I Live Off You - R.I.P. Poly Styrene

• Tuesday, April 26, 2011 2 comments



Probably going to see that video posted a lot of places in the next couple days. It's one of the first hits for Poly Styrene and the X-Ray Spex on YouTube. The clip is from a documentary called "Punk In London," dated around the late 70s. Punk's renaissance. Unless you think it happened some other day.


This has been the worst evening I've had in a bit. Lot on a mind, had a lot to do this evening, had some really big morale killers earlier in the evening. Kind of just buried myself into my work, wanted to get it done, wanted to not think about stuff. Got online, and on Twitter Jenny Woolworth, of the oft-linked and much-loved "Women in Punk Blog" had posted this on there:

jennywoolworth: R.I.P. Poly Styrene, you punk heroine.

I believed it, of course, as far as punk news goes, I'd believe anything Woolworth posted, just because so much of the music I'm into now is thanks to her blog, her writing, her pointing me in the direction of so much good stuff. It's the reason I ran out and bought "Girls to the Front." It's the reason I looked up the X-Ray Spex a couple years ago [has it been that long?]. But I still needed to see it somewhere else, you know? Like, one person wasn't enough. So I hit NME. And I saw this.

Which I knew already. But I had to see it.

You know, she was sick. Cancer. Breast cancer. I guess I always figured she'd beat it. I've read so much about Poly's health issues, it just seemed like, nothing like cancer could kick her ass. She was the pure punk rock, like the spirit of it, with a pink poof on her hat. I haven't been a fan for long, but in my mind, she's in that same place I put Joey and Johnny and Joe Strummer. And I couldn't believe that any of those guys could go either.

On Twitter, Woolworth told me she was "working hard and fighting strong" until the end. She had a new album out. I figured it'd be one of many.

This was a shitty evening. I had every intention of coming on here, venting, you know, just blowing off a little steam, and talking a bit about this comic that I've started writing, even though I'm working on a million things right now, things for other people or things with deadlines, or just things like "The Tagalong." But I can talk about those things later. And my bad evening really doesn't seem all that consequential when I think about the day Celeste Bell-Dos Santos, the surviving Styrene, is having. So...

I'm going to talk about this. My life is not exactly glamorous. I mostly go out of the house to go shopping for my grandmother. Or to go to my head doctor, get my, or someone else's, prescription filled. Other errands, long walks, lot of solo time, is the point. And I really don't like... the background noises here. Mowers, and country music over loud speakers, and exhausted, often toothless parents yelling at children who... in my view haven't done anything to deserve the constant shrieking and swears their parents communicate with them in, but hell, what do I know, maybe those poor kids go home and start fires.

Point is, in those places, in those situations, I can't take it. It threatens to overwhelm me, become this unbearable headache, this revulsion that brings on this nauseated feeling that I just can't get rid of without extricating myself from those places. I know I sound like an elitist prick here. You know, if not being able to stand listening to Toby Keith scoring arguments about whether Marshall or the Mountaineers are the best football team this year is elitist, I might have to concede my guilt there. So, I started tuning it out with my iPod. When I'm on my own, when I'm running errands, it's actually turned into something fun for me, because I get to spend that time listening to music, really listening to music, in a way that I hadn't since high school.

But again, it's also a coping mechanism, something to drown out the parts of life here that I can't handle. Can't stand. And it's gotten to that point where, I've actually started thinking of those ear buds like life support. I remember one time I took them out to pay the cashier, I always take them out to pay the cashier, I'm not rude, I try to be pleasant, but when I did it that time I realized I was holding my breath. Like someone had taken off my oxygen mask underwater. I laughed about it then.

Couple days later, I was still thinking about it. And I heard this:





"I Live Off You" by the X-Ray Spex. Sorry about the quality. I guess I could have linked the YouTube video that was just the song, with the Germ Free Adolescents cover in the background. I wanted you to see them move. See Poly do what she did. But this song, what it's about, it's title, just that it plays sometimes when I'm hooked up to my life support... it's one of my absolute favorites. It means something a little bit different to me than what it was intended to, probably, but it still... I don't think what I take away from it is that dissimilar.


And I do. I live off of this. For now, maybe for a lot longer.

I didn't know Poly Styrene. I can't really talk about her other than to say what I've read, what I've listened to, what she's done, and what that, what she means to me. I sort of think of that as a crime, hate that in a moment like this, all I can talk about is her in context to myself.

