Every so often, a moment pops out of the story, grabs you, and doesn't let go. A Perfect Ten is our love letter to moments in Solid 8 that we can't wait to tackle. Today, co-creator Taylor Williams discusses the dangers of writing what you know.
My Perfect 10 is an episode. Or, more specifically, the most difficult episode of Solid 8 that I had to write.
Episode six of our season, “Shot O'Clock,” follows Nicki, Dylan, and Justin as they work their way through a bottle of vodka at their apartment. That's all of the physical action that happens in the episode, but it's what they talk about that really affects me. They're lamenting their place in the world, they're planning for future projects, and they're trying to figure out what it is about the three of them that they can use to get gigs down the road.
It took finishing the rest of the season to finally figure out what made this episode tick. I'm not all that good at procrastinating, but I dug deep and found new and inventive ways to put off rewrites for this one. This particular episode felt rudderless for the majority of the time we were drafting the season. Rather than a joke-packed premise, it felt like more of a breather between some really important episodes in the season.
A lot of that had to do with the start of the episode, where Nicki walks into the apartment to hear Dylan and Justin bickering about... something. I didn't know what, but it had to be something that could carry the theme of the episode on its back. I needed a premise that would support discussions about committing to something, and the fear that it might not be worth it in the end. Because I couldn't figure out the content of their conversation, I found other episodes to rewrite and continued putting off edits for "Shot O'Clock."
But I was still thinking about that opening scene. First, Dylan and Justin were talking about which was better, The Winter's Tale or Hamlet (because I have a lot of opinions about them). Then it was metaphysics. Then for a while it was about the movies Sliding Doors and Coherence (again, a lot of opinions). And finally, after what seemed like two lifetimes, it hit me: what about rewrites?
Of course. Obviously. Why wouldn't it be about rewrites? Dylan doesn't want to edit his way-too-long play before an informal reading, Justin's desperate for him to cut a whole act before the actors come in. The thing that I was dreading ended up saving me.
After that, the pages absolutely poured out. And mercy, were they brutal. The thing that no one tells you is that the advice “write what you know” ends with “...and be ready to hurt.” Taking jabs at my own procrastination, at those fears of being hurt by a project you want to succeed. It was like pulling teeth with my own fingers. But the final product is the episode I'm most proud to say I wrote this season. Because it was a struggle. Because it was a burden. And because, in the end, it was worth it.