Writer Thrill Seeking

If you asked me to go bungee jumping or skydiving, I’d probably chuckle and politely tell you that if I wanted to see the ground rushing up at my face, I’d get drunk and fall over. Though I’ve had my thrills and sometimes I go looking for a certain kind, nobody would rush to call me a thrillseeker. I don’t know if I’d get on a roller coaster that goes upside down anymore.

But when it comes to writing, I’m far more game for a thrill.

The first week of May I decided to spend money I didn’t have to enter a script that I hadn’t written into a contest that’s deadline was the next day.

Okay, now this only looks like a last minute decision. To be fair, I thought the deadline was actually the next week. I did think I had a little more time. And I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to doing the contest because, like I mentioned, really didn’t have the entry fee to spare.

But when I saw that I was wrong about the deadline, I sort of…well…went thrill seeking. The first time I entered a script in this contest, I spent a couple of months working on an entry that got me an honorable mention. When I entered last year, I spent about a week on a entry I thought would ultimately be a throwaway, and I ended up with 5th place.

I could not pass up the challenge of writing fifteen pages of script in two days and see if I couldn’t beat 5th place.

The idea is one I’ve had kicking around in my head and I even wrote a short story/first chapter for it. I already had an outline. I was actually going in pretty well stacked in terms of knowing what I was doing. It was just a matter of finding the time to get it all written.

Yeah, about that.

During the same two days I was writing these fifteen pages I was also prepping for my next Green Hornet chat with Dan, outlining season 3 of Murderville, writing my page a day, studying my four languages, and doing my daily life stuff.

No sweat.

This is how I get my high. By driving myself crazy. I honestly think that I’m not happy unless I’m committing some sort of busy-ness that pushes me to the brink of insanity. For the last few months, I’ve been taking it pretty easy on the writing schedule. I was struggling with my mental and physical health. I really didn’t have the energy to push it. Or at least it didn’t feel like I did.

I’m feeling a bit more energized now, though.

Maybe I just needed a little thrill to get going.

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October Writing Projects

pumpkinsLet me be straight about something. I have been in a writing fog for the last several months. It’s one of those things in which my head is crammed with ideas, but none of them have any immediate use. I want to execute them all, but none of them really further any of my immediate goals. And that’s been kind of frustrating for me because, obviously, it’s the immediate goals I need to be focusing on.

I have to produce dammit!

My business mind has a tendency to clash with my artist’s heart and it does my hellscape mind no favors.

So, in other words, I haven’t been making a lot in the way of tangible progress on certain things lately.

I have done some things, though.

I finished the first draft of another script called The Hitman’s List. I was emboldened by Open Christmas Eve receiving an honorable mention in the contest I entered it into to finish this one because it was my second choice for an entry. I’m pretty pleased with it, though I have no idea what I’ll do with it.

The victory also encouraged me to enter a couple of poems into a poetry contest. I actually got second place in a state contest back when I was in high school. It was an assignment/entry. I’m still bitter my teacher made me change the last line of that poem, even though I can’t remember what it was about (I can’t remember the theme of the contest). She made me all-caps the last line because she decided I didn’t have enough poetic devices in it. I don’t know if that change won me second place or lost me first. Now I’ll know if I win, it’s all me, baby.

The serial idea for Patreon plods on. I’ve got the first draft of the first two “episodes” done and I’m well on my way to completing the first draft of the third. It’s moving along a lot more slowly than I thought, but I think I might be comfortable enough to have something going by November maybe. Of course, I might be overestimating myself once again. I have a great talent for doing that when it comes to time. The planning fallacy. I has it.

Looming around the corner is NaNoWriMo. I should be planning what I’m doing for it. And I will.

Just as soon as I figure out what that is.

Oh, the scares October has for me.

August Writing Projects

sunIt’s August and I’m thinking I’ve hit the dog days of summer. Or maybe it’s just a bit of floundering on my own part because I’m not sure what I want to do this month.

I finished the revisions on Open Christmas Eve so, while not spectacular, the script is long enough to not be considered bullshit and I’m good with that. I no longer feel like a fraud, just a hack, and that’s my default, so it’s fine.

I also got the Storytime Jukebox up and running, which was a thing that I wasn’t sure I could or should do, but in the end I felt like I didn’t have a choice. The response I’ve had in the few days it’s been up is more than I actually hoped for and I hope it continues. I so appreciate the help.