So I'm not going to write anymore, and I'm going to save my stuff about what I'm working on for tomorrow. Or the next day. I've got things to do. And some music I'm going to be listening to a lot. And if you like those videos [and thank you to whoever I've ganked them from], if you haven't seen any of this before, you should find more Poly Styrene, more X-Ray Spex, and listen. It's well worth your time.

R.I.P. Poly Styrene. 1957 - 2011.

No time to write, have to write.

• Thursday, April 21, 2011 1 comments
...yeah. That's pretty much where I am currently.

It's actually not as bad as it sounds, it was just one of the first times since I started getting paid for writing that I actually found myself having to put off things I wanted to write for things I had deadlines for. I feel kind of bad that it hasn't happened sooner, though looking back to college, I think it probably has, and I just made the wrong decisions about how to prioritize back then.

There are worse times it could have happened. "The Tagalong" feedback I've been getting has surprised me - people are either wildly enthusiastic, or really displeased with how it ends. I didn't really expect a story about a lost love and a neglected child to be more polarizing than the thing about strippers and depression [re: The Peep Show], but hey, strong feelings are better than no feelings. Plus, having this other work to do means I'm getting a little time away from it, and will hopefully be able to pop in with a lot of good things to think about, and fresh eyes.

And I haven't even heard back from everyone yet.

"Walks with Angels" work remains on hold, though probably not for very long. Weekend, maybe. Looks like I'll have a small website copy job for my cousin coming up, too. Would like to do some comic work too. Old projects and new. I guess I am still figuring out how to balance things.

Before all this hit, I had a couple of days there where I was just reading for myself. Finally finished off "Strangers in Paradise," which I guess saying out loud would probably surprise a lot of people. Terry Moore's first big indie title was probably one of the most influential things I'd ever read, as far as my own work goes, and when I tell people that, there's usually this immediate belief that I followed the work closely, and just knew it all backwards and forwards, could recite from it the way I used to be able to do with Kevin Smith's "Clerks." And I guess that's valid... I mean, in geek culture, how much you know, what obscure thing you know, what your recall is, like any subculture that pretty much measures the size of your geek penis, but I never really bought that sort of obsession necessarily indicated your level of passion for the work, or what kind of effect it had on you.

I could write for pages about SiP, talk about it even longer, but again, my time right now is limited, and something like that I feel would demand a lot of care, like my Amy post. I think a post like that will happen for "Strangers" someday, just not today. Instead, what I will say is that when I first came upon SiP, I was fairly sheltered in the kind of comics I read, they were all super heroes and Ninja Turtles, and while all that was great, something about what Moore was doing in the few issues of that book I was able to get a hold of - they just moved me. They turned a hobby involving a niche medium into something that could suddenly be so vast. I even think, honestly, that if it weren't for "Strangers in Paradise," I wouldn't even love super hero comics as much as I do, because I'd never have gotten to that place where I could appreciate moments that weren't all big fights and cool powers.

It wasn't the only thing that made me love comics. Far from it. But it really made me want to write them, I think. I don't know. Maybe I just needed to see that nothing was off-limits. That there was a lot more ground to cover.

Anyway. A few issues, or the whole thing - there was something intrinsic there, something that wasn't going to let me down, something that I could get from a few pages or from the entire narrative. I think that's how good the series is, but I also think on some level my experience with the work made it a pretty big deal to me. And I also think that, deep down, there was something frightening about finally having no more excuses [I haven't had any for awhile], so it was just time, to buy that last trade, to finish the series.

I dated this girl once who was a huge Charles Dickens fan. Just, the biggest I've ever known. And rightfully so, his work is great, and lovely, and some of the most important in literature, love it or hate it. But she called me once, upset, not overly so, but just very... upset, because she'd just finished reading the last thing by Dickens which she hadn't read yet. For the rest of her life, there would be no new Charles Dickens, no story of his which she hadn't delved into. She could read the old stuff, and still be surprised by what was in it. She would forget things, or see things in a new light. She would discovers gems she'd never noticed before. But there'd never be anymore. There'd never be anything new.

Terry Moore has other comics. His upcoming "Rachel Rising" seems to be an idea which could easily surpass anything else he's done. But this story, this story of Francine and Katchoo and David and Casey and Tambi... I've finished it. I'll never read more "Strangers in Paradise." There will never be a time again where there's an SiP story I haven't read.

I mean, maybe. Moore's never said there wouldn't be sequel. Occasionally, he seems to flirt with the idea. And even though I'm kind of down about being finished, part of me almost hopes he doesn't. But either way, for now, having that hit me, being done with it, especially when working on "The Tagalong" which, as I mentioned before, felt like it had some of that "Strangers" vibe in it... well, it's good I'm busying myself with things.

More soon.

They're all doomed.

• Saturday, April 16, 2011 0 comments
Haven't slept. I'd be less bothered by it, but I felt like crap the majority of the day, and just when I thought I might catch some zzz's I started feeling a touch better and got momentarily productive.

Speaking of productivity, Justin finished another comic page recently [re: Calamity Cash and the Town with No Name], and you can see the rest of the sketch I've posted part of here over on his blog. He's really in the thick of the book's action now, and has been making my sub-par action writing look really dynamic on the page. I haven't gotten to see the whole page yet - Justin's been swamped, as usual, and I haven't exactly been lucid during regular business hours as of late. I'm sure we'll fix that soon.

I haven't been getting out much, and I think it's starting to worry me a little. There hasn't been much in the way of "fun" on my calendar in a while, something that's easier to forget when the work's there. And the work has been there, between finally working out my book review scheduling, and spending a couple hours each night on the current short [re: The Tagalong]. I've gotten some really encouraging feedback already, and have been tweaking this and that, occasionally dropping back to 19 pages, and then finding myself back at 20. It's the usual song and dance for me, delete, undo, then rewrite, copy, undo, paste. I don't know if I could have ever been a typewriter guy.

Sorry, Hunter.

Still, making headway, and might be finished with this one way ahead of schedule. Probably going to make "Walks with Angels" my next project, in hopes to get one more short script in the bag as quickly as possible. "Angels" is a weird script, my take on adaptation and biopic, without actually making either one, and if I wanted finishing it could be a really easy job as - full disclosure - it's already technically written. Right now, I have five pages, a sort of shortest-of-the-shorts, something that I think could be really useful to have in my portfolio. But...

In a weird sort of way, I'm not sure anymore if "Walks with Angels" should be a movie script, especially since, reading it recently, I noticed the tone was a bit more in line with the two comics I did with Ander [re: "A Change is Gonna Come" and the current project "VHS Generation"]. It has a lot of the same feel, a real 90s touch to it, and plus I've always seen it in my head as more of long comic than a short movie. Still, I've already written it as one, and would like to have it polished, and would like to have it to send places as a five-minute-movie, so...

Maybe I'll do it as both. It's against my principles, all told, as I've always thought comics are already treated too derivatively when their ideas are used interchangeable with movies. It misses the point, I think, and neglects the fact that with every story, there's a perfect medium to tell it in. Plus, I find people who talk about comics in movie terms to be pretty self-hating, and I can't stand that.

I tend to stress pretty hard over whether or not I'm telling a story in the wrong way, in the wrong medium, so I guess at worst I could just call this experimentation. If the subject matter of "Walks with Angels" wasn't so short and well-known, I might even be able to figure out a way to make the two different versions unique to one another, but... not sure if that's possible, not sure if, story-wise, there'd be much chance to focus on one thing more than another in the different versions. I'll have to think about that. And remember what Moore said - that comics, essentially, are about the reader taking his or her own time with things.

We'll have to wait and see on that. If I do both, it'll be interesting to see how they differ. Not sure how I'll make the judgment which is better. One of those times when I'll just have to trust myself... assume that, if I'm really good at what I do, I'll make the right decision. And if I'm not good, well, it won't much matter what medium a crappy story works better in.

Unrelated to any of this, I went on a little rant the other day on Twitter, thought I'd put it here too. Felt like something I wanted to say to everyone at the time, now it just feels like something I don't want to lose forever in the impermanence of micro-blogging. So here it is. "Enjoy."

