Sunday, December 30, 2007
As I do annually, I went home for Christmas. Home, for those who aren't familiar with the identity behind this moniker, is in the northern tip of Kentucky. I've been in New York for close to seven years, and it's always been a bit awkward to go back to my old stomping grounds for what's never been more than a week or so at a time. The first time I returned home after moving to New York, I was an eighteen year-old freshman on his first Thanksgiving break. I nearly broke my neck turning my nose up at the whole place, not to mention at my friends (who took it well and let me work through it). I desperately needed to feel like I was better than everyone else, especially since my leaving Kentucky felt like some kind of triumphant escape. If I want to give myself credit (and my behavior doesn't deserve excuses, let alone justification) I had to face my first love, who had effectively left my heart in my hands - and I'm not sure any eighteen year old knows how to deal with rejection.
Over the years, the defense mechanisms melted away to the point where I could enjoy being home and appreciate it for what it was worth - namely family and old friends. I realized I wasn't carving some kind of new life for myself in New York, but instead I was simply evolving; and evolution naturally implies that heading somewhere new means that you once had to start somewhere, too. Kentucky was as much a part of me as Washington Square - it seems that only when I'm home do the lines distinguishing past and present blur to indistinction.
My friends in Kentucky are the same ones I had when I left six and a half years ago. My acquaintances have remained my acquaintances and some people that were only strangers have pleasantly surprised me once we got the courage to finally speak to one another. There is and has always been a social network in which I'm always welcome, but I have two best friends back there that, not matter how long we seem to go without getting in touch with one another, have always been able to meet up over coffee, beers, and at least for a few years back there, a crap-load of cigarettes. Back when we were all in college, there were a few Christmases where it felt like the gap between us erupted when it became apparent that our natural growth just happened to be in opposite directions. There were larger gaps in the conversations, and I don't think anyone knew what to do with their hands (how many times can you really check to see if there's any more coffee left in that pot?), but the distance, which was looking like a curse, turned out to be a blessing. Mike, Chris, and I (I think I can use their names, I can edit this later) always profoundly understood each other, even if we had no clue, factually, what was going on in each other's lives. The distance between us allowed us to do some of the more annoying/pretentious growing up on our own, or (I should say) at the expense of others. Everyone else had to put up with our bad moments, while we got to revel in the finished products.
There was a turning point one summer (2004, maybe?) when Chris threw a huge party, and Mike was playing guitar on Chris' deck. With a set of pedals, he recreated Howie Day's Ghosts, and there was something beautiful about the performance - it was one of those times when everyone at the party stops what they're doing and they just watch. Everyone was impressed, and I couldn't help but remember when, in high school, Mike and I acted opposite each other in the school plays and sang A Capella in our school choir. He's grown up, I thought. And I was proud.
There was a time in senior year of high school where Mike was, with no competition, my best friend. I don't like to hand that label out, because I deeply cherish many people, for many different reasons, but something happened with my group of friends that year that left Mike as, pretty much, the only person who I knew understood me. I told him everything, and he did the same with me. We dated girls that were friends, and we helped each other through the rough patches in our first, respective, loves. We were performers in a school of jocks, and when I got into NYU, we both knew something big had happened. It was a weird year for him too, as he was transitioning between social groups (he would ultimately land and be fine the next year), but for that one year, it was almost as though it was he and I against the world. I don't think I would have rather had anyone else in that emotionally awkward foxhole.
He's inspired me - he's the most talented person I've ever met, hands-down, and seeing him that summer night on Chris' deck reminded me that, after all, nothing has changed.
Last Christmas, I saw his band performing in a bar in Kentucky. He's so talented. I was so proud of him. He was savvy, and on, and it was a great performance. Mike and I didn't spend a lot of time together last Christmas; we never do, really. We went to a bar, I saw him perform, we went to our diner, and I left. It's pretty much how it always happens. We talked a lot more than we usually do this past year - and by that, I mean, you know, twice or so. We've never had to spend a lot of time on the phone. Practice has proven that we can pick up, with no exaggeration (and pardon the shameless use of the cliche) right where we leave off.
Mike called me in December, and when I finally got back to him a week later (I don't know why it took so long....I never know), he told me that he enlisted in the Marines. I can't write why it was a good decision for him without making myself look woefully ignorant (not to mention pompous), but he is confident that it is what he needs to do. I never knew what I would ever say when put in that kind of situation; I honestly hoped it never came up with any of my friends. But I found a staggering amount of trust, and somehow I have faith that he'll be better for....all of it.
He performed again last week, and I saw him play. I spent the better half of the night just trying to keep out some of the darker thoughts, but it was impossible to ignore the fact that the place was PACKED. People came up to him and shook his hand and said goodbye, and while not everyone at this bar was there to see him, most of them were, and just like that night all those summers ago, I watched him, and I watched others watching him, and I was proud.
Mike and I went to our all-night diner late the next night. It was uneventful at best, and while we made tentative plans to hang out last night, my last night in Kentucky until months after he's already left for basic training, those plans fell through (as they usually do). I flew back to New York today, and I don't know when I'm going to see Mike again. At the risk of sounding naive (and I have to be, otherwise I don't know how to take all this), I know that no matter how different things may seem when we finally do meet again, after enough time, after we've caught up on the facts and felt each other out enough to know how to be around one another again, we're going to pick up....
...maybe I've been wrong. Maybe it's not picking up "right where you leave off." Maybe it's that great friendships survive by becoming something new when enough things change. Yeah. We'll do that then. We always have. I have to be believe that we will again. I absolutely have to.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Moreover, what a weird concept - mutated chipmunks in floor-length sweaters that sing.
(By the way, as of this posting, Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007) has a 25% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes.)
I just came across this in the New York Times and thought it was interesting:
A professor at M.I.T. has the lectures from his intro level physics course made available online. They're hosted by M.I.T.'s Open Campus program, but they're also available on i Tunes U, and some are available on YouTube. He's pretty phenomenal, and after reading a bit into the article, he appears to be gaining quite a following - both in Cambridge and beyond. I'm a big advocate that writers should be avid learners, and that includes the left side of the brain, too.
**On another note, I love that some of his lectures are appearing on YouTube. Given that most of the TV and movie companies have taken pains to remove any and all episodes/scenes/clips/references to their properties, it's promising to see that there can and will be engaging, original content that's worth searching for.***
Monday, December 17, 2007
Last Wednesday after work, I FedExed the supplemental materials for my graduate school application to the University of Iowa. It was the last of such materials to be sent in this bizarre journey, and with the exception of forwarding some transcripts (which should have been received, but haven't been), all I have to do now is sit back and wait until mid-March.
The entire fall can be lumped into "applying to grad school," and no matter how minute I try to fashion my memories, the truth is that the process has consumed my entire being since August, when I first made the decision to apply. It make sense when you consider that I had to study for the GRE's, work on my manuscript, secure transcripts and recommendation letters, and finally complete the applications themselves. It gets more complicated when you consider that each school requested that certain materials be sent to the english department, while others needed to go to the admissions department of the arts and sciences/humanities school...and some things could be uploaded to the application while others needed to be mailed, and some recommendation letters could be uploaded, while others had to be hard copy and needed to be accompanied by forms -- in short, it required much more organization than I expected, and that organization required a painstaking attention to detail. I ultimately developed a system that worked for me, but it didn't happen overnight, and left me double-checking (read: second guessing) myself every step of the way.
I find it difficult to express how frustrating the process was, and I can't help but think why? There's no logical reason for it being so complicated, yet it was. And I just can't figure it out. I'm going to go ahead and assume that if I have to reapply next year (and if all of this turns out to be fruitless, then I will be reapplying), it will considerably less...taxing. I'll have another year's worth of material to submit, recent teachers from whom I can request rec letters, no GREs to take, and the applications themselves will be familiar (and those statements of purpose...well...they'll be on file). I honestly wonder if universities require so much as a means of keeping down their applicant pool. It would make sense - back when I considered applying in 2006, it was intimidating enough to make me reconsider my "plans." No one bends over backward for something their heart's only half-into.
I chose to work on my novel and submit the first two chapters as part of my applications. I completely broke my writing habits in that I wrote my opening over and over and over again. I lost count of my drafts, for better or worse, and while I'm quite happy with the finished product, I'm looking forward to writing again and not having to perfect any one thing. I'm looking forward to writing a rough draft, and I've been rolling a short story around in my head for months. I'm really, really excited about writing it, and I finally have the chance again.
There was plenty of good. I loved having to write as much as I did. It was good to get back in touch with the left side of my brain in having to go over all that math for the GRE. I got in touch with some old professors, and if nothing else, the whole process got me excited about being a writer. I wasn't seeking motivation, nor was there much of a doubt, but I really want to do this with my life, for the rest of my life.
I just turned twenty-five, and it feels like so much is changing. I have no idea what, but it's like when you're driving, and you're making this really tight turn on one of those on-ramps that's shaped in a wide loop. You're going so slow, but you keep teasing the engine because you know the road's about to straighten out. And you've got to fight against the force of gravity pushing against your body, and your foot just gets heavier and heavier, and the wheels keep gripping, and you keep pulling and the anticipation is just right there...
...until next time.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
In order to avoid writing last night, I started scrubbing the bathroom. It’s always a bad sign when I prefer to get on my hands and knees and pull weeks of hair out of the drain rather than write, but hell, I was even ready to do the dishes, vacuum the floor, balance my book, AND call my mother to stall the enviable need to open Final Draft. Yet denial can only last for so long. Bathroom cleaning only takes 20 mins tops. While washing out the remains of Scrubbing Bubbles, the sense of dread I blocked returned.
The forced I used in pouring out the bucket of water must have been filled with displaced anger, because it promptly knocked three tiles surrounding the tub off. Along with the tiles, grout showered down into my newly-cleaned tub. Where the tiles have once been is a section of soft, black, moldy wall. I stared at it for a moment, then went and wrote, trying to block out everything else.
I wrote more than usual. It was a very productive night.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Every writer knows how crucial it is to have his/her own space. We need to be able to get away for a bit to where it's just us and our characters. Any small intrusion on that space during times of creation can prove disastrous for our characters and our worlds. The experience can quite jarring, like being woken up at the climax of a great dream. I've gotten better at having my space molested by the sub-creatives of society, but there was a time when it would make me feel like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
Back home one of my daily assignments was to make the salad for dinner. I know, it's a pretty lame chore. (FYI, 8 years ago “lame” would have been “gay”. I'm glad I've outgrown that.) Anyway, it would end up working out that I would be doing some of the best writing of my younger years shortly before dinner. I can't count how many times my soldiers have been ready to charge the enemy, or my unsuspecting villain has been in the crosshairs of a rifle, or my likable but expendable character is about to say his last words when all of a sudden my mom shouts across the house, “Make the salad!” “Dude, are you serious?” says my expandable character as he laughs at me from the page.
So here I am in New York, things working out pretty good at a glance. I find myself staying either at my brother's or my girlfriend's, but whereas I've always had some space to call my own, I now find myself to be the awkward molester of other people's space. I have experienced some of my worst writing droughts during this time. The solution isn't as simple as being alone, as I thought it would be. Being alone certainly helps, but there's something about having a location that you are completely familiar with, a location in which you are aware of every creak and slope and shadow, that incubates the creative mind.
My next big goal is obvious. I have to find my own space. And when I do I will certainly have a new found appreciation for it, because I've learned something about myself. I can make it in New York City (and probably any other city) without a space to call my own, but I can never be a writer of any kind until I find my home.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Happy belated Thanksgiving, everyone!
I'll tell you, it's been hectic these past few weeks. We haven't gotten much new writing done recently, but we've been pushing one another to get re-writes of earlier things done. It's actually been quite helpful for me. There's a project I've really enjoyed working on in the past (and is the thing I've spent the most time on, over a year and a half).
Still, it's not something that I felt I was ready to jump back into yet. I believe I posted back in March about having listened to a particular song, which put me in the mood to attack this script again (if I didn't write that, then I felt it nonetheless). Despite that motivation, I never got back to the script.
However, Onyx and others pushed me back into it. I wouldn't say that I was reluctant, but it wasn't first on my mind. They put it there, and I have to say, I'm very grateful to them for that. I'm pleased with the end result (as much as I can call it the "end" for now) and am still psyched up about it.
Sometimes, I guess others know what's best when you're stuck. I'm not saying that's something we should go by all the time, or that I plan to do that. But I wasn't sure what I was going to write; The League suggested strongly that I work on this particular thing, and I think it turned out well.
...Oh, and enjoy the comic.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
But that's not what I'm concerned with here. What caught me about the article was the following sentence:
"'What movies used to do,' [Jesse Harris, the Grammy-winning songwriter of Norah Jones' hit "Don't Know Why,"] said, is 'create a nostalgia that was specific to the film itself, and the only way to do that is to use original music.'"
I really liked this quotation. Not so much the notion of using original music to achieve the goal he talked about -experiencing something in the context of the fil alone and not on a larger pop culture scale- though that is important, but the sense of a "nostalgia...specific to the film itself." (I had to use the exact phrasing again because I thought it so poignant.)
Think about that, defining your film in terms of emotions and sentiments belonging entirely to itself. That, to me, seems to be the ultimate goal when creating a film. Yes, you want it to be part of Hollywood legend, perhaps. You want it to be an essential part of the box set that bears your name years from now.
But you want it to stand alone.
At least I do. I don't really want to write "just another action flick." I want to write something that can be compared to others in its genre, but also has such a life and feel of its own that it can last apart from the crowd. To me, "Last of the Mohicans" stands apart. It has a look, a feel, and yes, a sound to it that no other film does. It affects me in a way, stays with me in a way that no other film does.
I hope, when my career is passed, people will look back and say of me, he "create[d] a nostalgia that was specific to [each] film itself."
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
It almost seems silly that it's been so difficult. I know why I want to be a writer, I know why I want to pursue a MFA, and I know how all these things play into my past and future, mostly because I've been experiencing it all my life. I don't remember what on earth I wrote for my essays on my undergrad apps, but I don't remember feeling like getting into college was somehow larger than just myself. I feel that way now. I feel like there are avenues in my history that have led me to this moment, and I'm certain, with more tangible certainty than I had seven years ago, that when all this is over my life will be set on a course that will be so radically different from what it has been. There's a certain sense of permanence, of promise. I'm standing at the threshold of my adulthood, and I'm mature enough to understand that. A year ago I was considering applying to grad school just for the sake of it, but now it's something totally different. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm ready for my life to change for the better. The swirling gases of my interests and ideas are taking on physical shape and the things I want out of my life are finally dangling in front of me. I'm ready to reach for them, and at moments it's scary.
But compared to what I was doing two years ago? I was waiting tables and drinking way too much chardonnay after my shifts ended and I was auditioning because I was in New York and that's what I'd somehow convinced myself that's what I wanted to do. I was wasting away, not challenging myself, flailing in every direction. I don't want to take anything away from those times because I couldn't make it to wherever here is without them, but I had no clue what I wanted, not out of my life, not out of myself, not out of my relationships. It was a meaningless existence, and so I wonder, what is this personal statement? How I rebounded from that?
How do you put into words that you're a writer? Can any of us pinpoint it? I remember writing a scene in the first playwriting class I ever took. I wrote this very quiet, very sweet scene and when it was read aloud in class, the scene itself jumped from the page. It was like I could feel the breeze and the headlights on the highway (all part of the setting, mind you). It was more real and more true than anything I'd ever done in my entire life, and that power shook me, and I've been hooked ever since. I can't not write. I am not myself if I've gone too long without putting something down on paper. My brain clouds up, my mood dampens. I'm just awful to be around, but when I'm creating something, all is right with the world because everything that is so bad is seen through the filter of possibility granted to every writer brave enough to view the world through the filter of his imagination.
I love The League. I love how we've forced each other to write despite our day jobs. I love the one to two pages I've been able to write per night, even if I don't always see my ideas through before scratching the itch of a new one. However, I've been at this pace for almost three years, and I know that if I can't retreat away from this city, from my job, from just about everything and devote two to three years to just writing, I'm only going to get so good, and I feel like my ceiling is rapidly approaching. It's not a fair statement, really. I would eventually break through, but slowly, painfully, and I have too many stories to tell to waste so much time.
I was talking to my mother about a month back and she, more or less, speculated aloud whether writing wasn't just some pipe dream, my flavor of the month. I was at a loss for words because my parents have never been anything but supportive of me. With most of everything I could possibly say stuck in my throat at the time, I told her that writing is the only thing I can do. It took me a minute to spit it out, and the words were said so exhaustively that they just had to be true.
I wouldn't say I'm in a hurry to get on with some grand next phase of my life, but I've always been someone that doesn't like to meander. I like to pick a direction and go, to keep moving, to learn along the way. I observe people out of train windows and at stop lights while sitting in the back of a cab. I piddled and rambled for enough time to realize what it is I need to do with this time I've been given. So when I write these statements to these admissions boards, could I be this candid? Can I say all this? Does anyone care?
This entry is proof that you can write a forever about something that feels so emotionally obvious but is so ironically difficult to corral with words.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Even when I was in school, I developed a mentality that I wasn't going to write anything that I wasn't gung-ho about. Sure, I started out writing just because it was an assignment. But I quickly changed my ways.
As writers, so much of our struggle is getting that first sale and, afterwards, continuing our careers. Sure, you sell a few, you're in demand for about five minutes. I don't thin it's really any different for actors.
Unlike actors, though, people don't see our faces. Like, ever. Sometimes, we're not even credited on something we write/re-write. But an actor will always be publicly preserved in any film he or she is in. There's no denying that they did that.
Bottom line: when you're starting out, whether you're an actor or a writer or a director, you have to focus on starting your career. Ideally, you like what you're working on. You learn as you age in the industry. You stop taking certain roles or writing certain scripts, or if you really need the money, you do so under a fake name. You gain leverage. But none of that can come about unless you break in. Unless you start your career.
But would I ever renounce anything I wrote? I certainly hope I never feel a need to.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
The essays in Writers on Writing aren't necessarily about any one thing. Each writer took it upon him or herself to interpret the subject matter and address what I'm sure they found most important. The result is a delicately woven journey into the psyche of a writer, the obstacles that one faces, the precarious lifestyle. There are tips and tricks (one writer goes into great detail about how he blindfolds himself when he writes - sometimes having to disregard a whole afternoon's work if his fingers started on the wrong keys!), and while they're refreshing, interesting, and worth trying, the true value of the book comes in the essays that ramble and wander, the ones where the writers were honest and open enough to approach what it is to live as a writer in this world. At times they read like sad realizations of a life doomed to be constantly unfulfilled, but there's a sense of obligation, compromised reward, and ultimately, love.
Since reading it, I've mentioned the book in various writing classes that I've taken, usually joking that it can serve as therapy - to hear the voices of established authors discuss their struggles and musings, to know that you're not the first person to ever feel stuck or elated, to know someone's going through the same thing you are. The more I think about it though, the more I realize that it's not actually a joke at all; the book serves that purpose exactly, and if you're a writer at all, in any medium - be it prose, screen, stage - you owe it to yourself to purchase it, keep on your book shelf, and when you're feeling lost, allow it to guide you back to the page.
Friday, October 19, 2007
I think about that in terms of the film industry. I know M. Night Shyamalan wanted to be the next Hitchcock, but now audiences have gotten over him. I wonder if my old professor resented that he only had one script made because he dreamed of becoming a big-time director. I read articles about all these screenwriters who talk about failing in their pursuits even though they had written some of my favorite films.
It’s easy for us lowly creatures trying to break into the industry to say these guys take things for granted. Surely a Spielberg-wannabe who only became a screenwriter would take solace in relating his career to someone like us. But let’s turn the tables: are we really setting the bar high enough?
I think of the old adage that says if you shoot for the stars, you’ll at least hit the moon. What then of the people who only shoot for the moon? Within the artistic hierarchy that is Hollywood, I wonder if that’s where prospective screenwriters typically aim. I know people who just want to get a script made. But that's just a stepping-stone for my friends who want to become A-list writers, with an outside dream of winning an Oscar. And that in turn is a step for those who want to revolutionize film as we know it.
The number of people in the world who actually realize their goals must be small; the number of people in the film industry who do so must be minute. The hardest thing about the industry to grasp – at least for a guy from a blue-collar town – is that all the effort in the world will not guarantee success. And at NYU I was surrounded by professors whose knowledge of screenwriting I would kill for, but who, in their own expectations, failed to meet their goals.
Coming up short is disappointing, and in many cases can be uncontrollable. I think that has led me and my friends to make our goals more realistic. But maybe we need to aim for the stars. And if we only hit the moon, maybe we'll have the serenity to appreciate the view.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
A few months ago, Zach and I saw Michael Chabon speak at Barnes and Noble, where he provided us with this one:
Zach: Any advice to young writers just starting out?
Michael Chabon: (shrugging) Be good.
Well, I just finished rereading The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, and in the back there is a little essay that Chabon wrote, talking about his motivation to write the piece, which he began after undergrad, after moving home to California from Pittsburgh, and all before he turned 22 years old.
While he can do no wrong in my eyes, and the entire thing is invaluable by my standards, there is one, *ahem* gem that stands out above the rest. He was discussing how the literature that he enjoyed most to read was genre and science fiction, but he didn't want to actually write it. He knew that trying to be literary would require him to do something a little more spectacular to make himself stand out. Or, in his words:
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Saturday, September 08, 2007
It amazes me that I have a piece of paper certifying myself as a trained screenwriter, yet there are so many writing resources out there that I have no experience with at all. Sometimes I feel like in the arts community we all make peace with the reality of a lonely uphill struggle that consumes the better part of our twenties and thirties, but the truth of the matter is that there are a lot of people out there who want to make the journey easier and they're providing the tools to do so.
Sellascript.com is one such tool that every screenwriter should get familiar with. It's not the holy grail of screenwriter support sites, but it's a pretty good place to start. What drew me in initially was that it's a place where dozens of screenplay competitions are compiled and sorted by date. This was so refreshing after so many days of searching the shady back alleys of the internet for what usually ends up being the dirty whore of screenplay competitions. Sure some of competitions on sellascript.com are expired by a few years, but there are often links that go to updated competition home pages and there are several up to date competitions already listed on the site. All screenwriters should get familiar with the competition circuit. It's not the glamorous path we all envision, (I thought it sucked when teachers told me to take my beloved thesis and enter it into a competition...no contract?) but for most of us young writers it's the only way anybody is going to give that 100 million dollar historical adventure any attention right now.
Aside from the competition listings sellascript.com also offers basic need to know information for serious writers such as format, different contracts, and being marketable. They also post news of recent screenplay sales in the industry, interviews with writers/filmmakers, and they offer a directory of production companies and talent agencies. Certain features are only open to paying members, but there's more than enough on the site to warrant a few click happy sessions. Who knows, you may find the competition that will put that abandoned horror script to good use, or some of us might even finally understand what an option agreement is.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I don't know when it struck me exactly, but over the past few weeks, my job has been stressful and miserable; there were times when I loathed it, and I was sure that if I did this for the rest of my life, I would reasonably be able to say that I've accomplished nothing.
Last year I fancied applying to grad school for creative writing, but I wasn't pleased with anything I had to submit, and the GRE downright intimidated me (I haven't taken a math class since junior year of high school, and I probably only took five tests in my four years of college). I ended up backing out of those plans, content that I would be able to write my way into a career.
This is disjointed because I want to pinpoint the moment when I had absolute certainty that it was finally time to go to grad school. I've been rereading novels lately. I finished Wonder Boys a couple of weeks ago for the second time, and just when I was feeling down about my job, my place in life, and the prospect of my future, it suddenly struck me that I needed to reread A Prayer for Owen Meany. Michael Chabon and John Irving are my two favorite authors, and their styles, while distinct and pretty different from one another, are what I emulate (either by influence or by default). Owen Meany has the heart though; it has the soul and the characters and love of what I want my story to be. My story has been swirling in my mind and heart for years. It's about love. It's about family. It's about brothers and sacrifice. It sounds cliche, but if truth is writing from your heart, then it is the thing I have to write.
So around the time I realized I needed to reread Owen Meany, the ideas for my novel solidified themselves, and I figured out how the whole thing ends. I also saw the beginning. Knowing that the piece is to be something akin to biographical fiction and is supposed to span the life of my two main characters, I figure I have 500 pages to fill.
It is time.
The pieces started falling into place. I started reading what I want to emulate; I started writing the story that makes my heart want to explode. I applied to an advanced fiction writing workshop for the fall so that I could work on this novel, mold it, and submit it for my grad school applications. I submitted my first five pages for admission into the class.
Today, I got in.
Maybe by announcing it, I'm jinxing myself, just like I did last year when I told everyone in my family that I was going to go to grad school this year, only to slink away. But it's not like that this time at all. I not only know that this is what I want to do, but it's what I'm supposed to do. Like it's my fate. Like it's part of a plan.
And for anyone who's read A Prayer for Owen Meany, it'll come as no coincidence that I had to read that book.
Until next time...
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
What a summer it's been.
It started at the end of May when I went to Santa Fe for a wedding, and really hasn't stopped since. When I got back, I started a new job (same place, just...well, a promotion) which suddenly saw me being busy for the entire day at work. I welcomed the change, but let's just say I wasn't going to be blogging in the middle of the afternoon.
In July I went on vacation with my family, only to come back to New York and move in with my girlfriend. Things are finally settled, and I'd like to think that I'm back.
While away, I've been neglecting all my writing, not just this site. And while I'm not happy about it, sometimes there are just other things that need to be done. If I had just been sitting around doing nothing for the past couple of months, I'd feel awful right now - I'd have a mad desire in my soul quashed by my slothfulness and that ever-annoying cycle of lethargy begetting lethargy.
But I haven't been - I've been busy, making strides in my life, entering into new areas of responsibility and maturity. I feel accomplished, happy - like things are going somewhere (not in my career, no, but in my livelihood).
Now, however, it's time to get back to work, to get the dream back on its feet, to get this sucker going again. Writers, after all, as I've said, never stay down for too long. And being back has revealed quite a few projects neatly arranged on my plate. A play, two scripts, a short story. It feels right.
So with that being said, The League has always been here to serve you, the writer. For all you playwrights out there with even the most humble of projects completed, this, without a doubt, is worth a shot.
God love The Public. Good luck to everyone who applies. But not as much luck as I'm wishing to myself. I'm sure you understand.
Also, anyone with HBO, especially on demand, please check out Flight of the Conchords. Great stuff, incredibly catchy. It's like a smarter Sarah Silverman program. Only with two dudes. With New Zealand accents.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
And the top and bottom ten films are:
1. "Ratatouille" 2. "Away From Her" 3. "Once" 4. "Knocked Up" 5. "Hot Fuzz" 6. "Sicko"7 . "The Host" 8. "Zodiac" 9. "Waitress" 10. "The Lookout"
1. "Because I Said So" 2. "The Number 23" 3. "Premonition" 4. "The Reaping" 5. "Norbit" 6. "Perfect Stranger" 7. "Happily N'Ever After" 8. "Are We Done Yet?" 9. "Code Name: The Cleaner" 10. "Hannibal Rising"
Just a side note... I saw "Hannibal Rising." It sucked. Massively.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
It’s past two in the morning and I’m sitting before a third episode of Walker Texas Ranger. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched all that television has to offer. I’d attempt to reach the ends of the internet if it weren’t for the fact that I’m almost motivated.
I’m feeling prepped. I’m fueled up, on the launch pad, and New York is in my sights. I just need to go. Leaving the great city of Boston will without a doubt leave a void incapable of being filled. I’ll miss free laundry, Red Sox, and friends, among other things, but it’s time to go…almost time…like 2-4 weeks almost.
A few days back I turned 22. This is going to be a year that I’m looking forward to, more than 21 or any other year thus far. I have three goals for 22. 1- Move to New York. 2- Get a real job…2 ½- A relevant job. 3- Place in a screenwriting contest. I know Alexander the Great had the world in his palm at 22, but if I have those goals accomplished by 23 I will consider myself Genghis Khan.
Soon, my fellow Leaguers, we will be reunited. We’re going to do some good drinking and even more great writing.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
One day in middle school, I was sent to my father’s hospital for an EQ/ IQ test. The questions were pretty elementary. The female doctor was nice but passive. Young but not all that good looking. Then Rorschach inkblot test began. She flipped over the first card. It was obviously a man who committed suicide from jumping off a 15-floor building. His torso and limbs exploded on impact. Blood splattered far and wide, engulfing the picture. Twisted organs mingled with the mess. His head, hands, and feet were somehow perfectly intact, marking the five corners of his body.
“It’s a purple butterfly.” I told her.
In retrospect, I should have said bunnies.
I am currently writing a romantic comedy.
I would like to go back to my magical realism roots. So far I beat-sheeted Amelie, Science of Sleep, When Harry Met Sally, Eternal Sunshine, Stranger than Fiction. I watch Law & Order SVU as a reward, and sometimes just to calm my nerves before bed. The characters are coming out quite well. I have both ending and beginning, along with majority of the details. Specifics of the plot points need to be hashed out though. For inspiration, I am re-reading James Tate’s surreal poems. I finished Five Men Who Broke My Heart last night. Next are Foreign Babes in Beijing and Twenty Love Poems and One Song of Despair. There are moments which I just sit on my bed, and hold Hunting Humans: The Rise of Modern Multiple Murderer in my hands, turning it around and around. I haven’t opened it since this project took the comedic turn.