It’s times like these, when the malaise and scatterbrainedness hits me, that I’m glad I have an epic To Do List of Doom. I may not know exactly what I want to work on, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have plenty of options.

So at some point during this month I will probably-

-Revise a couple of more stories for the jukebox and/or

-Write the first drafts of some short stories for the next anthology and/or

-Finish the first draft of one of my other test scripts for practice and/or

-Something else I can’t remember even though I just looked at the To Do List of Doom like four minutes ago.

Yeah. The scatterbrained malaise is that bad.

But August won’t be. I will be productive.

I will get at least one thing done.

I wonder what it will be.

May Writing Projects

pinkflowerApril turned out to be quite a productive month for me, quite unintentionally really.

I finished the latest round of revisions on The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys as well as the first drafts of all five of the potential script contest entries (first fifteen pages and one-page synopsis) before I left for Chicago. Part of the purpose of going to Chicago, besides seeing friends and eating orange chicken, was to be able to work on my writing without interruption or distraction. I found myself in a hotel room with no major writing project demanding my attention as I was still undecided what script to do for the contest. I ended up polishing “What You Don’t See” and “Short Hallway” (I polished a haunted hotel story in a hotel room while watching 1408 because my commitment to a theme cannot be denied) and got about a third of Voice polished before I left. A productive short trip despite the anxiety troubles I had.

I finished polishing Voice after I got home. I then turned my attention to the script contest. I ended up picking one called Open Christmas Eve and did my best to get those first fifteen pages perfect. I hit the “What the fuck am I doing? I can’t do this! I have no idea what I’m doing. This is pointless” wall Friday night, got my “Fuck it” second wind Saturday afternoon, and after a few more tweaks and some polishing, I submitted it Saturday night. I recognize that it’s probably a waste of an entry fee (and only with extreme luck will I even win that entry fee back), but I still did it. There is some kind of accomplishment in pushing myself to explore different forms of writing.

Speaking of, April was National Poetry Month and as an exercise I made myself write at least four lines of poetry a day. They’re just scraps of poems, nothing glorious, and I have no idea what, if anything, I’ll do with them (I posted one on my Instagram at the end of the month to celebrate), but it was a fun little project.

After all of that in April, what’s to be done in May?

I’m going to completely finish The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys. It needs a little more revision (just some tweaks), a beta read, and a polish. Once that’s done, I’ll get to work putting together the ghost story collection. I’m also going to work on finishing the first draft of Open Christmas Eve. Now that it’s submitted, the rest of the script should be easy to finish and I’ll feel like less of a cheat having the whole thing written.

I sort of feel like spending the summer writing a short novel. I’ve got the idea (actually, I have two ideas, but I think I’m going to save one for NaNo) and I think I’ll spend some time this month working on fleshing it out.

No worries about getting bored. Still plenty left on my To Do List of Doom.

April Writing Projects

Yellow flowersRemember last month when I said that I was forcing myself to revise two short stories that needed a lot of work and I didn’t like them and it was going to take me forever and everything was terrible?

Yeah, that was all nothing but an empty whine because I ended up getting them both done in about two weeks. I didn’t anticipate that, but it happened, and I’m happier for it.

And since I got them done so quickly, I just moved right on to the next big revision, The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys, which I’ll continue working on this month. I’ve got over half of it done already, but it’s the last third or so that really needs a lot of work and rewriting. I’m going to take my time with it. It’s the last story in the still-untitled ghost story collection that needs major revisions. Once it gets done, that whole thing should come together pretty quickly.

In side project news, if you follow me on Twitter (you probably shouldn’t because I’m terrible) or read the tweets that come up on the blog, then you know I’ve been referencing five outlines. First I talked about finishing them; now I’m talking about writing synopsis and fifteen pages. It’s possible you might be wondering what the hell I’m talking about.

(It’s also possible that you don’t give a shit, and that’s also valid.)

I’m going to try my hand at the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition again. Nine years after winning 10th place in the genre category and a few failures in other categories since then, I’ve decided to try my hand at the script category. I’ve only written a script once before for Script Frenzy (which they don’t do anymore), so I’m looking at this as a personal challenge that’s going to cost me a $25 entry fee.

