August is flying by. A trip to Vegas with ten friends helped with that, as did several birthdays and friendly visits. The main accomplishment of my month thus far was making time for two writers’ meetings. The purpose of my first meeting was simply to touch base with a fellow writer. She and I shared a pot of tea at Bricks & Scones in Larchmont Village in Los Angeles. She’s worked as a writer’s PA for Mad Men and she also is currently working on building up a portfolio. A few helpful points learned from the meeting:
In her opinion, for a portfolio you should have one polished spec, one polished pilot, maybe a feature and a sample of fiction or whatever else it is you like to write (this went against my thinking that I needed a few specs and maybe a pilot-only for a TV-based portfolio, this made me think more about the idea of a general all-encompassing writer’s portfolio)
She is currently in a writers’ group that she invited me to join if I’d like. This could be a good opportunity for me once I get a little more work done…
She also suggested that I enter my well-received nonfiction college thesis piece in a few nonfiction writing magazines, or publications that take nonfiction. She’s had some poems published and it only helps you if you can get a little recognition for your work.
I was reminded again that everyone struggles to find time to write and to finish projects.
My next meeting the following week was a feedback meeting. We sat down at a Starbucks at Hollywood and Western at 8:30 PM on a Wednesday evening. This friend has worked on a network show as a website writer and he currently PAs for feature films. I read his feature and he read my Dexter SPEC. Getting feedback is always a bit nerve-racking and it also can be fun. Bottom-line though, it’s just plain important. Feedback is necessary to take projects from first draft form to polished form.
I was quite happy with the feedback I received from him. It wasn’t all positive. He definitely had suggestions and he pointed out a plot hole that I didn’t want to admit existed even though I kind of always knew it was there…this was a good experience because once he solidified my belief that something did or did not work, he strengthened my idea of what the spec will look like after a second draft. He also had helpful suggestions for the small places where I wasn’t completely happy with the dialog exchange. Most importantly, we pondered the plot hole until I had a “eureka moment,” he handed me a pen, and I jotted down its solution.
It’s hard to admit but written projects always need a little help to reach their full potential. I am excited to make the changes to my spec because I know it’ll mean it is one step closer to being a polished script. Once it’s polished, it can go into my “portfolio” and I’ll be one step closer to having a body of work worth shopping around. The last thing I asked him before we switched gears to his feature was, “Do you honestly think this spec will be a good addition to my portfolio once I polish it?” He responded that he did because I did a good job of wedging in an extra episode into a very tightly written series and he liked that a lot, and that makes all of the hard work that I put into making the episode fit worth it.
Also, I was reminded AGAIN that everyone struggles to find time to write and to re-write. A lot of my suggestions or issues I had with his feature, he already knew existed. I would say, “You know, this character kind of feels like two separate characters fused together.” His response, “Yes, that’s because I completely changed his character in the last draft, but I haven’t made all the changes. I need to do that.” Go figure.
As for my pilot, the outline is closer to being completed, but it’s not done yet. Once it is done I’ll be sending it out and getting a little feedback before I sit down and write.
My little fiction exercise from my previous blog became simply that, a writing prompt for the moment. I definitely have plans to polished off my novellette first draft so I can move on with it and with my fiction in general.
So there we go, it feels good to focus on my writing again. I was starting to get antsy…