Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Threat of the Mayor

My son, the self-proclaimed Mayor of Grumpyville, is trying to kill my wife and I.

He's a little over one years old, but don't laugh, he's a very cunning, wiley adversary. He doesn't do anything abrupt or too sudden. No, instead he's whittling away at us little by little, carving off tiny morsels from us until there'll be nothing left.

His main method of terrorism? Sleep deprivation.

Geoff Cooper said the reason babies are so cute is so you don't drown them in the toilet, and I'm inclined to agree with him.

If this blog suddenly comes to a screeching halt and I stop answering emails, then you know something dreadful has happened, and shouldn't hesitate to call the authorities. Just warn them to bring tranquilizer guns and Oreo cookies to use when they come to get him.

On other, less threatening fronts, got an email from Rick at www.newcamphorror.com with an acceptance of my story, "Bloodlines," and a suggestion from him to enter their Dark Idol 500 word contest. We'll see about that one.

Got sidetracked by a character in my head, Free Ride Angie. She was a main character in my screenplay, The Pink Room, and her voice has floated back to the surface of my cerebral cortex and has been screaming for attention in the past week. I sat down last wednesday and let her talk to me a bit, just telling me more about her background and how she got to be a streetwalker. Some stuff I knew, other stuff I didn't, but I could tell she was beating around the bush from what she really wanted to tell me.

Last night (ridiculously early this morning), I sat and listened to her talk again. And the magic started happening. I don't know why it affects me the same way every time, but it does. When a character stops just being words on a page and comes to life, literally, it's a mixture of sheer ecstasy and pure terror, because as a writer, you're no longer in control. You're not playing God anymore, pulling their strings and puppeting them around to do your bidding.

Free Ride Angie came to life on the table last night, and the things she started to tell me, what the last year of her life has been like and the huge debt we owe her...we all owe her.

Well...you'll just have to wait and read for yourself later.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Blow, baby, Blow

Hurricane Ivan is set to beat the living shit out of the Gulf of Mexico in a few hours. There's already been two people killed in Florida because of spinoff tornadoes, and if any of the shitstorm really nails New Orleans, there'll be corpses floating in chemical-dirtied water for miles.

But I'll see come morning.

Sent off a sitcom script to Bravo. We'll see what happens.

Friend of mine sent me a link to a (new?) prodco seeking genre screenplays, so the flames are higher on my ass now to get Happy the Man done - which, in case you're interested, took a dark turn last night when I got a string of ideas one after another that have forced me to rethink a story thread or two - but not enough to slow things down.

Flames... ahh.. oh yeah. Speaking of turning up the flames, after a night of broken sleep from my demon... er...son, I came downstairs this morning and my wife hands me the front page of the local newspaper. It has a huge photo on the front of a burnt out shell of a house. This happens to be directly next door to a house I have been working on for a year and a half and am closing in on completing. So... I went outside, flipped the finger to the sky and took my kids to daycare and stopped by the place to see if I needed to unfuck anything or not.

Turns out, not. Didn't get any damage on my house - but their place is done. Front door charred so badly it looked as if a gentle wind could take it off the hinges. Just cooked. Done.

That's two close fires for me. Two. That'll be enough.

Work coming out my ass, and having to force myself to do it - FinalDraft icon floats at the bottom of my computer screen, just begging me to click on it and get back to writing.

Keep feeling like something big's going to happen. Like a huge storm of some kind is going to swoop down and enclose everything. But I don't live on the Gulf, so I guess I'll have to wait on his one too.


"Now the first time you kill somebody, that's the hardest. I don't give a shit if you're fuckin' Wyatt Earp or Jack the Ripper. Remember that guy in Texas? The guy up in that fuckin' tower that killed all them people? I'll bet you green money that first little black dot he took a bead on, that was the bitch of the bunch. First one is tough, no fuckin' foolin'. The second one... the second one ain't no fuckin' Mardis Gras either, but it's better than the first one 'cause you still feel the same thing, y'know... except it's more diluted, y'know it's... it's better. I threw up on the first one, you believe that? Then the third one... the third one is easy, you level right off. It's no problem. Now... shit... now I do it just to watch their fuckin' expression change."

