I thought it was time to talk about my biggest project out there right now, my screenplay entitled Memory of Shane and its subsequent novel that I am writing. This story is really about two years in the making and since I am writing the novel version the idea continues to be ongoing.
The project started as a short story that I wrote for an advanced writing class about two years ago. I never imagined that I would write this story beyond this class because it was a good piece, and there were so many places I wanted to go with it, but the ten-page limit really made me believe that I was done. But, when the opportunity came to choose a story for my second screenwriting class (where our goal was to write the first draft of act one of a full-length screenplay) I jumped at the chance to explore my story again.
Writing the first act was so amazing. I really got to know the story down to its bones, and I knew the developing it into a screenplay would give me the opportunity to refine my dialogue skill to a new level. In my advanced screenplay class, we finished act two and looked toward the future for act three. I knew by the end of my advanced screenwriting class where I would go in the final act, it would be a few more months until I finished my complete first draft, and of course, there was a long editing period.
But where did this story come from? I will admit the story is a work of fiction, but as any writer will tell you, it is impossible for your real life not to make its way onto the page. The basis of Memory of Shane is a love story between Adriana, the young nineteen-year-old not looking for love and Shane the young writer hoping for his big break. What drove me to even start to write a love story was rooted in what happened in my own personal relationship with my girlfriend at the time in 2007.
I will write many blogs about the weeks and months that lead to my diagnosis. After leaving the psychiatric ward for the first time there was true chaos in my life. I was on new medication that I didn’t believe in. I had some idea where my life was heading, and so I was worried about the emotional toll that being in a relationship with me would be for my girlfriend. I loved her, and she was willing to stick it out with me, but I did the unthinkable and ended my relationship in a very Bipolar way. She came to my house and I broke up with her. I was a jerk there is no getting around that now. Looking back, I know my girlfriend would’ve stuck by me but it just wasn’t fair to her because, as I would find out, 2008 and 2009 were the worst years of my life.
What does this have to do with anything? Well with writing Memory of Shane I had the opportunity to explore if and how two people could coexist when one of the people in the relationship is bipolar. On some level, I wanted to imagine if a person like me could be in a healthy relationship. I worked so many scenarios in my mind that it gave me the ability to write a story that, at some level, could have been my own life. Our past choices are long gone now, but it’s great as a writer to explore your past through your writing.
It is almost impossible for my own life not to sneak into my writing, but in this work, my character Shane does reflect my own experiences with Bipolar One. We both fell in love at the start of our diagnosis although Shane tried to hold on to Adriana. Both Shane and I can trace our symptoms to our teen years. I even wrote a scene where Shane spends days laying down in his bed in complete darkness, I did so many times during my long cycles of depression.
Beyond the diagnosis, both Shane and I tried to take our lives three times, thought Shane was unfortunately successful becoming a statistic. There was a part of me that, when I wrote Shane’s death in the story, that once and for all that any thoughts of suicide in my own life were dead. I would no longer walk down that dark path that leads to suicide. It became true when I made the decision to end my character Shane’s life, I would lock that part of me away that piece of me forever.
After finishing my full-length screenplay of Memory of Shane it came down to if I would write the novel version. I put so much into this project, could I really do it again? It took months before I could revisit the idea again and eventually I gave in. It will be interesting for me to explore this story once again.
So, there is a little history on my project Memory of Shane.
Photo Credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters