Of Cavemen and Kismet

Nisaba, also known as Nidaba, is the Sumerian Goddess of writing. She inspired the invention of Cuneiform in southern Mesopotamia

A hush falls over the room, and our inner caveman dares to venture outside the circle of firelight to gaze open-mouthed when Fate smiles.  For she speaks to us in capital letters, no matter what name we call her: Serendipity, Lady Luck, or perhaps Divine Intervention. A thousand horrible little misfortunes may assail us with …

A hush falls over the room, and our inner caveman dares to venture outside the circle of firelight to gaze open-mouthed when Fate smiles.  For she speaks to us in capital letters, no matter what name we call her: Serendipity, Lady Luck, or perhaps Divine Intervention.

A thousand horrible little misfortunes may assail us with neither rhyme nor reason, and we shake our heads at the sheer random chance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But when that one Opportunity or that uniquely special Someone walks through the door with a million dollar smile and our heart in their hands, we know that Kismet has turned her eyes upon us and we are Chosen.

We may sacrifice, we may meticulously plan and work our fingers to the bone.  But when Destiny offers her benediction, she arises like a parade balloon saint and steals all the credit.

Me?  I don’t believe in fate, with or without the capital letter. I think more things are random than we care to admit.  And yet…and yet…when an unbelievably apropos writing opportunity landed in my lap, I backed away from the fire and gazed up at the stars and wondered, why me?

It isn’t wise to dwell on such questions.  Rather, let me relate my brush with Kismet (yes, she is as beautiful as they say).  I was lying in a cheap motel in a small town in Utah watching bad cable TV when my phone rang.  At ten o’clock at night?  Who would call me here? Now?  Must be a wrong number. Through the miracle of technology (and cell phone caller ID) I ruled out any number of familial crises and chose to answer anyway.

The voice on the other end asked, “Remember me? You helped so much when we were editing our movie trailer last winter.”

I recalled nodding my head a lot on a Skype call and correcting some grammar and awkward contractions, which didn’t seem “so much.”  But size is relative, right? “Yes,” I answered, “that was fun.”

“We’d like you to write the whole screenplay.”  Screenplay.  As in full-length, science fiction motion picture.

My brain blanked out.  I’d never even looked at a movie script, let alone knew anything about the art and science of script writing.  So naturally, I asked, “What’s the deadline and how much is written so far?”

“Nothing is written, but we have about 30 versions of the story idea—a lot is in my head.  The first draft has to be ready in two months.”

That’s when I saw her.  She appeared as Nisaba, Sumerian goddess of palace scribes. She glowed, all muted gold, like a statue unearthed from a tomb.  She leaned over, brushed my hair back, and kissed me on the brow. I stared deeply into her eyes, and insanity became me.

“I’ll do it.  When do we meet?”

A few weeks later, I had a seven-hour marathon meeting under my belt, a stack of library books and movies to serve as training wheels, some spanking new script writing software, and a blank computer screen.  Just last weekend (three months from the start), I turned in a 120-page first draft of which I am inordinately proud.  Don’t be fooled by electronic versioning and back-ups; I wrote it in blood.

I know the story will change.  I may be just one of a string of writers, but I’ve accomplished something I never dared dream.

Needless to say, I was away from A Word with You Press and my other creative endeavors while I was completely absorbed building worlds and putting flesh on the bones of a cast of characters who now live inside my head.  They pester me relentlessly about all the things they’ll do differently in the second draft.  I have no choice but to comply.

Nisaba peeks in on me now and then when I’m feverishly typing.  I wanted her to come cool my brow, but no, she just laughs and disappears again.

I don’t know where she goes.  Perhaps you’ve seen her?

—————————————-

Diana helps out with things technical at A Word with You Press; she collated The Coffee Shop Chronicles anthology. If you have several million dollars available for funding epic science fiction features, contact her at Diana@awordwithyoupress.com or through her Web site Diana Diehl Presents (http://www.dianadiehlpresents.com).

12 comments

  1. Glclark says:

    Congratulations on the job and also the beautifully written story. After reading this, it is no surprise they wanted you to write the script. 

  2. Diane I imangine how you feel but to do a script off the bat like that boarders on herculanean focus and insight, I also imagine the two months went rather quick.  I myself am on draft 7 with no end in sight.  It is all right though, my Kismet is between the lines.  Good luck with your new career.

  3. Mac Eagan says:

    Beautiful piece here, Diana.  Sci-fi script?  If the characters are fighting about revisions and their role in such, then I know your emphasis was on story and not technology.  Cannot wait to hear more.

    • diana_SD says:

      Thank you, Mac.  There will be beaucoups technology, but that is definitely not in the script, yet.  Very little of “please pass the Quantum Phase Ventriculator.”  But there should be at least one of those, don’t you think?  I can’t wait to tell more.  And write more.  I should be careful what I hope for!

  4. Vincent says:

    The whole time, she had been nursing her story in another brain-partition when she took out the time to listen to you babble on about holographic simulations and stray children and old characters coming back for more. She did that! She sat and filtered through all your bollocks, and you came out of that conversation with Diana holding in your metaphysical hands the notes for the rest of the story that you had /barely even thought about/.

    All that. All that while she had simply hit the pause button on her remote, her story’s screen stuck with a staticy horizontal grey line fidgeting nervously like the boy who waits for his date an hour early. You should thank her again, Vincent. You should do that.

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