Saturday, November 5

Halted

Feeling guilty?  ...Or free?

Has time off ever felt this good?


I think this new frame of mind is finally settling in comfortably. It's got its flannel blanket, its slippers, robe, newspaper or what-have-you...seated back in its favorite chair. I had said previously that I didn't want to write for the "success" of it...to be a famous writer. I wanted to write simply because it made me feel good, because I liked being creative. Just for the sake of writing. At first it was rocky. I felt guilty when I didn't write, didn't get any work done. And that's after, like, two days!


Now? It's been over a month. I haven't written for the "My Missing Brother" story in over a month, since before I left for Cleveland. I also haven't been updating this blog. I thought this would eat away at me. I thought I would feel awful for not trying to live the dream, or at least achieve something! But I don't. I feel fine with it. I've accepted that there will be times when I'm just not feeling it. When I plain don't want to write. And since I'm not relying on any sort of paycheck or anything...there's no fire under my butt to finish.

Now, there was one thing.... I was approached on Twitter by a nice guy who offered his company's professional reading service to me. I was really pleased and excited by this, and really am thinking of taking up the offer. However, I get the impression it's somewhat time-sensitive. And that's cool, I get it. But...if I'm not writing, the window of opportunity closes a little more every day, and I get further from the possibility of qualifying for that offer. I'm both upset and okay with this. It's kind of weird.

I have and I haven't been busy. Sure, I could offer up all kinds of excuses: I'm working, spending time with my wife, spending time with my mom - who's back in town after years of being away, doing things with friends more often, blah blah blah. I also have a Tumblr that I check every day, so I'm spending time on that now, too. Batman: Arkham City just came out, so I've been doing that a lot (and, GOD, is it good!). There's so many other things that I'm choosing to do with my time instead of writing.


Yes, I completely understand that it's never going to get done if I don't DO IT -- but, for once, I don't feel bad about not doing it. It's more of a feeling of, "When I'm ready for it, I'll do it," right now. I guess I'm just not ready.

There is a flip side to this, though. Isn't there always? Alright, so I'm at peace with not writing at this moment. How long will that last? I just had a birthday two days ago. I'm a quarter-of-a-century old now. And please, older folk who've "been around the block" or whatever, don't laugh at how young I am and "how much time I have." I've heard it all (cynical much?). How am I going to feel about my non-progress next month? Next year? When will I start again? And how does this affect my projected timeline?

Everyone has one - a timeline. Something that they have in their minds of where they expect or hope to be at certain points in their life. A plan. Goals. Whatever you want to call it. So what's mine? If I were focused on the success and fame of writing, then I know I should be panicking right now. 25 years old? No real significant, completed work under my belt to show for it? That's not good for publishing or financial success, in my opinion. But, since I feel like I'm okay with not writing for now, that shouldn't matter. And I'm not panicking. I just wonder...how long will that last? 

How much time do I really have?

See, back to that now. Yeah, I just turned 25. Yeah, I'm still young. It's the oldest I've ever been. I'm always told two things - and it's really confusing (tell me if you've heard these before): "You're still young, you've got a lot of time ahead of you," whenever someone encourages me to take my time with things or not to worry -- and, "That time is gonna fly right by, and before you know it, you're 40-something wondering where it all went," whenever I reiterate the first one.

So which is it?

Do I have time? Or don't I?

Or is it a combination? I have time to do what I want, but make sure I do it before it's too late? Still kind of confusing and contradictory, but I'll take it, I guess. Hey, at least I don't have kids I need to worry about and take up my time as well. Yet.

Sunday, October 2

Absence

I suppose I should write up something quick for today.

I am leaving today to fly to Cleveland, OH, to see my Mom...and then drive her back here to California. I'll be gone for about a week. So I thought I'd just quickly update my blog so that it's not too long between posts.

Turns out I have a lot of mixed feelings about this move my Mom's making. Sure, I'm really, really happy to be having her back and local so that I can see her often, but at the same time I'm feeling a pang of sadness for Cleveland itself. I've mentioned it before, how attached to that city I am. It used to be somewhere we'd go every couple of years or so for Christmas in order to visit my Grandma...and therefore was something special. I grew to love the city and the atmosphere (and the snow!). As I got older, I attached myself in other ways. The Cleveland Indians became my favorite sports team. I'd check out the music scene and hit up the Rock Hall.

When my Mom moved out there a few years ago, I was happy for her...because she felt it was something she had to do. I was losing her to Cleveland, but she was gaining happiness from it. Mind you, this is the person I've lived with my whole life. It felt like opposite empty nest anxiety. So we made it a point to get me out there once every year to hang out and spend time together. Hasn't happened in a while, so that's a little bit of a bummer. But, hey, I'm seeing her tomorrow morning. So, happy ending.

So this is, basically, one of the last times I'm going to see Cleveland. My Grandma moved to Tampa, Florida, and my Mom is coming back out here to stay. I now only have one relative in Ohio, my cousin (of whom I've mentioned on this blog before). So we'll see if that ever turns into a return trip. It's difficult to think that I won't need to be returning to Cleveland anytime soon. I love that city. It's always felt like a home away from home. I go, and I always think to myself how I don't want to go back to California. I always want to stay. It's the location and setting of the screenplay I'm writing right now. So it's definitely important to me.

But nothing beats my Mom. She's absolutely fantastic, and incredibly more important to me than a city. So I'll take that over Cleveland any day.

Speaking of my screenplay...

I'M MAKING PROGRESS!!

I'm super happy with how it's going. During the last blog post, fate decided that I should just try to rewrite the script I started (that's currently stuck in limbo), instead of moving on to another project. And holy crap did that work out GREAT. So, knowing how I wanted the story to go, I just sat down and started it right back up at the beginning. Already, I could tell a major difference - an improvement - over the last version. I was doing a much better job of visualizing the scene, seeing everything in this world, and relaying the important information down in the script.



The scene description is better.
The dialog is better.
The characterizations are better.
The pacing is better.
The scene structure is better.
The relationships are better.


This revision is just 100% improved over the last. I'm extremely pleased with how it's going. Interestingly, it also took a very...adult twist. I'm talking in terms of language and graphic content. Sure, there was language before, but I'm not holding back this time. My desire for realness and sincerity in the scenes and dialog is preventing me from sugar-coating anything in this story.

My flame is rekindled in this story, and I'm hard at work. I'm definitely not as far as I was before, even though I feel like I'm working on it more often than I had before, and I'm taking that as a very good thing. It shows I'm taking my time with, focusing on more minute details and working on polishing each little blemish instead of bulldozing entire sections of the screenplay at a time for the sake of timeliness. It really shows.

I cannot wait to post some new scenes up on this blog...which I feel more confident about now...to give an example of what I've been working on, and the improvements it's made. In the meantime, I have to drive my Mom home from Cleveland...and so I'll be taking a little break. Who knows, maybe I'll do some writing during our stops. We'll see.

Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, September 23

Stagnation

Good news, bad news time.

Do you find it difficult to juggle multiple ideas?

