Monday, May 29, 2006

(This Post Has Been Redacted, For Good But Dull Reasons)

Nothing to tell, really. I just near to hear back from someone about something. Details as they happen and stuff.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Moonbeam and Mizzenmast

I woke up in my brand new body. Sat up. Looked around.

But if you've taken the trip to the Moon once, you've seen all there is to see. The transmat equipment, the matter assemblers, the rows of people waking up, the people who've become other people and not-people and just plain whatevers for the holidays.

I accessed my onboards, did a quick self-diagnostic. Body built exactly to order, tall and lean, dark and powerful. Neurons and synapses firing and connecting as they should. Fractional but functionally insignificant memory loss.

Functionally insignificant?

I dug a little deeper. Looks like I'd lost my fifth birthday party, something to do with a petting zoo, and the smell of my father's cologne.

That, in exchange for everything the Moon had to offer? No contest.

Hell, losing a memory of Dad? I should be thanking them. Take it all, with my blessing.

I stood. My garb was there, at the foot of the bed. I picked it up.

Black shirt. Black pants. Black boots. Black hat. Black mask. Black belt. But the sword, it was all of silver, elegant and deadly. Just what I'd wanted.

The thing standing next to me glanced at my blade. He, maybe she - well it obviously had quite an imagination. It looked at bit like a freshly-flayed and very oversized bat. It smiled after a fashion.

"Going my way, Sailor?" it hissed.

"I'm afraid not. I've got a solo charter."

Even a flayed bat can look surprised, as well it should. It looked at me again, knowing that I was either independently wealthy or had just gone into several centuries of debt for the sake of one vacation.

I smiled, then pulled on the mask.

"I believe," I added, "That my guide is here."

He could only have been my guide. He stomped up the the aisle towards me, on one leg and one peg, a hook raised in greeting. His coat and hat were weather-beaten crimson, and a cutlass, curved and heavier than my rapier, hung at his side. His old-ivory grin was a little too wide for comfort.

Good. I hadn't ordered comfort.

He stopped. Glanced at the bat-creature without interest, then turned back to me. "Be you Captain Black, him that men call the Dragon?" he asked.

I nodded. "And you, sir?"

"Why, I be exactly what ye asked for. As requested. The fiercest and the fieryest. The best and the baddest. Deep as the briny, deadly as a shark, wise as a whale and wilder than a hurricane."

He paused. Drew himself up. Doffed his hat.

"I be the Madmiral of the Luna Sea, at your service."

In Other, More Important News...

My son turns one year old today!

Happy birthday, Darwin.

Some Days You're The Roadrunner, Some Days You're The Coyote

My new plan gave me that all-fired-up energized feeling - so I went back to the screenplay last night. Wrote almost 5 pages, bringing me to 82 pages total.

That puts me within striking distance of finishing a feature film screenplay. It feels like I'm getting very close to the climax, so I don't think the script is going to run to 120 pages. Something between 100 and 110 - so, between 18 and 28 pages to go.

Part of me wants to throw caution to the wind and make a big push to finish by June 1st.

Part of me is afraid that the light I see at the end of the tunnel is an approaching train.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Writer's Dilemma: MYOB vs. WTF

It was the dissonance of the scene that really fascinated me.

A butchily-androgynous figure, short and stocky, with hair in an army-short buzz cut.

Jogging up Bay Street.

In a t-shirt and scanty panties.

And when I say scanty, I mean lacy-frilly front - with reasonable coverage, to be sure, but still clearly underwear - and a thong-tacular nothing-to-the-imagination back.

(Of course I looked. I mean, I pride myself on being cosmopolitan and all, but come on. You know you would have too.)

As I said, I pride myself on being cosmpolitan, and while I'm seasoned pretty mildly myself, my circles include some far from vanilla flavours of wild. Any one of those elements, and I wouldn't have given it a second thought.

But the androgyny, and the panties, and the jogging up Bay Street at 9 in the morning?

That was worth a second thought. And a second look.

And honestly, my second thought was "This has to be some kind of put-on." Because the scanties, they just took the whole scene over the top. Hello world, this is my ass.

I figured there was a hidden camera.

And the other side of the cosmopolitan coin is being jaded. Cynical. Blasé. So I muted my reaction. So as, you know, to look cool.

In a way, I regret that. Not that I should have rubbernecked like I was in the stands at the Naked Tennis Classic, but I wish I'd had the not-cosmpolitan, not-cool, not-just-minding-my own-business-no-eye-contact reaction to say, "Hey, if you've got a minute, I'd love to know more about you, and what you're doing. For instance, did you know that you're not wearing pants?"

I didn't do that, because it would have violated the urban code. And that code is important. Minding your own business when other people are doing no harm is vital to getting along in a city the size of Toronto. Two and a half million people can't always be saying, "Hey! Who are you? Explain what you're doing! What's with the panties?

Now if I want to know who androgynous-panty-jogger was, what his or her motivations were, I have to write them. And I'm not alone. Almost all artists who work in narrative forms and media feel this compulsion - to fill in the blanks. To tell the story.

Was there a hidden camera? Was she trying to provoke a reaction? Was he just an exhibitionist? Did she lose a bet? Was he testing us? Testing me? Did I pass or fail?

I wonder if the writing, the narratives, that comes from city-dwellers is in one way or another all about filling in those blanks. About finding stories to fit the characters. About answering the questions we aren't allowed to ask.

I've decided who that was, jogging up a busy downtown sidewalk, underwear-clad and ambiguously gendered. Have you? Tell me a story...

Looks Like Rain

I think I'm emerging from the drought.

I've been sleeping better - my son's schedule is shifting back towards him sleeping through the night, and when he sleeps, I sleep. And that means I'm not too tired to write after the kids are in bed.

It's still been hard to fit in, but I managed two straight nights over the weekend - and for the first time in a long time, I just grabbed a notebook and scribbled away, instead of sitting down at the computer. Liberating, albeit hard on the back. And the following night I managed about 2 1/2 pages of screenplay.

So, I can make it happen again. This is good. My original goal - to have a first draft of the screenplay done by, let's see... last weekend? Well, obviously that's not going to happen. I also won't be done by my fallback position of June 1st. But I'm writing again.

One unexpected fringe benefit of the drought, and the resulting low rate of blogging, has been that people have had a chance to get caught up on my posts. This has lead to two interesting comments.

The first was from Sarah, my amazing wife/co-parent/partner-in-crime. Her first thought on reading recent posts was, "You don't get very personal." Until now, that has been true. I've been reluctant to get too into details about life, family and friends, out of concerns for their privacy.

But I obviously have Sarah's permission to talk about her. And it's been getting increasingly awkward to refer to everyone else as "a colleague" or "my former collaborator" or what have you. So, I'm going to get just a little more personal - and I'm going to start using names.

First names only. Nothing confidential, of course - if you can figure out who I mean from first names only, you already know us both and have already heard the story.

On that understanding, I had an interesting conversation with my friend Tara over the weekend. She mentioned that my variations-on-a-theme-of-Blah-I'm-Not-Writing series of posts was getting a tad tedious.

Tara suggested that I change my ground rules a bit, and try to write and post a short piece every day. Now, blogging what I write is a bit different from blogging about my writing - the latter is what I didn't want to count towards my daily writing target.

But there's no reason I can't do both. This is still going to be a process blog. I'm just going to be posting the results of the process more often.

This does not mean that I'm throwing in the towel on the screenplay. Again, no reason I can't move forward with that while I'm building up the old thinkmuscle.

What I'm going to try to do, though, is write a 250 word piece - non-fiction, fiction, essay, brain-dump - every day. 250 words isn't much. That's a single page, typed and double-spaced.

I don't have a dowsing rod or a trick knee, but I have a feeling that the drought is over. Today, it looks like rain.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Progress Report Will Be Issued...

... But not until there's progress to report. We are well past "Argh!" to words that I'd rather not post.

My son's sleep schedule has shifted. He's waking up more in the dark, cold pre-dawn hours. Fun for him - he can nap whenever he wants. I, on the other hand, have a day job.

The resulting exhaustion has had a huge and terrible impact on my productivity.

I'm going to try to at least do some writing - my original goal of 250 words of whatever, if nothing else - even if I don't have the energy or focus to work on the screenplay. And I'm going to look for times and places that I can write when I'm more awake, like when I'm on the subway.

Thanks to everyone for the support. I'll be keeping you posted.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

From Blah to Argh!

Well, last night did have "less on the go" than Tuesday night did. But I wasn't taking the post-Tuesday-night exhaustion into consideration.

So: I didn't do any writing last night.

This is starting to really frustrate me. I mean, other things come up, there are priorities and responsibilities that come first - like my children. I understand that. I understand that there will be ebbs and flows to the cycle of craziness, and that I'm just in the middle of some busytime.

But it still bugs me, especially because I'm really feeling the momentum on the screenplay. I want to get down to it, get it done, and then start fixing it. I itch for this.

Which, view in the abstract, is a good sign - I'm feeling the need, which means I'm well on track to habitual writing - but that doesn't make it any less frustrating.

Argh is the word, all right.

If I can write every day for the next week to ten days, with average or better output, I'll be done the first draft. I know what I want to do. I can see it.

