A sometimes half-arsed record of the process of writing in its' variegated many forms.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

the current project

Many of the projects I set for myself this summer were themselves requiring of individual attention, and of course I had planned to work on all of them at the same time. As things would have it, I just finished the one screenplay, and that took most of my time. In the procrastinations between work on Eddie the Grouch, I did however begin to develop a novel idea.

It started as an extension of the work on the memoir, which had become big and complicated enough for me to have to actively stop work on it so that it didn't take over from finishing the screenplay. It really became one or the other, and I went for the quick and dirty over the long and drawn out. I then thought about trying a more straight forward autobio fiction, reimagining my time at Spottswood Square in Memphis, TN. Briefly I was distracted by the idea of writing a collection of short stories based on characters professions starting with a minor league baseball Umpire and working from there.

Again, I had to shelve this idea if I was to have any hope of finishing the screenplay, which became wierder and more complex as I went along. In the final breaths of the script, it hit me like a ton of bricks as I wrote a section of the novel Eddie is writing. I wanted to write a novel about a writer trying to write a screenplay. It was perfectly synched with the Eddie script, as it was a screenplay about a character trying to write a novel. They would complement each other in a lovely way. Of course I knew in the back of my head that this was a much bigger undertaking. A novel is no small thing, and I've yet to complete one, although I've got a couple of novella length things that are incomplete. I do know that it's not as easy as writing a screenplay. Not necessarily easier but exercising different writing muscles, and as Murakami says novels are a grind.

Still, I was committed to it being my next project for the next year or so. I still have 9 undergrad classes to finish, which take only time not effort. So, it's all just a question of time management. Still I did want to get started before school, but I was having trouble. The idea had to be filled in more before I would be ready to write. I had to do much, much more conceptual work, which I have been doing over the past several weeks, really for longer but just intermitently. I go wander around Boston trying to find inspiration in the architecture, which I have. It's freeing to be out walking, surrounded by people and business and life.

I began to see how I wanted to weave the real beauty of my city in with the fantasy of my story. I began to stake out real places to have in the story, and transplanted my Memphis story to where I actually live. It's been an amazing process, and I do want to document it all which, of course, won't happen. I'm already skipping a whole lot, but let me say this. I do hope to write this project openly here at this website. I want blogging here to be a document of the process of writing this particular novel. Hopefully as a way to maintain focus on this particular novel, as my mind has a tendency to wander. I try to keep focused.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The ultimate inevitability

It was an undoubted inevitability that blogging would become a responsibility and lose the sheen of offhandedness. The approach was all wrong from the beginning. While I had, in my head, been true to the notion that blogging was just a form of digital journaling that happened to be accessible by a wider audience, in the end it was that wider audience that I sought; not surprisingly unsuccessfully. I've always craved a wider audience, even as I refuse to do anything in the way of compromise on the 'integrity of my artistic vision' to satisfy anyone outside of my own head; read: I can be a real asshole when it comes to blowing smoke.
The problem was bound to come to a head as work, school, more structured creative projects, etc. began to interfere with an increasingly wide range of blog forms and the mania of inspired first moments waned. There was no possible way to maintain that kind of fiery pace indefinitely. It had to burn out. In the end, I was lucky that the landing was as smooth as it was, and I'm able to come back to this at all instead of a total abandonment of the persona, the Brown Dog Affair. So, I'm trying to reground this project in it's original intentions; return to form, as it were...just tighten up a little bit.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Drawing a straight line

Alright, so as of that last drunken post, it's clear that I'm running in circles a little bit, and I've got get my head right. Coincidentally or perhaps omenly, my crappy old computer has finally had a major hardware malfunction. So, it occurred to me that some non-wired time might be just what the doctor ordered. Take a month or so to clear the old head and get out in the sunshine. Try to get a grip on directions and steps towards goals and all that kind of nonsense. It's good to unplug once and a while.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

the update

I've got fragments of success with the once again probably too many irons in the fire process, so I thought I'd do a quick rundown of what's the what.
To start I've just finished the first act of Eddie the Grouch, which actually went fairly well. There was a roundabout comparision of Hemingway and Chechkov, and it ran fairly deep while still remaining conversational. Eddie blows up at Harold, the director of Lilly's play The Seagull, over his lack of appreciation of Hemingway. Well, actually we need to build the psychology of that a little more. Somehow maybe the Harold/Lilly, director/actor, relationship should be made more explicit. Maybe she is not necessarily awed of him but respects him, and Eddie of course feels she just pities him. The blow-up, as did Sal's in The Coffee Shoppe, feels forced and just a way to have something happen, which in a sense they both are. So little action occurs in either of these scripts, but...
I reactivated Darwin's Child last night with great success. I brought in a quick car chase in which the French Canadian Woman, who is completely unaware of the shadow conspiracy, then has to evade a bunch of goons in black audi's while pissed as hell at the American Man for getting her into this shit. It's a good scene, and I brought forward all of the characters that were introduced in the last act of the first draft of the script. I'm not sure if I now want to have two twin pregnant women because of the babysitter twins from Planet Terror or not, but it's a cool idea, so...I've written a fairly good little expository section before their safehouse is attacked and we get the first taste of the AM's genetically superior strength and agility. I can't decide if their should be another quick car chase before they make it to the cargo ship headed for Japan.
I've got some good ideas for FCW too. I've said here that I really want to make her a mythic character, well all of them, but especially her. Over the course of the three films she ultimately comes forward and takes the leading role in not saving the world from the apocalypse but helping to give (I want to say the forces of good here, but that's way too manichean) the survivors a chance to start over.
I could spend all day running out the storylines on some of this stuff sometimes, but given that I'm feeling the writing bug, I should continue to push on those two just now.

There is just one other little thing, and I'm just gonna start it here and get more on it in el futura. I've been thinking about the Masters program I want to get into, which is an interdisciplinary program called Critical and Creative thinking. It has the unique feature that they have a design yr own degree option, which...well, to be fair that can be a dangerous concept for me because when I did that in undergrad the project got so far out of hand that there was no way the whole thing wouldn't blow up in my face, which it did as in enough credits to graduate with a triple major but no degree because yr senior project was a fricking PHD dissertation. Every advisor I ever had as well as almost everyone I even knew casually told me I was nuts, and as it turns out they were all right, but I've gotten away from myself here.
Here's where I'm trying to get. I'd been offhandedly putting together a program in my head. The triangle I was originally looking at was art, spirituality, and mental health and illness. These were essentially the corners of my undergrad project. Hold on, just to prove my insanity sometimes and then I'm gonna break off this rambling nonsense for another post, I'm gonna post what was tentative title of my undergraduate senior project. Your gonna laugh.