I do have good news. I'm happier. I'm coming out of that funk that had me so down recently. Thank goodness. I just kind of realized it today while working. I just feel better. I think there was a combination of things that really helped me out this time. There was definitely that comic book signing with J.T. Krul and Sterling Gates. It went so well. It was awesome. I've met Sterling once before, and it was cool seeing him again. And meeting J.T. was just an absolute treat. I'm a big fan of his writing, and to finally get to speak with him about things was so fun. Also, a band that I love, Thrice's new album dropped on Tuesday. Needless to say, it was fantastic. I've listened to it countless times since getting it. I also got a hold of Foster the People's album...and that thing is FUN. It's been doing a great job of keeping me bouncy and upbeat.

So there have been a few things helping me to remember to stay happy lately. The bad news is, unfortunately, about writing. All of my "Brother" materials are still sealed away in our old computer...and I cannot get them off at this time. It appears whenever I turn the computer on, it never properly boots all the way to the desktop. So, my initial solution of just moving all my files to an external HD or a flash drive won't work at this moment...and we'll have to figure something else out.

Since I am uncomfortable continuing to write for "My Missing Brother" without the rest of my pre-written material, and I am still anxious to write, I have to come to a difficult decision. Something I've fallen victim to more than once in the past. Do I temporarily abandon this exercise for another?

I'm really hesitant to make this decision. More than once, my past, fickle self will just leap from one project to another with no rhyme or reason...simply subject to my whim. Even though I do have a reason this time, it still feels like it used to. And I'm afraid it will encourage old bad habits for future ideas and exercises. I treat it like a gateway drug, you know? I'm afraid that changing over, officially, to another exercise of mine will jeopardize my newfound dedication and allow my mind to flippantly decide it wants to write something else whenever it wants.

Can I trust myself to make this decision, and stay dedicated?

Can I hold myself accountable for these ideas and promise to come back to it when it's time?

Another thing that's getting me on this is that this exercise, "My Missing Brother", really meant something to me, and was very close to who I am and why I write. It was meant to be somewhat exorcising. So, leaving it behind for something else feels like I'm betraying myself.

So a simple solution comes up: Why not just start over?


That's definitely a possibility I have not overlooked. I have the Celtx screenwriting program on the new computer, so why not just restart writing the script? A rewrite could possibly help strengthen certain areas as well. Give me a fresh start. But without the original material, I feel like I would be missing things. It'd feel like flying deaf and blind. So, who cares? Right? I should just at least try it, yes? If it doesn't work, then at least I've exhausted my options, and I wouldn't feel as guilty, possibly, in moving on to another exercise for the time being.

There is that. The other side of it is these other exercises are very attractive to me. They're exciting and fresh. I look at the one about the struggling screenwriter and a fire lights under me. I look at my fantasy-setting story, and I become inspired, imagining sprawling landscapes. I think about the story about the group of friends growing up, and I am filled with all sorts of ideas about how these people will be struggling through their lives.

So why not just start with a new one anyway? Without even attempting a rewrite on "My Missing Brother"?

That's where I'm torn. My feelings about both sides of it are strong, and I cannot decide. So that's causing inaction. Maybe I should just flip a coin. If I simply cannot decide...let's allow fate to decide. So here we go. I'm actually doing this write now, as I type.

Heads: I attempt a rewrite of "My Missing Brother"
Tails: I move on to another exercise for now

Call it! [flip]

Wow. After I caught it, I had to take a moment to breathe before looking.

It's Heads.

So there you go. It seems much easier with the decision out of my hands. I understand how Two-Face feels now. I feel calmer. Ready.

No more agony for me right now. I'm going to get started on this soon.

Do you find it hard to work on multiple stories at one time? What kind of techniques do you employ to keep them separated in your mind and writing area? Or do you feel totally loyal to one story until it's finished? How many ideas have you started and then left behind? How many of those were left behind for no apparent reason?


Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 19

Recovering

I'm trying to climb my way out of this funk. I'm not well-equipped to handle this amount of anger and depression.

What usually cheers you up?

So, from my last blog post, you may know that I've been a bit down lately. Well...it's been a real roller coaster this past week. I'm finally looking at the light at the end, but it's so bright that I can't tell how far ahead of me it actually is. So I don't know how far I'll have to go to reach it.

Basically I'm saying I don't know what I have to do to reach that happiness again.



Sterling Gates's Kid Flash Lost #1
J.T. Krul's Teen Titans #100
I've tried this. I've tried that. It all seems so up in the air. I have some things I'm looking forward to this month, and I'm sure I'll have a good time with those. I'm meeting DC Comics writer J.T. Krul (Teen Titans, Green Arrow, Captain Atom), and seeing writer Sterling Gates (Kid Flash Lost, Hawk & Dove) again, this Wednesday in Pasadena. I'm extremely excited about that. I also have a Chevelle concert the following Wednesday (and another meet-n-greet with J.T.).


That next Sunday, I'm flying out to Ohio to see my Mom...and then we're driving back to California together so she can live with us for a little while. I'm also very excited about this.

I'll be getting my own personal netbook next month, something I can carry with me places and whip it out whenever I feel like writing. Something to store all of my information on so that I can have it all in one, organized place.

"Nothing to show for it."
The beginning of November brings my birthday. I'll be a quarter of a century old. I'm not sure if that's something to be happy about or not yet...as I'm still struggling with that whole feeling of "having nothing to show for it" at this point (that's career-wise, mind you). How long is THAT lovely feeling going to last?

So I do have reasons to be happy. But last night and today, I was just SO ANGRY. It's like George Carlin said: I hate it when cashiers tell me to have a great day. What if I didn't want a great day? What if I had 364 good days in a row, and I just really want to have a shitty day?

It's like that. It's almost like I'm determined to have a bad day.

Last night, I felt so frustrated and destructive that I decided to try and be constructive with that energy, instead of internalizing it and causing myself emotional harm. I decided to take it out on the only kinds of people who can continually and silently take that kind of punishment: my characters. They take everything and anything I throw at them. I focused my writing anger into a writer character - for my next story idea. I wrote a quick scene in which the character, fed up with everything around him, contemplated and even attempted suicide in a heated emotional moment. But he chickens out. This turned into the scene that I want to start the screenplay with, maybe. And today, as I sat here, unusually pissed off at my work, I wrote more about this story...piecing the beginnings together.

It's turned into something that, while somewhat hollow still, I can go off.

So I'm trying to bring myself out of it. I'm trying to feel better. I want to feel better. But sometimes it's hard. It's difficult to just switch off angry mode. But...I have a couple days off now. My mid-week weekend starts tomorrow. It'll be good to unwind. Do some housework to keep my mind occupied. Then some more writing. Hopefully tomorrow I won't be wearing my angry face.

Thursday, September 15

Cloistered

Trying to deal with a few things in my life right now, and I'm struggling with it.

How do your personal feelings affect your writing?

Today I wrote out everything that I'm feeling about myself, specifically. It's pretty lengthy. It started with me saying how, earlier today, I felt really sick. And I was wrapped up in my own head thinking about my wife. I don't think I'm ready to put down on this blog, so publicly, everything that I wrote about myself. Frankly, I'm a very private person when it comes to that kind of thing. I don't want people offering their advice, I don't want pep talks, nothing like that. They always feel so empty, for some reason. Like...obligatory. I don't want pity encouragement. I guess I'm one of those "scary" types, where I'm outwardly very okay...but internally, it's very different. I can tell because my Mom can tell. Whenever I talk on the phone with her, she can hear it in my voice if I'm a little down...and she'll ask me if everything's okay. I'm usually pretty honest with her, about being less-than-okay if that's the case. But, again, I'm very private. I don't tell everything.

