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Why being a screenwriter is a reward in itself

As a screenwriter, your craft isn't without its challenges. But damn is it worth it!

Why being a screenwriter is a reward in itself

Photo by Iannis Aliferis

Photo by Iannis Aliferis
Iannis is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. His dramedy screenplay Mary and Dionysus was a Semi-Finalist at the Shore Scripts Feature Screenplay Competition 2018 as well as reaching the Quarterfinals at the 2019 Scriptapalooza Screenwriting Competition, while his short film Headz won a Gold Lion Award at the 2016 London Film Awards. When he's not writing screenplays or making films, he scribes short stories and comic books. He also loves to eat and sleep. He’s a sucker for dark chocolate, and honey. Finally, he's a firm believer that humankind was at its best during the thousands of years of hunting and gathering but knows that, unfortunately, he wouldn't last two days alone in the wilderness.

I'm going to be honest. I had been struggling with a troublesome kind of notion for the better part of a whole year. A thought that invaded my consciousness, conquered and had an almost debilitating effect on my life. This fiend's origin, and its arrival in my awareness, are all blurry and unnecessary.

Is there a point to writing if what one writes is not widely read?

In terms of screenwriting, my favored vocation, the above could be translated as; Is there a point in writing a screenplay if it doesn't become a film?

Contemplating this produced a somewhat paralyzing effect, to which I struggled to put pen to paper for a while. After all, most would agree art is to be shared. It's made for the human collective and the world. This path of production and full recognition also leads to payment.

After all, we do live in a monetary society. Money is a welcomed commodity of obvious importance, but it is of secondary concern. A writer wants their content to be read, and a screenwriter wants to see their work on the screen. If that is not the result, it raises this question: Why am I even continuing with this?

Screenwriting is not an easy profession and a lot more challenging to break into. You can spend six months bleeding over a keyboard (to paraphrase Hemingway), writing 120 pages you know may never amount to anything. Even being an active, sought-after screenwriter has its drawbacks.

You're mainly hired to work on other people's scripts, many times making small changes where others had done so before you. Suppose you manage to have your original script produced (and that is a big if), you're usually asked to change it drastically, for reasons that seem highly illogical from your perspective.

Yet, you can't help, but count your blessings.

Most times, other writers are brought in to make changes. Although stories one hears about screenwriters might be a myth, still, as they say: there is no smoke without fire. If you're just starting, get ready to face rejection on quite a frequent basis, so much so it's the best one develops skin as thick as sperm whales.

It's true; sperm whales have the thickest skin (I Googled it ).

Since we writers tend to be of quite a sensitive disposition, that is easier said than done. One should also bear in mind the need for spare capital, which has become an essential requirement for those who want to break into the industry.

Many avenues have popped up, and almost all of them require a fee, creating more opportunities. On the other hand, one has to work harder to eat and pay rent and have something on the side to enter competitions, pitch their script to an executive, or have it displayed on a website frequented by industry professionals.

As one can see, going down this screenwriting path and keeping course once one is in, is a proper hustle and a real grind. I managed to avoid such a conundrum in the previous years by joining forces with a friend and making our short films. They were super low budget, but it meant my writing was produced and presented in front of an audience at festivals. Some of those films even won awards around the world.

Alas, all things come to an end.

The partnership dissolved, we both relocated to different places, and regardless, the fact of the matter was, one could only make so many short films. The need to make a feature is too significant of a lure and the ultimate desire of most aspiring screenwriters. I ended up spending a lot of time contemplating my life.

I gave screenwriting a rest and wrote prose instead. I soon started to feel all nostalgic about screenwriting, and melancholia would slowly seep in as the evil thought persisted like a thorn to my side.

Deliverance came when I stumbled upon the quote by writer Henry Miller, whose work I always admired. It simply read, "writing is its own reward." I laughed out loud when I saw it. It was so evident and pure, and I berated myself for being such a damn fool for so long for not coming to this realization myself.

Thus, I resumed screenwriting with a newfound sense of freedom, enjoying the act for what it is — an exhilarating experience of creating your own worlds, filling up blank pages with all sorts of intriguing, mischievous, radical stories. Stories all consisting of romance and heartbreak, death-defying action, timeless adventure, and nail-biting suspense.

Beyond anything else that comes with it, screenwriting is quite the ride in its purest form. Somewhere along my path, a feature screenplay of mine called "Only Love Matters" got traction and is at this very moment in development with KQ Movies Ltd, a London-based company.

There is interest in other screenplays, yet nothing is certain in this industry, or the world as a whole. Things can easily change quickly. We will see how everything pans out. Hopefully, things get made because it's a thrill when they do. No matter what, I will keep at it, creating my little worlds day in and day out, until the damn wheels come off.

The one simple, undeniable truth of the matter is that writing is a reward.

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