The Indie Chronicles: Mind the @#$%ING Gap
a new blogumn by R.B. Ripley
There’s a gap between the movies rattling around in my head and what actually winds up in one of my scripts. In my mind, I laugh, cheer, weep, and scream with anger at my stories – all the responses a good film should elicit. But on the page? Meh. Not so much. I’ve been aware of The Gap for years and managed to successfully pretend it didn’t exist, mostly through booze and often through hours and hours of debate with other writers about any number of pointless theories of stage, writing, film, politics… you know what I’m talking about.
During the past eighteen months though, The Gap has grown uncontrollably to become for me a vast, unbridgeable chasm filled with a massive, writhing, angry and tangled clot of intellectual abstractions made up of structure, character, transitions, reversals, arcs, milestones, genre, and the particularly frustrating, generalized “commercial appeal”. To put it simply, my brain is SO in the way of my story telling.
In September, this all came to a head as I was re-reading Arthur Miller’s All My Sons and actually had the thought, “He’s not that great of a writer.” The dam shattered.
Three minutes later, I was weeping like a character in an old Joan Crawford movie, frantically paging through tomes of Greek tragedy looking for a storyline, a scrap of dialogue… anything to help me to translate one of the eighteen thousand stories from my head to the page. At that moment, I was Medea without the kids or crappy husband. But just like that crazy gal, the only thing I found at the end of the rainbow was more frustration. Rather than kill everyone and myself, I dove into a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream and a stack of Netflix and tried to pretend nothing had happened. I had, in a word, panicked. And it was not pretty. My husband stayed out of my way for days. Even the dogs wouldn’t come near me, hiding under the bed when I walked into the room. Dogs know crazy.
My limited wisdom told me I needed to approach storytelling from a fresh perspective. And any approach that involved a writing implement, legal pad, journal or computer was definitely out.
I was… alone… in The Gap.
As a way to distract myself from actually solving the problem of my inability to write, I decided to… lose 25 pounds? No. Volunteer at one of the charities I support? Nuh uh. Direct a movie?
Yeah, that’s the ticket.