I figure, these are my problems. Nobody else should have to deal with them. Hell, I barely want to deal with them, why should I put that responsibility on someone else? No, these are for me to work through. Now, all this talk may seem all dark and ominous, but I can assure anyone reading this...I am not the self-destructive type. I used to be. Back in middle school, I was very depressed and all of the pressures eventually got the best of me, and I broke down to some pretty frightening thoughts. Luckily, a friend of mine, Chris, was there to help pull me up. I will always remember that day, Chris, and I will always be thankful to you.

However, I still battle various forms of depression from time to time as my roller coaster of a mind dips and rises to all the extremes. Today seems to be one of those overwhelming days, where everything starts culminating into one gigantic monster that appears unbeatable. Issues with my own writing, situations at home, and questions about my own future. Everything is pressing in on me, cornering me, and like a wild animal I'm looking for a way out. But at least I'm still fighting it, right? I think that's where some of my sickness was coming from this morning, that internal conflict.

I want to be happy. I want people around me to be happy. I'd also like to be able to contribute to their happiness. I understand what needs to be done to become happy, but then another aspect of my mentality, my personality, kicks in and I become unmotivated to do what needs to be done. I become lazy. It's a vicious cycle, my friends. And thus I am stuck in this perpetual loop. Things get better for a little bit, and I get lazy, and things get worse. Then I get desperate, work a smidge, and become complacent when things are a little better. This process is my enemy. I need to eliminate it. I need to take responsibility for my actions, much like my character, Daniel. We both try to run from our problems, to mask them and block them with other things that make us happy. We try ignoring them completely. And then we're surprised when it comes up and bites us on the nose.

I wonder how much of a nose I'll have left by the time I finally learn my lesson and change my behavior for good.

Thanks for reading. I'm trying not to be so self-pitying with this blog lately. But if I don't put the words down, like I did earlier, I'll just go insane. My thoughts need to be expressed, organized, and exorcised. Here's to the best in all of us.

Saturday, September 10

Writing Exercise - A Childhood Memory

The following is a writing exercise where I discuss a childhood memory. Check out the assignment here: Girls With Pens. This story is all true.


Kids are funny creatures, aren't they?

They're small, make funny faces and sounds, ask silly questions that older humans don't dare ask, and they can spin the most interesting - if however disjointed - stories you'll ever hear.

I was that way when I was little. I made all sorts of faces. Told stories practically on the spot. I was indeed small. So I fit the bill for what a child is and should be. Webster even contacted my family to ask to use a picture of me for their definition of "whipper-snapper". Whatever happened to dictionaries not using pictures anymore, anyway? Makes that joke totally old-school now.

Point is, I was a pretty entertaining little thing back in the day. Just ask anyone. Never a dull moment, I assure you. Medicated for ADHD, politely asked not to return to my elementary school of since-Kindergarten for fifth grade, gleefully disruptive in class, and ALWAYS imagining bigger and greater things.

Looking back through "the blur" - as I call my overactive creative mind (I don't really but I should, shouldn't I? Makes me sound all established and stuff) - I seemed to always have this affinity for television and film in some aspect. I always tried to view how I played as if through the lens of a camera in a sort of "this would look cool like this" manner. I was, according to Mom, somewhat bossy of my friends when it came to how to play and what to do. I suppose this came from being an only child and being used to the game going how I designed. I would even get behind the literal camera every now and then to try my hand at some professional, Spielberg-esque storytelling. Yes. Professional. At eight. You don't know, you weren't there. Me an' Spiels were tight, yo.

Set the scene. It's January (or February, who cares?) in 1994. Southern California. For those of you familiar with the time and area, you probably remember the '94 Northridge earthquake. Our "big one", if you're the type to exaggerate everything. I live just outside Northridge, so yeah...we felt it. Well...most everyone did.

Me? I was fast asleep. Always could sleep through anything. And I would have too, if it weren't for pesky, protective Mom. Here I am, enjoying my dream about something really awesome, I'm sure, when my mother comes tearing into my room, wraps her arms around my sleeping form, and RIPS me out of the comfort of my bed and over onto the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bean bag chair I had next to my bed. She clings onto me here in the hope that this new positioning will save me if the ceiling collapses. Because bean bag chairs are magic.

A week or so after the quake, I get a hold of a video camera (God, help us all) and start filming my family while visiting my grandparents. My father, step-mother, aunt and cousin are all present on the back patio under the false pretense of a little bonding after a traumatic natural event. But I know why they were really there. To humiliate and frustrate me to the point of tears.

I decided it'd be a good idea to put on a news show with the camera, since everyone's talking about the earthquake. Now, here comes bossy me. I give everyone fake anchor names - well, I try to, but my father - thinking himself a comedian - feels fit to deal out his own, witty names. Frustration number 1. I roll with it for now. So I to introduce some breaking news. My father exclaims, "Breaking News?!", gets up and goes to a chair that's there, points to it and shouts, "THIS CHAIR! BROKEN!" Everyone laughs. Everyone but a little eight year-old boy with a camera and a dream. Frustration number 2. "NO!" squeaks my angry little voice, "Talk about the earthquake!" So he does. And then he starts shaking and vibrating. My step-mother and aunt are quick to catch on and participate too. My six year-old cousin, the only other one standing, shakes and stumbles around (he really needs acting lessons). "Oh no!" announces my father. "Aftershock!"

And cue another shout of frustration (number 3 now) from me, the camera dips and turns all about as I fling my arms around, and cut.

Here's where I have a serious talk with each and every one of them. This is going to be a professional, no-nonsense news show, goddamnit. I will not allow my illustrious eight year-old film and television career go down the crapper because these jokers find it funny to make the veins in my head pop out. Now stick to the f*#king script. (I'm sure I said all that)

The camera fades back in on a group of politely seated adults on a sunny day. There are little-to-no smiles, as the news should be (from my perspective). My father holds an awl upside-down for a microphone. He starts talking about some breaking news ("BROKEN!" shouts my cousin, the funny little bastard). We address the seriousness of the earthquake. The broadcast is over. The camera fades out. I got what I wanted.

Frustration number 4. Did I have fun? No, not really. I could have, if I had embraced my father's carefree and humorous attitude. But I had control problems back then, and they got in the way. I'm surprised nobody hates me now. Well, my aunt probably does. She's crafty.

Kids really are funny creatures. Instead of being flexible and ready for fun, they insist on focusing on the bad parts and pouting, throwing temper tantrums, instead of doing what makes them happy. Why? I'm not sure. All I know is that I got my video, the way I wanted it, and now I can look back on it any time in disappointment that I had acted that way.

Lesson learned, I guess.

Yes, I still have the video.

Thanks, Girls With Pens, for bringing that painful memory back out of me.

Stretched

I'm not quite sure how much longer I'll be able to take this. A bit overdramatic? Yeah, I do that.

How do you avoid your breaking point?

The computer's back from the losers at Geek Squad, who WAY over-priced me. In fact, it was so over-priced that we didn't have the work done it needed. Just had them send it back. So the computer's not very healthy right now. We're looking into other solutions (I work for a computer hardware parts supplier now, so who knows?). But enough about that.

