Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

A DAY, let me tell you . . .

Found out the publisher for the time travel novella thingy is shutting down, so one less deadline to worry about. I’ll probably still write it sometime, but at least I don’t have to do it right now.

Sent a few pages of the teleplay for my portfolio to an old contact from the days when I was active in that area; he loved it, said I should expand it to a two-parter, not a one episode stand-alone, because I was trying to cover too much ground in 47 minutes (which is how much script time a one hour show gets), and there was enough to make the core cast of the show shine and still have the guest roles really strong and complex. So I’m going to keep working on it. Reworked all of part one, and now have to figure out the top of part two, change a few things, and then get back on track for the rest of the material.

Sent a few pages of the sci-fi horror western to a friend who loves the sci-fi horror genre. He was totally grossed out, in the best possible way, by my world of Freak Pretties and Skin Eaters, so I’m on the right track. Hey, I get squeamish writing it; good thing the reader gets squeamish, that’s the point. I got a good chunk of it done, and I can smell the end.

Someone asked me, a few days ago, via email, why I’m veering so much into the science fiction/fantasy realm with writing, reading, viewing, etc. Well, there are several reasons for it, and I think it’s an interesting question.

Currently, I think some of our best social commentary is being done in that genre. There’s a lot of material that has social, historical, and political relevance that falls under the sci-fi/fantasy genre, and there always has been. We spent a few years in the Femmebot phase, but we seem to be moving out of it into territory where gender, equality, and intelligence are factors in the storytelling, which I happen to think is a good thing. If you look in film and television work lately, where are the strong female characters? Not a whole lot out there in feature film land. Helen Mirren and Cate Blanchett are doing pretty well, but there’s not much left for anyone else. In fact, one of the trades ran an article a few weeks ago about how movies with female leads aren’t being green-lighted because they don’t make enough money. There’s more room for genuinely strong, complex female (and male) characters in television, especially in science fiction and fantasy: Rachel Luttrell’s Teyla in Stargate Atlantis immediately comes to mind –in fact, most of the core female characters in that show are smart, resourceful, and interesting. I want to smack some of the guest stars upside the head sometimes, but that’s the way it goes in guest spots. Their purpose is to make the core leads look better, which is a point I could debate for days, preferring to see the guest stars be genuine sparring partners with the core, but that’s a tangent. The “Sanctuary” episode of Stargate Atlantis is one of those – good concept, lousy execution; I was yelling at the screen at some of the bad writing – and usually, that show’s writing is pretty good. Battlestar Galactica is reputed to have strong, intelligent characters on it – especially the re-imagining of the character of Starbuck. I haven’t watched the show, only clips, but what I’ve seen looks fairly good, and several people whose opinions I respect say BG is one of the best dramas on TV.

Far too often, “strong” female characters are portrayed as simply wearing tight clothes and behaving exactly as men, or trying to out-tough the boys, and there is so much more to being a strong woman than that. And, very often, if the female characters are out-manning the men, the male characters get shortchanged, too. Can it happen in sci-fi? All the time. Doom immediately comes to mind, and some of the sillier Saturday night at 9 PM crap movies that are on Sci-Fi Channel. And a lot of the derivative sci-fi fantasy that’s published quickly and sinks because it’s not memorable or different. But there’s also a lot of ground-breaking character work and many interesting characters being created for both men and women, along with interesting social and political commentary that’s especially relevant right now.

I know Desperate Housewives gets high ratings and the leads are female, but none of them are women I want to spend time with (which is why I don’t watch the show). There are some interesting female characters in Lost (which is on the speculative fiction line), but even a lot of them are constantly shuffled back and forth between the Whore and Madonna categories, which is rather limiting. Lipstick Jungle? Sex in the City? Most of the New York women I know don’t have the time to be that shallow. They’re working too hard trying to make a living and survive in New York. Now, those shows are genuinely fantasy and definitely fiction, but there’s not much science involved OR realistic portrayals of, well, anyone. Boomtown matched the men and women well, but didn’t last long, unfortunately. I still think it’s one of the best shows that’s ever been on television. And, much as I love a lot of the issues dealt with in Rescue Me, I hate the way most of the women are portrayed. They’re not strong; they’re shrill, manipulative, and crazy.