Part of the project was to prove to myself that I can write a happy ending. For a decade plus I was a Barbie-playing, wedding-planning, dress-wearing girl, who snuck love notes into boys’ desks during recess. I still want a kitten. To grow my own herbs. To invite my girlfriends over for champagne and home-baked cupcakes. There’s no reason why I can’t write about two people falling in love without half the cast dying horrendously. A script can sustain itself without someone walking down the alley and suddenly feel a machete run down their back softly.
I told Zombie there aren’t even dead people in this script.
“I’ll believe it when I see it.” He replied.
So will I, Zombie, so will
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
It's gorgeous outside, and the sun's spilling into my bedroom. The breeze is gentle and smells clean. It feels like the kind of day in which success can be relished, but for me, I wonder if I will ever make it to that point.
It's a fear - a fear of failure, a fear of mediocrity. A fear of being anything but significant.
And yet, just when it feels like it should be crippling, when I can't quite figure out where it should go, I hear a tiny voice in my heart that gently urges me to keep going. Keep writing. Three pages here, five pages there. Laughter, tears, joy, triumph. All the roads are different - length, composition, the obstacles thereon. On days like this, my mind mingles with memories that I associate with my earliest passions of writing. My old muses make my heart heavy, and I wonder if the answer to the future lies somewhere in my past.
My heart, however, will have none of this. Just a few more pages. Help your characters succeed. Make their passions yours. Breathe life into them. Take your passion and compassion, and empathy, and fears and roll them into words that matter...
...even if only to you.
I know it's tough right now, but this too shall pass. Soon this will all be a punchline to a very, very, funny joke.
Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, writing, writing...
"Just lie in my arms and I'll tell you the things that you know but forget. The lies no one ever could sell you...I know that it's hard, but don't give up yet."
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Megan left for 10 days in Europe only yesterday, and already the old pangs of loneliness have crept in and left me reminiscing of times that are more than two years past. It's an emptiness in the gut, a meandering state of being, an old question of what now.
With the evening ticking away, I sit at this computer prepared for a few hours of uninterrupted composition but not out of convenience or some obligation to fill empty hours with fulfilling productivity. Instead, it's a way to abate the feelings of which I'm most frightened, to keep a light burning in an ever-encroaching dark.
To write is to fill a void with no name, even when it takes a specific shape, and with any luck, it can bring a sense of balance and clarity to what might otherwise degrade into melancholy. For writers, the gift can make one whole. Sometimes it's needed more. Other times, less. "Salvation," while melodramatic, is a label that is, more often than not, apt.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
A lot's happened since then, and I'll make a series of smaller posts with some thoughts about...hell, New York, life, working/writing, etc.
This past weekend The League finally got together and had its first workshopping session. It went incredibly well - the melding of these minds is productive, unique, perceptive, and beneficial. I submitted the first 22 pages of a screenplay I'm working on with a friend of mine. After sharing with him the notes I got from the meeting, we made the odd decision to immediately go back and rework the first act, incorporating those notes and other ideas that came up as a result. Normally, I would have been happy to just write an outline of a new first act and then come back to it after plowing through the first draft, but the product we were looking at after taking the notes into consideration was so much more interesting than it had been. It got me excited for this project again (it was starting to feel like a chore) and I couldn't wait to get to work on a revised act one.
It's a dream result, to be sure. I remember the feedback I've received that's left me completely stuck. I feel like the norm is somewhere between the two extremes, but for now, I'm certainly not complaining.
P.S. Excuse our appearance. In order to make our site less inviting of a lawsuit, we've removed the Superman and Batman images. They will be replaced with some original content, but in the meantime, please be patient with our lack of color.
The next step should be getting over this feeling of being in-between everything. It's been long enough.
It's been a real struggle getting started on the next screenplay. I just finished a second draft of one about six weeks ago, which isn't a bad amount of time to take a break from writing - I just feel that the longer I'm not writing, the more I'm wasting my time. I've started a new job and moved to a new apartment within those six weeks, so there's been a lot of changeover. The big expenses of moving are nearly taken care of, and soon I will have a small but steady income. I just can't let myself get into the working rut... I can't get up, go to work, go to bed, and get up to go to work again if there's no writing in there somewhere.
There's no reason why I can't unpack that last box. There's really no reason why I can't start that next screenplay.