Not having that, and not having continual access to Twitter and this blog has been somewhat aggravating. I definitely don't want to start lashing out at people through my frustration. I've been feeling this anxiety lately. It definitely came about while out with some friends the other night. It's weird - I'm out for drinks with these great people, and we're having a good time and all, but I suddenly get this unsettling feeling that I'm not doing enough when it comes to my writing. Where the hell did that come from? Out of nowhere! I'm familiar with this anxiety, it happens occasionally, especially when I haven't been writing for a while. Just yesterday, I Tweeted that I had a compelling urge to blog, but didn't have any subject to blog about.

So it's definitely that there's this feeling eating away at me, and it's becoming violent with me. Maybe this is my muse, trying to knock me around a bit like a wife that won't make a sandwich. There's something in me, fighting to be noticed, used. It's even come to the point where, in lieu of actually writing, I've started just imagining stories in my head and letting them play out.

Like the picture above, I feel like each of my threads have been cut, one by one, just to see how long it will take to get me to the last one, and to the point where I just go crazy. So I've been trying to do things to get my mind off it and to keep me from that moment. It's been working, sure, and I'm pleasantly distracted, but apparently it's not enough if I'm having these bouts with this anxiety and it's making me twitch.

It's come to this, then. I need to find some way of being able to stick with my writing on a regular basis - computer problems be damned. Right now, I'm sitting in a new-paint-smelling office on a slow Saturday at work. There's definitely enough time to open up a Notepad document and just start writing. Thing is...I'm not real comfortable working on the "My Missing Brother" story, really, because it's been so long and I don't have all the information here. So maybe I'll try something else. Just a simple exercise. Maybe I'll try one of Girls With Pens' writing prompts that they regularly post.

All I know is I need some fun. I need something that's stimulating and interesting. Who knows...maybe it'll turn into something to add to my list of ideas that I want to develop.

Do you have anxiety attacks about writing/not writing? How do you overcome that feeling? How long have you gone at one time without writing for any of your ideas? Do you find regular, non-related exercises helpful?

Thanks for reading! Go check out Girls With Pens too!

Sunday, September 4

Decommissioned

UGH. I'm having such a hard time with this, it's almost embarrassing.

Are YOU reliant on social networking websites?

Well, the computer's in the shop. And, the way it's going, I don't know when we're getting it back (thanks, Geek Squad, won't ever be using you again). It's a simple fix, really, but their communications systems are completely unreliable and useless. So, the absence of the computer has done three things to me, I've found.
  • I can't write. Okay, that's a bit general. My "Brothers" story is all contained on that computer. No backups. I know, I know...I'm an idiot. Point is, all my notes, the script and story so far, is all on that computer. So, yes, I could write if I wanted to. Just paper and pen, right? But there's no reference. There's nothing I can look back on if I need to go, "Hey, what was that back there again?" Is that an excuse? Some people may say so. I feel it's a legitimate concern. What if I do all this writing, and find it's no good because of contradicting elements that I'm forgetting? Is that an excuse? Up to you, I guess.
    • Also, when I hand write like that...I don't know what it is, perhaps the fact that virtually my entire adult life has been spent at a keyboard...my hand cramps up really quickly and hurts, quite a lot actually. So I have this aversion to writing by hand. Another excuse? Could be, I suppose, but I'd rather not be in pain, tell you the truth.
  • The second thing not having a computer has done is bring me to see something about myself - I'm totally dependent on social networking to survive. Alright, a bit overdramatic (but, hey, that's what I'm known for). This is actually a coupling of two things: no computer + new job. At my old job, I had the leisure time to just browse Twitter ([at]chambernaut) all the time. Seriously. Constantly. Same with Facebook. But now, I don't have that kind of time with this new job. Now, don't get me wrong - I LOVE my new job. It's pretty sweet. I'm finding that I miss that time, though. So, now, with the computer at home gone...and the absence of Twitter throughout the day...I'm getting twitchy. I really feel like I'm missing out on things that I'd otherwise know and enjoy.
  • Finally, it's the same with Blogger here - I used to have the time to go through all the blogs I follow and read the posts and participate (sorry, Jami!). Not to mention update THIS blog, which is why I haven't been posting new content as regularly as before.

So that's basically my pain right now. Twitter withdrawals and a burning need, yet hesitance to write.

I'm curious to know what you think.


Am I making excuses?

Do you find yourself making excuses for not writing, when you know full-well you could be writing at that very moment?


How many days can you go, comfortably, without looking at Twitter? Facebook? Blogger?

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 26

Development


It'll be a short one today, hopefully. Gotta get back into writing!

How do you handle the unexpected?

So there have been some new developments in my life that have caused me to slack somewhat on my screenplay. Among those was my transition out of my previous job straight into my new one, which I started Thursday morning. This whole job process has been somewhat occupying my time, what with getting everything set and ready. But it would be unfair and, frankly, untrue to blame it solely - or even largely - on the new job acquisition.

Mainly? There are two things.
  • In my script, I've been somewhat stuck. Not quite sure what should happen next, and how. My desire to keep action, dialog, and business fluid, realistic, and honest has prevented me from thinking of a solution to this scene I'm on. Usually that means a rewrite is in order, but I'm hoping an idea will come to me first. Rewrites can always happen the next time through the script. This is first draft, after all. My biggest concern with this is it's not good to be stuck when the STORY of the screenplay is already planned out. It should come more easily.
  • Second, let's be honest here. I haven't been writing because a good portion of my time has been reading comics. I know, I know: those won't do me any good, they won't push me any further toward my goals, and they don't provide applicable substance to my exercises. I've heard it all before, trust me. But, lately, I've been really getting into this one writer at DC Comics who wrote both the last Green Arrow run (#s 1-12) and Teen Titans (#s 88-100). So I read all of his issues back-to-back to really see the full story of these books. And, from the viewpoint of someone who writes, these books are brilliant. I so thoroughly enjoyed them.
So those are finished now, and I won't be devoting quite as much time to those comics as I just did for the past week or so. I'll still continue to read comics, but more moderately and in a controlled fashion. Not as an excuse to fill time.

I should have more time to devote to writing now, and that excites me (which is good, for me, to be excited returning to an idea). I'm also considering using my days off to look into taking one or two writing courses at the local community college...see how I'd benefit. Back to the screenplay now!

What sorts of distractions normally, frequently get in your way? What does it take to realize you're putting things off and to get yourself back on track? Do you allot time from your daily schedule to devote to writing, no matter what?

Monday, August 22

Goals

I just read a blog post from David Walker over here, where he talked about the benefits of writing without any solid, specific goals in mind and the benefits of writing with a specific goal in mind. It was very thought-provoking, I felt. So I had to ask myself,

What are my goals?

I've outlined these before in previous posts, about how I wish to write simply to write and be happy with writing, but will that be enough for me? I've always been insatiable. I've always had HUGE plans for my projects. I've always dreamed of seeing my ideas made into movies up on the big screen, in a theater full of happy movie-goers. I've always fantasized about standing up on that stage at the Kodak Theater, accepting an Academy Award for Best Screenplay. So...with my new frame of mind, will I revert back to those primal desires?

