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Three A.M. I still smell like the chicken-soaked grease of a shift spent working at Chick-Fil-A, but I’ve hit a plot snag. My character’s stuck in Boston, I’m stuck on page 78, and I need to figure out how to get us both out before I’ll let myself shower and go to bed. If I had been thinking rationally, I might have wondered what I was doing. All I knew at that moment, however, was that I was consumed with a then-70-something-page screenplay that had stretched my imagination and creative ingenuity to the limits for the past few weeks.
Over the past several years, I had often casually mentioned to my family and friends that I might want to write movies someday. Their responses were similar and disempowering: I should spend my summers working at a “real” job and focus my spare time on something more ordinary. I probably wouldn’t be able to get past page five anyway, they said.
Yet plots kept creeping up on me. Ideas, characters, and images consumed my dormant mind, teasing my imagination as I bagged drive-thru orders of breaded chicken. As these ideas slowly evolved into stories, I realized that I didn’t just want to write — I had to. Thus, a few days into the summer, I began writing. From the time my evening shift ended into the early hours of the next morning, I wrote in secret, pensively at first but always passionately. I lived to find intricacies in relationships that didn’t yet exist, to wrap my mind around a new character and find the soul in a scene. My imaginary settings existed independently and unknown to the rest of the world, but they were still vibrant, active, real. Late in July, as I began to wrap up my script’s loose ends with only one scene to go, I realized a fantastic truth: I had not only written a movie, but I had also discovered a passion.
The surprise on the faces of my friends and family when the freshly printed and bound script hit the table in front of them brought a smile to mine. The fact that I had written a script — that I had actually completed a feat that most merely aspire to — changed their attitudes toward my passion for writing. Immediately, their doubt shifted into support, and the next few weeks were a tizzy of queries, rejections, and editing suggestions: a harsh baptism into the world of cinema. I’m still searching for that first lucky break; my script may never find a home, or it may hit screens sooner than anyone would have ever guessed. To me, however, it doesn’t matter. I didn’t write a movie to prove anything, to get rich, or to satisfy my friends and family. I wrote it for the plot and for the characters. I wrote it for the joy I felt in each crafted scene. I wrote, and will continue to write, for the love of the script.
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