We see a close up shot of a grey river inching over the rocky bank, as the swollen current rushes in torrents past a quaint cabin. It is dark. We see, through warmly lit windows, white papers spilling over couches and chairs, dishes piled high on the counter, and a woman, who may have been in her pajama’s for days on end, hair disheveled, wild-eyed at her computer, writing feverishly. Is she calling for help on the only communication device she has, asking to be airlifted out of the god forsaken wilderness by helicopter before she is swallowed up by the river or even worse? There is a knock at the door!
She wonders if the scene she is beginning to write on her computer will ever be completed and becomes confused about whether the story she is writing is the wrong one: As the camera moves in we see on the blue computer screen, these words.
“Scene opens with instant close up shot of a man in blizzard conditions, face barely visible under the neoprene climbing mask, struggling to summit the last few feet of Denali. We see no one else but him. He is exhausted, unable to breathe at 20,000 feet as he is reaching for a hand and then foothold.”
Maybe being swept away in the current of a freezing river, only to be washed ashore and taken in by a pack of wolves where she becomes “Wolf Woman” and terrorizes other tourists that do not suspect that being lost in the wild might be a dangerous proposition, is the real movie. Or maybe she is held as collateral for the white slave trade that is in partnership with the Meth labs dotting the barren landscape….maybe she should be writing this story. Hmmm which would make a better movie?
So, my week in the wilds of Missouri marched along to include mud, rain, Todd wandering unshaven, a wild man, on the back roads in his Hummer in order to find a new way to get out of where we were since the river might have been uncrossable. Possums on the porch, an eerie absence of all animal life, save the occasional squirrel and yes the birds finally returned. But not many of them. The time turned me from sceptic that where I was could be hospitable or in fact endearing. The stark area we were settled in became the perfect remedy for an overactive mind and rest settled deep into my bones. The time with Todd went from two frazzled visionaries, to two rested, well fed, laughing people thrown together by an idea who produced a product far from my wildest expectations.
Now, I have the task of taking a week of inspired ideas, crazy excitement and scenes that made both of us cry and put it all on the written page which translates to each page being one minute of screen time. My first job, the harder one, is to make the first five pages, the first five minutes, so inescapably tense and mesmerizing that ever single person that reads it either wants to buy the story, put hard cash and their first-born on the table and get the movie made. Studios want only to see the first five and if you hook them you get asked to send the whole screenplay for consideration. This is what I am doing now that I am tucked back with my less than wild cats Snow and Hazel, here in Asheville. I have my purple comforter pulled up all around me as the cooler air of winter is dancing through the trees outside my window and oddly I find myself missing Missouri. Who would have thunk it?
Next stop Virginia. But that is a another story.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.