To be honest, sometimes I get a little scared thinking about how the hunger for fame could come back to eat at me. I just dig the lifestyle...jet-setting across the country for various premieres or signings, press junkets and whatnot; and the fact that there are people out there who may come to like your work so much that they set out to find anything you've done and soak it up.

I like that there could be someone out there who will hunt down any project I've ever made, just for the chance that they like it as much as anything else I've done. I do that with certain people. I like that there could be someone who will travel across two states just to get a signature or a picture with me. I guess part of that is a self-centered type attitude, but I also think it's just the desire to be noticed.

I've talked about how I changed my attitude toward writing. I never really outlined WHY I continued to fail in my projects before. I believe a large part of it was due to my parents divorcing when I was very young. Being an only child, it was just my mom and I for some time. That's where a lot of my imagination came from, I think. But in conjunction, I think that's where this hunger was born. My NEED to be noticed, loved, and famous. To make a name for myself. A name that everyone will know.

I love writing. I love creating characters, worlds, scenarios. I used to do it all the time as a child. I still do it now. It's so important to me to flex my mind and create. I love piecing together a particularly difficult sentence (I actually rearranged that last one). I love the satisfaction that comes with loving your work. I love going back and re-reading old stories I've created and cherished in the past. I love watching other people read my work, seeing their expressions. I love hearing their opinions about it - good or bad.

I know I'm not the best at it...so I suppose one goal I have would be to improve my skills. And that's why I write now. I no longer write to get rich and famous. That is not my singular purpose. That's why I've changed what I used to call "writing projects" to "exercises"...because they are meant to improve my skill. They're not "work".

So my main goal here is just what David Walker outlined in his blog post: to write these stories and then just put them away, satisfied with the final product. Now I'm not literally going to file them away and not do anything else with them. I will try to shop them around and see if any companies want to buy them or work with me. Because, while I do like writing for the sake of writing, I do want to try and make a living out of it someday. I'm not going to drop everything, though, and focus just on writing. I'm the type of guy who likes to eat and live under a roof...so I must pay the bills. So I have a 9-to-5. And I'm okay with that. So is my wife.

So my goals? They seem pretty vague, am I right? Write...and try to submit my work? More specifically, I guess, I want to come up with ideas, flesh them out, and create a full story. I want to do this enough times that it becomes easy...that the process of molding an idea into a story becomes second nature. To be able to build a story mentally a lot easier than before. I basically want to be a better writer.

That's goal number one. Long-term, for sure.

Another goal is to complete the ideas I already have. That's seven in total. I'm well into exercise number one, the "My Missing Brother" exercise - and on Saturday, I started making notes on my fifth exercise, the one involving the lives of my friends and I. I'm really excited about this one, and may even bump it up to my third exercise. :)

That's goal number two. That will take up a LOT of time, I'm positive.

Finally, I want to see what becomes of these. I won't be upset if nobody picks them up. I won't be crushed if I never achieve that level of fame that I used to fantasize about (and, admittedly, still do sometimes). I won't wonder why I don't have fans following me on Twitter or finding me for autographs or whatever. I'll be happy simply with the fact that I finished. But I do want to try. Because you never know. I could, one day, be living my dream as a full-time screenwriter - with more work than I know what to do with.

That's goal number three. That...yikes...will probably take the longest of the three.

But - I have goals.

Since I'm not writing TO BE successful, I won't be pushing too hard at some of those goals. I definitely want to finish the ideas I have currently, and I do want to improve as a writer. But that 9-to-5 is going to stand in my way, though as a partner, while I do that.

Do you struggle with goals? How many do you have set? Do you have someone to help keep your nose to the grindstone? Are your goals much different from mine, or do you weigh them differently? Let me know!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 18

Opinions


I want to take a second to thank everyone who has been coming to my blog to check out the unimportant things I have to say. : )

Who Do You Trust?



Do you value the opinions of others when it comes to your work? Who do you turn to first, when seeking feedback on the latest sentence you've written? How do you know they're telling you the truth?

I'm only just now getting really into the "writing community" that can be found online. People's blogs and Twitter ([at]chambernaut) and whatnot. Real strangers, if you'll excuse the term. I have to admit...trust is an issue with me. It always has been, even with people I've known for some time. When it comes to my writing, my ideas, and all that, I am so scared that something will happen...and someone will take it and make it their own before I have the chance. I cherish my ideas. These are my babies. Hell, I have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that - if any of my screenplays are ever bought - they're likely to be given to someone in the studios to rewrite...and the thing that's created is not my original idea.

But that's the reality of Hollywood and screenwriting. I have to cope with that.

To be honest, that's partially why the two scenes I posted previously are not crucial to the plot. I'm afraid that someone would steal it. Now, the people I've met so far through these blogs have been very nice and open and are gaining my trust in these facets. But I'm just still not comfortable.

So here's the dilemma: Who do I get to read and critique my work?


Now I've heard this before from multiple sources - and even said it myself in a previous post - that you shouldn't seek the approval or opinions of those close to you. Those who intimately know you. I'm talking about family, friends - those types. They're too fond of YOU to really be comfortable giving an honest, and sometimes-necessarily brutal opinion. They can't be trusted. (There are exceptions, of course, to any case)

In order to obtain truly UNBIASED opinions, you must seek out those who do not know you - and preferably have not read your work before. This was why I was so excited when I met the other writer through a mutual friend and we were able to exchange pieces to critique. He provided what I needed: someone who won't tell me what he thinks I want to hear.

That's the problem. I respect the opinions of my friends, and my wife, and my family. But sometimes - and I have to be honest here otherwise this blog means nothing - there are times when I feel like their opinions about my writing are misplaced or uneducated. Because they DON'T spend their time writing like I do. They DON'T read about and study the craft. They DON'T have experience putting together a story. So they don't always understand my reasoning for doing certain things, putting certain pieces in place. In fact, my wife understands this and prefers I DON'T ask her opinion. Haha.

So it's hard, for me, because I know that I cannot always rely on those close by to give me the feedback I need, and make it usable. Yet I have trust issues with "strangers" when it comes to giving out my work for critique. Am I doomed?

What do you do? Do you have a specified, experienced editor? If so, how did you find them and were they already close friends/acquaintances? Do you also have trust issues? How do you overcome them? How do ensure that you're as protected as possible by the copyright laws? What are your copyright methods? Do you find yourself often frustrated with sub-par critique from those who don't write?

Tuesday, August 16

Obstacles

I'm going to do my best to keep this from turning into yet another of my fun "pity party" posts.

Do you stand in your way?

After a week of not making as substantial progress as I have been, and so consistently, I've decided to take a look at what kept me from sitting down and doing it. I know, in the past, what these things have been. But with my brand-new outlook on writing, and what that means to me, I'm curious as to what my new challenges are.

Before, I can confidently say that I was as my worst enemy. I didn't understand my inner demons. I hadn't figured out what kind of person I was and how writing fit into my life. I actually had it backwards, thinking the writing was in control and that it defined me. Now I know better. And since then, I've been utterly bathing in happiness and "success" with my current writing exercise (again, "exercise" refers to the project I'm developing, but in a less "worky" way). I was constantly writing, constantly putting word to page and making the story grow.

For the past week, I've written maybe a few sentences and some dialog. Not nearly as lively as before.

