Hypothetical Couch Theory

I’ve been having second thoughts about my couch situation.

Started this morning.  I woke up, stood in the middle of my bachelor apartment, and indulged a strong affinity towards all the space I have.  Eleven foot ceiling, loft bed, with my edit suite located beneath, kitchen, living room, storage nook – all packed neatly into about 600 square feet.  It feels biggish to me.

I’ve been finding myself spending more and more time staying in.  The thought to leave doesn’t even occur to me.  Got everything I need, all contained within that one footprint.

I’m concerned that adding a couch will gobble up a valuable and significant chunk of my open space.  Suddenly, my apartment may not feel biggish anymore.  Suddenly, I may feel the need to go out – to interact with people!  My new couch may lead to wholesale lifestyle changes.  I’m not ready to take responsibility for how that change may manifest itself.

In all seriousness, I’m really digging the completely open vibe of my apartment.  It can double as an intimate production studio.  I can pace whilst taking phone calls.  I can arrange my four mismatched chairs into different spaces to change how I use the place.

[and then a thought bubble explodes]

Maybe I need chairs that match!  Instead of two hard kitchen table chairs, one office chair, and a fold-up lawn chair, I bring in three pieces of furniture that fit together to become a couch, or pull apart to become individual seats.

Could I sleep on them if the urge struck?  Would they be comfortable?  Would they be functional?  Sometimes when things are designed to be a little bit of everything, they add up to a whole lot of nothing.

Gonna have to look into this further, but I’ll keep you posted.  I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat.  Thoughts and comments are welcome.

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Making Words Happen

I’m sitting in the 2nd Cup in the Jewish Community Centre on the corner of Bloor & Spadina.  Just finished a meeting with an artist named Mirra who asked me to help her with a couple of her projects.  I said yes.

I met her at the script reading last Monday – which was one of my motives for being involved in the reading in the first place.  Well, not her specifically.  Artist types in general.  Funny how that works.  Involve yourself in artsy type events, and you get to cross paths with artist types.

I’m out and about by the way.  Felt the bad juju shake itself loose at about 3am last night.  Still woke up with a headache, but my energy had returned.  Forced a couple tall glasses of water down then started editing.  Didn’t even bother with my morning sit and think routine.  Spent a whole day yesterday, sitting and thinking, so I indulged my burning desire to get stuff done.

I’m planning to spend an hour working on my novel after this, then I’ll head home for more editing. With a little luck, I’ll finish my current project tomorrow night (with payment to follow shortly thereafter).

Speaking of sitting and thinking, I had almost too much time to do that yesterday.  Eleven months ago I came to Toronto to focus on my writing career.  I’ve since completed one screenplay, one play, two episodes of one sitcom, and the pilot episode for Redshirts.  I’ve also worked a couple re-writes into Highwaymen.  

All of it is worth potentially millions in production, but none of it is paying the bills right now.  Part of me feels like I’m failing at the Toronto mission.  Perhaps I should focus on being a production company again.  I have interactive, lifestyle, and documentary projects that still have great potential.  Even had offers on two of them.  Do I take them?

Going into production will pay my bills, but it will lock me down into those projects for the next 15 months.  By the time they’re done, I’ll be right back where I started – trying to break into the industry writing fiction.

Right now, I got myself into a situation where I pick up someone else’s project, cut it, deliver it, then move on.  Takes less than a week per project.  I can be as busy, or not busy, as I choose.  It seems like a perfect situation, so long as I use the money to buy myself time to develop my writing career.

Here’s the problem.  I’ve been so busy lately, I’ve barely had time to write.  2,000 words in the last two weeks.  Not good enough by a long shot, no matter how hard I try to justify it to myself.

I think about the potential of my novel, and it kills me to think how long I am taking with it. I’m not expecting it to make me rich or anything, but it’s an hellova good story.  I just need to finish it, so I could put it out there – so I could get started on the next thing.

And actually, I think I just figured out what’s really bugging me.  I can’t start the next writing project until I finish my current one.  The longer I take with it, the longer I’ll take to get my career on track.

So here I am.  Sitting in a coffee shop, novel open, and long meandering blog article to wrap up.  There’s a few more hours left in the day.  Let’s make some words happen.

Chilling Story

On Friday night I picked up my next project from Images, hung out for a bit, and then set off for a coffee shop to write.  I’m pushing 13,000 words on the novel now.  Not great progress, but steady nonetheless.

They’re happy with my work.  They said I have a distinct style which comes off a refreshing.  They’re even talking about using my stuff as demo material to new clients.  I’m just happy to be paying my bills doing something I’m good at, and actually enjoy.

I also took in the Argo game at Rogers Centre on Friday night.  The team furnished me with two tickets on the 50 yard line.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone to take the second seat.  The perils of last minute planning.

From the game I walked to a pub on King West that was hosting inkDrinks.  Room full of writers, half working, half looking to break in.  I stayed for a pint, passed out some business cards and set off for home.