Now I have to write it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


No writing last night. I should be able to get back to the desk tonight - there's less on the go.

I always suspected that problems would start to arise after I was about two or three weeks in to my program - I was basing this hunch on similar experiences I and others have had with starting to work out.

Sure enough, that's when I started hitting personal and other-commitment obstacles to sitting down and writing.

The fact that it wasn't surprising doesn't make it any less frustrating, though.

Blah, indeed.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

There's A Reason This Isn't A Math Blog

Four pages and a bit last night, bringing the total to 74.

Yes, 74 - I hit 65 on Saturday, 69 on Sunday. The screenplay's getting long enough that I occasionally forget the actual page count. That's sort of cool, in an innumerate kind of way.

I'm still worried about having enough plot complications to sustain the story, but there's been no sign yet of running out of steam. I'm going to have to watch myself, though - being over the half-way mark has me wanting to race ahead to the finish line... and that's exactly how to under-write!

My mantra for today: Plot complications are my friend.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Firing On Most Cylinders

I wasn't three for three this weekend. But I'm still pretty pleased.

I missed Friday - it was a very stressful day, and the end to a very stressful week. But I managed almost 6 pages on Saturday, and 4 on Sunday.

The screenplay now stands at 65 pages, which puts it over the half-way mark.

I'm trying to focus on moving forward with the first draft, but it's hard. I'm already rewriting in my head, thinking about scenes that need to be moved earlier or later, characters that need to be more or less present, elements to emphasize more or less.

I'm also a little concerned because I'm now into the second half of the middle, and I have an unfortunate tendency to under-write the middle of a screenplay, so they run short. I'd like to avoid that problem. I think I have enough potential complications to keep my characters busy for a full 110 or 120 pages.

We'll see.

More on this problem later; it's related to screenplay structure, which I may end up doing an overview of after all, so we're all speaking the same language - and more importantly, as a refresher for me.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Looking Through A Frame With Two Sides

Last night: 5 pages, bringing the total to 59. The screenplay is at least half done.

And you know, I'm starting to see the shape of it - and where it's going from here. It's exhilarating.

Of course, now that I see the shape - the frame - I look back at what's already been written, and I see what doesn't fit. There are elements that I'll have to finesse into the frame, and elements I'll just have to saw off.

But that can wait. I'm going to finish the draft first, and revise later.

This not some profound insight on my part - it's a generally-acknowledged truth that you'll find in many books and courses on writing, especially screenwriting: Don't go back and revise until you're finished your first draft.

To try to move forward while revising on the go is the path of madness, or at least of endless fiddling (almost the same thing - ask Nero). Each change sends ripples throughout the draft, and trying to smooth out the ripples makes more ripples. Better and easier by far to finish, then look back on the work as a whole.

There's no point in trying to make your work fit into a frame that only has two sides.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Come to think of it, that hot dog vendor did have shifty eyes...

No writing last night - far too wiped out. Damn you, food poisoning!

I blame Tuesday's lunch - I don't think I'll be indulging in more street meat any time soon.

I'm feeling much better - and tonight I try, once again, to get back on track.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Too Sick to Think of a Clever Title

This will have to be brief - I've got what feels like a mild case of food poisoning.

"Mild." Ha. Like there's a gentle, sunny, zephyr-like version. It's better than severe food poisoning, but several orders of magnitude more sucky than my preferred alternative, which is not having food poisoning.

Fortunately, the symptoms didn't kick in until well after I finished writing last night. Last night's total: About 6 1/2 pages of the screenplay.

Given that I don't know whether I'll be up to doing any writing tonight, it would be premature to say that I'm back on track. I'm going to see what the day brings.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Not Quite Back on the Horse

Last night was the first time since I set my goals that I sat down to write, but failed to hit my target: I managed 2 pages of the screenplay.

I started at a reasonable hour, but had seriously underestimated how tired I was. I think I was nodding off at the keyboard by the time I realized that what I needed to do was sleep.

So. Not quite back up to speed, yet. To answer's Karol's question - in yesterday's comment - it's more like I tried to get on the horse, and didn't make it, and fell, but my foot got caught in the stirrup and then the horse drags me around the corral. Hilarity ensues.

Tonight's goal: 4 pages, and I start writing early enough that I finish before my eyeballs try to crawl out of my head.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I Fell Off the Wagon, So I Need to Get Back on the Horse


That was not a productive weekend.

I did no writing on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Three days without even sitting down to write.

It was a very full weekend. That's going to happen, sometimes. It's going to be interesting to see if I can recapture the momentum of the screenplay. I think I can, and will.

Tonight, back on the horse.