If you don't want people to judge your work, then write a diary

Last night I sent the Season 3 scripts out to the cast. This may not seem like a momentous event but, to me, it was. This isn’t, of course, to say that the scripts are finished. Scripts are never finished. It eventually gets to a point where you have no choice but to leave them as is, but they are never “finished”. They have, however, left the warmth and safety of my computer to fend for themselves in the cruel, cold world. Have I spent enough time with them, nurtured them, tested them, made them strong enough to survive? Only time will tell. While they’re mine and no-one else has seen them, they’re full of potential. They can do and be anything. But once they’re out there it soon becomes apparent whether or not they’re going to make it. This is, of course, part of the process, but it’s also extremely confronting.

I’ve been writing for the screen for about 15 years and it’s still a major source of anxiety every time I put my work out there. That work is a part of me. It has to be or it’s worth nothing. As such, I feel exposed and vulnerable. But, at the same time, it’s only at this point that I can start to see the scripts for what they are.

While I’m writing I have very little perspective. I’m so immersed in that world that I stop seeing it for what it is. Is it good? I don't know. Will people want to watch it? I have no idea. Does it even make sense? Your guess is as good as mine. It’s only when I hand the work over to others that I can start to get some distance.

And, no matter how vulnerable it makes you feel, you need that distance and you need that input from others. If you don’t want people to judge your work, then write a diary. When you’re writing for the screen you want people to see it and if you want people to see it, then you want it to be the best possible work it can be. This only comes from viewing it objectively, from showing it to others and listening to what they have to say. People you trust, mind you, people whose opinion you value. And, even then, you can’t just take what they say on face value. You need to think about the feedback you’ve been given and then decide what’s best for the story. Your job isn’t to please others, to compromise to the point of mediocrity so that everyone is happy. Firstly, you will never reach a point where everyone is happy and secondly, your job as a writer is to serve the characters and the story. If you don’t do this, then those scripts that spent so long tucked up nice and safe in your computer, aren’t going to make it.

So, I’m trying to be brave, objective and resilient. They’re out there now. I can’t take them back. Are they strong enough to survive, to carry the weight of a production? I guess we’ll find out.

By Julie Kalceff