Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Page 60

I have reached page 60 in my screenplay. This page, in screenwriting world, is a milestone, as it marks the end of the second (of three) acts, and it is the moment that the hero takes an affirmative step towards creating his or her own destiny (her, in this case). All is well and on schedule. This is what is happening at my page 60.

A happier milestone is the last page. I'm not there yet. I wanted to be there already! What is taking so long? Except it feels good and right. This screenplay idea came to me only five days before my screenplay writing seminar (read about the seminar here), so I cannot be surprised that I still do not have a finished product two weeks after the seminar ended.

I had my own "page 60" moment a couple Saturdays ago. I had just heard something that made me very upset. I was absorbing the information, feeling very "sho ga nai" (Japanese expression that means "cannot be helped") about the whole thing, and then I protested. I decided to do something. Anything.

So I drove in the middle of a fog storm to a hill south of Spokane called Steptoe Butte. The name frustrates me because it memorializes a general called Steptoe who slaughtered a bunch of Indians over time and lost just a few military men in the process. Should be "Steptoe's Slaughter," but it isn't. Despite the name (and circumstances), it's a sacred place for me. (Maybe because of those things, as I live this life primed to wage those kinds of unwinnable wars). I go to this butte before my own big battles, to gather my thoughts, my energy, my focus, my courage. (Apparently I am not alone. ) This day I decided, in the midst of my "sho ga nai" moment, that I needed to go.

It got foggier as I got closer. Then there was sleet and snow flurries. I thought about turning back, but suddenly this journey, this day, meant something - was symbolic for not giving up, not giving in, not accepting negative answers, despite conventional wisdom.

The winding road up the mountain was sleek, but I got to the top of the butte after much careful driving. When I got there, there was a surprise waiting. A family was at the top already. How funny. Of all days that you'd think I would have the butte to myself, this would be the day. And it definitely was not a mellow family. No, they were very loud. The view was nonexistent, as the photo to the right shows. But I'd gotten there. Ha. And immediately got back in my car and drove back down the hill, so annoying was that family.

Now here's where the funny thing happened. A song that I love, a song that tells me things are going to improve, that has in the past come on the radio as I was coming down off a mountain - came on the radio. I would have missed it had I tried to tolerate the other folks on the hill. You know the song. From the 1960s: "Ooh, ooh, child, things are gonna get easier.... ooh, ooh, child, things'll get better...." I sang the song the whole way down the mountainside, laughing at the slick roads (and driving very, very carefully). When I got home, I plugged those lyrics into my screenplay, into just the right place. So there. Things will get brighter - "right now..."

Clear Steptoe Butte photo is by Roger Lynn, located here

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