Why Is This So Hard

I doubt this one will brief, but it will have to be quick, because I’m about four weeks behind on a deadline, and I thought writing something, anything, would be better than nothing. So I’m writing this. Single draft, quick bang, brain to screen, let’s do this.

Right now, this is me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb3j2m31S6U

For four weeks this has been me. Writing, scrapping, starting over, writing, scrapping. I took a five hour drive up to Mountain View last week just to clear my head and see what the open road would do for me. Long drives always inspire me. This one was no exception. I probably had ten great ideas come to me, and they’ve each been scrapped for the subsequent better idea. Listening to writers online helps. It’s how the above clip made it onto this post, as I’ve been listening to a lot of Charlie Kaufman. I writer who says he knows nothing. And I believe him—yet he still makes it happen, and does it brilliantly.

Here are some things people talk about a lot with writing: theme; character arcs; act breaks; inciting incidents; obstacles; conflict; weakness; change…Let’s put those into some a basic ideology that all screenwriters (mostly self-proclaimed) pipe out from their lungs: Something happens. Characters go on a journey. Characters change. Characters have big final challenge that tests how they have changed. Denouement.

Books will tell you to start with a theme. To set up who your characters are! Figure out your act breaks, and how the character will change! Are other writers really just plugging this shit in?! Switching this character for that one, and this desire for that need?

Do I know how structure works? Yes. Can I just create it by following these guides?

Fuck no.

I’ve got a few scripts in my pocket that I rather like. They give me those feelings of “oh shit!”—the sort that happen when your’e reading a great Harry Potter book. Until I get those moments, I can’t tell if what I’m writing resonates or not. So I search for and cling to those moments with absolute desperation. The thing is that those moments NEVER come to me from plotting out a story based on structure. I don’t know how they do happen, but it’s usually sheer dumb luck.

People say boil your story down to a central idea. Your logline, or your premise. I agree, this is good. “Vanilla chemistry teacher gets cancer and has to start selling meth to provide for his family.” Pretty straightforward. “Giant shark in the water eating people, but the sheriff is scared of water.” Got it.

But here I am with page after page of possible characters, their needs, their weaknesses, the tone, the setting, how all of this contributes to the theme, possible revelations, exciting twists…and yet I still feel like I have no idea of my beginning, or my character, or how to weave these stories…that single premise isn’t helping me.

In short, I’m proving once again that I don’t know how to write. And that I put it off to do other things. Like watch Adaptation clips. And eat muffins.

I guess the problem is that it all feels contrived until I’ve worked on it for so long that the characters feel real to me, and when that happens I’m finally able to sit back and enjoy it as an audience. But that only happens after I’ve stumbled through drafts and rambled on endlessly in different ways…

I could keep rambling on this one for much longer, but it really is time that I got back to work. I need a change of scenery first. Maybe a muffin. Banana nut. That’s a good muffin.

I’m Bad at Blogging/Here’s to the Future

Throughout college, professors loved telling me what a good writer I was. Or maybe they hated it, but begrudgingly told me so regardless. Back then I believed it. These days, it’s questionable, but I still think I’ve got some spice with words all the same. Good writer or not, I am, without doubt, a slow writer. For some things that’s probably okay, but I don’t think it makes for a particularly engaging blog. This is probably why my visitors remain at a consistent two per month. To those two people, I’d just like to say: 1) thanks for the support, and 2) what is wrong with you?

Frankly, I’ve been busy. Not so busy that I couldn’t have written a blurb here or there, but I’m really more of a storyteller than a blogger, anyway—so it’s easy to put this ole’ site aside. Nevertheless, I’m trying to do better, so I’ll write this one quickly (maybe I won’t even edit!) to get this ball rolling again. It’s been a couple of months since my last post, so here’s an update on what I’ve been doing, where I’m at, and what life-thoughts have been going through my head-brain.

I just finished a 10-week training at the Lifton Institute of Media Arts & Sciences, with a focus on camera, grip, and lighting. So, if anyone needs anything gripped, lit, or camera’d, give me a shout, yeah?

Part two of  Waking Gaia’s pilot is nearing completion. I don’t really know what that means, but I think it’s true. We’re 28 pages in. There comes a point when editing goes reeeeally slowly. We’re at that point. Once it’s done, I’ll lay this series to rest for good—or another year at least.

I’m eager to start revising Pactum Demonik—though, the series title is sure to change at this point. I’ve got most of the outline done for the revisions, and the story has completely metamorphosed. I really dig it. The plan is to triple-polish the pilot, then pitch it to Amazon. I recently met some amazing animators, so I’m hoping to get some character designs made soon. I’ll keep you posted.

At the end of February I started living out of my car. Last week I bought an ice chest.

Well, that’s about it for now. I’m really going to try to post more frequently. Once a week at least. I’d hate to keep my two fans in the dark.

Ta-ta for now.

Waking Gaia Is Done. Well, Sorta.

Oh, man, what a relief.

After way too many months (years?) of revisions and mental blocks, I’m happy to say that Waking Gaia‘s pilot has been revised such that I can live with it. It may not be perfect, but to paraphrase one Henry James, imperfection shan’t deny it the opportunity to be excellent. (Besides, Westworld has proven that you can write shit and still be successful.) The caveat to all of this is being that, in revising, I expanded the pilot into a two parter. Let’s just say part two is a ways off from completion, but nevertheless, I’m happy to be moving forward with the story.

Why has all of this taken so long? Well, it’s several factors. One being that I’ve had to go back and add camera angles and descriptions throughout the whole thing. Last year I bought Christy Marx’s “Writing for Animation, Comics, and Games,” which helped me on that front, but finding ways to add in the shots without disrupting the flow of the writing really challenged me. I’m still not sure I did it right, but whatever. I think it’ll work. Beyond that, I scrapped five pages of pointless character exposition, switched my focus from one character to another, added new characters, condensed others, and overall I think the story is tighter and works better.


I’m hoping to get to work on part two shortly, but until then, thought I’d offer you all a peek at my writing. I’ll put a few sample pages of the script up on the Waking Gaia page. Check it out, and leave comments.