Sunday, July 22, 2012

Opportunity Knocks

Hi again!

This is an update in lieu of actually working on the thing, which I will return to shortly, I hope. I was making decent progress, up to about chapter six. And then it happened!

Part One - Diversion

A friend of mine and I were discussing how hard it is to do what you really really want to do, even when we work in an industry so full of people who are nominally and supposedly doing what they really really want to do. It's actually a lot less true than you think.

The conversation went like this.
"Man I dunno."
"Just hard to find time."
"I mean if I had time.."
"Don't you?"
"Can't you make some?"
"I doubt it."
"Isn't that an excuse?"

Long story and vague dialogue aside, I figured I'd help out. So 4 days later I wrote something for him to use in a short film.  Actually turned out pretty well, I think, and we're gonna try to shoot the thing in the coming weeks.

It was a cool exercise for a lot of reasons. Had never written a short before, had never done anything quite like this before, lots of "never before" scenarios. 

The cool thing about doing unexpected stuff like this is the results are as unexpected as the appearance of the opportunity. I am super glad and grateful that I decided to do it instead of saying "I've got other stuff to do." More on this soon!

Part Two

The book itself!

The snag I have now run into is what happens when history meets fantasy. It is a problem of realism. Basically I need to do more historical "scene setting" in order to ground the events that are outside the scene.  Which means research. Which means things will slow down as a result.

The scariest part for me is this:

There are two versions of this book, and this will lead, unquestionably, to a third. I know it will be the best of them. But. It will be a full rewrite, no question, and fundamentally different form the other two.

Maybe there is no way around this. It would be very easy, in theory, to swallow my pride and just release these extraordinarily imperfect books into the wild and say they aren't my problem anymore, here you go.

But it seems to me I should complete it properly. The issue as always is that it's competing with other projects and I have a very limited amount of time.

I don't think I can finish rewrites this substantial in a month, but I think I can target a month and see how far I get.

So here we go.

Best of luck! 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Five Chapters Down... And Counting..

Well now that the news is out there seem to be substantially more people visiting the blog. So hello! Thanks to everyone for being so supportive. It's been pretty awesome and I'm super grateful.

I am not ready to talk about what's coming next in my work life.  I just knew I wanted to do something very different.

Sometimes you get to a place in your life where you feel like the things you love are too distant. And you gotta run after them when you feel that way. At least that's what I did. Hopefully when I get there it doesn't turn into Don't Look Now (scary evil dwarf movie.). Nnnng.

Updates with book: I am through the first five chapters of revision now and probably going to be ready to post something in the next update or so. Mostly I don't want to do it because I am afraid I will switch into "fiddle mode" because I wasn't happy with the world seeing it and then stop making the sweeping changes throughout the novel. But if I'm aware of it it should be okay.

So right now I've just about gotten to the jumping off point of the book, 5 chapters in (20 pages or so). I think a lot of clarity has been fixed but some of the immediate menace of the scenario needs to be ratcheted up so I will have a look at that later. Also I find myself changing a lot of the motives of the characters to suit the new direction.

I think the hardest part for me is that tonally it still occupies a funny place somewhere between Goodis and Hammett and the "in the headness" of the main character's narrative sometimes veers off into not at all and then back into very much in the head.

Okay I think this post is now too stream of consciousness for anyone .

More soon. If you have your own projects, keep going. There is only forward, never back.

Farewell from Jericho.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fuck it, let's rock.

So after a lot of great feedback (thanks!) I decided it was worth revising. It's funny how easy it is to come up with reasons not to do something. Mine were like: 1) I don't have time! 2) see 1 3) it's too distant from me now 4) some other reason that made logical sense like "I've forgotten what it's about".

All true. Thing is once I started I started to have a good time and I realized that I probably could just do this revision and step away from it once and for all, with not as much effort as I had imagined.

There's a lesson here. A lot of my friends, both in game industry and outside, struggle like I do to give enough time to personal creative ambitions vs the very powerful demands of our industry work.  And a lot of us, myself included, become convinced of the impossibility of actually finishing anything when the demands of our home life and work life are so substantial.

The only way I ever finish anything is by doing one thing at a time. So I am going to try to stop parallelizing, which is terribly easy to do in our age of multitasking everything. Just do this one goddam thing.

So I'm hoping I am not speaking too early. But I'll at least document the ride to finish this thing. Mostly because if I do I know I'll be shamed into completion.

Today and yesterday I worked on cleaning up and reframing chapter 1 and 2. Mostly what this was was coming to grips with the old style of the book, which is this thing a friend of mine called "Biblepunk" for lack of a better word. Or Old Testament noir. Anyway. It's weird, and it's especially weird revisiting it as a writer and being like, how the hell am I going to get myself back in that creative headspace again.

But like John Cleese says in his awesome talk about creativity, really it is about sitting there and being uncomfortable for awhile and not taking the easy way out. So I did that.

The trickier part was deciding how much of the why needed to turn up in that first chapter. So many of my influences, Dashiell Hammett, David Goodis, Gene Wolfe, I feel like when I wrote this book, I didn't want to say why the main character was on his journey, and as much, I felt I didn't want to know. Because the thing, almost always the primary thing that I love about writing, is the imaginative discovery. Almost more than telling a story, I like letting the story tell me what's going to happen.

However this method, while fun for me, does not make for easy editing, nor does it make for a lot of the typical setups people expect in fiction. Which leaves the story feeling, particularly next to movie scripts, dramatically flat.

So that's the big thing I have to deal with in the next five chapters, is just getting that what if in front of the reader and also leaving enough questions that they want to keep going, even if they don't know quite where "there" is.

I expect I will put a chapter up here soon. Good luck with your own projects!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Decisions, decisions.

Lot to think about of late, and a lot of side projects I've been spending time trying to catch up on. I have to say it's been rewarding but difficult going.

I started this film script back around October and have been blocking it out little by little, then have been working in fits and starts on a few other scripts just to get the work down on paper so it exists somewhere and I can come back to it when my world isn't as busy.

But the situation really crystallized for me with this old novel manuscript I have, called Elemental.

It's a novel I have, um, TWO versions of. I am not entirely sure how this happened, only that I finished the first draft of that book in 1998, and the second revision of it in 2001. And ha ha, but the primary thing I needed to fix is, hysterically, STILL NOT FIXED.

The issue in front of me now is just, which version to work on. I think at least I owe it to the book (and myself) to at least resolve the main problem. The problem is which version to deal with. The first version, or the second.

The first version.. or the second.


The virtues of the first are that it was the first, and as such, it is tonally whole. The flaws are still the flaws, but at least tone is maintained throughout.

The second has more structural integrity but is less, I dunno, immediate.

So what to do? Recommendations vary. I thought about combining them.. but not possible, too different.

Thought about flipping a coin. Thought about a magic 8 ball. Thought about burning both and never speaking of it again.


So what should I do? I think fixing one, giving a limited timeframe (2 weeks) to address the major issues is a good start. The choosing which one though.. I'm stumped.

Any help, please, I'm drowning!