6.07.2008

Harvesting a Fever

I'm sick. I tried to fight it this week, but the sickness won. I'm not sick as a dog, but it's enough to get in the way. Cloudy, congested, throbbing -- it's a blast.

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I believe the saying is that you're supposed to feed a cold and starve a fever. I only have a cold -- but when you're trying to manufacture the best story you can, it feels like a debilitating fever. But in the past twenty four hours I've made my peace with it, and I'm trying to harvest everything it's giving me.

Let's back it up:

In case you haven't read my previous posts, I've been wrestling with my Dexter spec. It's the toughest spec I've worked on to date. I think that's for a few reasons: I absolutely love this show and it represents a high standard for me; it speaks really well to my sensibilities and the kind of stories that I want to tell, so it's sort of that pressure of not screwing it up on your home court; it's a tough climate in this business right now and I think everyone out there who really wants their chance to show what they can do knows that the competition is brutal; but most importantly, I really think that each of my scripts have gotten better and better with each effort -- which means that as I start to put all the pieces together, I also have a very clear picture of where I've come up short before and where I need to improve if this Dexter script is going to push me up a notch.

Recently, I back-peddled put my outline through a serious rehab in order to let my story speak for itself. And I've been ironing those changes out. So getting sick was bad timing. It was cutting in on my focus and making it harder to put the time in.

But, I couldn't stop thinking about it. That's part of being a writer, some story is always on your mind. And feeling sick, I was trying to get some sleep to give my immune system some back-up. But I had a really hard time sleeping. (It also didn't help that I locked myself out of my apartment on Friday and I had to wait for my fiancée to let my sad ass in, which left me sleeping in the back seat of my car.)

So my mind kept turning, going over and over details and scenes. As much as I kept trying to turn that switch off, it wasn't working. So ideas kept coming, scenes kept reworking themselves -- all I could do was distill that onto the page.

But the key thing was the cold smacked the hell out of whatever part of me wanted to second guess what I was doing. That filter was gone -- which was amazing. It'll require some fresh eyes and a clear-minded rewrite, but that lack of a filter has produced some feverish moments. So for all of the crap I'll have to hack out with a machete, there's a few things in there that maybe I wouldn't have written exactly the way I did if I wasn't under the weather.

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ps. And I guess Dexter is a show that might benefit from a warped, fevered perspective. Hopefully a little sickness will go a long way. So here's to serendipity, fever dreams, and hopefully a soon-to-come healthy and fresh-eyed Adam.

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