A neuropsychohistoricosocio-cultural and philosophical look at the relevance of spirituality and art in efficient human cognition and it's relation to the extremes of neurochemical variability

and I wasn't being ironic at all.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

some brief nostalgic elongations

I wrote a one man, one act play when I was 19 about a man named Harold, who over the course of the act we find is quite mad. He's a frustrated writer, and in his spiral into the hells of writer's block actually goes on a shooting spree to give the serial killer he's writing about more versimilitude. At the end of the act, we discover that he's in an insane asylum of the old school nature, and he then hangs himself with the strap of the...shasta, I'm blanking on the name...that thing that Houdini used to escape from, with straps tied around you so yr hands are all caught behind yr back. (edited to say: straight jacket)
Anyway, in the drunken haze that was my early twenties, somehow this little gem turned into the kernel of the idea for what I then called The Conversation's Trilogy. The idea's been expanded now into a sextology or possibly a septology, but that's a whole other story. In it's original first reformulation as The ConversTril, Harold witnesses his good friend, the Ned Beatty character, slay another friend of theirs and his own wife as they were en fragante delicto. Harold gets all histerically blind, but in the magical realist vein, he gains the eyesight of our hero, J, and he writes a novel from the bowels of a nuthouse to somehow help J with his own troubles. Harold's story was to be told in a play and J's in a screenplay, and the book was to be actually written. It's to my mind a great novel idea. A kind of admixture of Dashiell Hammett, Elmore Leonard on his good and vibrantly sharp-edged days, and what I have imagined Robert Ludlum to be like from the descriptions my friend Tom used to lay on me.
Again anyway, I had written the first act of the play in one frenzied drunken morning, and was working with my friend, Quintronic, on the screenplay on and off for several months of mostly messing about. Then one day, I just somehow grabbed a book called Mythology by Edith Hamilton to see if there was someway to throw it into the mix. I can't remember why or how it seemed like the thing, but it did. I went down to the Half Shell in Midtown Memphis, and was scanning through the various brief descriptions of the various Greek dieties, when an old man approached me. He gave me a bunch of apples from his farm, and generally talked about how much he missed his wife, who had passed on. It was a strange encounter, but I let him unburden his lonliness as best I could.
In some wierd way that moment unlocked a neural cascade of creativity, and the new story was born. Harold's trials and tribulations were simply a preperation for his being inhabited by the returning Dionysus, who spends half his time in Hades and half on Earth, as he is a shadowed early formation of the Jesus idea, whose worship on Earth gives Dio some still brief time amongst the living. As none of the other Greek Gods are still worshipped, they no longer have the power to exist in this realm, but Hades and all who believed in it still does. Only Dio is connected to this world, and the first act of the play begins at his previous return to Hades and the realization amongst Zeus and other greedy gods that he holds a connective power to the world, and so they trap him and try to draw on it for the lustful expanse that it gives them. Just as he is sacrificed in Hades, he returns to Earth in the form of Harold, and finds that in the preparation process Harold has through his troubles and the eyesight of J written this novel of grim set, hard-boiled, mutated detective fiction. Dio inhabited Harold then escapes the nuthouse to chase down J who is himself about to make the wild mistake of running away from his own problems. All of the three stories end with each character heading to New Orleans.
In the next level reformulation, they all meet there and are confronted with the fact that they are all simply aspects of my own psyche, cognition, volition, and emotion (I was then in the early stages of studying consciousness theory), and they meet a socratic like character who explains how the whole story is simply an attempt to converge psychically on the metaphoric New Orleans, which is intended as the spiritual center of humanity. All heavily wierd stuff, and not a little convoluted now some years past it's sell by date. Still...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

thoughts reactivated

I found a book in the recycle bin outside my apartment building just a few minutes ago, and I'm feeling the synchronicitiousness heavily. The book is called Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, and it's got all kinds of mythical women and their stories and explanations. I'm highly intriqued to say the least, but it also occurred to me that this book may be just what I needed to get the female character of the Darwin Trilogy to a more mythic place, as I was lamenting the need to do just that here on this blog a while back.
It then occurred to me that the whole story itself needed to take on an archetypal significance, as I'm not one to just leave it as simply an action film script. That would not be in keeping with my character. I'm now sure that there are three books specifically that will be required reading and in some cases rereading for a conceptual feasting on myths and archetypes and such. The aforementioned Women Who Run With the Wolves as well as, Gaia and God by Rosemary Radford Ruether and Patterns in Comparative Religion by Mircea Eliade are now going to be the trilogy of touchstones for the project, along with, if at all possible, Joseph Campbell's Mask of God series and maybe some Euripides. Since Euripides and Aeschylus and the other Greek Tragedians are themselves already a heavy influence on a play I've got in mind and made a few tentative stabs at, I won't make them required reading for this project, but I'll try to keep them in the back of my head.
It is not clear to me when I can actually get back to this project, but I'm projecting for maybe taking some time on it this summer. I really want to get Eddie the Grouch done first, and I had wanted to see what I could do with the Celebrity Without a Cause project also, oh and the memoir project. I had also wanted to sit back down with HTML-coding and design stuff this summer so I could snazz up the blogs here a little, but this is all way too much to think about finishing in one summer. I'll give it a crack anyway, and we'll see what shakes out.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Chayefsky, the mad genius

Paddy Chayefsky, the mad genius of the early days of television, who so wonderfully embodies the values of the Hollywood Renaissance, I just felt I had to say how inspired and inspiring the film Network is; how intense and burrowingly perceptive the whole thing is. I was concerned early on about the portrayal of women, but this transcends gender as does business. It masculinizes everyone involved or scoffs them off to lick their wounds unobtrusively and out of the way. The performances all around are well renowned, but the smaller role of William Holden's wife played by Beatrice Straight is the moment of punctured life in the continued saga of histrionics. It's an important and well-placed moment that gives the film a roundness that I respect greatly. He nails it down with every word, and the actors give breath to those words with astounding dignity. It's just a really good movie, and one that has given me just a moment of inspiration and feeling when I thought films had lost that ability forever. A mild exaggeration, but then I'm prone for such things.
It occurred to me as I was watching the Ecumenical Liberation Army's squabble over distribution costs and anciliary rights or somesuch that there is a powerful tradition of great truth telling in the arts, and one that must be continued and fought for and sought out and delineated. It also occurred to me how much creative will must go into the creation of something like that. I'm struggling to get at my meaning here because as usual I refuse to speak directly. Let me try again. I think that there is so much that is creative and powerful and unique in our artistic history that it's a crying shame that the kinds of remakes we get are things like old sitcoms or cheap cash ins on a once popular or possibly solid artistic product (i.e. Sabrina). It occurs to me that there's this huge wealth of wonderful material that should be drawn from and used as an inspiration point, not just gimickified for a quick dollar bill. Some questions arise: is it art or business that controls the artistic markets, and is there an art to business that isn't a con, especially when it comes down to art? It really feels hollow and plastic when the business end of things gets through with our cultural representations, and it just occurred to me that this is not healthy, is entirely counterproductive, and quite possibly heavily financially restrictive. It's just that artists tend never to take financial considerations into play, and so the business end of things always feels they must find an exploitable element and try to play that up. It's slickness personified: an idea made manifest in our collective consciousness and then realized in individuals who find there ways into positions of control and influence. Perhaps I'm talking beyond my scope and not making much sense, but it just feels like a cheap con sometimes. I just think we can do better.

The Seagull among other things

I started rereading this Chekhov gem this afternoon, and it was instantly clear that this was the play that I was looking for. I had virtually randomly selected it from plays that I have copies of to be the play that the character Lilly from the screenplay Eddie the Grouch is in, and it fits perfectly. In fact, after their first act falling out over Eddie's birthday outburst, he'll be dragged off to see it by Thera and it will inspire him to try for a more abstract novel project. It's also clear to me that I absolutely need to be more careful about leaving ideas just inside my head. I had laid out the major plotpoints of Eddie's novel and how it changes at the end of the second act, but this morning as I was reading The Seagull and thinking about the script for the first time in weeks, it occurred to me that the remnants of those brainstorm sessions are vague and not as solid as they were when I was working on them. This is not uncommon, it's just tough to always do notetaking, but necessary (as he reminds himself yet again) since we work on more than one project at a time and have work and school as well to contend with. You know these things, so keep to them.
Creatively it's been a languid time. I should be working this week, but I can't muster up much energy for the whole thing. Now that I have the play in place with it's relatively large cast, I have to work out who we meet, who plays who, especially whether Lilly plays Arkidina or Masha or Nina. Now that I think about it there would be no solid choice for a typecast, but certainly she would need quite a bit of range to get from her personality to Arkidina, who is clueless and grandiose. I see them as a group, so cohesive and intense about the theatre, quoting lines from their characters and discussing maybe Konstantin's desire to break with trad. theatre or Trigorin's soliloquey on writing. This will all make Eddie terribly jealous and finally set him off, maybe on David, the director or the actor who plays Trigorin or even Lilly herself. Who knows? Just letting it all hang out a little.
Of Trigorin's monologue, I've got to include this qoute:

"They're deluding me into thinking I'm sane, and I'm really not, and someday they'll creep up behind me and drag me off to the crazy house. And when I was young, and could have been out enjoying myself, writing was sheer hell. A beginning writer, unless he's lucky, feels completely out of place- awkward, useless, nervous. He's obsessed with successful writers and people in the arts, he hangs around them, but nobody notices him. And he's afraid to look anyone in the eyes. He's like a compulsive gambler without any money! I never knwe who my readers were, but I had this vision of them: hostile, unimpressed. I was afraid of the public, terrified of it, and whenever a new play of mine opened, I always thought the people with dark hair hated it and the ones with blond hair were bored by it. It's horrible." From the character Trigorin from The Seagull by Anton Chekhov.

Chekhov is such existential deepness, I can't help but love him. Definitely my kind of playwright, but still humorous at times but such meaningful discussions of life, and so universally and timelessly true. The discussion of fame and celebrity has only become more poignant.

Also just quickly, The Seagull is also going to be used for the introductory scene between Sarah and Belle for the Play section of The Coffee Shoppe, so we'll get maximum umph for our buck out of this material. There's just so much there it's unbelievable, and I like the idea of characters from different projects getting to comment on the same material, maybe we'll get a whole different take from Belle and Sarah than we do from the crowd that's putting the play on or from Eddie who's at first bitter and then inspired by the piece. Okay, that's all.

Friday, March 14, 2008

kizmetic ponderings

I noticed that there's been some wierd synchronicity in some of my posts here. The week I posted the idea about a film of celebrity fame as a haunting and an overarching destroyer, Heath Ledger overdosed. The day after I posted the novel idea about someone's destructive behavior building and building until it maybe destroyed their lives, it was revealed that Eliot Spitzer had been caught up in a sting operation for hiring prostitutes. If cartoons start coming to life and attacking us, don't say I didn't warn you before hand. It could already be happening, so be aware.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

jagged stylechanges are my callingcard

I've started a new series of blog entries on my myspace blog called 'reminiscences of Memphis', which is a fun way to go through all that stuff and see what shuffles out. The last entry there was a little pedantic, but in truth I...as of this writing now, which is forward from the time when I started this blog entry, I'm past the pedantic blog entry and have redeemed myself minimally, so we'll leave off on that. I have to say it's an enjoyable process, this reminiscing, and I should do it more often. I should also do some work on the autobio project, but not tonight. Hopefully tomorrow.
It's interesting to see the wierd jagged stylechanges that somehow occurred over at the myspace blog. For some reason I like the blog format, even if I really am not into social networking in any form and find the very word myspace annoying beyond belief. I also find the word blog pretty obnoxious, as I've said once or twice, so I guess we must simply suffer gracefully and endure or just suffer dumbly and eat a whole bag of Syder's of Hanover's Honey Mustard Pretzel Pieces. I couldn't say which way you should go, but I know which way I did. I'm not telling though.
I've been reading a lot of very mildly ironic, semi-sardonic, hugely humurous blogs lately, and as mimicry is the thing that I am most talented at, I've been copping there style just a little bit. It's an enjoyable way to write. I just wish I could pretend I thought of it myself. My own style is so dullingly academic it hurts. I should really work on that. Anyway, just trying to get the blogosphere caught up on all the exciting things going on in my head, so I hope yr feeling satisfied blogosphere, you've just wasted another day of my life that I will not get back no matter how much I complain to the manager. I think I'll have some cabbage.

Monday, March 10, 2008

dream processing

I held it for as long as I could, building it's power and bridging the gap with the vestiges of sleep brought into the strange relief of the conscious field: a kind of tension of magic eye-like vision pattern shifts that allow the explosion of some great view and scene. I barely breathe as I try to hold the idea and it's meanings and explications in my head without losing the sense or the robustness of the idea.
The winds of the Santa Ana, the wierd winds of the Eiger, all of these strange winds that contain maybe positive ions, expand or elaborate (see Eiger Dreams), are capable of bringing to life when combined with the power of the collective consciousness the fantasies of comics and animation/ starting in the 1920's or earlier with the earliest of comics somehow imbued with the collective power of children's imaginings brings whisps of these creatures into a kind of holographic expression in the very places where these winds blow, seen and unbelieved, unacknowledged at first, but then grudgingly acknowledged and reported, building the collective sense of the reality of these visions which then pushes their reality farther, into the forties and fifties as the characters and creatures begin to fill in, they become more than hollow, to become ambulatory, to move farther afield. This gives them greater power and imbues them with more life from the collective consciusness. No one understands how or why our fantasies are being writ large across the sky. As the sixties and seventies dawn these characters both good and evil (in all their as written manichean glory) begin to take on wild and highly effecting life, begin to battle, to take out whole towns and cities, to be saved by Mighty Mouse, or destroyed by Bluto. Perhaps their manicheanistic tendencies get blurred, good becomes bad becomes good, characters shift and fight with each other and themselves: all kinds of maddening possibilities.
Somehow wild hard-boiled scientists of the modern times manage to isolate and interpret the data of the process and begin to understand what it is that's happening (clearly referencing Ghostbusters in their explanations to unbelieving politicians or military men [explore more non-cliched possibilities {possibly somehow The Rolling Stones, who are then a part of the process whereby the world is saved}]). Then in someway the zietgiest of collective consciousness must be brought back to earth in order to save humanity from ultimately their own collectivized insanity. Implications for social commentary on the memeticisim of pop-culture, on the process of furtherance of the formerly insane and out of bounds into the completely accepted, all kinds of wild implications.
I still see the dream slightly, the manic little man as he tries to build up the steam of his conviction that the wall holds the potential for Voltronesque robotic might, as the wall breaks apart with his intense convictions and becomes this crazy robot, swooping down into the Mall of America, against the mounted military defences which are so helpless to this oversized cartoon. Then clearly not asleep but with the image holding power, in that between state, not awake not asleep. The idea's building; it's enfolding itself, gaining momentum, adding to itself. Then trying to hold both the image and the ideas as they begin to snowball. Now the rush to the computer as I try to maintain it all, as the image is fading and what is left is my report here. I love you Haruki Marukami, Jon Krakauer, and Jennifer Hochschild. You are the birth of this great and fraught with potential novel idea. You and the Ghostbusters.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The slow descent

I had a story idea the other day that I wanted to catalogue somewhere because it's not something I'm going to use any time soon. It's actually more of a character idea than much in the way of story, but it has implications for story that could be interesting. Essentially the idea is watching a character slowly fall apart as he's trying to keep it together on some front. Not a particularly original thought there, but how it's done makes all the difference. My idea was this would make good novel material since film tends to reduce so much of the subtleties of character in it's condensation process. So much of the meat of the story would be the internal struggle against the continuing poor choices that it would be very difficult to get that on screen.
Initially I thought just the ever so instantaneously molecule of a moment that this would be a interesting to see someone's descent into pedophilia, but in the end I just couldn't even begin to think about writing that character. Still it gives you the idea of what I'm talking about, the slow descent through the poor momentary choices that lead us to making a horribly awful decision about something: murder, abuse, armed robbery, whatever. The point of the story would be watching this happen to the character, and watching him or possibly her struggle against there own seeming inevitability. That would be a key psychological trait, that they see this awful possibility looming in their future, and every little thing they do wrong leads them to believe that they are incapable of stopping the process by which they move towards this possibility. They struggle against it, but the slightest moment of distraction leads them closer.
This kind of thing interests me greatly. How someone gets to a place where they might consider killing someone or abusing a child or even simply (within the context of this sentence) cheating on their spouse or significant other. It's a gradual process whereby they move farther along the continum of destructive behavior until at some stage you reach a kind of sudden and momentous moment when you are faced with a really messed up possibility, and you are actually considering it. I think it would be really compelling, if well written, to look at this process in depth, and see someone go through it, especially someone who was themself self aware of the fact that this process was ongoing in their life. Whether or not they give into the temptation or not, I don't know. Maybe, and this I would love but would be horribly problematic in terms of actual publishing, it's unresolved; the book ends right at the moment when the decision is about to be made, and the readers have to decide for themselves based on the whole thing what the outcome is.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Notes on MishMash

So I thought I would include some notes here that I made during a brainstorm session for MishMash just to give a little bit of a better access to the process of conceptualization. Here we go:

MishMash- A kitchen sink approach
Start-work backward w/ jumpstarts and wanderings in The Two Hospitals Chapters-
Move through them & into the last year around Sept. to Sept. in a forward move then
1st year in the 'phis (forward)
thematic movements through next 7 years-
1. girls 2. academics 3. creative 4. friendships 5. drugs, etc.
>Africa>1st year back before phis
>high school & Comm. College-?Break thematically again? How?
/Maybe as character, not self-How far? Third person Omniscient?
Childhood as early Black Boy style-see doggeared pages-use a stylistic dreamlike approach and broad reminiscences, sentimental flavor, etc.
3rd level MishMash intro-is about airing out maybe good creative material that might otherwise not get a chance to see the light of day.

Those were just some quick notes I made one day while trying to figure out how I was going to shift the way MM was being set up as strictly moving backwards through time. As I was writing, I realized that although I love the idea of telling the story backwards and will maybe revisit the notion fictionally someday. It was just unsuccessful for my own story. Their was too much context necessary for some of the material. Although this may seem like a bit more complicated of a structure, it actually makes the writing process easier, as the backwards progression presents all kinds of complications with when to bring in characters, how to talk about the end of relationships before the beginnings, what kind of time-chunks to use for the movement. Just lots of complications that I didn't need for an already complicated storyline.
As a quick note, I do like very much the idea of talking about a certain period of my life as if it were fictional. The idea that I would use the very real life experiences and actions, but express them in a less straightforward, memoiristic way seems like it'll be fun. That'll also lead into the more surrealistic way I intend to write about the idyll of childhood, as I feel that's more accurate than trying to pretend like I really remember that stuff by going and talking to family members and dredging other's memories. Think the beginning of Joyce's Potrait of an Artist as a Young Man Parliament Funkadelic style. That's gonna be what I'll be going for. So, maybe now would be a good time to get back to the Skattershot (I've accidentally written Shattershot in some places, and I can't decide if I like that better) Backstory stuff, which I've still got about thirty or forty pages of to get through. I've been slacking on that hard-core what with...Oh forget the excuses just work the move already(note to self).

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Conceptualization and idol play

So I thought I'd try to talk a little bit about the process of building story ideas. It's a complicated and mostly intuitive process, so it's hard to really explicate, but I'll give it the old college try. Story ideas, at least for me, can come from anywhere: the newspaper, a film, something I overhear in the subway, a book, the way a certain building reminds me of something. It's all fodder, so the best advice for finding story ideas is cast the net wide, absorb as much as you can, keep yr peepers open, and just be generally receptive to the possibility of ideation in the general living process. The truth is it usually hits me when I least expect it, and the stuff that really sticks and gets elongated and worked on is generally the out of left field, where did that notion come from kind of stuff. In that way, I am not the colonel of my artistic process, just a tailgunner. I just try to keep the enemy in my sights. And by enemy, of course, I mean creativity and only in a inverted metaphoric way. I don't really consider creativity to be my enemy, I was just drawing out the metaphor farther than it was really capable of going.

Anyway, the meat of the conceptual process is as Einstein is credited as saying one part inspiration and 99 parts perspiration. It's a lot of work at honing in on the characters and plot because somehow it's in yr brain, and you just have to draw it out. You or as I really mean I work in a kind of dualing internal spitball process whereby I will throw out stream of consciousness ideas about the story or people in it, and then react to that stream by suggesting variation or alternatives. It's a pretty strange all around thing, and physically it manifests itself as wandering around my apartment muttering to myself. In that vein, it's good to live by yrself or have understanding or mostly absent roommates. I've never been able to work satisfactorily when other people are anywhere near my process, but I'm an admitted eccentric.

So, it's a winnowing process, a kind of fun battle as the characters struggle to get themselves right. I really believe that the characters I work on have their own sort of existence and selfhood, and I think that gives the process a very serious and delicate tone. It's still the most enjoyable thing to do, but I do take it all very seriously in a convivial way. Essentially, it's like wandering through the wilderness trying to find yr way back to civilization; panic and hopelessness are your enemies (for real this time), you gotta have confidence, pick a direction, charge ahead, and don't look back. Something like that.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A reminiscence

The other day I was rummaging through the storage bins of my memory, and I found the remains of what may be the first short story I ever wrote. It turns out that in what must've been third or fourth grade we had to write somekind of story about living on the frontier, and I chose to create a journal for a cowboy who was on a cattle drive from Oklahoma or Kansas or somewhere on North along the Chisholm trail to the railroads that would take them back East. Well, being the strange one that I am, I chose to focus on the lonliness of being out there. There were stampedes and other troubles, but mostly our man was overwhelmed by lonesomeness and eventually he hung himself with his own belt.
Of course, all this is from memory, so I can't be sure of the exact details, but the general story is as I represented it here. Pretty wierd to think that I was writing existentially at the age of eight or nine, but actually that's probably fairly in keeping with my long held worldview. I've always been most captured by the difficult, the heavy, the solitary aspects of life. The things that we have to struggle through alone in our own minds, those are what affect me greatly, and it's just interesting, for me at least, to remember one more quick little aspect of my own long career as a dirging writer.

Friday, February 22, 2008

stylistics, bravery, tapioca

Anyone who has read Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World will probably realize now that I've mentioned the book that the above blogtitle was an homage to Marukami's chapter titles. The difference being he actually works his way around to all the weird, non-sequitorish stuff he uses, and I'm just putting together some stream-of-consciousness nonsense. I do want to talk about stylistics a little bit because I do have to try and cut down on my steady diet of overused adjectives and adverbs. It's strange since I am actually very critical that I'm constantly hitting up the thesaurus for synonyms of superlatives like awesome and brilliant and amazing. I can't seem to praise stuff highly enough, and I think that comes from the severe negativity that I see in a lot of newspaper reviews and such. I should feel freer to be more critical. I never thought I would see those words come out of my brain, but there they are.
On the rest of the writing tip, there really isn't much to report this week. I've been on hold all week, just because I couldn't muster up the energy needed to get on the creative project at all. It is not easy to keep a steady pace of writing with all the otherness that I indulge in or do. Got's to pay the bills and such. Regardless, I did make some headway on the secretarial work of the Skattershot Backstory stuff for MishMash, so that's good, but I'm getting to a place that will require some real life editing, so we'll see how that goes. Made a few moves with E the G, but I need to work on my transitions a little bit. It's right at a crucial first act transition, and it's feeling a little curt if I cut away from them now, but the essential info has been delivered and we need to move into the meat of the act because there's been a lot of the wandering character development that is my stock and trade. I want to hit some offhanded chardev in the move into Eddie's big blowup scene. Oh, and I do need to bring in a scene with just Eddie and Lilly, so that we can see why she might be with him because right now it feels forced. Just trying to work out on describing the process a little. On to the show.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's beyond time

It is so way past my need for sleep, and I'm just crawling along for the vague reason that I felt like I still had something to say. The weekdays are chock full and overstocked with time constraints that keep me from writing, and so I wanted to get this little thing down since I've lost the ability to write coherently enough to work on the more structured non-blog projects. I had said over on my myspace blog that I was gonna make a mad move on them, but as it turns out, I just too wiped too really get that together. Understandibly so as it's been another week in the sleep deprivation chamber, but it just sucks is all, and tomorrow is for real people.
Righ quick here is...ShastA, what was it I wanted to say? Okay, it's interesting to note the shifting of style that has been part of the process of all the time blogging (I still absolutely hate that frickin' word), which is completely different than the tonal smoothness of my journal writing. There the tone shifted slowly and over time. Here it's much more dramatic and angular.
That's not what I wanted to talk/write about at all. One thing was the idea, ah there it is. So, just an idea about the nature of shifting from the freeformness of this stuff to actual paid writing for magazines or alternative newsweeklies, not that I'm trying to get into that kinda' thing just now, but an interesting idea. As opposed to reviewing a book or film or music from the objective stance so common in that kind of stuff, it's more interesting to talk about how that stuff effects you, and what kind of mood it evokes in yr subjectivity. Also the idea of looking at books, maybe in multiples as I often read several books at a clip, in the process of reading as opposed to simply once the whole process is complete and you've got the bigger picture (see last AHAUM post). It is now time for bed. I'm done.

I'm checking in, I'm checking out

Admittedly, there's not a whole lot to report on the writing front. School has usurped a lot of my creative time, although I got a some good work on E the G and MishMash, if just briefly. I really need to buckle myself down to the editorial work required for this step in MM, but it's drudging mostly because I wrote out by hand all of the material that I'm in the process of editing. So, there's an element of secretarial work to this particular edit move, as I've got to type up all the stuff as I go.
It's strange that the transition from hand written to typed seems to augment the material. I'm not sure that I could have gotten the kind of tone I have going in the, let's call it, Shattershot Backstory if I hadn't gone with the paper and pen approach, but the writing itself seems more comfortable in the plainness and uniformity of typed-upness. Whatever that all might mean, it does seem to be true. I've been required to do surprisingly little actual editing, and mostly just have to sit and type and type and type. This is the distinctive disadvantage of this approach, and I have a lot of stuff that is gonna be a serious pain to process because it's all pen and ink work. Still, I'm not so totally unhappy with the results I'm currently getting that I want to chuck it all in and start an ant farm. Still it is actually fairly difficult to edit as I'm typing, which is probably why the whole thing feels like such a slog to me.
As far as E the G, I'm pretty happy with what's been forthcoming as far as characterizations. The tighter structure really allowed me to breathe more individuated life into the different people that populate this script, but I've got to get some handle on who are the people in the play with Lilly. Lilly is Eddie's girl or maybe more accurately Eddie is Lilly's boy, and she is in a play. When she brings the other cast members to the bar, Ed reacts badly to the whole thing. What that's all about I'm not sure. Like I wrote, I really need to spend some quality conceptual time with the next move in plot and character.
So, anyway, I do blog like a madman, which is good, and doesn't seem to distract me too much off of my schoolwork thus far, but cross-referenced modulates and the crazed-junkie fad diet have had to take a backseat. They require more character building than I have time for, especially CRM. I want to get Jhazz James into it, but he's like the serious straight ahead intellectual of the group, and so his first review is going to be a study of Cornel West's Democracy Matters. That kind of dovetails with the play part of The Coffee Shoppe because as the first act I want to have all the characters in one on one discussions about books or plays as a way to introduce them. Two of the characters are gonna get on West, so it'll fit together once I find the time. I do want to hit up crazed junkie a little today, and I have some stuff for it and a piece of his first review for CRM, which is Bukowski's Ham on Rye.
I just quickly want to address the idea of working out specific plot and character in this space, which I don't totally. I've hinted at it, and there's a taste of it here, but I mostly just observe where were at and structural and conceptual stuff. It's something to think about, but I'm not entirely sure how that might go. Okay, so maybe I did have something to report.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Self help book for the slightly inebriated

I recorded this project about five or six years ago. Around the time I made The Lost Tapes of Murkinson and Burr, which are ironically enough now truly lost. Basically, it was ponderous thought on the nature of life and related troubles, but I found that when I went back to try and sift through the fifteen or so hours of material that I had recorded that the material came off as dull and vapid unless I'd had a few cocktails. Then it all sounded profound and lifechangingly meaningful. You know that extra color streetlights have after a few drinks? That's basically how this project came off. It needed just a little bit of added color from the recipient. Yet I had intended the material in all seriousness and had been very intent and serious in the process of recording. I guess that's a little sad. Well, in the end it was just offhanded nonsense in building through a transitionary element in my own personal writing from a highly emotional to a more philosophical outlook on the nature of the life of mine. In that sense, I suppose the project was a successful venture, but I still like the vaguely useless nature of a Self-help book that requires the reader to be slightly inebriated to be in a place to truly intake the unstructured and wandering lessons I would then impart. They would be heavy, I promise. Just have some whiskey.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

detached irony

The ironic distance that is such a successful and well-recieved tool of the modern writer or memoirist is completely beyond me. I can get ironic, but I can't get the distance required to really hit the right and not sour note. I'm just too wrapped up in the existing, and I can't get outside of it. I know it's my tragic flaw, but I feel endeared to it nonetheless. Besides, it's just so au cuarant (sic?), that I can't get with it anyway. I mean, I have my reputation to protect.
You see now, how ugly and useless my attempts are.
So, anyway, on to other things.
There is a strange or maybe just a natural connection between the inner emotional state and the exhalating creative work. It's a quite clear and yet opaque pattern that relates the fragility of imagination in a way that can't really be expressed well or at all. It just means that when we try to sit down with our daemons or face up to the wilds or however we break creative, we must be attuned to that innerself from which the tonal ambiquities are resolved long before we ever breathe life onto the page or word or string or whatever. It's all in the rythm of the soul, and will not be successfully cheated or pretended.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Where it's at

While I've been heavy on the blogging, I've been severely limited in my creative work in the other areas that need moving on. The problem being of course that now with school back in I just don't have all afternoon to put in the conceptual work necessary to move forward on E the G or really hit up editing some of the other screenplay stuff. I can and hopefully will momentarily get down on some MishMash stuff, but I'm not totally into it because it's the full dress edit process. I like the mini-edit maneuver of as you go work, but going all the way back I always come to the conclusion that it's totally hopeless, and I might as well throw in the towel now and save myself a big steaming pile of trouble. That's unfair and I think I need to dance out some of my blues just now, but then, oh then, I am so on this memoir move. I mean come on. I'm past the rough patch that was my life at the end of '06, so it should be all downhill until we get to the bottom of adolescence and have to slog back up shiite messin' with my mind mountain. Can't wait! enough on that for now.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

satiated and still not satisfied

Just a couple of notes on a few different projects here:

As to the blogging, it's getting wild and wooly in here. I'm constantly getting ideas for posts for the various blogplaces I'm into, and I'm even beginning to revisit anything going on in my life as a blog post in my head. Every quirky turn of phrase I hear makes me think "hey, that would be a catchy blogtitle". I'm now constantly scribbling notes about the things I want to write about. I can't escape.

