Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Rule of Five

Contrary to popular belief, I do not have ADD.  Not to disparage anyone who does have that affliction, but my condition is far worse.

I have a Writer’s Mind.  This means that I can find interest and meaning in the most mundane and trivial of things.  I also have a short attention span and get easily bored.

Because of this, I often find it hard to concentrate solely on one project at a time.  However, the alternative of concentrating on every project at one time isn’t much better.  It’s like the old joke about why you can’t have everything… where would you put it? (Answer:  Everywhere… yeah, I think about these things…)

So after several years of trial and error (and yes, I am a slow learner), I’ve decided that five is the magic number, the optimal number of projects I can keep active at one time.  This doesn’t meant that I am actively working on all five at once, it just means these these five are the ones I’m allowed to work on.  And I stick Post-Its with their names on the shelf above my computer to remind me which ones are current, just to keep myself honest.

Well…. “Honest” is a subjective term here.  Yes, I agree, this does sound like a cop-out.  You could say it’s an easy escape clause I could use whenever I get too rattled by the size of the wall I’ve built with my Writer’s Blocks.  And you know what?

You’d be right.

Another writer friend tells me over and over that any writing is good writing, even when it’s bad, because at least you will have written.  So, believing this to to be true, I use the multiple-project approach as a way to keep moving forward.  If I get stuck on one project, rather than wallowing in the abject and tooth-pulling misery of being unable to come up with the… exact… right… word, if I get stuck, I can just lateral the ball onto another project and keep moving down the field.

And (mixed-sports metaphors aside) I’ve found it tends to jar loose whatever block has intimidated me that day.  Yes, it is intimidating to me.  I’m of the perfectionist school of writing, where I want it to be perfect when it flows off my fingers and onto the page.  I want pearls of perfect prose to prance about the printed page.

It doesn’t happen.

Ever!

Ok, sure, Callie Khouri says her first draft of Thelma & Louise was the one they bought and filmed, but we hate her so that doesn’t count (j/k, Callie).

More often than not, good writing comes from rewriting.  And I hate rewriting.  However, it is the most necessary evil out of a world of necessary evils, at least for me.  But to get to that necessary evil, you have to write your first draft… first.

As this blog is designed to keep me on track and honest,  I’ve decided to list the Current Five Projects of Doom, so that I can refer to them in shorthand and you can hold me accountable for their progress.  Some are externally driven, which is a good thing, but most are internal which means that I am the only person accountable for their completion.

1)      Graphic Novel – Being written as a script, as I am most familiar with that format.
2)      Audio Drama – Adaptation of Best-selling novel, being done as online radio drama.
3)      Historical Script – Action period piece.  Still in planning stages.
4)      Mystery Novel – An ongoing project that started in college but shifted dramatically after I started reading real mystery writers
5)      Myth Script – Based on Arthurian Tradition.

So those are my targets.  And I’ve shared them with you.  Now comes the time to see if I have enough arrows in my quiver and a strong enough bow to hit them.

Talk to you soon.  I’m off to get inspired by Bruce Springsteen at the Sports Arena

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Curriculum Vitae

This is a chronicle about the labyrinth.

The labyrinth is the place you find yourself in when you lose your way in the night.

I’m a writer. I’ve always been a writer and have the degrees (and accompanying student loan debt) to prove it. Since I was young, I’ve loved stories. I’d read anything. One teacher called me an omnivorous reader. As a child, my mother would yell at me to stop reading the back of the cereal box (”It hasn’t changed since yesterday!”) or I’d be late to school . And she knew that with a good book, she could keep me busy and placated for hours.

And then at some point, I realized something… Someone wrote all those great stories I was reading over and over and over. And if someone else could do it, why couldn’t I?

So I began to write…

Well, mainly I began to talk about writing. And talk. And talk.

And people began to talk about me. ”That Tony,” they’d say, ”he’s gonna be a good little writer!” And my teachers would overlook the hastily-written last-minute essays, the carelessly scrawled homework and awkwardly organized drafts because, hey, I was a writer, right? And after a while, even I began to believe it.

But like every good story, there’s a dark side to it. Every hero needs a villain, and the best villains live inside you, masquerading as your fatal flaw.

I was casually acquainted with my fatal flaw, but not on a first-name basis until much later. But he knew me. He knew me better than I knew myself. He’d buy me a drink and say, ”hey, let’s sit down and catch up! Tell me what’s going on. And talking is just like writing, so you don’t have to feel guilty!”

And don’t even get me started on girls! My fatal flaw could find a cute girl and direct my gaze to her in any environment! I could get a crush on the cutest nun in the convent! And thinking about them? My fatal flaw was in heaven over that. Because that could divert me from writing for hours! Weeks! Months!!

My fatal flaw was Fear. Like a lot of other writers. Hell, like a lot of non-writers. Sure, it looked like Laziness, but Laziness is Fear’s ornery little brother.

Fear goes deeper. Fear takes your hand and leads you into labyrinth, where hope is lost. Fear is the voice in your ear, saying ”You know you’re not really a writer, right?”. Fear is the tug at your mind that pulls you back from sleep, telling you they’re going to find out you’re really a fraud. Fear is the constant unwanted ally that finds something else, anything else for you to do other than writing. Fear is the gut-churning possibility that… you’re not really good enough. That your words will never make it to the page as vibrant and alive as they are inside your head.

Fear is a mean little pr*ck. And takes great joy in stopping you. In turning your dreams into a lost cause.

Over the last decade, lots of things have taken the place of writing. I directed theatre. I did publicity for a fan site. I volunteered on political campaigns. I developed a taste for architecture (my second passion). I still wrote, and (despite some small success) I still found myself dreading it. I was lost in the labyrinth, not even seeking a way back to the daylight. It was comfortable and safe in the twisty turning darkness. No one bothered you in the darkness.

And if I occasionally remembered how the light felt on my face in the summer sun, or the electricity in the words that poured out of my fingers when I knew it was working…? Well, that was the past, wasn’t it? And the past should stay the past, right, because people who tried to escape the labyrinth were seldom heard from again by those good and proper souls who kept their heads down and didn’t listen to the dreams that whispered to them in their waking hours. And you try not to think of all those wasted years in the darkness, because that only leads to Regret. And if Laziness is Fear’s bratty kid brother, then Regret is his sad-eyed spinster aunt.

Clarence Darrow is rumored to have said, ”Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.”

Last year, someone I valued very highly came back into my life after a long absence, and she began to ask me the questions that illuminated the labyrinth I had built for myself. She began to gently nudge me towards the light again. She reminded me of what I had once been. She reminded me that I was a writer… and that I still am, no matter how deeply hidden in the shadows it is.

But as much as those who love you want to help, the only one who can get you out of the labyrinth is you… the one who got you there in the first place.

So that’s what this blog is for. My fight to find again what I lost sight of, to cut my way though the jungle and find Cibola. My personal sandbox about writing and hopes and dreams and fighting for lost causes. And if you want to… come along and we’ll see what we can discover.

And hopefully bulldoze that freakin’ labyrinth to dust.