A Warm Pocket

Starting the morning off with a coffee in my hand and a view out my window (too cold to sit outside before 11am now) is like some kind of magic elixir for the mind.  Resetting the to-do list has also helped.  It’s been a good month so far.  I’ve let go of too many worries and I’m back to flowing again.

I didn’t even mind so much that I lost my keys on Sunday.  Couldn’t get into my apartment, so I hung out at Tino’s for a few hours until Frank got home.  I’ve since tracked them down.  Fell out of my pocket in my buddy’s car on our way back from the Argo game.

Like my keys, the Argos also lost.  In a battle for first place in the East, they came out completely passionless and wound up being treated like that tall skinny kid in high school with low self esteem.  The wolves got ’em.

I watched the end of the Rider game at Tino’s.  They won, so that also helped my mood.  Saskatchewan takes on the Argonauts in Toronto in a couple weeks’ time.  It’s gonna be a strange feeling watching my home team, and my adopted team go at it.  I’ll be wearing Green for that game inside Rogers Centre.  I won’t be the only one.

I picked up a bit of editing work with a production company in town.  Everything’s contract and they have a backlog of projects that need attention.  I’m hoping this means I can keep myself as busy (or not busy) as I choose, leaving me time to develop my projects, while keeping month-end bill collectors at bay.

I’ve also gotten myself involved in a shoot for TedEX, a youth summit taking place in TO in November.  I’m working with four other filmmakers whom I didn’t even know until a few days ago.  That perhaps, is the best part of this gig.  It’s a good team with a diverse mix of skills and experience.  We’ve sat around the table twice now, and the vibe is respectful, relaxed, honest, and fun.  We can critique each others’ ideas without feeling like we’re stepping on each others’ toes.  No sign of big egos thus far.  I’m certainly doing my best to keep mine in check.

So that’s where I’m at these days.  After a long turbulent summer of worry and uncertainty, I’m starting to find myself living inside a warm comfortable pocket between the destructive swirls I can’t control, and the calmish headspaces I can.

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Word Count

Things are well.  Thanks for asking.

The novel is coming along.  I’m knocking on the door of ‘10,000 Word’ land.  I plan to write a couple more scenes today and that will put me over.  Story wise, I’m about three scenes passed the Inciting Incident and heading towards The Point of No Return.  Exciting times.

The trick I find, is to pace myself.  I’m good for about 90 minutes at a time, and then I start to feel like I’m forcing the words out.  I think it’s good to push myself, but I definitely can tell the difference between procrastinating and genuinely needing a break.

Daily goals are good too.  I’ve been setting goals of 1,000 words, and 1,500 words per day, depending on how much time I have.  Never met a target once.  About 650 – 800 words are my natural pace.

I’ve come to the conclusion that word count is a terrible barometer by which to measure my progress.  What is ‘1,000 words’ anyway?  It does nothing to promote good writing.  Instead, I’ve turned to setting a goal for how many scenes I could write in a day.  Scenes are a much better measure of progress.  I know when I’m done.

It’s better for the headspace too.  Instead of pouring myself into the novel, writing one or two great scenes, and then feeling like I let myself down because I’m 150 words short of my goal, I can now wrap things up with a much greater sense of accomplishment.

The novel’s good too methinks.  Really good.  I can’t wait to show to start showing it to people.  Those who read my stuff regularly (including this blog), will find it familiar, yet still be a story and a form that is completely new.

That’s it for now.  Gotta save these words for other spaces.

Year-Old Dents

I’m sitting in a Vietnamese place on St. Claire.  It’s been a good couple of days.  I’m finding a nice balance between niggly little tasks, marketing myself, and writing.  I’m content with making a little dent in each category everyday.

Last night I wrote 800 more words in my novel before heading off to McKenzie’s going away party.  She’s heading back to Oz indefinitely and gathered her closest friends together.  I’m pleased to have made the list.  I enjoyed myself, met a number of her friends (nearly all of them actresses), and exchanged phone numbers.  She had previously talked me up to them because I cut that film for her.  I was warmly received as a result.

I was asked to help develop a feature film today.  The script is still in the early first draft stage, and for now the work is all pro bono, but it gives me a chance to connect to a whole new group of people.  I’m having new business cards printed and I’ve set out to meet as many new people as I can in this town.

I’ve been here 10 months.  Nearly every good thing that’s happened to me career wise, has come as a result of meeting new people.  Resumes only go so far.  I need to shake some hands if I’m going to get somewhere.

Yesterday was the first year anniversary of me making the decision to leave Regina.  A year ago today I made the decision to come to Toronto.  What a colourful year it’s been.  My only complaint has been to myself for taking my eyes off the ball on too many occasions.

Gotta make sure I keep the mission front and centre.  I remain optimistic for the future.

Getting Fresh

It’s been a good day.  I started off sitting out in front of my apartment again, watching the world go by.  Didn’t allow myself to surf, or nose into the iPhone too much, except to enter items on the to do list that came to mind.

My mind races all the time, and without that quiet time to start the day, I feel myself NOT getting off to a good start.  I find myself going through the motions, chasing my tail, and not feeling a great sense of purpose.  That quiet time in the morning helps me focus.

By noon, I had taken care of most of the niggly little details of my day.  Changed my address officially with the banks, followed up with some clients, wrote some emails that needed writing.  My goal is to write a thousand words in my novel today.  Might fall short there, but we’ll see how the evening unfolds.

I took the subway downtown today.  Brought Sweeney (my laptop) into the Apple Store to replace the battery.  It had swollen to the point where I couldn’t close the screen properly.  Everything’s back to normal now.  Feels good.  Feels new.

Speaking of maintenance, I also took the time to get myself a haircut.  Got to the point where I looked in the mirror and I just didn’t like what I saw.  Not a great thing for the head space.

So here I am – fresh approach to the day, fresh approach to my face, and a fresh approach to my keyboard.  I’m gonna make some things happen this week.

Resetting the To-Do List

The day started with me sitting in a lawn chair in front of my place, with a coffee in my hand, and the world to watch as it walked passed me.  Everything’s been going smooth ever since.

My client from the Arts Board needed me to tweak one of the videos I did for her.  Only took me 20 minutes.  She’s happy.  The project’s done and delivered.  I’m happy too.

Currently, I’m writing from a coffee shop downtown.  In an hour, I’ll be heading over to Argonaut HQ to take in their away game from Room 31.  I brought beer, they’re supplying the burritos.  Aside from being inside Rogers Centre, there’s really no better place to watch an Argo’s game.

Between the location scouting (which is now done), and the Arts Board gig, I haven’t had much time to work on the novel.  I’m kind of chomping at the bit to get back to it.  The delay has been good though.  New ideas for where the story goes are percolating.  I think ’em up, and then I need to say ’em out loud to myself so I can remember ’em.  I should probably write them down anyway, just to make sure they don’t slip away.

Definitely the next thing on my to-do list.

Speaking of to-do lists.  I think I’m going to wipe mine clean and start over.  I’ve been neglecting it and now when I open it up, the only thing that comes out is angst.  I have things written there that haven’t been touched since June.  I’ve been doing other things that haven’t made the list, and as a result, the list itself has become completely meaningless.  It’s always been this way with me and to-do lists.  I start them off with vigour, and after a couple weeks lose interest in them because I fall too far behind.

A writer friend from back home, Ken Williams, was on facebook the other day talking about the challenges of being a one man, self-employed entity.  He said the boss is going to be having a meeting with the staff, and feelings are going to get hurt.  There were a whole string of comments from other self employed types, all echoing his sentiments.  It seems I’m not alone in my productivity woes.  The whole thing made me feel a little bit better about myself.

Then I scrolled down and saw a post from another writer friend.  “Just finished the first draft of a screenplay.  Heading out to celebrate.”

What an asshole.

12 Days!

I’m still alive.

It’s been 12 days since I last blogged.  That’s the longest stretch in 3 years!  I feel it weighing on me, and today at this exact moment isn’t really a good time either, but dammit, I have to get the words out.  In 10 minutes I have a meeting, so I’ll see how far I get.

I’ve been finishing up parts of two gigs.  The first is a number of vignettes I’m cutting together for the Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Awards for the Saskatchewan Arts Board.  The second is a bit of location scouting I’m doing for a TV series in town called, ‘Life With Boys’.  It seems to be a tweenager type of show for YTV.  Mark Reid, my colleague from back home is the PM, and he threw a bit of work my way, once he found out I was back in the Director’s Guild.  It’s much appreciated.

I did do a bit of writing for the Argonauts.  I watched Saturday’s game from the press box and wrote an article for them.  You can read it here.

Mark’s looking at me now.  Gotta run!

A Novel Idea

It’s been a little while since I wrote something here.  Been saving up all my writing chops for the new novel I started.

Yup.  I’m 7,000 words into it and it’s been consuming me.  The experience has been a motley combination of fear, intimidation, uncertainty, purpose, release, inspiration, and joy.  It’s a brand new undertaking and while I am confident in my ability to design a story, the form is completely new to me – though laced with a sense of deja vu.

The principals of good story design are universal, and have been observed through 5,000 years of story telling.  My experiences with learning the craft have been limited to writing screenplays, and plays.  Working in these forms requires a particular approach.  One must pack as much of the story as possible into as few words as possible.  There’s a lot of white space in a script.  Not only that, but the writer is limited to the present tense, and the story may only be told through what is visible.  We are limited to where a camera may go, or what a stage will hold.  We can’t ‘see’ a character’s thoughts for example.

A novel on the other hand, has no such limitations.  The writer can do anything in a novel, so long as the principals of good story telling are observed.  The reader can know the characters thoughts and the perspective can be told from the past, present or future tense.  I feel like I’ve been freed from some sort of story jail.  The possibilities are endless.

Still, I love the screenplay form.  For me, it’s rigid limitations have made me a better writer.  I choose NOT to stray too far from those limitations.  They are my touchstone.

So here I am, experimenting with a new form.  I’m learning a lot and I think the end result will reach a lot more people.  Novels are easier to distribute than screenplays.

And who knows, maybe it will lead to a movie deal.