It also occurred to me after a particularly rough Monday morning coming down that all the togetherness I had built up over the past few weeks got spent on a weekend of mild debauch, which just kills me these days. It may result in some short-term creative output, but the long-term result is hindrance not help. So keep it together on the S+N+E+I=LP (sleep+nutrition+exercise+interaction=Lasting productivity).

I had this what I now think is a muddle-headed, harebrained idea for E the G, which was to create a trifecta of movies about bloggers that were all coming out together and would be the reviews that Eddie gets all paranoid-delusional about because he, himself, was blogging about writing. I now think that's the wrong approach. Upon reflection I realize that Eddie is so not a blogger. Also it's just too repetitive and inbred an idea. I do like the idea that I'll cast these made up movies with actual actors and have the fictional reviewers review their performances. That'll be hella' fun. For a minute I thought I would use the Darwin trilogy as the movies just because it would be cool to cast them, even just in my fantasies, but again way to repetitive and inbred, and also the storyline isn't fully in place all the way through to the third movie.

As to Darwin's Child, I think I want to use the Hashhashin as the final battle. Going with the idea that this band of wild hash smoking assassins who have passed down their skills from the old school Abbasid days still exists and is hired by the UN shadow conspiracy, we'll then have a final showdown with the hashhashins and the shaolin monks at the temple with the American Man and his crew. It sounds like an idea that could snowball into campiness if not carefully crafted, and I don't want that awful ironic campstyle that they tried with the Fantastic Four. That was miserable. I really want my thing more in the LOR mythic category, so it's a highwire act for sure. Anyway...

Monday, February 4, 2008


Oh, to be wholeheartedly bombastic; it is the joy of life. Perhaps that's a bit of an overstatement, but that's entirely keeping with the spirit of the bombast. To be bloated and ugly with the malformations of uninhibited statements of questionable factuality, that is what it means to be really getting out there and digging into the heart of wide world of web-based anonymity. Making potentially damaging claims that can't be backed up but can't be disproved either, that's a skill worth pursuing, and an undoubted money-making venture. No, I kid because, well, for no reason other than the continuing movement of my fingers along the sleek and sliding keys of the board. I felt the need to share.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Editorializing for a cup of tea

My editorial process has been developing over the years, but it's starting to get honed into the sword of Damacles as I've been actually trying to seriously edit some of my stuff lately. Now I'm constantly editing as I go; going back through what I've just written and then going back through it again winnowing away all the chaff that my long-winded self inevitably produces. It's really starting to be a fun process, although I do feel a little wierd and obsessive as I'm constantly rereading my own stuff now. It feels a little cannabalistic, but them's the shakes, right? That's what it's all about to be a writer: intensity, inspiration, and constant regurgitations.
I did some solid editorial work on...actually that stuff is strictly rewrite. I did some rewrite on Darwin's Child just a little bit ago, and it's not entirely overblown, totally cheesed out, or completely incomprehensible, so I feel mildly successful. While I do want that stuff to have a more mythic feel, I've changed my mind on hindering a rewrite until I have more time to soak up some good old Greek tragedy or general mythic stuff. There's always the next rewrite, which is rapidly becoming my mantra.
On editing I'm at a really good place with MishMash right now. Last night during cocktail hour I started to reread some stuff I had written essentially to be a novel, but that ended up being backstory on the actual novel that I've written the first third of but have put aside for the time being. It was actually not horrible. It had some existential evocations, which I was feeling, but I had had a few cocktails at that point, so, you know. No, seriously, I read some again this morning, and it does need some polish, but it's good in a, man, I really wish I could write like Willa Cather kind of way. My current thinking is that I'm gonna include it in the section of MM that I'm working on now, with some spitshine as I go. Things are good in the Brown Dog house today.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Choral structures, Coffee split, and other tidbits

I realized yesterday as I was rereading The Coffee shop that I really need to work on how I structure choruses into songs. I wrote several songs into the movie, but the choruses (chorai?) only really work for the first one. I have a tendency to just write a verse as the chorus and then call for repetition instead of really building solid hooks that interact with the lyrics. I also don't have the melody in my head anymore for the last song, so it feels really awkward and off kilter. So I need to work on that, especially for the Song Cycle for Lyra, the world's most awesomest niece. I reread the one song I've written for the cycle, and it's not as horrible as my memory was telling me it was.
On a slightly related note, I wrote a concept album when I was 20 with the concept that all of our friends are really strangers. I wrote songs trying to get into what I really knew about several of my friends. Somehow out of the process came the idea to use the chorai (I'm going with that) as verses in a mid and final song. So there are two songs that collect together the choruses (okay, I'm wavering). It actually seemed to work, but my cousins and I only worked up the first few songs, so I never really got to try and sing the choral songs with guitars and such.
As to the Coffee Shop split, the idea being that in order to keep the read through of the original draft of Darwin's Child still a part of the CS, I could split them into a play and a screenplay. I actually think the idea could work within the context of wow look at how crazy I am I wrote a screenplay that leads into a theatrical play moreso than it's actually commercially produceable. That's all just gravy anyway. A writer writes to write, not to be produced. That will be my mantra until I get the chance to sell the frick out.
Anyway, enough on the ranting writer, I was trying to work how the play section would work. Would it just pick up where the movie left off, or how would that whole thing work? So my idea is to make it into a two act thing with the first act as character introductions, basically do some more slacker-like meet the characters as they hang around kind of stuff for the first act. Basically scenes that are missing from the film, and then go write into it in the second act, but really work up the whole meta-commentary aspect. I also want to really edit that stuff as within the script if that makes sense. The actual Darwin's Child has already been reconcieved heavily and partially rewritten, but I do want do decheesify some of the dialogue for the play and film even if it isn't a part of the actual DC stuff. Okay, now even I'm confused.

Eddie the Grouch

That is ostensibly the working title for the screenplay that I'm writing currently, but it's growing on me as an actual legit title. No doubt no one but me will ever agree with that, which is why I will probably be writing for the fun of it and never make it to the rank of professional. It does give you a different vibe than the one I catch from reading interviews with long-standing professional writers. That's actually a pretty useless statement, as we all have completely unique processes, so it's a nontransferrable construct, this vibeness.
Anyway, I wrote a couple of the early scenes for E the G, and it went really well. Having a tighter structural wall within which to build was a solid success so far. I have decided that I'm going to stick with a 3 act structure, as opposed to the 2 acts and an epilogue, just because I have a lot of material I want to use for the third act. I also want it to be clear that the movie moment that ends the second act was not a totally lifetransforming moment; that his insanity and paranoia will creep back into his life if he's not careful, and that life is a constant emergant proposition. There is no eureka moment that absolutely changes everything and does away with all yr past flaws and inconsistencies. There are flashes of inspiration and understanding that can be built upon to continue on an upward trajectory, but the happily ever after is a known fraud that I think cheats filmgoers a little bit in that we can have happy within the context of reality that will help us all to move in that direction or we can continue to imbue escapist nonsense into the crevices of our minds that will leave us ultimately feeling unfulfilled by movies and by life.
Okay, enough on the ranting for the moment. I also decided that in the second act when Eddie starts to go all schitzoid and thinks that the local film and book reviewers are secretly critisizing his novel that I'm gonna make up film and book plots and concepts instead of using actual ones. Hopefully I'll be get it together on Cross-referenced modulates a little bit to get better at writing reviews, but all good things, right?

