I have the distinction of having been paid to write four screenplays for four very large companies. None were ever made. This gives me the freedom to say the following regarding screenwriting: I'd rather have a barium enema.
Now, some of you may aspire to screenwriting and I say, "bully for you." Enjoy. Perhaps you are made of better stuff than I. Actually, you probably are made of better stuff than I. So go for it.
The last screenplay I was hired to write was for a very, VERY large company. When I turned in the first draft, I was given various kudos like, "Wonderful!" "It's sooooo good!" Having not written many screenplays I made the mistake of believing them.
After some notes, I was sent off to do a second draft. Upon turning in that draft I was told, "We're close." "Not really what we had expected." And perhaps my favorite, "It doesn't have that IT yet." I don't know what IT was but it didn't have it. I was ashamed for having written a totally it-less screenplay.
I was sent off to do a third draft. The third draft made me cry. Really. I was sitting there and I just started crying. I wanted to throw the computer out the window. I was following their notes and I had no idea what to write. (Note to aspiring writers: not knowing what to write is a bad sign.)
Anyway, I turned that in. I was told that I had, "Missed it." "Made it worse." I didn't have the guts to tell them it made me cry. Everyone agreed the first draft was the better of all three and they wondered why I didn't just do the first draft again. Which I already had. Two drafts ago.
Anyway the family and I went off to Hawaii a few days later. When we got back, I got a call that the producer wanted me to start in on a fourth draft. A fourth draft.
I went to the meeting. I sat there listening to how the fourth draft could be so much better by being like the first draft. Only it should be better than the first draft and that's why it would be called the Fourth draft.
As I listened, I remembered that the third draft made me cry. I could only imagine what the fourth draft would do. Writing should be fun...or at the very least...challenging. There should be no crying. I'm pretty sure of that. When it came my turn to speak, I said something that stunned even me.
I became very contemplative. I think I started to channel St. Benedict. Rather than directly answer them, I told a story. This was my story:
There's a beautiful woman. Only, you can't really see her. She's wearing a long flowing dress. She's running up a side of a mountain. You start following her. Running after her. The mountain is made of really sharp lava or something. So, you start getting scraped and bruised and bleeding. But it doesn't matter, because you are following this beautiful woman. Anyway, she climbs higher. You climb higher. The rocks dig into your skin. Now, you're really bleeding and hurt...but you follow her.
She's now at the top of the mountain and you finally make it up there. You are a mess. You are bleeding and have broken bones. You walk up to her. She has her back to you. You turn her around. And she's super...SUPER ugly.
That's this script. It's super ugly. And I don't want to bleed anymore.
With that, I said good bye, got in my car and smiled all the way home.