Friday, May 14, 2010

Chapter Eight - Part One - Planning an Orchard

Planning an orchard from square one is rather daunting as I look at the field today. I am not a farmer. I didn't grow up on a farm. I like eating good things. I appreciate fields. I am a writer. I grew up in a family that certainly read. My father wrote columns for various newspapers in Colorado under the pen name "Big Mama World". That's as close as I come to a genetic understanding of writing. It wasn't really the formation of a writer who would naturally choose to envision a huge project.

As I research the metaphor of planting peaches I discover clues that might help me to write a project that will have a life of its own. Apparently, starting an orchard requires as much planning as writing a screenplay, or a series of screenplays require. I'm intimidated, but curious about both. Remembering this is likely a mistake, that will become a brick on my yellow brick road is tentatively soothing.

One thing that most new screenwriters fall into thinking is that they'll write a script in a few weeks, send it off and it will be bought, of course, and be in the movie theaters next year. Error! At least, I've been in the business long enough to understand that writing a script itself takes a year, and seeing it become an actual film can take a minimum of three years, and as many as ten years, if ever at all. Turns out, the same thing with orchards! So you have to have in place a long-term plan where you can survive the interim years while the orchard is maturing to a state of fruition.

For me, the comfortable amount of time to develop the kinds of stories I want to develop and write them and see them bear fruit feels like a decade. A decade??? Geez. How can that be? But, it is true. I don't really expect to see the fullness of my work expressed for 10 years. There may be initial crops in three to five years, but the full production of what I envision will take a decade at least. And, when I envision where I want to be in a decade, sitting in a mature orchard seems right.

The things I will look at in my long-term, decade long plan, are:

What is the market these days for both publishing and the movie industry? (If there is no market for fruit, guess what the farmer has to do? EAT IT!)

Who are my consumers? What are they interested in?

What can I do to improve the conditions of my fields (my creative quotient, my space, my time) so that the orchard (the new franchise) has the best possibility of growing?

How are my finances situated to support a long-term endeavor like this? What can I do to shore that up without endangering the entire project?

How can I get better equipment (new laptop, new printer, new software) to work this orchard?

Then eventually I have to look at the trees that I'll plant and their needs. I'll need to understand varieties and rootstocks that are available to me as a writer.

For writing the pollination of a project is getting it from manuscript/script form to published and produced. I don't want to plant show trees, that bloom and bloom and never produce the messy fruit. I want the messy fruit, and so I will need collaborators including agent(s), lawyers, editor(s), proofreader(s) and even mentor(s) who have some experience with this kind of project. Lots of busy bees to at some point add to the solitary writer's life.

I'll be picking these details apart in the next few months I imagine. Stay tuned if you're interested in the process...;)

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