Took me over two hours.  I got on the streetcar, which drove a block then went out of service.  Long wait for the next one, so I hopped onto one heading North.  It drove two blocks then went out of service.  The wait for the next one was long.

Oh.  And it was raining.

By the time I got to Roncesvalles, two hours had passed.  When I attempted to board the next street car, the driver kicked me off because my transfer was 2 hours old.  I proceeded to bombard him with many colourful words, then walked for 20 minutes to Dundas West Station.  The toll booth attendant stopped me half way through my sob story and let me through without paying.

I woke up Saturday with a sore throat.  Knew something bad was coming.  Today I finally rolled out of bed at 5pm, and I feel like heading back soon.  Can’t bare the thought of staying in bed all day though.  I have conceded to the idea of NOT doing any work today, writing or otherwise.  I’ve been putting in long hours and perhaps my body is just forcing me into a bit of a break.

This will pass.  I can feel it.  My head stopped throbbing and the chills have left.  Gonna put on a movie now.

Home Cooking (Sorta)

I spent the weekend in Kingsville, ON, just northeast of Windsor.  Mom, Grama, Dave and Papa had flown in for Papa’s 95th birthday.  His family is out this way, hence the NOT Saskatchewan location.

I ate Romanian cabbage rolls all day weekend long, played cards, and rode in the back seat next to Grama and Papa en-route to various kitchen tables dispersed throughout the Windsor area.  I even went to church for the first time since Easter last year.

I felt like a kid again.

By Monday morning, I was keen to return to my grown-up life.  Deadlines did beckon and off to the highway I went – but not before securing a motherload of cabbage rolls first.  I ate the last one last night.

It’s been good to be home.  Editing.  Writing.  Sitting in front of my place drinking coffee and watching the world go by.  Ahhhhh home.

I also participated in a script reading.  Remember the feature film I got myself involved with?  I was asked to record the reading for the writer’s reference.  There was a gynormous cast, and and even bigger audience.  I handed out business cards for the first time since I had them printed.  Lots of good contacts were made – one from the CFC, the holy grail of writing schools.  Gotta remember to remind myself to not to forget to recollect to follow-up with ’em all.

I’ll be finishing the first cut of this project for Images Post today.  Excited about that.  I’ll also be shipping InJustice to the New York broadcaster who purchased it last week.  After that, I feel like I got about a thousand words in me that I can contribute to the novel.

The day has much promise.

11,541 Words

I’ve been living in my edit suite for the past 10 days.

Well – I literally do live in my edit suite anyway, but this time I was actually editing video for an average of 10 hours per day.  Couple of projects for Images Post were the culprits, one with a hard deadline.  In particular, the TEDx video pushed my knowledge of Adobe After Effects to the limit.  Many nights, I was up ’til 4am, and spent just enough of my non-editing waking hours to eat and maybe stare at a spot in the world for a spell.  It’s been a very long time since I worked that intensely on anything.

As a result, my progress on the novel has been not as intense as I’d like it to be.  I hope you understand.

Even so, the progress I made was good progress.  It doesn’t show up in the word count, but I did get a major seven page scene tightened up to a point where I’m happy with it.  Last week it was lumpy and lacked momentum.  I didn’t even enjoy reading it, let alone writing it.  Things needed to be said, but it was feeling too long and too repetitive.

Ain’t it funny how cutting and pasting the same block of text from one section to another can suddenly sharpen a dull scene?  My protagonist walks into a room with hope, confidence and optimism.  He walks out defeated and hopeless, having exhausted every last tactic and every last shred of emotion towards achieving his objective.  He fought hard, and he lost harder – and all I did was rearrange what I had already written, maybe adding 75 words to that scene in the process.

I got a good start on the next scene, and I look forward to getting a chunk of it written over the weekend.  Mom, Dave, Grama and Papa have flown in from Saskatchewan.  I’m heading down to Windsor to meet them.  With no edit suite to gobble up every last waking hour of my writing time, I hope to steal some time away from all the visitations to finish the scene – maybe even start on the next.

Writers need to write, even when they’re consumed with competing priorities.  Gotta keep reminding myself of that.

Remember the Titans

Here is an article I wrote on Monday for the Toronto Argonauts.  You can check out other articles I’ve written for them at www.argosadmirals.com

***

“You make sure they never forget the night they played the Titans!”

Coach actually said those words to us on that cold September evening back in 1991.  I was a TE/OLB for the Archbishop M. C. O’Neill Titans.  We were playing our arch rivals, the Thom Trojans – the public high school half a block down from us on Argyle Street in Regina.  We hated them.  They hated us.  On that one particular night, we were set to battle for pride on the hallowed Taylor Field turf, where our beloved Roughriders also played.

Long-time Argos’ long snapper, Randy Srochenski was our FB and MLB.  The Roughriders’ current LB coach, Alex Smith, was Thom’s head coach.  Ask ‘em and they’ll tell you – that game saw blood, snot flying, tape ripping, and bones breaking.  I can honestly tell you that I’ve never seen a harder fought game at any level of football.  It really was amazing what a lethal mix of pride, hatred, desire, and err… hatred can do to a game.

