The strangest thing, so far, is trying to wrap my mind around the motives for writing original stories. (Even taking a spec script of an existing show as such.) It feels unbelievably selfish. I'm writing something that other people may never see. I'm spending loads and loads of time doing this!
Writing fan fiction, as I've done for quite a while, is different. It feels like community service. I'm not separated from other fans even while I'm working alone on a story, because we all share this world, and because you will all be willing to enter my corner of it once I finish the story and put it where you can read it.
The sense of the built-in audience isn't compelling just because I know I'll get feedback.
It's the major motivation I've had for writing. What I do is worth something because it will touch people. It will speak to them, it will make them think, perhaps cause them to change or respond in some way. It will have an effect.
This kind of writing is like dropping effort into a bottomless pit.
It requires a hell of a lot more belief and intensity to manage. I've been struggling with this since I started trying to meet this deadline, and I still haven't hit the point where I'm completely okay with it.
(I miss fan fiction like you would not believe. Coming online and seeing people posting makes me feel lost and lonely and on the outside. Some great fic going up right now, and I'm still reading, and that makes me feel like I've com home--but not contributing is still painful.)
Beyond that, working on this original piece is altering what I thought I wanted out of such writing. In such a career.
I've been convinced that I want to write for television. Now, that's still true: the idea of working with a team of writers on story arcs, of creating stories for characters with backgrounds and relationships that have built up over time, has great appeal for me.
That's something I discovered by writing fic. I think it's something I am (and would be) good at.
But it's also very, very difficult. There's a limit in writing "canon." It really is about writing stories for these characters. There's not much of a chance to write what's in your own heart (unless it coincides with a story you pitch or are assigned--I'm pretty sure that Julie Hebert of Numb3rs has a personal connection with the idea of collateral emotional damage from the episodes she writes).
That hasn't bothered me until now.
I tend to say that what I love best about writing is getting to tell stories. I think that's true. But with the effort to write this procedural spec, I'm noticing a craving to do more than that.
I also tend to say that I don't think I have much to say. I don't have secrets to reveal; I don't know any Big Important Revelations About Life to pass on.
But now I'm starting to (almost against my will) believe the opposite. That I do have things to say, whether I know what they are or not. That as much fun as it might be to write for television, I might get bored with the restrictions.
If I end up writing screenplays instead, maybe that would be okay.
Maybe having the freedom to say what I have to say would be worth the solitude and uncertain finances and unlikely prospect of getting my work produced.
I'm not sure. But this seems to be the journey I'm on right now.