Thursday, February 28, 2008

One Month of Soul Searching and Writing

Okay, so since tomorrow is the first day of March, my writing-job-search month, I figure I’d better churn out some ideas tonight so I’m not left wondering how to begin tomorrow. A little direction in one’s work never hurt anyone, and this way I can watch Lost tonight, guilt-free, knowing I have a clear path ahead of me for the next day.

Last week-end I told a few friends of mine about my fantasy short story writing kick, and they seem interested reading whatever I produce. One of these friends is actually already published as a fantasy writer, so what she has to say about my work would be most valuable. She also gave me a list of publishers that I might try to make a name through once I’ve written something. Thus my goal for the end of the month, regardless of what else happens jobwise, is to complete one of these short stories. I now have three short stories from this fantasy world mostly outlined, so pressing through one of them should be the easy part, in theory.

My mother offered the idea of writing an advice column, so I’ve taken it upon myself to try my hand at that too. The first series of questions will no doubt be fictional – mainly me giving advice to myself at a time I perhaps needed it. Now it’s a little too late, but the will to use these problems to bring about positive change is still there.

Another idea I’ve been toying with for a long time is movie reviews. When you think about it, it makes sense, and actually it’s the only thing I’m specifically qualified to do. Still, there’s a stigma around film criticism. It’s almost as if becoming a film critic is admit that you couldn’t hack it as a filmmaker. Or similarly, one could say a drama teacher chose a teaching career because he couldn’t make it as an actor. Of course, my last drama teacher addressed this. He claims he became a teacher because he wanted to drive a car. There isn’t a lot of money in the arts these days, unless you’re a star, and the same seems to be the case for writing.

Technical writing – this sounds like a tremendously dull area to be working in, but many of the writers I know say that once you get started, you find it can actually be very interest. They use words like interesting as if it meant something. Interesting. It’s interesting to see how long you can write about dairy farming before you start foaming at the mouth and howling at the moon.

I’m getting bored with my own entry. This isn’t a good sing.

Okay, the point I want to make about technical writers is that they’ll say thing like, “not everyone gets to be a star novelist,” or “not everything you write is going to be fascinating,” but by and large I find these are incredibly uninspired and boring people. These are the sorts of people that suck the life from you when they enter a room. These are not the winners of society. They aren’t the losers either, but they’re certainly not what I’m looking forward to growing into. Growing is the wrong word. Perhaps shrinking is a better fit. Every time I take on a boring, poorly paying, and generally unrewarding job, that’s exactly what it feels like. It feels like my brain is actually shrinking to accommodate the sort of work I’m doing. If the work you do only requires X amount of brain power, it’s more efficient to leave you with X amount.

Here’s another idea: I keep a blog. I mean, obviously I’m already doing that, but if I have one interesting point or rant or what have you for the day, people may actually feel like reading it, because I certainly can’t imagine anyone sifting through this meander. Though if someone other than me really is reading this, wow. It’s going to be weird when I get my first post from someone. Anyway, some people get sponsors to pay them for their blog. In order for sponsors to pay off, I’ll need a readership, which I’ll only get by having content worth reading, but anyway, there’s another goal. One logical way to build readership is by being among the readers of other blogs, and making comments. One way to be seen, is to speak. I think.

Before I sign off, there’s one more thing off the top of my head – my uncle teaches several courses for adult high-school, and asked me if I’d be interested in designing a course in screenwriting, since that’s my area of expertise. I’m not sure if I’ll add that into the mix this month, but it gives me yet another project to work on, should I somehow have exhausted the others.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Theory and Practice

I’d like to start this entry with something that’s been somewhat of a joke for me most of my adult life. What is the difference between theory and practice? I mean, if you’re just generally talking about it in terms of an actual learning experience, in theory, there is no difference. In practice, there is.

In theory, I’m a screenwriter. In practice, I’m not. Sure, I’ve written a few screenplays here and there, and I even went to school to earn a certificate in screenwriting, but at the end of it all, if I’m not prepared to churn out screen plays and then drive down to Hollywood and peddle them, all the training in the world doesn’t help. I am well aware, and perfectly willing to admit, that by and large, I do not spend all my time writing, and certainly very little time reading screenplays. Sometimes I think I even see fewer movies than my average friend.

At present, I have two personal projects on the go, both of which could easily be money makers, (perhaps not jackpot moneymakers, certainly marketable nonetheless), a screenplay and a fantasy novel. I’m not going to write about the actual script or book here, but I will at least talk about my progress by and by. My fantasy novel is based on a video game I’ve been chipping away at for three years now, something that certainly wouldn’t be marketable, so I figured, why not take all that creativity and dump it into something useful? People ask me how much of it I’ve written so far. In theory, I’ve written some, but in practice, I haven’t. You see, all my writing is about the fantasy world, about the characters, but as of yet, I haven’t written a single word that is meant to be part of the actual novel – that an actual readership can actually read.