I have always been a big proponent of bitching about burdens. People who silently shoulder shit just because they think its noble bug me. This is, ultimately, immaturity on my part. Because when I would preach that, I had never realized there are burdens that if people know you have, it can hurt them. Worry them unnecessarily. Think about that person you know who cares so much that if, say, you mention sideways your stomach's upset, dinner plans change. The whole day changes. Suddenly, you've slyly been tricked into taking it easy. And taking it easy is rad. But sometimes you need to get things done. Even if you have a headache, or a stomach ache. You just deal with it, because it's not as major as you made it sound. And I always saw bitching as a nice way to taper that. Oy, I don't want to do this in this condition but I will. It made me feel better. It, apparently, scares the shit out of people. Hang-ups take precedent over the tasks at hand. Why? Because people are generally pretty kind. To the folks that folks give a shit about. Everyone gets solution oriented. Forget some things just need to be weathered. But you don't explain to someone their kindness is wrong. Eventually, you shut your damn trap about the complicated things. It is actually kind of ridiculous, if you think about it. Like in space movies, when one person knows something is broken, but to not worry the other person about it, they keep their mouth shut, try to fix it. In those instances, things go horribly wrong, guy who was doing the nice thing gets sucked out into space through a crack in the hull. Real life's not so different. More cracks maybe. Takes a little longer to wind up in the abyss. I guess my point is, sometimes you can't bitch about your burdens. But if you can, I encourage it. Wholeheartedly.

---

Finally, I wanted to share something I should have put up a link up here to right away - it was one of those things where what it's saying is really important and worthwhile, and how it's saying it is really skillful and lovely, and because of that it has to be looked at. But on a more personal level, it's just one of those articles that said some things I really needed to hear when I read it, perhaps more than I even realized. So without further ado, here's
Kimberly Kaye over on her blog "The Trouble with Poet" with "On Creative Vampires (A Letter About The People Who'll Suck You Dry Through Two Holes if You Let Them)."

Can't recommend that enough to all my fellow writers, and any other creative-types who may be reading this. And thank you, Miss Kaye.

Going for Bolingbroke

• Wednesday, April 13, 2011 0 comments
If you think that pun is bad, you'll love the joke that got bandied about a lot my first time through the play:

"The great thing about Richard II is that even if you don't know Shakespeare, by the end at least one person is sure to get the point."

Yeah, you know what? I'm not here to impress you.

Tonight's been a mixed bag. I've spent a few hours going over the script [re: The Tagalong], tweaking this, and fixing that. No surprise to anyone, my fondness for commas left the thing a wasteland of punctuation. If you've read my stuff before, or if you just take in a few old blog entries, you know I have a tendency to play it fast and loose with commas, ellipses, and what I think is sort of like my signature - the dash/double dash. It's my feeble attempt to try and mimic the way things sound in my head, the rhythm, the way I talk, or tell a story out loud, trying to keep all the beats and pauses, and bits of suspense intact even on the page. When it works, I think it works well - I've have some high-standard writers and readers tell me that even when chucking Strunk and White out the window, it's forgivable since the final product delivers.

But like with all things, moderation's the key, and if you're like me, and you have a particular style, or trick, you know it can easily become tiresome, trite, or lose a lot of its oomph from too much repetition, and on the path to first draft to final, I'm always left weighing whether phrasing x, or ambitious punctuation y, is best used here, or later, or not at all [save it until next time, kind of thing]. And a lot of scriptwriters will tell you any of those kinds of flourishes should just be left out - even when it comes to dialogue - and pity knows I'd save boatloads of time if I'd just blanket eliminate them from my work. But the charm!

Anyway, I've gotten some notes back on the script already, and Ian especially was good pointing out that I was over-doing it. So I guess the bulk of the writing night was just messing with that, hunting those spots down, and making the hard choices in places where the choices should probably be easy.

Rest of it I spent reading Richard II over again. I'm not sure why. I think it was my intention to read Cymbeline, or at least find out if I had already had[despite studying Shakespeare in college, I'm convinced that there's one play out there I haven't polished off yet. Even though I can't for the life of me figure out which one that is]. But I like Richard II, and reading it again I realized I liked it more than I remembered, an having been through it a couple times before I could just sort of have fun with it, pick it up, put it down in between Adult Swim bumps. With the book reviews, and new books I get, and comics [which I almost always give preference], and the loads of news and blogs and internet-related reading I do, I don't tend to get to read things over as much as I'd like [one of many, many reasons I'm garbage at memorization]. Especially something that demands Shakespeare-level engagement.

It was a good night, but not one with any sleep in it, and I'm watching the sun come up again. What a drag.

Here's some good, cool news though. My "Change is Gonna Come"/"VHS Generation" collaborator/partner-in-crime from across the ocean, Ander [that's Ander Sarabia, kiddies] and friend of the Mojo Wire Eric M. Esquivel [of the Modern Mythology Esquivels] have a story coming out in the Moonstone published comic "Zombies vs. Cheerleaders #4." The big excitement about this is that "Zombies vs. Cheerleaders" is a Diamond Distributed book, so you can get your very own copy just by asking your local comic proprietor to put it on your pull list. You've seen the amazing work Ander can do in some of his sketches for our stuff I've posted, and hopefully you've checked out Eric's stuff that I've linked in the past, so really, you've got zero reasons not to check it out.

Well, that was easy.

• Saturday, April 9, 2011 4 comments
So, I hit my 20 page mark [re: The Tagalong]. It wasn't very hard, as you might imagine - it's never hard to add things, after all. That it happened surprised me, though, as I never really felt like I was adding things... sitting down to work on the script each night this week, I felt more like I clipping, and was actually worried that this early in the process I might be clipping a little too much. So I did something rare for me, and saved a copy of my original marathon run-through on the script [the thing that usually doesn't survive past the first read].

Depending on what kind of thing I'm working on depends on how much I save from previous drafts. I'm just not that taken with most bits I cut, and usually the "killing all my darlings" thing only comes in very late in the proofreading/editing stage for me. I can't think of any compelling reason for that - immaturity, probably, because when I write something that I actually like or think is clever, I do tend to want to keep it. There's a line in this that's like that, that I imagine will not make it to the final draft. We'll see.

Tried to take a break working on this last night. Failed miserably at that. Tonight, it's been a bit better. Talked to some people, read a little, did some work on the book review I have due next week. Doesn't hurt to get outside of "Tagalong" headspace.

It feels almost... shoddy to me, how quickly this came together. Admittedly, I've put in several nights, but this is a pretty rapid pace I've kept up, not odd for me in grand scheme, but odd for me lately. "Nova" took a couple of weeks to finish to a working script point, and that's not counting the months of polishing and the mad editing I did to get it to 25 pages. Which, I guess could still happen here. Hopefully not for as long. But I am still in the honeymoon period.

The process hasn't felt as solitary either. I mean, it's writing, it's always solitary. That's typically unavoidable. Hell, even collaborations have solo aspects. But Twitter, as much as people like to bad mouth it, has actually been kind of good this past week. There are times, when working, when you kind of just want to bang your head against the wall and scream like a mental patient, or just have someone to say one of the repetitive things that have been running through your head all night - so being able to post it there, whether people acknowledge it or not, takes a little bit of the edge off [Twitter's new slogan - not a stiff drink, but a healthy alternative]. Less pacing. Less moving around. Hell, even I'm surprised to say it, but the internet has, at least for this project, been the opposite of a distraction.

One of my college literature professors, the immensely talented writer Christopher Miller [good reads here], he joined Twitter this past week, and it was just so... nice that he was there, because I've been having this hang-up lately where in dialogue, I just sort of choke whenever a character says "I love you." And it's not a new problem, back when I was in a class with Chris it had come up before, and what he said back then was sort of a game changer that got me comfortable thinking about how and what people say in situations like that. With the phobia returning, Chris offered up this bit from Mamet, which was just spot-on what I needed, and I'm sharing it here because... it's a damn good point, made by one author and passed on from another.

Chris: Advice from Mamet: "People may or may not say what they mean, but they always say something designed to get what they want."

Chris: I.e., it doesn't matter whether or not your characters MEAN it, as long as it's plausible that they would SAY it.

And maybe there was just something in the air, but one of my favorite comic book writers right now, Kieron Gillen, one of the many talented persons behind the CBGBs comic I liked so much, and the guy writing my new favorite teen X-Men book, Generation Hope, was also talking about writing, and his process, and also about how he always tries to avoid using songs as titles for stories. His reasoning was just not wanting the medium to feel any more derivative, but his point was, more than anyone else following his rules, was how important it was for writers to have rules of their own, boundaries that may seem restrictive, but push you, even in a small way, to do things others aren't doing. I mentioned in response that I was trying to eliminate instances of characters talking to themselves when no one was around, a common trope that annoys the piss out of me, because only in a handful of situations do people really talk to themselves like that. I didn't expect him to see my response, because honestly, the dude writes for Marvel, and has a lot on his plate, so imagine my surprise when, upon mentioning a day or so later I'd already broken my own rule, he replied back "It was a good one, but a fucking hard one."

Always nice to get encouragement from writers you respect, look up to. I know it gave me a bit of charge, got me back to work. In both cases neither Chris or Gillen had to go out of their way, but even their little bit of help meant a lot, the acknowledgment got me going again, and I appreciate that. It's easy as a writer to put people on these levels, where your heroes and your teachers and the successful are kind of unreachable, and your peers, not all of your peers mind you, but some of them come across like they want to impede your work, as if there's some sort of adversarial relationship there [which is, by the way, a poisonous way to look at writing, or any creative endeavor]. But small courtesies can go a long way.

So thank you, Chris. For a lot more than just this one thing, I should probably say. And to Kieron Gillen. I appreciate it.

I've sent the short off to a few people. Not many. If anyone else is interested in seeing it who I didn't think of, or get it to, feel free to e-mail me, comment here, etc. Always interested in readers, feedback... though I might put you off until I get one more draft under my belt.

More soon. Cheers.


P.S. I removed the Google Search Bar from the blog. It's not been working properly since 2010 ended, so I'm not screwing with it anymore. Hopefully, I'll find an alternative, or something that'll make going through my archives easier.

Leaders and Followers

• Tuesday, April 5, 2011 0 comments
I've mentioned before that I tend to go through down periods after finishing things. Never really understood why, just always feel a little hollow whenever I get done with with a project... I realize it's weird, and that there's supposed to be some "Don't I Rock?"-style elation, but that's just not me. Post-"The Peep Show" I was having the same kind of feeling, but I felt like even being a little depressed, I still had some momentum going, momentum I should try and follow through with on other things.

I spent a night or two transcribing some old notes, mostly for that new romance comic I've been thinking of about. It's nowhere near close to being finished [there are huge gaps in the action, scenes where I know things are supposed to happen, know what's supposed to happen, I just can't seem to get those things... right], and I didn't really want push it in the mood I was in, so I figured it would be better to follow up with something that was close to being done, and that I'd put off. I figured it was pretty unlikely finishing a second thing would make me feel worse at this point.


A couple of choices popped up. This first is this old, near-completed short screenplay [really short actually... only five or six pages] called "He Walks with Angels." I've been sitting on it for a long time, and this would have made the fourth time I picked it up again, but on one read-through I realized it really wasn't something I wanted to work on now. It's ending is similar to "The Peep Show," and I wasn't feeling up to writing more about the subject, even if, barring the ending, the two stories couldn't be more different.


There was one other script I remembered wanting to work on, an idea I had last Spring during a pretty intense period of insomnia. I started going on walks during this time, because it was still cool out, and because I had a couple hours to go over to the nearby school yard's playground before anyone arrived there. I get this weird nostalgia pang when I see dew on playground equipment, something I don't know how I'd remember because I don't ever recall being allowed to play outside early enough that there would be dew on anything.


The idea wasn't wholly my own, as it was partially inspired by a story an ex-girlfriend told me on a couple of occasions, that on my remarking on she said I was welcome to take a stab at, which was awfully good of her because she's a writer too, and a way better one than me, in my not-entirely-humble opinion. Somewhere, between what we had talked about and me leaning on a soaking wet jungle gym, I got down what I remembered being a pretty thorough outline for a short piece, and was even excited enough about it at the time to tell Kyle. I got distracted with other things, other ideas I had on this early morning walks, and while I didn't forget about the project, set it aside. I figured with a full outline, I could always come back to it.


Usually my outlines are pretty detailed, to the point they often will break down a whole story scene by scene, even conversation topic by conversation topic. I kind of expected the same thing here, so imagine my surprise when I dug up the file that had said outline, titled "Misdemeanors" and just found this:


- House - Wake up.
- School - Talk, kid, breakfast, arrested.
- Police station - motivations.
- Back to House - Sex. Fight.
- Morning - Next afternoon, alone.
- School - School's out, kid.


...goddammit.


Of course, that wasn't all, I had a few little snippets of dialogue to work from [it is me, we're talking about here], and some character names [the principles anyway], but compared to my usual level of detail, it wasn't much. So I was more than a little surprised when I opened up Final Draft and got to typing, and realized that the story I wanted to tell was still really vivid and fresh in my mind from the year previous. In fact, it all flowed out naturally, and as prompts go, that... I don't even want to call it a skeleton... up there was pretty helpful. And it's weird the things you can recall in a pinch. I found myself in the pantry yesterday, completely dumbfounded as to why I went out there in the first place, but working on this, a whole year after the first heavy thoughts had been put into it, I could still remember that I needed to decide if my protagonist's sidekick/boyfriend was from the town it was set in, or had moved there with my main character after college.


