Rewrite Insight


California doesn’t mess around with this ‘May Gray’ business. After weeks of sunny weather and warmer temperatures, the city pulled a thick gray blanket of clouds over itself and settled into a chilly repose. All I’ve wanted to do for the past few days is nap and/or drink hot coffee. 

Considering my recent drive to write, coffee has become my go to. Progress has been steady, but I’m getting to the point in the process where the novelty is wearing off, the easy decisions have been made, and the new material is getting tricker to extract because it goes beyond the original draft. It’s still satisfying work, but it’s difficult to quantify my progress to see how far I’ve come. Most of my work consists of margin notes and handwritten brainstorms on pages torn out of a legal pad- my ability to transcribe my thoughts lags behind my ability to produce the thoughts themselves so I’m developing a bit of a backlog. 

There’s also a small part of me worrying how my writing partner will react once he sees how far I’ve pushed the material. I’m trying not to stomp all over the work- I’m certainly not making changes willy-nilly just to put my fingerprints on every page, but at the same time it seemed like a good idea to push as far as I could ( and then walk it back as necessary) than to nudge the draft forward by numerous excruciating increments. So we shall just have to wait and see. 

I’m a little bit surprised to discover how many of the thematic elements of this script are ringing true life in these present times- considering that the script takes place during World War II. Questions about what it means to be an American, what it means to be a woman, what it means to stand up for your values, etc., are all painfully topical at the moment. I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to Sousa marches and John Williams scores and, at least once, to the entire 1812 Overture (Full, with cannons) to get into the spirit of the thing. I get this sense of longing for the days when I could be proud of these patriotic feelings without also feeling embarrassed. I miss being able to say “I’m an American” without feeling like I should follow it up with a rueful “sorry” afterwards. And that “sorry” has been tagging along for years. Maybe it’s always been there and I was just too young to know it.  

Is this the ‘great’ that we are trying to make America again? I suspect so, although evenin this we seem to be a nation divided by those who believe we should stop saying we are ‘sorry’ because we have nothing to apologise for, and those who believe that we should address the parts of our American identity that we aren’t and shouldn’t be proud of. 

Either way, these aren’t issues that are likely to be resolved in the rewriting of a script, but it is interesting to discover how the issues of our present society are being sounded out through a creative work. 

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 5, 2017.

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