One of my first screenplays was a hockey comedy. I got the idea when my brother signed with his first Juniors team.
It was the first project I pitched to industry professionals. I met a lot of agents and producers who were either hockey players or enthusiasts that were excited there was a hockey comedy circulating and a woman had written it. It was the first project to be requested. It was the first time I heard “It’s not quite there yet”. That devastated me. How could I send out unfinished work like that? How could I ding my reputation before I had even started?
I worked on it as my brother continued his hockey career. I reworked it, became the queen of page one rewrites. By the time he aged out of Juniors and went professional, I was sick of the screenplay. I hated it. It never improved. In fact, it got worse. I never wanted to look at it again. When people would bring up how much they wanted to see it finished, I’d snarl at them (being the bright, mature creature that I am).
I moved on to other work and sketch comedy, but my unfinished business was nagging me. I don’t give up, yet there 110 pages lay abandoned because it got tough.
Fast forward to present day, I found a production company looking for comedies. Especially sports comedies. Ideally a hockey comedy. I groaned. I had that, but it meant beating my head against a wall again. I wasn’t a strong enough writer to make it work.
Until I did. I wrote down what I liked about my story. I also wrote down what I seemed to trip me up. Could I create a story without the stuff that tripped me up? Yes. Thanks to brainstorming with my mother, I wrote a very nice story, one I was excited about and one that flowed.
Sometimes time is what you need. My relationship with the sport changed and my abilities as a writer developed. Sometimes being gentle is what you need. I took what I liked and discarded what didn’t serve the story or me.
Is there unfinished business that’s nagging you? Try this and let me know how it goes in the comments.