Friday, February 1, 2008

period of the zygote

In some ways I really feel like my writerly development is highly embryonic, but I guess that's part of the trial by fire that is the process for all good things. What would it be worth if it was an easy and all-the-time fun process. Not that I don't ultimately love it, but it's hard and a lot of my current work feels sloppy and droll and whatever.
Anyway, I've broke through a little on the autobio project, and got to a place where I'm a little more comfortable and ambulatory, which is nice. I've also got Eddie the Grouch, which is my semi-amusing working title for the schitzoid paraniod man project, into solid structural shape to actually dig in and do some writing. On that note, I'm thinking that I'm going to make the thing two acts with an epilogue as opposed to the traditional three because it just feels more natural for the project. The idea is to get to the final filmic ending with swelling music and solid feel good moment (as much as is possible), and then fade back in on Eddie sitting on his front porch slouched and depressed smoking a cigarette. Then through the epilogue we get that he is in a solid place and moving forward with his life but slightly slipping back into the insanity of his paranoia. I mean just because he writes the book doesn't mean he's off the hook. Not in my world it doesn't.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ye' Olde Coffee Shoppe

So I just printed out the first draft of The Coffee shoppe (yeah, it's just the working title), and the thing is a behemoth. This is going to be a frustrating editorial process. I wrote the thing so that I could excise the first draft of Darwin's Child and get with the editorial process on that thing, and I've essentially given myself twice as much work. Now I've got to try and figure out if I can really split the whole thing into a play and a screenplay. The idea is to break off the read through of DC into a play, and just have a cursory one in the film in which Robinson tells Sal that he's full of shiite and he's written a really verbose action film with dialogue that would be better suited to the theatre with the re reversed from our American style if you get my drift. Well, I'm down in the dungeon of Umass's library, and the place is eight hundred degress, so I'm gonna get on. First day of classes-yeah, oh yeah!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The structure of success

So, it occurred to me that I want to sit down with one of the two new screenplay ideas, and try and hack into them. I'm not in a place where I can work on the Darwin Trilogy or Willful Tragedy, as I've said I need a more solid mythic grounding for that, and I don't have the time to develop it right now. I'm also in a delicate place with regards to the memoir, so I'm a little stalled out on that for the moment. I'll work through that, it's just a thing. Clearly, I don't want to get into it.
Anyway, I was napping a little bit this afternoon, and I was thinking that instead of the process by which I've written the various screenplays and pieces in the past, that is to take a loose outline of the story as broken down into the trad. three acts, it would make more sense this time to try to really work the structure to a finer honed web than I have in the past. Usually I'll just sit down at the typer with that loose structure and see where we get to. This time I want to be more prepared before I sit down with the idea. I want to really work out all the characters, the specific scenes, get the whole thing sorted a little better than I have traditionally beforehand. It also occurred to me that I've been much to welded to the page as a way of writing. Character creation should be a much more live process than just dialogue and some slight action descriptions. In that vein I really need to get a tape recorder or a video camera to work through characters in a more live way. Cassavettes worked completely with a tape recorder. Just a reminder.

Ideational progression

I had an idea for a screenplay yesterday about a guy whose megalo-paranoid personality gets so out of control that he thinks the local book and film critics are somehow reading his novel as he writes it and criticizing it in their articles about other books or films. He draws out their analyses to mean something about his writing, and it is driving him insane. Actually, that's the middle part of the story, while he's living in his former boss's basement trying to write a novel. He hides out because he thinks everyone hates him, when in fact they find him endearing if often frustrating for his paranoia and gruffness. He'll be a kind of Harvey Pekar, but slightly delusional.
The idea actually grew from an initial thought about a character that gets totally disillusioned by reading critics of other people's writings while I was reading some seriously harsh film reviews in the Globe on Friday. The movie's they were reviewing undoubtedly deserved the drubbing they got, but man, Burr and Morris were in slash and burn mode. I can feel for them. I mean having to go see every movie that comes out and try to come up with something intelligent to say about it, forget about it. Anyway, then I thought I might try to incorporate the idea into the Rebel W/out a Cause storyline, but that story's just too full as it is, so the idea was just kind of hanging around.
Then I was at home dancing in my living room to the Dennis Brown Anthology that I just got, and the kernel of the story hit me as this character idea. I then spent the next hour or so flushing it out a little bit to a slight 3 act structure. I want it to end with him finally pushing beyond the paranoia and writing his book, which is maybe rejected by editors or poorly received. Maybe he goes on a book tour and has to defend himself against the kind of criticism he was afraid of, but because he actually wrote the book he doesn't care anymore. Something along those lines. Not a totally happy ending, but he comes out with his own unique brand of success, which gives him a dignity.

Open-sourced possibilities

I had an interesting thought the other day. I was thinking about the wikipedia and what a phenom that whole thing is, and it occurred to me that it would be an interesting project to try an open-source screenplay. I'm not exactly sure how the whole thing would work, but I like the idea of an unlimited number of interested people getting in on some core idea. Again, how to set it up is not entirely clear, but the idea bears some consideration.
Lego just built a whole line of toys through an open-source process, and, of course, there's the whole mozilla, linux, and apache successes. Admittedly, these are all totally different fields than what I'm talking about, but again, I think it could work.
I've seen there's some kind of open-source fiction writing going on somewhere out there, but it was just offhanded. I'll have to investigate further, and maybe try and work up a structure or something. Just an thought I thought I'd share.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The edges of dreamlife

That a dream was the starting point of a trilogy of sci-fi films I've got in my head and just a little more than slightly down on paper, is, to me, kind of crazy. That a whole series of movies could come out of not wanting to get out of bed would be pretty rad, and the honest truth is if I can finish writing the thing. Well, if I can get the dialogue to a place that isn't shitty, the possibilities are infinitely skewered. By that I mean it might have a shot. Obviously, it's much too early to get any kind of hopefulness about it, but the basic outline is solid. It's just filling in the details.
On that note, I've been reworking the original draft of the script offhandedly over the past few weeks, and I really feel that I need to steep myself in traditional myths a little more if I want to successfully get the characters and the plot to a mythic place. I really feel like the story could take on mythic porportions, but I'm just in to much of a straightforward place right now to successfully write those types of characters.
It also occurred to me that The Darwin trilogy is an interesting counter-point to a screenplay I wrote a couple of years ago called Willful Tragedy. The story ultimately takes on a really Greek tragic tone, and it fits well as a kind of our world mythic tragedy in opposition to this slightly altered future world I've been working with in Darwin.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Just so there's no misunderstanding

I wanted to say this here and now, so that there's no misunderstandings or hard feelings later on down the road. I've started two new blogs, and yes I have become a full blown bloggaddict in less than a month. That's beside the current point. I started a team blog called Cross Referenced Modulates, but the team members are all characters from my head. I thought it would be interesting to look various books from the perspectives of various characters, so I've created a place to do that. It all actually springs from an idea I had in 2000 for creating a imaginary thinktank, and having a roundtable discussion with various caricatures of the various political viewpoints. The roundtable was going to be discussing the lost tapes of Murkinson and Burr, who were themselves characters that I had created and recorded on an old tape recorder that had a feature which would let you slow down or speed up the tape as you recorded, so yr voice would sound either really deep and low or whinny and high pitched. Well, I recorded a bunch of philosophizing in a very abstract and then a very specific way, and would slow down and speed up the tape accordingly. The Burr character, who was the one raging on about progressive political stuff and had the really whiny voice, came out really hilarious, but I lost the tapes somewhere along the way. Anyway, this blog gives me the chance to bring back that idea in looking at some specific artistic expression through the lense of multiple characterizations.
I've also created a blog for one of the characters, who has a really crazy story. It's not entirely clear to me how the idea came about. I was reading the living arts section of the paper, I think, and had a clear idea for a blog about a kind of kooky character. That is basically how the idea for the crazed-junkie fad diet came about. So, just for the record, that stuff is made up. It will be treated as real within the bubble of the two blogs, but over here on the other side, I'll state clearly that that stuff is just imaginary.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wild New Ideas come forrowing out of the ground

