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Have the Nerve to DO IT- Tackling the Impossible

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photo by The Bui Brothers

photo by The Bui Brothers

Editor’s note:  Taryn originally posted this as a status update on Facebook. I asked her if I could post this on Ms. In The Biz so we could all benefit from this amazing story.

On Sept 30th I received a message that my proposal for a ‘coming of age’ science and music based feature had made it through to the 2nd round of the Sundance Institute / Sloan Foundation Fellowship. Then I found out that the script or treatment was due IN TWO WEEKS. I had neither. I was leaving the next day to start shooting Granite Flats again. Cue happy dance heart attack.

For the proposal I had submitted an overview of the story, characters and science, but besides a few scene and dialogue bits, a ton of bookmarked physics and neuroscience articles and a feeling of what I wanted the script to inspire, I had nothing. And notes that I had received made me realize that I even needed to re-break a few of the basic story elements. Did I mention that script was heavily rooted in science? Not just science, STRING THEORY. I have never felt so overwhelmed and frustrated in my life. I have been dreaming of this idea for two years and now I was going to screw up a huge opportunity to get it made because I had procrastinated in writing it.

Last night I turned in a 60 page scriptment. (Thanks Jim Cameron for the term). I finished the scenes yesterday at noon and had until 6 to try to edit and clean up the entire draft. Some stuff didn’t get done. It’s messy and over written, one of my main characters changed mid stream and I don’t know if I caught all the places that needed to reflect that change. I make notes to myself in script while writing — I’m sure some of them are still there. But I got it done. And I’ve never been more proud of anything that I’ve ever created. I have never cried more writing something, both out of exhaustion and because so many moments moved me and made me laugh while writing them. And so many of them I found ‘in the moment’ — I had to be writing, just doing it, for the “ah ha” moment to strike. I had so many bloody “ah ha” moments I think I need therapy.

So why am I writing this here? (online therapy?) I’m not a big blogger anymore, and I don’t often post on Facebook. But if you’re reading this, you’re someone I consider a friend, so I wanted to share this experience. Intellectually, it seemed IMPOSSIBLE for me to get this scriptment finished. It was just too big, too dense in theme and science coupled with the coming of age character, fun and music (which was a beast itself!). But I had this cue card in front of me the whole time with these 6 words:

Have the NERVE to DO IT.

Apparently they can be attributed to J.K. Rowling. It makes sense.

The word nerve is evocative. It’s sharp and intense, communicative and connective. And it delivers a message to your body, to your brain. And the phrase is a challenge. It challenged me every day.

I have no doubt in my now exhausted mind that this project will get made. It may not be directly because of this Fellowship, but entirely because of it all the same. Because in having the nerve to do what I thought was impossible, I created a piece that is every part as flawed, emotional, funny, and smart as I am. I had no choice but to use myself.

So have the nerve, trust that you — in the moment — is better than any idea you have, and that if something seems impossible, it’s your brain telling you that this might finally be the time for you to finally tackle your dream.

I think this is where I give my thanks to my awesome husband Garrett Brodie for dealing with my insanity and an office that looks like it’s out of the set for ‘A Beautiful Mind’ (check out my Instagram for further proof). Also a big thanks to my fellow Scirens for picking up the slack while I was MIA. And to Carrie Cook for once telling me that this was one of the best ideas for a script that she had every heard. It’s kept me going.

We don’t often discuss the ‘process’ in Hollywood, just the final result, which is a different beast all together, so maybe I’ll keep doing it for this project.

It’s called IN TUNE — aka SAM WRITES A SYMPHONY.

Thanks for reading.

Taryn O'Neill

About Taryn O'Neill

TARYN is an actress, writer and new media producer originally from Vancouver, Canada. A competitive figure skater for 12 years, she graduated from Duke University. She has appeared on the TV shows ‘Vegas’, ‘Navy N.C.I.S.’, ‘The Inside’ ‘Lie to Me’ and plays a recurring role on the BYUTV family drama ‘Granite Flats’. She has acted in over 20 webseries (winning Best Supporting Actress at the Indie Soap awards for her work on ‘Compulsions’) as well as producing two series (including the Streamy nominated scifi series ‘After Judgment’.) She added writing to her repertoire after starting a blog in 2009, and in 2010, her first comedy script, “The Very True Adventures of the Madoff Girls,” was a Finalist in the NYTVFest FOX Comedy Pilot Contest. She has since written a full length series for ‘Stan Lee’s World of Heroes’ and has numerous web and tv projects in development, scifi being her genre of choice. In her spare time she studies all things science and trains in martial arts. Her quest to be an onscreen badass was first chronicled at her tumblr Operation BABE (Badass Alien-Fighting Body Endeavor), and has evolved into being a blog about being an inspired badass in all areas of life.