So what’s the deal with the five outlines? I took five ideas that I had and outlined them. Now I’m writing the first fifteen pages and synopsis (the requirement for the entry) of each one to see which one I think is the strongest entry. Then I’ll take the one I think is strongest, polish it all up, and submit it. Is it a lot of extra work to do it this way? Yeah, probably, but it gives me some practice. Am I cheating by only doing the first fifteen pages? Yeah, probably, but I will finish whatever one I submit for sure. It just won’t be done by the deadline, which is in May. I only have one more outline that needs fifteen pages and a synopsis written, so I’ve got plenty of time to get this done. I find script writing to go very quickly for me.

Which means I’m probably doing it wrong.

Writing–You Guys Would Watch My TV Show, Right?

Rainbow paperWhenever I’m writing a story and I end up writing a huge chunk of dialogue (which happens often, I know, you’re shocked), I can hear my mother in my head saying, “Why don’t you just write scripts? Your stuff is mostly dialogue anyway.”

The woman is not wrong. I’ve always had a natural tendency towards dialogue and a hundred years ago, a lot of my stories were pretty much all dialogue.

I’ve experimented with script writing before. I participated in Script Frenzy one year before the program closed down and I tried my hand at adapting one of my novellas into script form just for the practice. I even wrote my own TV pilot for shits and giggles (it was mostly the shits).

I find myself drifting back into that script territory once again.

I got an idea for a TV show over the summer and to amuse myself, I’ve been jotting down idea for it in a notebook, something to do when I need something to do. And over time it’s sort of took on the shape of an actual thing. A decent thing. And I think it might be fun to run it out as far a it will go in my spare time. It’s sort of a black comedy murder mystery thing. In my head it’d be like an anthology series, each season would have a different murder and different people solving the murders, but it’d be set in the same town and you’d see a lot of the same faces. The first season is a couple trying to solve the murder of a man they found on their doorstep for the reward money.

See? Fun!

I’m doing a similar thing with another idea, only it would be more like a TV movie or a mini-series (seriously, I feel like we could do with more of those; remember when they were on the Big 3 networks every week, sometimes multiple times? Yeah). Originally, I figured the idea would be a novella, but I sort of like the idea of hashing it all out in script form. Maybe I’ll end up writing it out as a novella after the fact, but for now, I like doing it this way. It’s fun.

See? Even more fun!

Logically, I know that nothing will come of either of these things in script form. I can’t make anything come of anything I write in my other forms. Scripts are an even tougher sell, particularly when you have absolutely no connections and you live in the middle of a cornfield. I love my corn, but it doesn’t network well.

As far as I’m concerned, though, anything I do that has to do with writing has value.  This isn’t a time waste. It’s a good, productive thing.

At the very least, it just furthers my crusade to clear out all of the ideas from my brain.

But, you guys would totally watch my show if on the very, very off-chance it ended up on TV, right?

Right?

Writing–Scripting It

Scripted

I remember my mother once telling me that I should skip writing short stories and novels and just write scripts because I like writing dialogue so much. She had a point. My stories have a tendency to be dialogue heavy and description can be a struggle for me. I’ve written a few stories without dialogue and let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. If I can have a character talk to themselves, I will.

Sooper Sekrit Project #2 is a script. I think I mentioned that. Anyway, a few years ago now I participated in Script Frenzy, a now defunct off-shoot of NaNoWriMo. I wrote two 60 minute episodes of a TV show that I made up. I had great fun doing it. It held its own challenges, sure (format? Thank goodness for script programs!), but I got to exploit what I consider to be one of my strengths.

Sometimes I get ideas for stories and it’s during the hashing out phase that I realize it would make a lousy short story or novel, but it would make a great script. I then shelve it because, hey, I don’t write scripts.

And then last month it occurred to me how dumb that was. Why shouldn’t I write scripts? Just because I don’t live in Hollywood and really have no ambition to be a film/TV writer, that doesn’t mean there’s no reason for me to flex some different muscles. Let me be vain for a moment. What if one day one of my stories and/or novels is published and then optioned for film? Wouldn’t it benefit me to say, “Oh, yeah, I can adapt that. No problem. Let me do that for you.”? I think it would.

I’ve already got plans to practice my adaptation skills with Night of the Nothing Man once I get it up on Smashwords.

The reason why this a Super Sekrit project is because it’s a play thing that I have no intention of doing anything with seriously so I have no real urge to discuss it much in-depth. It’s a fun play thing that’s only for me. And so I’ll admit to doing it, but I won’t say what the script is about.

Just know that this project, even if I do nothing with it, isn’t a waste. It’s me developing and honing a different kind of writing style.

You never know. I might have to go to Hollywood one day.