Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Ever since I began screenwriting.

It's the one unbreakable rule.

The adage.

Writing is rewriting.

For me it's a curse. Not because I don't like to do it. Nope. Quite the opposite. I love the rewrite. It's where you get to fix things. You get to up everything to the next level. And then the next level. And the next. I love it. Except sometimes it pisses me off because I just don't understand why I didn't figure out the best words the first time around.

Anyway, that's not what my bitch on rewriting is today. My bitch today is about the curse. No, no, not that curse...although I could bitch about that for as long as I've had it. Today, it's the curse of rewriting that's got me going. Since I wrote my first screenplay several years ago - a script that I overwrote, then rewrote, then got optioned, then rewrote several more times for the producer and director, then got it back, then hated it and rewrote it a bunch more times - yeah, since all that happened I can't stop rewriting.

The reason I'm telling you this now is that yesterday I got an email from someone and the subject line was "Great News!!" And, indeed, it was great news. Even better than great. So, I dashed off a quick reply that simply said, "That is ecstatic inducing news!!" No biggie, right? Except when I was in the shower later on I wanted to rewrite the email. I wanted it to be, "That's not great news... that's ecstatic inducing news!!" As if that would have made a huge difference.

And then it dawned on me. I want to rewrite everything. All the time. I swear if I reread this post tomorrow, or even five minutes after I post it, I will want to rewrite it. Heaven forbid I read any of my earlier posts...they'd all have to be rewritten. I can't read my book because I would want to rewrite it. And now I want to rewrite emails that I've already sent.

I don't limit this rewriting obsession to the written word. No. I'd love to rewrite almost every conversation I've ever had. Does that happen to you? Have you ever had an important conversation with someone, and even though you rehearsed it over and over again in your mind, within minutes of having it, didn't you want to rewrite it? Or kicked yourself when you got home from a meeting, or even a party, thinking "I could have said that so much better" or "It could have been funnier." Or am I the only freak here?

Shit, I just stopped to think about what else I have to say about this topic and I wanted to rewrite my thoughts.

I'm seriously* fucked.

*the word "seriously" was added 15 seconds after I wrote the sentence "I'm fucked." Yup, it definitely needed the extra word.


Steve B said...

I always seem to find myself coming up with something witty "after the fact"...Rewriting sounds like the equivilant to taking multiple shots of a picture, trying to get just the right exposure or whatever. BTW, I like how you incorporated your copyright into your keyboard shot!

Chesher Cat said...

Nah, pictures I like happen without the need for a do-over.

It's just something about the words.

Actually, now that I think about it, I don't want to redo the pictures I took...but I really want to go back and take the pictures I didn't take.

E.C. Henry said...

Chesher Cat, I admire your willingness to re-write. I'm quite the opposite. I love the exploring ideas and discovering characters part of screenwriting. Line editing, (line-by-line rewrite) just kills me. A necessary evil, but that's how I look at it. And by the time I get to that point, the script is finalized in my mind, and it's time to quit and move on the next script.

Me thinks you have a painter's heart -- and that's a good thing! Keep making making great art, and don't beat yourself up for being a perfectionist, I admire you for that.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA