Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I've finally been to the campus of an Ivy League school I've heard about for decades...and it's really elegant. Winding roads curl around hills and well-kept buildings from the 19th Century. A gorge runs right through the middle of it all, where the stream cutting into it is frozen over but the waterfall feeding it is only partially frozen. Students already dash everywhere as blue and white busses march past, ferrying them into town or around to a different part of campus. It was actually impressive, for once. Not enough to stop and take photos of, but still...I wonder if I'll get the same impression of Yale when I visit there?

Something I'm still not quite used to in this part of the country is the abundance of water. Buffalo is basically flanked by two huge freshwater lakes, while Ithaca is at the tip of one of the Finger Lakes that seems to go on forever. And as I was driving up the 81 to Syracuse, I noticed this one part of the freeway, where rock had been cut into to better form the road, was thick with white icicles dribbling down over the stone, like a miniature version of Niagara Falls...and it went on for a good two-hundred feet. If I hadn't had a semi behind me, I would have stopped to take a photo of that.

I've been to Syracuse before, actually stalking through the area just over a year ago when driving back from NYC. It's a tough town with only moments of beauty. But what had me interested was possibly setting another story there. I have a psychological horror script I'd written about a woman trying to bring her dead husband back to life and the young intern she blames for his death. Initially it was set in Houston but it never really settled there. For a while I was thinking of Seattle for the the location, and it would have worked well, but then along came "Grey's Anatomy" and kicked that city off the radar.

Then I started thinking -- one aspect of the intern's life is that he's running from an incident that nearly derailed his goal to become a doctor. So he'd want to hide from the world as he finished his education. Well...I researched small towns with universities that had good medical schools -- and SUNY has one in Syracuse. I looked into the city and facilities online and decided the story would work beautifully there. Plus, the teaching hospital's near a park, where a scene on a bicycle could take place very neatly, and it's not that far to Lake Ontario. Done deal.

But then other people started telling me how the script should be, and I began to lose faith in it. It was one of my non-Syd-Field screenplays, where certain things that "needed to happen" didn't happen when Syd says they should. So I put it aside...until I actually came to look Syracuse over. And noticed that park was on a hillside and the city really is not very nice. Which lit the fire under the story, again. Not to a boil, more like a simmer, quietly percolating in the background.

Of course, it helps that I'm now at the point where I have enough confidence in my writing to be able to tell someone who thinks I should change it that I won't. That I like the story as it is. Mainly because I still have people trying to make me change my work to suit them. I learned the hard way that doing so just fucks things up and achieves nothing. You can read earlier in my blog about the last time I tried to rework a script to someone else's idea of what it should be (check out "Bugzters" or BZ, which won awards in its original form but apparently that wasn't good enough). It damaged a friendship.

Anyway, just rambling along since I'm staying the night in Syracuse and saw that icy waterfall and am amazed at how lush with water this area is. Even under a couple inches of snow...and I'm not feeling the push for heavy-duty work on TLA; just notes that seem to be leading me towards a character study of a man who's given up his life to his family and now that he's alone is lost and more than a little pissed off.

Hm, sounds European. Italian neo-realism. Might be interesting.

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