But why is that? I don't believe I have the same obstacles as I had before my revelation, so what's new? I know how the story needs to go...so it's not necessarily full-on writer's block. I mean, I have been thinking about different avenues the sequence of scenes can go right now, but it shouldn't be a show-stopping number here. To be honest, I really haven't felt like writing.

I'm fighting a creeping fear here that this is the non-commitment problem that I saw in myself before. I don't want to believe in my doubts. I want to shove through them with confidence.

Most interestingly, I read a blog post from Julie Lindsey during this past week, and it was about vacationing from writing. She stated that, sometimes, her days are just dedicated to other things - like social media or research. I related to that, and mentioned how it IS okay to delve into certain "obsessions" (her word) and deviate from the actual exercise.

So is that what I've been doing? Just enjoying a little time off? Even the most exciting, favorite activities require a short break...so that you can appreciate the time you spend within those activities. I'm going to chalk this last week up to one of those short breaks.

What distracts you the easiest? What is your writing kryptonite? How long do you usually spend on these obstacles? Is laziness a big factor for you? What do you do to beat the distractions?

Saturday, August 13

Connected

I cannot believe the social networking success I've had in the past few days. This has been something of a shocking week for me.

How do you stay connected?

I try to pimp out my blog and get more readers - even though I know what I have to say isn't all that interesting to other people (or so it would seem) - and I have used the social networks to do that. I'm on Facebook, and I use Twitter (@chambernaut). I also try to network with other blogs on Blogger, following them and posting links to them on my blog to let other people get to them - because I like those blogs! They're neat!

Recently I found a blog, www.jamigold.com, run by paranormal author Jami Gold. She has some really great posts, talking about writing and building strong characters and other really great information. I have to admit, I was recently attracted to her blog because of my geekiness - she posted about the flaws concerning the recent Green Lantern movie. This post went viral and, apparently, got her blog LOTS of attention. Well, I started following her and reading her blog posts, even going so far as to get involved and comment. In one of my comments, I provided a link to a HubPages.com article I wrote a while back about beating writer's block.

Looks like Jami liked that article because she then tweeted that article with a mention of my Twitter name.

That was yesterday. In the last two days my Twitter following has jumped up by about 20. Unbelievable! This Jami's got some pull! :D Well, as I received more followers on Twitter - who are writers as well - I started checking out their own blogs and linking to them here on my blog (see the right-hand side for that list of recommended blogs). I really believe in networking and showcasing other talent where it's deserved. And trust me - these other blogs deserve recognition, most definitely more than mine! ...Just...don't stop coming here too.

Anyway, I cannot believe how networked I am becoming...it's such a treat. I'm really having fun reading these other blogs and learning from other people. I do hope this trend continues. I want to be more noticed, I suppose, and have those interactions that help me grow as a creator - and hopefully I can help others grow as well! That's the teacher/helper part of me! A super-huge thank you to Jami Gold and to all of my new Twitter followers!

One last thing. I want to just mention how proud of myself I am. It used to be I would post on this blog once every couple of weeks or so. Look at the numbers over on the other months in the archive to the right there. Pretty pathetic, huh? The only month with as many posts is May (6)...and that's throughout the whole month. Now, I am so happy to be able to say that August is only HALF over and I already have SEVEN posts! Talk about destroying my old bad habits and perpetual giving up on things. That's done. I am so happy to blog now and just really get my thoughts out. It's so therapeutic.

What have you found to be the key to your success in committing to something that threatens to be time-consuming? Or key to completing your writing projects? How often do you find you're more willing to write, as opposed to when you feel like you're forcing yourself?

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 12

Resumed

Okay, as promised, here is a small preview of a couple - YES, TWO! - scenes in my script. Please keep in mind that this material is copyrighted under United States copyright laws. Enjoy!

Remember these facts: this is set in Cleveland, Ohio, in the summer of 1976. The first scene is the main character, Jacob - 17, short, athletically built - wakes up and heads downstairs from the apartment he spent the night in, into the bar. Carl, mid-forties and balding, is the bar and apartment owner.





INT. BAR - CONT.                                                 
                                                                           
          Jacob appears at the base of the stairs that leads up to the     
          loft. There are only a few people seated at tables, and one      
          OLDER GUY, mid-eighties with long white hair, at the bar         
          itself. Carl is behind, watching the TV hanging in the upper     
          corner of the room. The Indians game is playing there too.       
          Jacob moves to the bar, sits two stools over from the Older      
          Guy. Carl notices him.                                           
                                                    
                              CARL                                         
                    Morning.                                        
                                                                           
          He pats the counter then leans against it toward Jacob.          
                                                                           
                              CARL                                         
                    Sleep okay?                                            
                                                                           
                              JACOB                                        
                    Yeah. Game today, huh?                                 
                                                                           
          Carl glances back to the TV, nodding.                            
                                                                           
                              CARL                                         
                    Yup. We’re getting killed. I was                       
                    hoping for a good season, but we’re                    
                    heading down. Least we’re doing                        
                    better than Detroit.                                   
                                                                           
          Jacob nods.                                                      
                                                                           
                              JACOB                                        
                    Well there’s that.                                     
                                                                           
          The Older Guy turns to the two of them, face lit with            
          interest.                                                        
                                                                           
                              OLDER GUY                                    
                    You kidding? They suck! I’m sick of                    
                    always watching the greatest team                      
                    what ever played coming in last                        
                    year after year!                                       
                                                                           
          Carl rolls his eyes, turns away. The Older Guy doesn’t seem      
          to notice, or doesn’t care.                                      
                                                                           
                              OLDER GUY                                    
                    We seen the World Series three                         
                    times! But they just can’t get                         
                    their act together! Bums! Goddamnit                    
                    if I were manager, I’d fire every                      
                    one of them! That ain’t no team                        
                    that’s playing. That’s a disgrace!                     
                                                                           
                              CARL                                         
                    Yeah, yeah. We know.                                   
                                                                           
                              OLDER GUY                                    
                    Don’t you give me lip! I’ll fire                       
                    you too!                                               
                                                                           
          Jacob snickers. The Older Guy turns back to watch the game,      
          mumbling to himself. Jacob turns to Carl.                        
                                                                                                                   
                              JACOB                                        
                    You mind if I step out? I want to                      
                    look around.  I’ll come back.                          
                                                                           
                              CARL                                         
                    Yeah, sure. Take in the sights.                        
                    Just be careful, kid.                                  
                                                                           
          Jacob nods, gets up, heads out the door.
 
It's a scene that might even get removed from the final draft, but I like this Older Man guy. What's really funny is the standings at the time for the Cleveland Indians were actually 3rd place above the 4th place Tigers -- and CURRENTLY, the Tribe is 2 games below 1st place Detroit. Go figure.

This next scene is Jacob's first adventure with marijuana, led along by his older brother, Dan - 22, tall and lean. Panic sets in when their stepfather, Thomas, comes home. This sequence is a TRUE story (but not mine).


INT. HERSCH RESIDENCE - DAN’S BEDROOM - DAY                      
                                                                           
          Jacob and Dan sit on the floor of the bedroom, backs against     
          the bed. Dan has a tray on the floor between his spread          
          legs. On the tray is paraphernalia for rolling     
          joints, of which Dan is in the process.                          
                                                                           
                              DANIEL                                       
                    Jake, man, you are going to be                         
                    taken to this magical place. You                       
                    have no idea. You’re going to fly                      
                    high. Hit that, will you?                                              
                                                                           
          Dan indicates the cassette player near Jacob. Jacob presses     
          the play button. "Fly Like an Eagle" begins playing. Jacob       
          watches Daniel work, appearing excited, but noticeably nervous.                                              
                                                                           
                              JACOB                                        
                    You’re sure this stuff is okay?                        
                                                                           
          Dan gives Jacob a look.            
                                                                           
                              DANIEL                                       
                    Jake, c’mon, look at me. I’m okay,                     
                    right? Would I do anything to hurt                     
                    my favorite little brother?                            
                                                                           
                              JACOB                                        
                    I’m your only little brother.                          
                                                                           
                              DANIEL                                       
                         (assuring)                                        
                    Same thing.                                            
                                                                           
          Jacob smiles and takes a finished joint Dan hands over. Dan      
          holds up a lighter.                                              
                                                                           
                              DANIEL                                       
                    Ready to be rocked?                                    
                                                                           
          Jacob places the joint in his mouth and leans over so Dan        
          can light him. Jacob takes a deep inhale as Dan lights his       
          own. Jacob starts coughing and Dan pats him on the         
          back.                                                            
                                                                           
                              DANIEL                                       
                    Relax, brother. Just enjoy it. It’s                    
                    not a race.                                            
                                                                           
          Puffs of smoke calmly waft out of his mouth as he talks. Jacob gets     
          control of his breathing and takes another couple smaller        
          hits. Dan nods approvingly. Jacob relaxes, slumps    
          against the bedside. Daniel sings in time with the music.      
                                                                           
                              DANIEL                                       
                    Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping...                    
                                                                           
                              DANIEL AND JACOB                             
                    Into the future...                                     
                                                                           
          The two continue to smoke and bob their heads to the music       
          for some time, singing more lyrics of the song.
The sound of the old, loud Comet pulling into the driveway       
          is heard, and then the car door closing. Jacob jumps,            
          dropping the joint into his lap where it burns.                  
                                                                           
                              JACOB                                        
                    Ow!                                                    
                                                                           
          He picks up the joint carefully, stands up, goes to the      
          window, tripping on clothes while trying not to trip. He peeks out.                                     
                                                                           
                              JACOB                                        
                    It’s Thomas! He’s home!                                
                                                                           
                              DANIEL                                       
                    So?                                                    
                                                                           
                              JACOB                                        
                    So?! He can’t catch us!                                
                                                                           
          Daniel laughs at Jacob.                                          
                                                                           
                              DANIEL                                       
                    Relax, Jake. How often does that                       
                    idiot come into my room?                               
                                                                           
          Jacob turns around and starts panicking, frantically looking     
          around the room.                                                 
                                                                               
                              JACOB                                        
                    He’ll smell it in the hallway!                         
                                                                           
          Jacob whips his hand around real fast in a vain attempt to clear     
          the air.                                                         
                                                                           
                              DANIEL                                       
                    So turn the fan on!                                    
                                                                           
          Daniel points to a desktop fan across the room. Jacob goes       
          to it, inspects it, but shakes his head.                        
                                                                           
                              JACOB                                        
                    It’s not good enough! It’ll just                       
                    spread the smell around more!                          
                                                                           
          Daniel laughs more. Jacob spots a can of shaving cream           
          across the room, the scented kind. He dashes over to it as       
          he hears the front door close downstairs. He grabs the can       
          of shaving cream, shakes it while moving back to the fan.          
          Jacob removes the metal guard around the fan blades, then     
          squirts cream into his hand. Then starts carefully            
          spreading the cream onto the fan blades.                         
                                                                           
                              DANIEL                                       
                    Jake...what are you doing?                             
                                                                           
                              JACOB                                        
                    If I put the cream on the fan, and                     
                    turn the fan on, it’ll blow the                        
                    scent around the room.                                 
                                                                           
          Jacob looks sincerely at Dan.                                    
                                                                           
                              JACOB                                        
                    It always smells good in the                           
                    bathroom after you shave.                              
                                                                           
          Daniel laughs.                                                   
                                                                           
                              DANIEL                                       
                    You really think that’s going to                       
                    work?                                                  
                                                                           
          Jacob does not answer. He is too busy coating the fan            
          blades. Done, he wipes his cream-covered hand on      
          his shirt and switches on the fan, but to the highest setting.      
          The fan immediately starts up, gets to top speed in a         
          couple seconds. It suddenly sprays a straight line of            
          shaving cream in an outward circle. That line goes all           
          around: from the desk to the wall, across the ceiling and then
          straight down Jacob’s middle. He jumps from the surprise and switches     
          the fan off. Daniel is rolling on the floor laughing. Jacob 
starts chuckling, and that quickly turns into loud laughing too.

So there you have it! Those are two of the scenes from my script! You'll have to forgive me for giving "useless" scenes - in the sense that I cannot yet include scenes that give away the actual plot or important stuff like that. So I hope you've enjoyed.

Let me know what you think! Comment below! Thanks for reading!

Paused

(Read the title of this post while playing the "Pause" noise from Super Mario Bros. in your head)

How long do you go before feeling guilt for not writing?

Wow. It's Friday, and I have not written anything this whole week. There is one thing that I did accomplish, though. In my previous post, "Plans", I talked about the next few writing exercises I wanted to develop into full works. I went and detailed those plans out on a notes page. Came up with tentative titles for each one and a brief tagline so I can remember what it's about when it's time. That's not exactly something to go jumping and dancing about, but at least I did something creative in lieu of writing for my current piece.

There is one more thing, then, according to what I've just mentioned. ...I now have a working title for my current exercise that I am somewhat satisfied with.

Before, I was calling it "My Brother is Lost", but that felt weak and not as specific as I wanted it. I haven't been troubling with a title, because it's not necessary at this point, but I want to be able to call it something. That's what I had for a while, and I wasn't happy with it. So, after coming up with that list of upcoming plans, I included my current one and created a title for it I was less angry with: "My Missing Brother".

The reason I was willing to deal with the first tentative title (so many T's!) was because of how ambiguous it was. The same for this new one. What I like about them both is that, when spoken, it can apply to either of the two brothers my story is about! Gasp! Plot! Redirection! Is that a twist I see?! ...No. I guess not. But I do like the duality the titles allow. So this new one, "My Missing Brother", is much better to me. Which do you prefer?

So I've been teasing and promising a bit of work from my piece, to show what I've been working on, and I could...that's no problem. So I suppose I could do that. In my next post. And that may just be later today. I need to figure out which scene I want to preview. I think I have the right one...so we'll see. Thanks for reading! Catch ya later!

Monday, August 8

Critique


Ladies and gentlemen, I do now so proudly present my reaction to my first, unofficial and unbiased review of my work so far. Please turn off all cell phones, pagers and electronic devices and refrain from any flash photography, as it frightens the writing. Thank you.

Do you only have finished work critiqued?