Anyway, a few sleepless nights later, what I've ended up with is a rough, 19-page short titled "The Tagalong." I'm actually feeling pretty good about it, really excited, actually. There's a lot in this that's new, sort of unexpected for me. I have a female protagonist, and I think she's a pretty good one, there's this personality there that I like, and I enjoy writing her interactions with the other characters. I get to write a kid, which I've never done before, not really, and I've sort of been obsessing over whether or not I got the voice right or not [seems like one thing I can't remember is how I talked when I was six]. And it's not all new ground either, there are still some Randall Nichols hallmarks, which yes, I know are masturbatory, but I feel good knowing they're in there. So "Tagalong" rocks that small-town dynamic, has a guy with a girl's name in it, and rocks a few references so obscure I can already hear the "I don't get it." And swears. There are lots of swears.


It still needs a lot of work, of course. Trying to write a kid is just going to be a headache, I already feel pretty far outside my wheelhouse with it. And there's another entirely, another transition near the end, that I'm already sweating every spare moment I get. But...
there's just something about this one I just like.

I'm hoping when it's finished it'll be 20 pages even, which is another weird, new challenge since I've been mostly trying to cut down on page length lately, not add more. Still, having that whole extra minute to work with is going to make changes and edits a lot more comfortable, and while I'm not ruling out ending up with a 15 minute movie, I'm still going to aim for that 20.

I have some bigger things I want to work on. Comics, features-length scripts [re: Mary Hobb, Untitled Bigfoot Horror Film, etc], but this is going to be a good primer I think, and nice transition piece while I figure out a good schedule/system for the extra books I'm getting to review, and few other things I need to do too. Watch the tags. There will be more soon.

And if anyone's interested, I'll probably be looking for readers, and notes.

"The Peep Show"

• Saturday, April 2, 2011 0 comments
Finally put my untitled peep show script to bed. Finished product stands at a well-polished 10 pages, exactly what I wanted it to be all along. I will probably eyeball it again for typos and the like, but the broad strokes are done, things that were bothering me are more or less taken care of. The honest fact is that you can torture yourself over these things until the end of time, but for the sake of your sanity you occasionally just have to say "done."

I think I am. I tried to give my female lead a little more personality, a nudge here, a curious glance there, a whole bunch of self-consciousness than some might expect from someone working in a nudie booth. It's much more subtle than anyone suggested, so she's probably not as good as she could be, but I feel pretty pleased with her.

There's always a fear with characters. As a writer, you tend to know a lot more about them than actually makes it into the final piece. When you're reading it, you always have to check yourself, ask questions like "am I feeling this because I know it, or because that information is in there?" I'm always thinking of other conversations, other stories for the same characters, so I'm especially bad about it. Or at least, I think I am. It's one of the many reasons I like getting fresh eyes on things, other people's eyes on them.

So there's that. I didn't change much at the end, but the transition into the big reveal is smoother now, I think, mostly thanks to some dialogue tweaks that happened more because I wanted to get it down to 10 pages, than all the different and new stuff I tried to tack on when actively attempting to fix it. I think that's funny, kind of unexpected, but it's also probably more common than I realize. Sweating a script isn't just about eliminating unnecessary beats, and killing one word lines - it's also about looking at what you have, and whether the repetition you employ [if you employ repetition... I can't imagine anyone wouldn't - good, realistic dialogue sort of demands it].

If anyone would like to see the finished product, I'll be happy to show it to you, and I'd love to hear what you think. Just message me, either here, via email, or on Facebook. It's not drastically different from earlier drafts though, so if you have read those, you might want skip this one. Still, I like getting people's reactions... this is a very reaction based project, probably the kind of thing I should have written in college. I picture it as the kind of movie, even though it's a short, that people walk away from arguing, sort of heated-like. I've definitely gotten some very impassioned responses to it. I love that. My script, the conversation piece.

The name I've settled on for it is just "The Peep Show." Simple, I know, but it's kind of transgressive, which catches people's attention, and one or two folks have said that would be enough to get them to see it. And besides, none of my other names really seemed to fit. "The Filth" or "The Filth and the Fury" or anything else, those were never going to make it, time to accept that.

So for now, it's "The Peep Show," short-subject, 10 pages.

Watch for the new label in posts.

I don't know what I'm working on next. Several possible projects. Good to have options.