I never played mind you – I practiced as a TE/OLB, but for games I dutifully took on the role of ‘back-up bench heater person’.  I remember games where I secretly hoped the first-string bench heater person might actually injure himself by sitting too hard, but my opportunity never came.  I digress.

Thom beat us 7-0.  No one left anything on the field (or the sidelines in my case).  The bus ride home was quiet.  No one talked.  That was what a complete effort felt like.

Twice in the last three weeks, the Toronto Argonauts took the field with first place on the line.  On both those occasions, people with gobs more football knowledge than me described the team’s effort as something akin to morphine drip in slow motion.  I’m paraphrasing but Toronto looked flat.  No heart.  No hate!  They got their asses handed to ‘em – and not even politely!

On Sunday, October 14 at 1pm, the Argonauts will battle les Alouettes at Rogers Centre.  Winner takes first place in the east!  Tickets are selling fast!

Ahem.

Personally, I don’t care if we win or lose.  I just want to see some hatred out there!  I want to see passion.  I want to see heads snapping (metaphorically speaking) blood splattering, snot flying, and bodies pounding.

All season long this team has flirted with greatness.  The Argos are still my pick to take the east come 100th Grey Cup time, but they need to show some Gobdarned Mother Fracking fire in their blood!  It’s the one missing ingredient methinks.  Fire.  Passion.  Hatred.  Desire.  Hatred!

How ’bout it fellas?  Make ‘em remember the afternoon they played the Argos.

Rocking at 4 Frames Per Second

Today was a motley kind of day.  It started with Frank fixing my toilet.  It was never bolted into place, so it kind of rocked whenever I sat on it.  Not an entirely unpleasant sensation, but certainly cause for concern.  Every toilet I’ve ever been acquainted with had certain things in common with every other toilet I’ve ever been acquainted with.  Rocking was never one of them – though I am reminded of that song by The Clash – ‘Rock the CrappA’

After a quick shower I was out the door, bound for Canamedia with an episode of InJustice loaded onto a hard drive.  A New York based broadcaster just purchased the world-wide non-exclusive rights to the series.  They wanted to ensure for themselves that the episodes were formatted as ProRes RS 422 (HQ) QuickTimes – which they are.  Canamedia made the sale for me, and are handling the transaction.

From there I walked six blocks on King Street West to Image Post, where I’m shooting and editing the TedEX video.  It feels good to just hang out in their studio.  They’re a good bunch of people and I seem to fit in well with them.  It was my intention to hang out there and read the script to that feature film I involved myself with a couple weeks back.  Instead, I fell into a bit of troubleshooting with one of their projects.  Wasn’t mine, but I stepped in anyway.  Couldn’t help myself.  Made me feel like I was back in Regina at Dacian.

The shoot for TedEX went well.  I talked the Image folks into using the 4fps technique I used on InJustice, Urban Future, and Crimes of the Art.  They’d never seen anything like that before (no one has).  Makes me feel like I have an ace up my sleeve – I know how to do something that no one else does.

It’s now the end of the day, and I’m writing this from a place on Spadina called ‘The Red Lounge’.  Great prices.  Pub atmosphere.  I took a moment to sit back in my seat on their patio to watch the city go by.  Here I am, living and working in Toronto.  Finally after so many months of knocking on the door, things are starting to open up for me.

10,953 Words

It’s Wednesday today and normally the title of an article is the last thing I write before publishing.  Today is different.  In fact, every Wednesday will be different for the foreseeable future because henceforth, Wednesdays shall be the day I report my progress to the world (all four of you) on how far I’ve come with my novel.  Today I’m at 10,953 words.

It’s a way for me to double dog triple dare myself to stay on top of it.  You’ll know if I’m slacking from where I’m at with the word count.  Feel free to send me your scorn if the numbers don’t look good.

My goal is the 70,000 – 80,000 word range.  As I previously mentioned, word count is a terrible way to evaluate the quality of a story, but it is an accurate indicator of how likely it is to fit within a publisher’s criteria (assuming the story’s good).  One hour TV shows are 45:00 – 48:00 minutes in length.  Features need to hit at the minimum 84 minutes.   If my novel hits the desired range, my options are better.

Measurements aside, I can feel my novel’s length as I write it.  I hit the inciting incident of the story at around the 7,000 word mark.  I cleared the point of no return at around the 8,500 word mark.  In the world of feature films, you’d want to land these milestones within the first 20 pages of the script, or to put it another way, within the first 20% of the movie.  So far my pace seems right.

I’ve got a long ways to go, but I’m not worried about it.  I’ve seeded B, C, D and E stories into the A plot.  Resolving these threads will take some time (words) and as I continue to massage and develop these ideas, I can see them all intersecting at around the 65,000 word mark – and if the collision of those five threads goes well, I should be well on my way towards a rapid acceleration towards a climax somewhere within my desired range.

That’s the theory anyway.  Gots ta put the time in first.  Time = words.  Words = story.  Story = my completed novel.