        -- Virgil (James Gandolfini) "True Romance"

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Twice as Sweet

Over the holiday weekend, went to New Jersey to Jen's parents and went to the beach. Hurrican Frances was pounding the shit out of Florida, and its tendrils were spinning up north far enough that the waves in Long Beach Island were scaring people from going in the water.

Sunday night, after putting the kids to bed, Jen and I went over to the casinos for a while, each armed with a 100 bucks and that hopeful adrenaline rush that comes with gambling. The places were packed. PACKED. The lowest minimum bet table I could find for roulette was $15 a spin. So after watching a man blow almost a grand in a half hour, I pulled out three crumpled twenties and cashed in for $60, thinking I'll do three spins and see what happens.

Started by boxing in the number 21

First spin; nada. Fastest way to blow $15 bucks.

Again, boxing 21

Second spin; hit on 20, got a small return.

Again, boxing 21.

Direct hit on 21, and got a healthy stack of chips pushed my way.

Twenty minutes later, and I cashed out $585, and to quote Fast Eddie in The Color of Money, "Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."

Yeah, I'll agree to that one, with the exception of writing. Was I psyched? Hell yeah, I was psyched. No matter how y'slice it, that's $585! But the buzz wore off not too long after. And Monday evening when we got back home, all I was itching to do was get back to writing.

I've sold a story for $5. This, to those of you who don't realize it, is pretty much the norm for a while for writers cutting their teeth. 3000 word stories sold (if you're lucky, most are published for exposure) for .01 and .03 cents a word. Not exactly a healthy way to pay the bills. The story I sold took me about 30 hours or so to write, and rewrite and submit. That averages about .16 cents an hour.

I could move to Guate-fuckin-mala and make more money than that. But I'd bet they don't have such great internet speeds there.

That $5 gave me a buzz I could live off of for a few weeks, and much like a gambling addict, left me smacking my keyboard like a junkie on a vein for more.

On the way to Jersey, Jen drove.

I wrote long hand.

And this morning, I finished the first draft of a sitcom. How 'bout that shit? Not exactly the type of thing I normally sink into, but what the hell, an opportunity presented itself, and I'm giving it a shot. Polishing it tonight and tomorrow, and it's outta here.

And when that's done, my fingers are itching to get back to Happy the Man.

I'll keep ya posted. I'm gonna go write

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Pussywhipped by my own Muse

You can try to beat the muse, but you'll fail. I know this. I've learned it through various lessons before. When a writer's muse starts to whisper sweet nothings in your ear, you'd better tell E.F. Hutton to shut the hell up and listen to your muse instead, because he doesn't like to be ignored. He'll speak (and has) at the most inopportune times. While having dinner with my wife. While reading my kids a story. During a shower. In the middle of client meetings, in the middle of sleep, in the middle of sex.

But I have to listen, because the shit that comes out of my muse's mouth... well, I just have to listen. If you understand why, then I don't need to write anything else, and if you don't understand why, then nothing I can tell you will even come close to an explanation. I need to listen.

I've posted previously that I was working on a short story called Happy the Man. Nothing too lengthy; mostly notes and loose direction of where I thought things might start and end, with plenty of breathing room for my characters to do their own thing and ignore my requests anyway.

But last night my muse didn't whisper.

It didn't raise its voice and talk in a stern manner.

No, last night it fucking SCREAMED at me about this one, and I ran cowering to a corner, pen and notepad in shaking hands to jot down whatever it told me.

And so this morning, over red-rimmed eyes, I'm brewing my SECOND pot of coffee and have a very solid outline for a screenplay instead of a short story.

This sort of pisses me off a bit, as I was really psyched to get into the short story, and I actually tried to talk him out of doing the screenplay first, but my muse is unforgiving.

Conversation went thus:

Me: C'mon, can't I just write the short first? That scene toward the end when he grabs the thing, you know... I will make that kick ass! Trust me. After the short's done, I'll adapt it to —

Muse: No.

Me: Why not? I can —

Muse: I don't think so. You'll do the screenplay first. If you want to play around with a short, then you'll do that when this is done.

Me: But I —

Muse: No.

At which point, I tucked my tail between my legs and did what I was told.

As I've mentioned before, when the muse speaks, you listen.

I start the screenplay tonight.