I’ve talked a couple times before about the Virginia Screenwriters Forum and my hopes for rejoining the group (Musings on Sex Scenes, Climbing Out of the Social Void?). I was an active member for about six years before having to drop out nine years ago due to the time pressures of two small children and picking up a part-time job to go along with my full-time job. Well, last night I was finally able to attend their monthly meeting!
The bad news is that it’s a much less comfortable venue than it used to be. Before, we got to meet in this really plush conference room in the basement of one of the downtown banks, with a huge hardwood table surrounded by these super-comfortable leather seats. Man, it was nice!
Nowadays the group meets in a multi-purpose room in old renovated warehouse that has been converted into a public Arts building called Art Works. They push together two much smaller tables, and there are flimsy folding chairs to sit in.
Still, comfort aside, there was something electrifying sitting around the table with 15 other writers, talking about storycraft and the nuts and bolts of screenwriting. In my very first post here on my blog (…She’d Be Creative) I talked about how much I missed being surrounded by that sort of creative energy, so even as I worried about the chair collapsing beneath me, I felt like I was home and surrounded by “my people.”
After news and VSF business is gotten out of the way, we get into critiquing the first 30 pages of the two scripts for the meeting. After the screenwriter talks a little bit about his script, each member is given the floor for 3 minutes to offer a constructive critique. Then things are opened up for an open discussion with back-and-forth between the writer and the group, with suggestions and brainstorming.
I was a bit nervous about whether or not to say anything during my 3 minutes. As a “guest” I was told I could just listen in without having to say anything. But I’d read the scripts and the old screenwriting muscles had kicked in, and I had a few ideas I wanted to share. My heart pounding in my chest, worried I might say something stupid due to being extremely rusty, I went ahead and spoke.
The writer was attentive and took notes. The others around the table smiled at me, nodded, even jotted down some notes too. By the end of the 3 minutes I felt much more at ease, and my confidence grew that maybe I still had “it,” or at least a rusty remnant.
To make things even better, there were some women around the table wearing no wedding bands, ranging in age from 20 years younger to about 10 years older, all of them radiating that creative writer’s spark. I wanted them to read my writing!
To make things even more better (heh), the group has received some grant monies to expand its services beyond the monthly meetings. Starting next year, every quarter they’re going to have local actors read our 30 page scripts in front of family, friends, and anyone from the general public who wants to come, held at a really cool local theater downtown. This will allow our writers regular opportunities to mingle with actors, stage managers from the theater, and any casting agents or other people in the business of making movies who might show up. As a new member, my script will go to the bottom of the list of seniority, but I can still get a charge from listening to the others and meeting all these creative people. And eventually, someone on that stage will be reading something I wrote…
The VSF is now on summer hiatus, and will resume meetings in September, so I’ve got the rest of the summer to write 30 pages, polish it, and submit to the reading committee. I’ve had a movie idea that’s been percolating in my mind for about 5 years now, but as I drove home details started bubbling up to my mind. I thought about it last night as I drifted off to sleep. Today at lunch I could barely read my book because scenes and characters kept popping in my brain. Finally I just had to cut lunch off early and pound out about 800 words, worried that I might forget some of the cool stuff that has suddenly started jumping inside me.
I’m two and a half pages on my way… of course, maybe I need to also re-read some of my old screenwriting books too