In my previous post, "Cavalry", I mentioned making a friend who is a writer (or a person who enjoys writing, however he wants to identify himself :D). I mentioned the excitement at possibly helping each other out by reviewing our work. This is necessary - and I say "necessary" more generally, not so much that I need to be the one - because artists and creators and usually very critical of their work...and require unbiased opinions. Basically, someone who doesn't know the person and doesn't have a personal history that could possibly be at stake based on how you review their creation. I say "unofficial" above because this person is not a script doctor and does not run a paid script reviewing service. This is just writer to writer.

So a real quick progress update: I am into Act 2 of the script, and have reached a temporary stopping point in terms of moving forward. I have since gone back through the first Act to strengthen it and add scenes that I felt needed to be there. The script is about 50 pages now. This is what I sent to my friend.

I am grateful that he agreed to read it in the first place. I am more grateful that he provided such a detailed and lengthy critique. It shows me that he cares about the story and, further, the success of the completed project. I do want a review from someone who doesn't care at some point...but not quite yet.

So, the following were the strongest points he made:

  • Expository dialog instead of showing it
  • My "action" text being too book-form
  • More character differentiation and staying true to those characters
  • Other general dialog issues
In response to his review, I did do a bit of defending...but I do not believe it was a knee-jerk defense. I accepted his critique, and am all the better for it. I cannot wait to go back through and take a closer look at what he said. But there were certain things that needed defending simply because of their nature.

For example my direction and "action", the business of the script, was written too much in "prose form". This was something that I know and do purposefully. I have mentioned in previous blog posts that I am writing without any specific structure - just a general one. This includes writing in details that will later be removed or translated. I enjoy writing in this format, explaining how characters feel at certain times, and the purpose behind their actions, right in the business. This helps me for later, when I do more streamlining. I can turn those thoughts into actions or that purpose can become visible. I don't like to nail things down too securely until the first draft is finished. I want to be able to look at everything at a distance in order to zoom in on the details.

The second thing I had to explain were a couple of character-based things. One was how I had a brief voice-over "monologue" type deal in the beginning being made by a young boy. He mentioned two things: how the words being said were beyond the child's years and that, since there was a young boy on the screen we did not need the monologue. The thing about this monologue is thatboth of those very valid points do serve a greater purpose within the script and story. Since the script was not finished when my friend read it, I cannot blame him for that critique - because, otherwise, he would have been correct.

The other character-based thing that I had to defend was Jacob's character flaw. And here is where I realized something that hadn't occurred to me before - if I have to defend and explain Jacob's flaw...then it's not obvious or at least sincere. So I now know I have to strengthen that and make it more apparent.

Other than that, he made all very valid, very poignant observations. I know that there's dialog that needs work, I know that there are characters that need some reworking and some tweaking. Basically, my work is not done. Not that it ever was before my friend's review, but I'm glad to have had this information now...and not later when I may have been more unaware of it. 

I'm excited to start posting excerpts from my exercise! Very soon! In fact, I may just put up one of my favorite scenes so far.

Saturday, August 6

Pride

I cannot say enough about the change I had in my heart and mind.

What, specifically, makes you happiest about writing?

I'll try to put it into just one word: OUTSTANDING



I can't remember ever being this happy while writing. I mean, sure, I'm always all psyched up and excited about my current project when I start. But that always used to fizzle out. And then the frustration would set in. After that...the perpetual break from writing.

I was never serious about it, I guess. That had to be a part of it.

Well, everyone, since my incredible transformation...I have been writing non-stop for over a week. Every single day I sit down and I write. I don't stop writing. The best part of it is that I do not feel any sort of stress and no sort of pressing need to "fulfill my destiny" as a writer or whatever the hell.

I am happy.

I can't believe I can say that and actually know what it means. I thought I was happy writing before, but I was always met with anger and depression when I hit that inevitable wall. Since realizing the root of my problem and discovering the reason I feel the NEED to write, and therefore creating all that stress, I've been on cloud nine.

I can now say that I have completed over 40 pages of the script's first draft. I feel like this story is flowing naturally, and everything is coming together in the way that it needs to. It's unbelievable. I haven't felt like my writing has ever been this successful. Now I have a chance.

I am still writing just for the love of it. I am not writing to be a super successful writer - a household name. The joy I am getting, that happiness that I understand now, is coming strictly from actually putting the words on the page. That is what I love. If I one day become someone people talk about like Tarantino, Cameron, Sorkin, the Cohens, the Wachowskis...well, that's just a bonus.

I am not a writer. I am a creator. And I create through writing.

More details on my current exercise soon. I just felt the need to express how awesome it's been this past week.

Friday, August 5

Plans

I feel like writing about what I have planned for myself for when I'm done with my current writing exercise. I feel like I can really plan forward now that I feel good about writing and am more confident in finishing an exercise.

How many ideas do you have planned?

My wife always tells me, whenever I bring up future writing, "one thing at a time!" She knows how easily I can be distracted from what I'm currently working on by the allure of another exercise. It has happened before, I've abandoned projects to work on something else...but I always felt it was more of a decision than a distraction in those cases. Anyway, she does a good job making sure I stay on track.

But I don't see the harm in planning ahead so that I know what I'm doing later. I mean, the old adage goes that you're only as good as your next what-have-you, right? So I'm just trying to keep that true for myself: I may be creating with this one exercise now, but it's no good if I have no idea what I'll be doing next.

That being said, here are my plans.

Currently, I am developing the exercise about the brothers trying to reconnect in retro Cleveland. I'm making good progress with my method of less structured writing. There is a big part of myself in this story, too. I consider this the first "half" of my own personal story.

Next on my list of exercises is the other "half" of my personal story. It actually deals with a young man who struggles with completing writing projects, but has a lot of potential. He's suddenly presented with an easy way out, takes it, and it blows up in his face.

After that exercise, I plan on developing this idea I had about buccaneering on the high seas! This one will, no doubt, require LOTS of research. But it's a neat idea that came to me suddenly one day. Who knows?

I feel like doing all of that will really give me the experience I need to tackle this HUGE, ambitious story I created years ago. It was way beyond my scope then, and there was no way this David could beat that Goliath at that time of my life. I'm very excited about the idea of returning to this incredible story and adapting it to the screenplay format (it was in novel form before). So that's the next exercise. It's a fantasy genre adventure that spans hundreds of years, and multiple chapters. Very excited.

Then, I think, I am going to try and put together this idea that's also based off of my life, and the lives of a few very good friends of mine. They originally had the idea to write a stageplay that incorporated all the funny inside jokes they enjoy together. They mentioned that the problem with it was it never got off the ground. I think I could really make a heartfelt story out of it, concerning friends and how growing up together can affect each person. So that's what I'll plan on.

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Edited 8/12/11 for another idea that came to me:

I have something else finally. It's a story revolving around the creation of the universe in the event known as The Big Bang, and how it relates to humanity in the current time. I'm very excited about this one, and it, too, will require TONS of research, which I welcome!
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Edited 8/22/11 for another idea that came to me:

Inspired by a true story, I came up with the tale of siblings who've never known their father and are always told how great he was, and they are finding they have to form their own opinions. This one, I feel, has a lot of potential. I love the reality of it.
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Those are my ideas for now. I have more sitting in the wings, but I don't want to plan everything out TOO far ahead, to allow for other things to cook and develop. But this is pretty exciting as it is. Now...BACK TO WORK FOR ME!