They say that 50 is the new 30 but maybe in writing terms 14 is the new 30? When I first did a writing challenge with TLC, the thought of writing something new and complete for 28 days in a row was daunting to the extreme. Now, with a few more challenges under my belt, I thought that a 14-day challenge would be a walk in the park.
But there’s a reason why it’s called The Literal Challenge and not The Literal Easy Peasy - in the spirit of the Spanish Inquisition make that two reasons – the first is that TLEP looks and sounds silly and the second is that if you’re not challenging yourself even just a little bit then what’s the point.
Whether it’s the act of writing every day or writing something new and complete by a deadline or just writing something at all, it’s better if it tests you and lets you prove something to yourself.
I learnt that 14 days can feel just like 28 days, or even 30, especially when you’re working in a new way and for a new medium.
I also learnt that I am a product of my upbringing and influences. My writing gravitated towards short, animated screenplays or music videos or advertisements, meant to scare you into eating/living healthily. All of these have played a big part in my life and had obviously influenced me more than I was aware.
But I think that’s the joy of screenplays in a way. Who has never quoted from their favourite film or ad jingle at some point? There’s rarely a day (or a blog post) goes past when I can’t find some reason to quote Monty Python.
Something strange happens and suddenly we’re not in Kansas anymore but we can still order a martini shaken, not stirred. We know to seize the day, be ready for our close-up and that life is like a box of chocolates. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know what Napalm smells like – I know it’s better in the morning. And if you still haven’t worked out who’s on first then there’s no hope for you.
The words of a screenplay creep into our everyday vocabulary and a single line can invoke fond memories and a desire to make popcorn.
Although none of my 14 scripts will reach those dizzying heights, I am proud of them all the same. It was fun to once again be part of a TLC community that manages to offer support, encouragement and a place to come when you’re struggling with writing or life in general. It was fun to create and be part of 14 new worlds and I even managed to sneak in some old characters from past challenges, which is always a joy.
Right now, I’m glad to be free of the submission deadline and am basking in my own smugness, but I know it won’t last. All too soon I’ll be getting twitchy, missing that daily email ping and the chance to write and chat and create with my friends.
Which is why, just like buses, there’ll be another one along before you know it. Until then, remember to just keep swimming and always look on the bright side of life.