately find another festival with a later deadline, because this shit is getting submitted to something. I guarantee you that.

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