How Is Writing Like Sex? Screenwriter Laura Goode Counts The Ways
After publishing her debut novel Sister Mischief last fall, self-described feminist poet Laura Goode tackled yet another genre, collaborating with best friend Meera Menon to write a feature film screenplay called Farah Goes Bang, the story of a woman who tries to lose her virginity while on the road campaigning for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. To promote the film as well as the art of sex-positive storytelling, they’ve also launched a blog called Cherry Bomb. Naturally, Sexy Grammar had a few questions:
Sexy G: You’re accepting submissions right now for Cherry Bomb.
Laura Goode: Yes! We want to hear about the first time you had sex. Contributions can be totally anonymous, and we’ve password-protected the page to make the writers feel extra safe. You can only get the password one of two ways: contribute a story or donate to our Kickstarter campaign. I’m so happy to be co-editing Cherry Bomb with Neela Banerjee, who edited Indivisible, an anthology of poetry by South Asian authors. I knew she’d be totally into our themes of sexuality, art, and diversity.
Sexy G: Are those the themes of Farah Goes Bang? Sexuality, art, and diversity? In another interview you managed to boil down your first novel, Sister Mischief, into three words: feminism, poetry, and Minnesota.
Laura Goode: I think for this film it’s: three girls, two candidates, and a gun. Or maybe: a girl who wants to have sex, an election we all know they’re going to lose, and the great American highway.
Farah Goes Bang is Thelma and Louise meets Y Tu Mama Tambien meets On The Road. No one’s going to give you permission to tell the story you most need to tell. You just have to tell it. And the story of a girl losing her virginity later on (i.e. after college) is something Meera and I have been talking about for years. In terms of the process–we’ve been through 16 drafts of this script, and we’re on number 17 now.
I believe so strongly in the value of revision, and I think having a writing partner for this project has made revision a lot easier and better. Meera and I judge all of our writing choices by each other’s reaction–did this line make her laugh? Did you choke up on that page? And as a result, I think we really empower each other to be ruthless about our choices–if something doesn’t work, it gets cut, no matter how much one of us loves it. We’re really fucking serious about making a great movie. And I couldn’t be more glad that we took two years to write those drafts–we really gave ourselves the time to spread out in this project and marinate on it and make it a script we were incredibly proud of.
Sexy G: Some writing teachers suggest always cutting your favorite lines.
Laura Goode: Yes! You have to kill your darlings. You have to murder them with your bare hands through your tears.
Sexy G: Writing can be so gory! At Sexy Grammar, we often compare writing to sex. How is writing like sex for you?
Laura Goode: Like sex, sometimes hammering really hard on the same point in writing and expecting it to get you to the next level just chafes after a while. You have to be willing to try new positions, new points of view, new things that are outside your comfort zone. You have to not just work hard, but work smart. I also think sex and writing are equally filled with surprises.
Sexy G: And you obviously love both activities.
Laura Goode: I do! I love both sex and writing! A lot! Publicly! In both sex and writing, humor is the silver bullet. You HAVE to be willing and ready to laugh in bed and at the desk. I think sex is funniest when we realize how seriously we’re taking ourselves. I’m sure my husband finds me sexier when I’m laughing than when I’m, like, sultrily brooding. And in writing, it’s the same. If you’re taking yourself too seriously, if the mission of your message is to tell people something really serious–sometimes that’s appropriate, and sometimes it’s total masturbation.
And I’m about to make Meera uncomfortable, but–the best partners in both sex and writing are people who bring things to the table that you never would have thought of on your own. Meera is so that partner for me. She is one kinky motherfucker . . . literarily speaking.
Sexy G: Many of our readers have screenwriting in mind today because it’s the first day of Script Frenzy. Any words of wisdom for them?
Laura Goode: Churn out those pages! I totally support those writers, and that’s the best advice I have–nothing but writing makes you a writer. So write. Write like your life depends on it. Because it does.
You can get in on the action by submitting your own cherry popping story for Farah Goes Bang’s companion blog, Cherry Bomb or by giving to the Kickstarter campaign. At Sexy Grammar, we’re swooning over the thoughtful gifts they offer their backers. Pledge $100, and you get a priceless copy of what Laura Goode calls, “the most humiliating possible collection of all of our team’s early creative work.” Pledge $1,000 and you get a role in the film!