If you don't know what screenwriting is, it's kind of like screenprinting... It's not, but somebody once asked me if it was. Also, one time, I was in a bar and this chick asked me what I was studying, so I told her, but because it was loud she misheard me. She thought I'd said 'street fighting'. To this day I still chuckle to myself that a) she thought that you could do a degree in street fighting and b) she thought that I looked like the type of dude that would do a degree in street fighting. Silly girl. I'm a lover, not a fighter. A noble wordsmith. A man of fine literature... Alright, alright, I'm a fucking pussy.
Anyway, I digress. So, I studied screenwriting. I was passionate about movies from a young age and enjoyed writing stories and inventing ideas for sequels to my favourite films when I was a kid. When I was about sixteen I really wanted to write a screenplay but I had no idea how, and no idea what a film script even looked like, so I started writing a novel instead. It was fucking terrible and I probably only wrote about 2,000 words before I gave up. Then after I left school and began studying graphic design at college I decided to give screenwriting another crack (this time I did some research and found out what a script looked like). I then started writing screenplays which were basically an amalgamation of all my favourite movies and TV shows but with a thinly veiled version of myself as the lead character. They were fucking terrible.
I realised that I would never get very far by writing shit rip-offs of Dawson's Creek and rom-coms that weren't funny, so I fucked writing off for a while. Life experience is what I needed. After all, how could I write a rom-com if I had never been in love? Lunacy! To cut a long story short, I eventually went to uni and got a degree and now I am going to be twenty eight in two months and I don't write screenplays any more. I haven't written jack shit as far as screenplays are concerned in about two years.
I think the thing that really put me off screenwriting is the fact that you can write, and write, and write until you are blue in the face but you will never have a finished article. At best all you have is a really fantastic blueprint for a movie. I never wanted to make movies, or be a director, or be involved in that side of things -- I just wanted to write stories. I could craft an absolutely wonderful screenplay and at worst it would sit in a drawer or on a hard rive for the rest of ever and at best someone could buy the rights to it and then some director could piss all over it and fuck around with it and balls it right up. Maybe that is just me being cynical and in actual fact said director could share my artistic vision and create the exact movie that I saw in my head. Maybe. But even making it to the point where I would get to find that out feels futile. The only way people make a living in screenwriting is if they take hack jobs re-writing other people's shit, or if they write for a soap opera, or if they're Aaron fucking Sorkin. Balls to it. Luckily I was never in screenwriting for the money.
I have always dabbled in writing poetry, mainly when drunk and ranting about ex-girlfriends, but I have posted the odd poem on this blog, too. I love poetry and I love writing poetry but I am not a natural. It is only something I can do successfully and authentically in moments of inspiration. I can't sit down and force it out because if I do, it comes out shit. I don't know, maybe that is the trick. Maybe you have to force out all the shit to get to the good stuff?!?
In the past six months or so I have also taken to writing short stories. It is taking me a while to "unlearn" everything I learnt about screenwriting, or rather, learning not to apply the same rules to writing prose. It is difficult, but it is exciting and it gets my blood pumping the way screenwriting once did. I think screenwriting will always be there, I will always watch and admire movies, but I'm going to give this whole prose thing a red hot crack. My plan is to write as many short stories as I can this year and then next year maybe start work on a novel. I think the best way to learn is by doing. So far people seem to be responding well to my writing, which is encouraging. Aside from the work I have published myself in my own literary zine (one poem and one short story) I have also been lucky enough to have one short story and one poem published elsewhere (in Hand Job #6 and PUSH #14 respectively). It is a brilliant feeling seeing your name and your words in print. Holding it in your hand. A physical, finished item. Priceless.