I can say that as a writer I never have had any expectations that my writing would be adapted into anything other than perhaps another format of the same thing. I love writing, and I think I write things that are not the same-old-same-old (said every writer ever). I let my ideas guide me. But all that said, I also know that as one writer in a sea of writers I am not going to garner the attention that other writers of more notoriety and recognition will. And that’s fine. I didn’t start writing because I thought I’d be famous or see films and plays or whatever made of my work. I started writing because I wanted to tell stories and I still want to tell them. Over the course of telling these stories I have been lucky enough to have people really dig what I was doing, which, truly, is why you put your work out there. It’d be great to be paid to write but it’s pretty awesome to have people ‘get’ what you are doing and to appreciate it.
Saying all this though, I can’t say I have ever expected or believed I would be ‘adapted’. It just didn’t seem likely. Flash forward to the release of my first book, Back From Nothing and a friend decides that she is going to adapt the whole book as a film. Now, it was a far-fetched idea, to say the least, but it was neat to think that someone felt so passionately about the book that they even WANTED to do something like that. That’s awesome.
The adaptation never happened and the friend and I lost touch but again, it was neat to think What If.
Since then I have certainly written things that I can envision living on in other forms but know that that won’t happen.
A handful of years ago though a friend asked me if I would write a couple screenplays for short films for him. I had never written a screenplay, and still have no idea what I am doing, but I wrote essentially treatments for him. One was about an elderly couple dealing with some trouble making kids at the building they lived in and the second one dealt with a boy that was seeing a monster no one else saw. I really dig both of the ideas and think there’s a lot to mine there. I didn’t expect anything to come of what I’d sent my friend but to my surprise someone wanted to make one of the two into a short film. A local filmmaker really liked the story about the boy and he set about adapting it for a short.
The short that was made from my story is definitely different than my story but it has its own life and breath. It is its own thing. I didn’t and don’t mind that it’s different than my vision because it’s someone else’s vision now, and it’s someone else’s baby. It’s like shared ownership. Like sharing a child after a divorce.
The same filmmaker is adapting another story of mine a story that is part of a bigger story and myth cycle I have been writing about for a while. This time I am more involved in the process in that I know the filmmaker and he has invited me to share the process. And it’s fascinating to watch, to see things come together and know that ‘my baby’s grown up’. The story is mine, and will always be mine, but it’s about to become something else, something more. It’s about to emerge from its cocoon and will live on in another form. People who will never know my name or that I ever existed will see it and experience that story. That’s pretty neat. It was fascinating to see what the director envisions, how he sees the story, and where he wants to take it. Interesting to hear how they are going to make the film. Amazing to hear that so many actors are interested in the film. So many people will be working on something that started with me that it makes my head spin. Heck, I may even cameo in it. Zowie!
I can understand and appreciate the possessiveness authors and fans feel regarding stories, especially when they go completely away from the core material. The thing is that it’s an adaptation and is good or bad but that doesn’t take away from that original material. It doesn’t lessen it. Sure, we hate that there’s a lousy version of something we love – or wrote – but we gotta get over it. If you were big enough to get something made from your work, you got paid. If you’re not that big and got something adapted you have to look at it as more attention for your work. And for fans, we just need to lighten up. Not ever adaptation works, or will be good and not every work is easily adaptable. It is what it is.
For me, the fact that one person believes in and likes a story of mine enough to want to create new art from it is a heck of a thing. It’s a huge compliment. It will live on well after I am gone. That’s awesome. I hope people like it. I hope the FILMMAKER likes it. I hope the people who will invest hours and hours of their lives into adapting it will like it. Me, I hope I like it, sure, but for me, the fact that it will live, it will exist, and that this story I wrote will have a life beyond me is enough, and more than I could ever ask.