In theory, I’m a writer. In practice, I’m not. I am well aware, and perfectly willing to admit, that by and large, I do not spend all my time writing, and certainly very little time reading books. Sometimes I think I even read fewer books than my average friend. In fact I’m sure of it.

So, this brings me to my first goal for this blog. I’ve given myself goals before, but only in private, and if the only person to call myself on them is me, then, lacking the self-discipline that I do, I’m highly unlikely to go anywhere. Thus, my first goal is that next month, from the beginning to the end of March, every day, I write in this blog about what I did about finding writing work that day. That being said, it means I actually have to search for writing jobs that day. Otherwise, what’s to talk about?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Underage Sex Rant, Review of Pump Up the Volume

I watched Pump Up the Volume (1990) last night.

This film was ever so slightly ahead of my time, (I would have been 10 when it came out), which I think is really a shame, because I would have gotten so much more out of it, had I seen it in high school, especially as an aspiring writer.

That being said, even seeing this as an overeducated, underemployed, and somewhat jaded 28-year old, I found it very moving, it contains one of my favorite film monologues. It’s everything – it’s creative, sexy, inspiring. I just thought I’d share it with all of you.

And now, all my horny listeners, get one hand free because... yes, the “Eat Me, Beat Me” lady is back.

“Come in. Every night you enter me like a criminal. You break into my brain, but you're no ordinary criminal. You put your feet up and you pop a Pepsi. You start to party. You turn up my stereo, songs I've never heard, but I move anyway. You get me crazy. I say do it. I don't care what, just do it. Jam me, jack me, push me, pull me. Talk hard.”

Oh... I like that. “Talk hard.” I like the idea that a voice can just go somewhere, uninvited, just kind of hang out. Like a dirty thought in a nice clean mind. Maybe a thought is like a virus, you know, it can kill all the healthy thoughts and just take over. That would be serious. Yeah.

If you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend it. The music may be dated, but the premise of the film isn’t. Frankly, if anything schools are getting worse. My sister, who is ten years my junior, had panic attacks throughout high school about every test. With the advent of the public school system it seem kids have less and less time to just be kids, and spend more time, basically studying to be drones. It’s all about fitting in, and getting that good job and that wife (or hubby) and eventually the kids. And sorry teens, but if you don’t get on that right away, ten years from now your mom and/or dad will still be bugging you about it. And you can’t change that, but what I’m hoping is that if and when I finally do pull myself together and grow up, become respectable – however you want to look at it, and I have children of my own, that I have the sense and decency to let them just relax.

Hey, parents, whether or not you let them, your kids are going to have sex. When I was sixteen, my parents caught me, and tried to take my key away so that I couldn’t be at home alone anymore. I had to sneak around with her like I was a criminal. We’re not stupid. We were practicing safe sex. And they’d counter that it didn’t matter. Condoms break. Guess what? So do seatbelts. So do nerves inside your body. For no reason at all, and without warning, just about anything can break, and statistically speaking, you’re far likelier to die in a traffic accident than during, or even after protected sex.

And what’s with sex ed? My God! When I was in grade seven, my big burly gym teacher explained to all us boys that you always had to have express consent before even touching a girl. Hinting wasn’t enough. Fluttering her eyelashes wasn’t enough. Her doffing her top and throwing her bra on your face wasn’t enough. You still had to ask, calmly and in plain English. You had to expressly ask “can I touch you sexually,” or it was sexual assault, and you got thrown in the slammer in a nine-by-nine cell, with a very charming, but hygienically challenged ass-rapist. Now, fine, I’m totally down with discouraging sexual assault. I think women, nay, all people should live without fear, and be granted the dignity of choice. But they take it too far. I was so wound up I didn’t know what to do with my first girlfriend. I didn’t even kiss her for the first month, until she was in tears because she thought I didn’t like her. Even once we started having sex, I still asked her every single time. She told me it was a turn-off. That she didn’t like it. “Just do it.” But that big, burly bushy-moustached gym teacher would reappear in my mind, shaking his finger at me, and then making Bubba's frightening pumping gestures. Thanks, Mr. Gym Teacher. Thanks so much.

You know, originally my intention was to write a film review, but I think I’ve still made my point. Pump Up the Volume is a well-written, well-executed film that is inspiring to young people and middle-aged people, or at least, younger middle-aged people. Frankly it inspires me to want to host a pirate radio station, but for now, my blog will do. Five stars.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Ghost/Writer

This is the story of a young writer on his journey into writing for the public eye. All his life, he has been terribly shy, never sharing his innermost thoughts with anyone. Even now, he writes anonymously, and in the third person.

It is his twenty-eighth year of life, and it is his goal to be published and employed as a writer by the thirtieth, though not necessarily in that order. Until now he has lived like a ghost – quietly and namelessly stirring just beyond audible and comprehensible range.

It was not long ago that this young writer had dreams of achieving success by twenty-eight. This, however, did not come to pass. He has had many friends and loved several women for whom this is also true. It is now his hope for himself and those around him that they envision new dreams, perhaps better dreams. One day, with enough dedication and planning, these dreams will come to fruition.