So, I spent my afternoon on Thursday in wild contemplations just trying to keep up with myself, which when I'm in that kind of manic mood is a virtual impossibility. While I was at work I had a few one off ideas that seemed interesting, so I when I got home I figured I'd have a cocktail and try and work some stuff out.
One idea was for a film that is mildly inspired by the whole Spears debacle that is that poor girl's life. Actually, it's more of a film about generalized celebrity culture than specifically inspired by Britney, but she's just the most shockingly obvious example of how virulent the cult of celebrity gossip has become. I highly suggest you immunize yr children immediately (exactly what that means or entails I could not say). The idea is also to draw from both the film, Rebel Without a Cause, and the real lives of the actors that starred: Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood, and James Dean.
Anyway, I don't want to give to much away here in this most public of places. I have to admit I have trouble getting over being just a little secretive about my material, which is kind of understandable, but in the end probably a useless precaution against nothing, since who would want my ideas anyway?
Regardless, I also spent Thursday building a better structural house for the memorial conjurings for MishMash, which if I haven't mentioned is the tentative title for my autobiography. I had initially tried to work a reverse chronology, but I wasn't really feeling that, so I had to lay down a slightly more complicated structure that starts moving backward, but then moves through the central years I spent in Memphis thematically: girls, academics, creative work, friendships, drugs. You get the idea. I also think I'm going to tell the most sensitive and raw stuff from my adolescence when I was in and out of mental institutions as a story that's happening to someone else, and make my experiences into a character. I haven't figured out how exactly that's gonna work or how it will fit in with the rest of the more straightforward material, but we'll see what's the what when it all comes out in the wash.
Okay, so there's more stuff to talk about from Thursday, but I'm going to leave it for another post.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A moment of celebration

I have to take a moment to celebrate a victory, even if that victory is tempered by the realization that I now have to try to go back through and edit sucessfully this monstrous screenplay that I've finally churned out. It is the first real project that I've seen to completion, and that in itself deserves a few moments of self-masturbatory adulation. In the many years I've been writing now, I have yet until this very moment managed to see any of my novel, play, or screenplay ideas all the way to completion. While I have started more writing projects than I can even catalogue, it is rare for me not to be distracted by some other project. There were several years when I had to be working on at least four or five different writing projects at the same time, and that's in addition to working and going to school. My life has required a high level of semi-successful yet highly necceary multi-tasking for years now, and I think a lot of the work suffered because of it. At the same time there are some aspects of this current screenplay that couldn't exist without the approach I've taken. I'll get into that more in a minute, I just wanted to shout a brief halleluiah for the completion of my first screenplay. Of course, the thing is like forty pages too long, and would be a four hour movie as it stands, so now to the editing.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

On the straightforward tip

I have claimed that this blog is supposed to be about the process of writing, ergo the title: access the process. So far we've been short of the mark on that front, but I'm getting to it. I wanted to get in a little background on what the progression has been for me, and how I've come to this place that I am now, which is no where in particular to be precise. Regardless, in keeping with the feel of the blogform, I've been a little discordant in my approach.
So, I just wanted to get down to it for a quick minute on a project that I was was moving on this weekend a little bit. I'm working on two projects right now. One is a memoir and the other is a screenplay. I think I mentioned that in an earlier post, but whatever. Moving forward, last night I was reading a bunch of screenplays. Actually I was reading American Splendor, Boogie Nights, and The Kingdom. A seemingly pretty random grouping, but the connecting factor is that they all can be found at the Internet Movie Script DataBase, which is a wonderful, if highly incomplete companion to the IMDB. One really interesting aspect of the imsdb is that many times you find early drafts of scripts, so you can see how the script was reworked if you watch the movie. Just as a quick example because I'm totally getting away from myself here, the script for American Splendor that's up there has some substantial rearranging in the final film. Check it out for yrself. Anyway, the point of all that was that I was trying to get some mojo going on my own screenplay. It has been stalled essentially since I saw Juno a couple of weeks ago and found it so ridiculously witty that my own writing seemed dull and lifeless: a truism, no doubt.
I'm trying to get some juice for the second act, which in my screenplay is a kind of mini-movie in the sense that it's the only act that has much in the way of a structured narrative plot. I'll explain this all in great detail at some later date. For now, let it suffice to say that my screenplay is a little wierd. Here again we're getting sidetracked, and I do have a writing proficiency exam tomorrow, so I'll try and get to the heart of it. The problem in essence was that I had a vague narrative outline, but I didn't have the specific scenes set up. The whole plot moves forward through conversation, but I needed to establish beforehand who had conversations with whom and when in order to move forward. So I had a few cocktails, and the whole thing got away from me. It was a little more complicated than that, and I actually did get some slightly useful stuff. Still I haven't really got a handle on this middle act since the first act was really a kind of Slacker-like wandering through the lives of people who habit this coffee shop.
I'll try and sit down this week with it and flush the thing out because I'm actually very immersed in this project, and I'm not totally unsatisfied either, although there is some editorial work to be done for sure. Anyway, that was all still pretty vague and useless. I'll try and get down to The Show at some near future moment, but for right now, it's just all too much.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Can I get a little meta?

The whole idea of writing about writing is in itself pretty tricky. I spent several years working on art theory focused specifically on the writtten forms, but getting the theories into the practice was highly problematic. The problems being that characters and plots run away from you no matter where you start. You may start with a great story that has all kind of allegorical or metaphorical meanings, and by the end yr no where near the horizon line you were scoping from the starting block. It's a real trick to input those things in a conscious way, and probably for good reason. The films, plays, or works of fiction that have a clearly definable point many times come off as pointy and one dimensional, so I guess in the end it's good to just go with the flow. Still I want to get some kind of handle on what it is I've been trying to do for the past fifteen years. What is the drive, and what is the point? I can't even imagine. I'll try again later. Maybe it'll come to me while I'm sleeping.

Astrogeny and my own humble beginnings

I wrote my first short story when I was about fifteen. I was a devotee of Kerouac at the time, so it was a kind of stream-of-consciousness semi-nonsensical story about an all american family's run in with opium smoking law enforcement officers. It was highly wierd but read well. I kept up in that vein for a while, but, at that time, I was more drawn to the poem than to structured story writing. Although it would be hard to argue there was much structure to the early nonsense that I called short stories.
I first tried my hand at a longer form novel a few years later with what was meant to be a novel about the process of achieving enlightenment through the discussion and description of the place itself, Avalon. I was hugely into Eastern philosophy and Buddhism, so it just came from that place. I think I got about twenty pages into it when I ran off the tracks and gave it up. Seeing as I was only sixteen or seventeen at the time, I can't really fault myself too much for it, but it was the beginning of a rather frustrating habit of conceding defeat at the earliest convenience.
My process is one of being hit by a wave of inspiration at the original notion of a story, which then translates into some manic hours or days or weeks at a clip, then gets snagged on some lowlying branch of plot, character, structure, or somesuch, and finally explodes into a void of depression that the idea is so hopelessly useless.
At least, the preceding years have been filled with many different iterations of this basic outline, but I think I'm slightly free of the grip of that pattern for the moment. I've been working steadily on a screenplay for several months in between work, school, and all the rest, and I'm not totally unsatisfied with where I'm at. It's good to be making progress; I think.