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Three days done… and counting

It feels shallow. It feels unbecoming in a grown man. It’s completely messed up my weekend. But day three of NaNoWriMo sees me with 6,164 words that were not there on Thursday. Right now, I’m 1200 words ahead of my target.

Inspired by the wonderful Murakami, I started with no plan, just wondering where and why the characters exist and where and why they’re going to wherever they end up.  As a long-time screenwriter, it’s been interesting having all these words to play with. Do I think I’ll make 50000 words before the end of the month? No idea. I’m usually pretty good with deadlines but there’s a lot of screenwriting to be done in the day job, so it’s a big ask. But it’s also inspired me to get back to the gym too (thanks Haruki Murakami for that too). I realised that if I had any chance of making it to the end, I was going to have to up my physical fitness. So if for no other reason, it’s already been worthwhile.

Would I recommend it? I’ll tell you in December.

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More lies… I hate myself

I really did plan to invest some serious words in this blog. I know I said that and I meant it. But something’s happened. I found this thing… NaNoWriMo 2013. To join in, you have to write a novel in a month; a minimum of 50 000 words in 30 days. Which in my case, will have to be on top of my writing day job.

I only found out about it a few days ago and it’s due to start in exactly two hours. I have no plan, I have only the vaguest of ideas and I have dreadful feeling I’m going to have to give up far too much sleep time… but you know what? What’s the worst…

Meet you back here in December. Probably.

Michael Arndt screenwriter

Michael Arndt screenwriter

And this… everything he says resonates and reassures.

I Lied….

I’m sorry. I made all kinds of promises about what this blog would be full of and what I’d be doing with it. Well, lately, it’s been full of not very much.

I, on the other hand, have been doing lots: travelled a bit; been writing a lot; reading tons of good novels (I really liked Pynchon’s ‘Bleeding Edge’); I produced some little films; sent out some good work to my agent; did a bit of teaching; played music; bought yet another fuzz pedal; ate and drank a bit too much and got a little bit too fat; swam in the sea (see got a bit too fat); walked the dog a bit more (see got a bit too fat), watched Umberto D and reminded myself of the glories of the Italian neorealists… just a small selection from a busy and generally happier life of late. However… throughout all of this, I was a blogless zone. I am a big blog failure. A disgrace.

But next week, once things calm down a bit, I’m planning a come back. I’m sorry. But you have been warned.

Are there really only seven stories in the world?

DailyInkling.com

seven

Seven stories we tell over and over. Seven plots that sum up our existence. Could this be true? According to Michael Hague, it boils down to one. Conflict and resolution. Big or small, it’s the essence of a good story. Aristotle believed there were six elements to drama: music, spectacle, character, action (plot), ideas and language.

So what are the seven plots that make up the world’s stories? Christopher Booker breaks them down like this:

1. Overcoming the monster

Good versus evil. The hero/heroine defeats the monster threatening to destroy humanity. Most Hollywood plots are based on this one- think Independence Day, the Bond films, Star Wars. For literary fiction it might not be so straight forward- the monster might not be external. I would argue that The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath) is about overcoming the monster, however it could also fit in ‘Rebirth’.

2. Voyage and return

The…

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Steve Albini letter – Imgur

http://m.imgur.com/a/p0tKn

In Praise of Leonard Cohen, Great Novelist

Flavorwire

“It is kind of an intelligent Naked Lunch,” was how one Dallas Times Herald writer described Leonard Cohen’s 1966 novel Beautiful Losers, an interesting and somewhat auspicious comparison when you consider how controversial Burroughs’ book — published less than a decade earlier in 1959 — was. According to critic Robert Fulford, Cohen wrote what he considered “the most revolting book ever written in Canada,” a criticism that certainly didn’t help the book’s poor sales. Cohen was a celebrated poet in his home country of Canada, but was living off his inheritance on a Greek island in the Saronic Gulf upon the book’s release.

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How Soon is Now… and how long does it take?

The answer seems to be about eight years. If the question is… how long does it take to get a feature film script in the right shape to go out to all the best places?

I received news today that my agent is sending out an indie comedy to a decent US producer on the look out for projects. Big deal you may say… and you may be right. But this project has taken forever. And it’s always been pretty good. Just never quite good enough. It’s had a ton of work. Lots of input. Maybe too much. Far too many iterations to be sensible. But at last. Thank God. It seems to have evolved. Into something. I think it will be going out to few more places over the next few months too.

Every other working writer I know always says the same thing. It takes years. Even when the stars seem to be aligning. Don’t hold your breath. It will still take years. The exceptions are just that.

So the lesson to draw? Don’t give up. You might have to put it away for a while. Lock it in a drawer or a dusty, old Dropbox folder. Just don’t forget to bring it out again at a later date and give it a brutally forensic reexamination. Ask yourself how do you make it better? What have you learned since you last worked on it that can make it stronger?

One aspect of this slow evolution of screenplays is that it means you can’t just work on one or two projects at a time. You need about eight years worth in the bank. Yes, absolutely make sure you finish what you’re doing; half-finished screenplays aren’t really screenplays, they’re just half-finished… things. But once you’ve finished your draft, don’t be afraid to park it for a while to look at something else. And if you’re getting back a lukewarm reaction from your latest draft, don’t throw it all away. Just try and find out what excited you enough about the idea in the first place to allow you produce a hundred pages, then see if you can work out a way to translate that excitement into something better.

But you need to know that it takes time. And you need to know it can seem like forever.

A two hundred and fifty nine second encapulation of almost everything I love in music

Haven’t you heard?!

Not sure about the U2 reference, but other than that, this is pretty good.