Baroque & the Art of Zen

It's been a good day.

Just a little after one o'clock I was hit with the urge to say, "Screw it all!" and turn my screenplay into a novel. I know how to write a novel and I can write the pants off of my screenplay.

Writing in the screenplay format these past months has taught me how to say what I want to say with an economy of words. If I can compare it to anything musical it would be this: Are you familiar with the overture to Mozart's Die Zauberflöte? If not, go here and listen to about 15 seconds of the music. Go on, I'll wait...

Welcome back. Did you notice the rests? The spaces where no music was being played? The secret to the effect that piece of music has on the listener is that Mozart intended the orchestra to play the reststhose silencesas powerfully and with as much meaning as they play the notes. Writing a screenplay is exactly the same. With no opportunity to describe the situation, the motives of the actors and the dynamics between them, you're left to convey all those things more subtly. It's damned hard, and I think I'm a better writer for having done it. But writing a novel in which I can describe the feel of the night air, the glisten in a woman's eyes, and the music resounding within a musician's brain, comes more naturally to me. Anyone who knows me knows that the zen thing is as about foreign to my Baroque nature as a Japanese tea ceremony is to a Viennese tavern. I'm a hedonist. I'm expansive. And I have no self-discipline when it comes to reining in my creative urges. Still, my sojourn into the world of screenwriting showed me that I can do it if I so choose. I just don't particularly enjoy it.

When I'm working on a large project I don't adhere to the old standards of a chapter a day, 10 pages a day, or even 1,000 words a day. That makes it a chore and I hate chores. I simply write until I have nothing else to say in that particular session. Sometimes I'll get three chapters and sometimes I'll get three sentences. What do I have to prove?

It's because of this, I think, that I've never experienced the dreaded Writers Block. In fact, I don't even believe in Writers Block. You can't push the river, as the saying goes; if you don't have it that day, it'll be there another day. Writers Block, in my opinion, is just forcing yourself to write when you would probably be happier doing something else. Creativity has a rhythm after all, and you have to go with it, otherwise you create a dissonance between you and your naturally creative Self.

And now, back to my manuscript. I'm sure I'll be up all night with it.