Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Off on a big job...

I spent yesterday and today prepping for a week-long stay in Oklahoma City, another place I've never been to and wouldn't visit on my own. And it's going to be a tough job -- packing 10,000 books and journals into 450-500 boxes for transport to another country. I'll have helpers, fortunately, so it might get done in the time-frame I've been given...but only just.

Means nothing's getting done on A65 or blogging, because I will be beat. So...signing off till this time, next week. Maybe having this space and focus away from my writing will help.

Maybe...

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Completing obligations...

I worked up a 14 page treatment of French Connection Blues, kicking myself for the sloppiness of the screenplay the whole time, and using that to give a bit of clarity and movement to it. Dunno how successful I was because the truth is...it's not my story and the characters are only acquaintances who aren't that open with me. All very need-to-know kind of crap.

Anyway, I sent it off to the guy and I will have nothing more to do with it. I've fulfilled my duty to the story...but what's funny is, I'm a bit sorry. I did get the impression the characters would like to have worked with me more, but they were held back. When I did try to work things to be more interesting, most of the time I got shot down with the old, "It didn't happen like that." And everybody would back off. Too bad; it might have an interesting story to tell, if I could have worked in a more disjointed style.

So to clear my head, I watched a couple episodes of Vera on Acorn. It's a series of murder mysteries, each an hour and a half long and some decent production values. Four to a set. I'm up to Set 2 (Season 2) of 7, number 3 in the set...and I like them. The first couple were on the "meh" side, but they've gotten better and better...and now I can't figure out who the killer is until just before the reveal, which doesn't count.

Brenda Blethyn now owns the lead role. I like the irascible relationship she has with her crew, especially David Leon. She's short, round and fair; he's tall, dark and handsome. This and the excellent remake of And Then There Were None make it worth the $5 a month subscription.

And I can watch them on my tablet -- woo-hoo...

Friday, April 21, 2017

Scrrew the negative by embracing it...

I bitch, grouch, and complain a lot...and I'm sure it gets tiresome. Sometimes I use my blog to work things out in my head; sometimes it's just verbal vomit. But I have found that when I do my snap, snarl, growl, self-flagellation thing on here, I wind up clearing away some kind of debris in my brain and the ideas come, again. The words make themselves known. The characters stop being as pissy and start guiding and illuminating, once more.

I think half the reason I so disliked my biographical script of that cop's life is, I've since written a book and dug deeper into his character. In fact, in one draft I went a bit farther than he was willing to go in order to show he was a bit unstable, mentally. I forgot that he thinks the conspiracy against him was real and some of the hallucinations that wound up driving him from the force were probably brought on by chemical means instead of the stress and a weak psyche. I still had some of that in...mainly in plotting out the ending...but I get the feeling there was a lot more to what happened with him than he let on.

Still...while the script has that, it's not as tight as it should have been. Had I done a step-outline before I finalized it, I'd like to think I'd have seen how loose and meandering it was turning out to be. Lots of moments and no real sense of urgency or life.

The guy I did it for liked it and I fulfilled my obligation to him...but I blew it with me. I never let the characters become comfortable with me, and it tells. In OT, Jake and I knew each other from the first second. He could be an asshole, but so could I. He could get pissed at me just like I'd get pissed at him...but it's like we were brothers in spirit, and I think it tells in my writing. I agonized over it till it was right.

I didn't do that with this one. I just wrote it and made it polished...and never found the spark in it to make it real. That was my failing and no one else's...and I will not let it happen, again. If I cannot commit to letting a story become part of my life, I won't do it. I'd churn out something lifeless and without meaning. As Hemingway said, "Writing is easy; you just sit at the typewriter and bleed."

My writer's moral to the story -- Stories ain't got lives if you don't agonize over them...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The gift that keeps on giving...and giving...

Eight years ago I wrote a script for a guy, based on his life story as a cop in NYC. It never went anywhere because, truth be told, his experiences had already been done to death in movies like Serpico and Prince of the City and the like. I told him this, up front...but I did it. I thought that would be the end of it.

Then I got talked into making the script into a book. I worked my ass off on that book and got what I thought was an interesting character study of a man with too much imagination and too little control spinning into madness...and it got published...but it didn't sell very well.

So...the guy got the rights back, rewrote it and was shopping it around. In and of itself, that's not so bad, but my name was still on it and he knows nothing about proper grammar. Granted, mine isn't great, but it's decent enough. So I polished it up, like an editor, and helped him self-publish it through Ingram and Smashwords...and now he's back.

He doesn't give in, this guy, which is probably a good thing. He has a possible producer interested in the project, but he needs a step outline for the script. So I went in intending to just do a quick ABC outline as I flew home, today...and OMG, it is such crap. I wrote a piece of shit. Small wonder nobody wants it; it's not a script; it's a catastrophe and needs a page one rewrite.

Jesus, how could I let that happen? I'm capable of one hell of a lot better. Granted, I wasn't all the invested in the story and felt a bit hamstrung by his requirements and the story's demands...but it really reads like a first draft. I'm ashamed of myself for thinking it was worthy of showing to anybody.

But now what do I do? I don't have time for a good rewrite; I've got a 5 day packing job in Oklahoma City, next week, and my laptop won't let me use Final Draft. Nor would I probably be in any shape to do any writing, since this is a push of a job -- pack 10,000 books in 4 full days and 1 day for picking it all up.

I should never have said I'd do the script, since it's obvious my heart wasn't in it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Another job done...

I just completed another packing job, this one in Boca Raton, Florida...and it almost didn't happen. And I mean, after I'd gotten down here. It was in a gated community and I was just pulling up to the gate when I got a phone call telling me to hold on. It seems the recipient's insurance company suddenly decided they didn't like the way we were going to transport the shipment so were voiding the coverage on it.

Talk about last-minute...the only reason I wasn't already in the donor's condo was, I'd stopped at a 7/11 for some water and something to have for lunch. I wound up sitting in my car, in Florida's lovely warmth (not) for 3 hours while everything was hammered out. Which it was. Which also added a requirement I note what books are in each box, along with photos of them. Which put me way behind. I thought I'd be done in one day; took 2.

That's not such a big deal; I can be flexible when required. What's irritating is, no one bothered communicating the situation to the donor till he called to complain about me being late. I was asked not to; the recipient was going to do that...but didn't. So I looked like a flake. Not that I'm never one...but I was on time, for this one, and would have let the donor know about the situation the second I could.

Oh, well...worked out. And it's a nice collection. And the donor's happy. That's what counts.

And I got nothing done on A65...mainly because yesterday I caught a 5:45am flight to Fort Lauderdale and went straight to the donor's location. Meaning after I was done for the day, I was zoned. Went straight to bed, got up early, this morning, and, after it was all done and one its way, crashed at my hotel for a long nap. Now I'm catching up on emails and other business...so Adam and Casey will have to wait till I'm home.

And it'll be more of the same, next week...sigh...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Stepping back...

I've avoided social media and the news, for the most part, today. I am sick of hearing about Czar Snowflake and his family using the US Treasury as their ATM, and have actively started hoping he will be impeached and run out of office straight into prison along with his whole administration. But that's not going to happen unless Democrats take back the House and Senate, both, in 2018; the GOP is too busy using this distraction to take the country back 100 years. But I'm already getting the feeling the DNC is going to commit the same damned mistakes it did last year, when running Hillary against Bernie and then Snowflake.

They don't seem to want to push a 50 state strategy. They want to choose certain districts to put candidates in who the "think can win" but who stand for nothing. They aren't willing to get as down and dirty as the GOP does but seem to believe by rising above the fray, people will respect them more. They won't; people will respect the loudest voice, as Snowflake proved.

I've actually looked into emigrating to Canada, but they won't have me. I'm too old and don't have a skill they want. And England is becoming as insane as America...maybe even trying to be even worse than us. The racists in our civilization have been given license to howl their filth, and they are taking full advantage of it.

It's starting to show up in the way corporations treat people. Look at United and their bullies. Look at the police and their killings and beatings. Look at how the media doesn't bother to mention that a man who murdered his wife and two innocent children was a Christian pastor, or claims that any white man who slaughters people is a lone wolf and mentally ill, while any Muslim who does that is emblematic of the whole religion, to them, and any black man who kills is proof African-Americans are violent creatures.

I once put in a script that one character believed we were entering a dark age, like there was after the collapse of the Roman Empire, thinking it sounded cool. I had no idea I was being prophetic.

Just call me Jeremiah.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sometimes I do all right...

After my whiny rant, yesterday, I sat myself down, today, and worked on A65 right through to the end. No major rewriting done but lots of notes and shifting of sections and at least a better handle on the story. Now all I need to do is input these changes, print out another copy and go through the whole thing, again.

What I did was a surface bit of work, but it at least got me going on it, again. There are a couple of spots where I let Casey or Adam just tell some of their history, and that's not quite proper, yet, but I do think with this next draft I'll have the spine of the book set.

What's interesting is how things have changed from the screenplay. Like Casey's reasoning for insisting Adam accompany her to the premier -- she has him done up nice to make Lando jealous. That's her intention, anyway...but it doesn't quite work out that way, thanks to Jeremy, the archive's resident photographer.

I do still like the growing symmetry in various bits, and the little reversals that pop up, every now and then. I guess it helps that I got a solid 8 hours sleep and had no reason to leave the apartment...though I did make cornbread. Just to snack on.

It seems sales of all my books have stopped, dead. So far I've sold a total of 5 copies since the first of April. Could it be due to tax season? I hope?

I'm not paying mine. I don't want to give that SOB in the White House one more penny to spend on his fucking golf game. Actually, I'll pay them when contacted by the IRS, so we can work up a payment schedule. Draw it out.

Maybe he'll resign before I have to sign over a penny.

Friday, April 14, 2017

I should never discuss my plans or thoughts...

It seems the moment I do, something happens to screw them up. I haven't worked on A65 all week...well, since Monday. I don't know why. I just haven't. Can't get the enthusiasm going that I had...or need. Can't get the interest.

Don't read, either. Or sketch. Anything. I just wander through facebook and twitter and the news and Tumbler and achieve nothing. And now I'm whining about it. In a low-key way, granted, but still...

God, I don't understand me. It's like somewhere deep down inside me I don't want to succeed and I throw up roadblocks and shift moods to make sure of that. And that's what I'm doing, right now. Told myself as soon as I got home I was going to dive into my rewrite...and it's now 5 hours later and not one red mark added to the printout.

A65 needs work, but it's a fun story. It's fairly mainstream -- nerdy straight boy is used by hurt straight girl but in the end, it all works out and they have an HEA. I like the idea of it. I like the characters. I've even tweeted about it. But now I'm having to fight myself to work on it.

Hell, I'm having to fight myself to write this stupid little post. It's pathetic. And now I'm coming up on a busy couple of weeks of travel -- Boca Raton, next week, and friggin' Oklahoma City the following. Both set up in ways I did not want -- hopping a 5:30 am flight to Boca so I can start working the second I get there because the powers that be did not want to pay for an extra hotel night, and packing OKC within time constraints that are just ludicrous, even with 3 assistants.

I have another job I'm working up a quote on where the owner of the library thinks you can pack 2000 books in a day or two. Yeah, if I bring in 10 helpers. Oh, but can't we do it for $1.98, total? Two jobs we bid on dumped us because they wanted something cheaper...and one was for 7 books that were valued at $150,000. It would have cost $1200 to do pick them up, pack them and ship them, total...not even 1% of their value...and that's too much. Stupid.

Bitch, whine, and complain. Maybe I'm just tired. Maybe I just need a break. Two weeks of nothing but watching movies, reading books in bed, eating crap and drinking wine. Slob city.

I could deal with that.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Symmetry happens...

So I'm going through A65 adding in notes and thoughts and details before I continue with my re-re-re-re-rewrite...and it suddenly hit me that I've got a nice bit of symmetry going...without meaning to. In the initial story, there's a party at Lando's home that is...bizarre, to say the least. But along the way, since expanding the role of Adam's seat-mates en route to LA, another party jumped in to counterpoint Lando's. And helps Adam, a lot.

Man, I like how alive the story is beginning to seem, now. How natural and yet surprising. Still a bit too slick but with potential. It's following its path...but Adam keeps getting shoved off into little side roads that increase the meaning of what's happening to him. At least, I think so.

However, I may be too old-fashioned to really make this story as wild and crazy as I want. I tried that in The Lyons' Den and found that, even though I took that one as far as I could, it was still a bit on the conventional side when all was said and done.

But...there is still a fair amount of controlled chaos in that story. I'm trying to get away with that, again, in A65. I don't want to add events just for the sake of stirring the pot; I want them to be endemic to the story...which may be why my writing is still a bit too careful. Maybe I shouldn't be so locked into the A-B-C of plot and just let something happen.

That is how Alice's Adventures in Wonderland goes. It's a dream of bizarre events but it follows it own madcap sense of logic that has no logic. Maybe I need to stop being so controlling and just let it rip, in this one.

You never know till you try...

Sunday, April 9, 2017

More than halfway...

Well over, in fact. I'm at page 146 of 246 total pages in this latest rewrite of my rewritten rewrite that's in need of rewriting. The point where Adam is about to sneak into the back yard of Lando's home in order to help Casey...and, of course, things don't go as planned. Do they ever?

There are still sections that aren't nearly as defined as I want, yet, but now that I'm finally getting a tighter grip on the story and the characters, as well as the tone and POV, I can start massaging my style to make it more interesting. I hope. But that won't come once I've settled everything else down.

I watched Stairway to Heaven after I'd reached my saturation point on A65. It was made in 1946 and stars David Niven, Kim Hunter, Raymond Massey and Roger Livesey...and is in both color and black & white. It's about a British bomber pilot at the end of WW2 who's shot down and his parachute is destroyed. As his plane is crashing, he connects with an American radio operator, gives her his last messages and jumps from the plane...only due to a nasty English fog, death loses site of him and he survives. He finds the radio operator, and they fall in love, but now Heaven wants to complete his "contract." He fights back by appealing his date of demise...as doctors operate on him to repair a brain injury that could kill him.

The story is all over the place, but David Niven, as the pilot, and Kim Hunter, as the radio operator, anchor it. In fact, there are moments when Niven should have been onscreen when he wasn't, like during his trial. I can also see storyline references to The Devil and Daniel Webster, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Heaven Can Wait, and A Guy Named Joe. It's interesting that Heaven is presented in black & white while Earth is color.

It's been years and years since I've seen this film, so long ago I don't remember if it was in a theater, on VHS or it played on TV. I halfway think it was in Houston and I rented a tape of it from a really great video store just off Montrose and Westheimer. Not sure...but it feels right.

Hmm...I just had a feeling that something major is going to happen in the next few days. What it is or even to whom, I have no idea. It's just...a weird sense of...shit, I dunno what. But when I watched Star Trek, last night, there were moments where I thought, "I've seen that before," even though I haven't seen the film. Most were near the end...like the overhead shot of the Starship tracking the attack pods through the space station while under a long pool that had a transparent basin, so you could see the ship passing.

It gave me such a massive sense of deja vu, I checked the movie's trailers to see if maybe it had been in one that I've seen...and nope. Not that shot. I don't know what to make of this...it's just, when I've had them, before, it's meant a major change in my world...like my mother dying or me moving to LA before I'd even thought about it.

I just hope it's a good one...