It’s been a very long time since I felt my heart beating that fast.
It was the weekly meeting of the writing group, where volunteers offered up ten pages of their material for a read-through and critiquing. The time was right to take the low-budget comedy out for its first road test.
Despite my confidence in my own writing ability, anxiety was coursing through me. What if they didn’t like it? What if my attempts at jokes fell flat? Worst of all – what if they thought it wasn’t funny? These meetings are held at a small cafe, so the strongest drink in the house was coffee, so I couldn’t rely on a stiff drink to steady my nerves.
To make things that much more nerve-wracking, the moderator (who knows and likes my writing) had me going last. This may have been deliberate on his part.
We worked our way through the other three sets of pages, and then finally it was my turn.
I took a deep breath, stood up, and began distributing pages (complete with assigned parts), explaining the concept behind the story. Upon reflection, the chuckles and comments of “Oh, that’s good” and “I like it” were harbingers of what was to come.
Even so, I had to force myself to take deep breaths and calm down as the read-through commenced.
Also working in my favor: the person portraying the main character was spot-on.
They got to the first joke.
And they laughed.
To say I felt a sense of relief is a severe understatement, but it was exactly the reaction I was hoping for.
The read-through continued, with laughs in the places they were supposed to be. As expected, some jokes hit better than others, but it wasn’t that much of an issue.
A few minutes later, it was over, and we transitioned to the feedback stage.
Overall, it was very positive. Comments were made about what worked, what needed work, and potential changes. Some of the suggestions had merit and worth considering, but for the most part (and keeping in mind that a few members of the group are not the greatest writers – based on reading their work), I smiled, nodded and thanked each person for their thoughts.
Once again proving it’s all subjective, one person said my character descriptions were “too much” and maybe “too flashy”, but the person sitting to my left interjected and heartily disagreed, saying “a lot of the writing in other scripts is just dry and kind of dull, but this really pops off the page and paints a great mental picture.” A few nods around the table supported the latter position. If your work sparks contrasting opinions, then it must have something going for it.
The evening came to a close, and I left, feeling just the slightest bit triumphant.
For now, I’m still working my way through the first draft, and a lot of the jokes probably need a ton of work, but at least I can say I got past this first hurdle.
Should be interesting to see how things go from here.
-Shameless self-promotion! The Great American Pitch Fest is only two weeks away, so there’s still time to register. Save yourself a nice chunk of change by using the code MaximumZ20 to get 20 percent off. I’ll be there, and hope to see you too.