I also think that a lot of what early science fiction writers projected has come to pass, and it’s time for the next wave of futurists to rise. The future looks pretty grim to me right now. If you look at the projected trajectory of the planet – well, we’re going to look like Mars in a few hundred years. Earlier, if the dumbasses keep putting Republicans into office. Life as we know it will cease to exist. Yes, new life forms will probably evolve, but the transition is really going to suck for whomever/whatever’s left. I’m sure the dinosaurs didn’t have much fun dying out, either.

I mentioned, a few weeks ago, that my dad was a scientist, chemist, specifically. He wanted me to be a nuclear physicist, because he felt someone with some common sense should be working in the field (and he believed, rightly or wrongly, that I have some common sense), and not just people who got so buried in the science they forgot about the reality and contexts in which that science is used or abused.

Needless to say, I didn’t become a scientist. I’m in the arts, have been all my life. But now that I’m doing the science research to make the thriller make sense, so that the theories behind some of the entertainment I’m watching can be addressed in future articles, and simply to explore some of my own ideas. . ..I’m finding the science comes very easily. Not only that, the reading I’m doing is giving me a lot of “What if . . .?”, which to me is the basis of imaginative writing, and sets me off on new roads. And I’m as shocked as anyone.

I’m spending more time writing, reading, and viewing in the genre because I think there’s more genuinely imaginative and creative work going on in it than in most other areas right now.

I mean, come on: I’ve had to read ARCs, over the last few months, for NINE different books by different authors of both genders that are coming out this summer. All of them are based on the theme, “My life is a mess because I had a crazy mother” and not one of them is, in my opinion, compelling. I sure wouldn’t plunk down $15-26 dollars for any of them. Once in awhile, there’s a clever paragraph or two, but, for the most part, it’s 200+ pages of self-indulgent excuses and I simply don’t care.

But then I pick up something by Sharon Shinn or Terry Pratchett, and I’m completely transported. I can’t put it down. Theme, character, story, plot, imagination – they refract our world through their worlds and make me look at what’s around me in a new exciting way and really make me THINK.

So that’s my opinion on the current state of the genre.

Oh, yeah, and I’m researching shows like Stargate Atlantis, SG1, BG, etc. for series of articles. Hey, if I’m putting in the time, there should be a pay-off, right?

Thank goodness for Pat Benatar. Crank her music high enough and SOME of the drills can’t get through!!! She’s one of my favorites anyway. Pat Benatar, Joan Jett – give me the women of Rock any day.

Don’t get me wrong, I love jazz. blues, Celtic, alternative, Nordic – tons of different music.

But there’s nothing like good rock and roll.

And if you like a great bass line – listen to “Beliefs” on the CD Mother’s Heaven by the Scottish band Texas. Fantastic!

I usually don’t write to rock and roll – I need music without vocals – but with all the noise and chaos, I am putting on the anthems of my favorite ladies (and Springsteen – he ALWAYS works) and letting it rip. And then, of course, there are the B-52s, who can overcome almost anything.

Because yesterday, they were using SLEDGEHAMMERS in the hallway. Now, the hallway has walls, doors, and stairs. Why do you need a sledgehammer to do a renovation? They’re supposed to be PAINTING. Oh, and nail-gunning who-knows-what and who-knows-why into the concrete floors, so it sounds like gunshots every minute and a half. Yeah, it’s fun.

‘Cause I’m such a delicate flower. Don’t all die laughing now. 😉

However, I still think I need to try a few days of writing all night. And I don’t mean an hour or two. I’m talking about sitting down at the desk at 10 or 11 PM and writing through until 5 or 6 in the morning, and then maybe catching a couple hours’ of sleep before the building noise grows yet again unbearable.

Far too much time spent on building crap today. Again.

I still haven’t kicked this flu – I think the stress aggravates it. One of these days, I’ll feel better again, right? I’m not contagious or anything, so it might not even be a virus. It’s just ICK. I even had to ask for an extension on a deadline (which my editor was lovely and gave me) for one project.

Helped an elderly, injured neighbor whose phone was out and she couldn’t call to get it fixed because she had no phone. It took us 45 minutes to get through to a Verizon repair person. Ridiculous. But we got through. Because I am a stubborn bitch when necessary.

So, one of the reasons the MTA fare hike was granted was for the major capital improvements. When I go in to the city now to work a show, 25% of that day’s salary now goes to train fare, which is just ridiculous. And now the MTA says they’re canceling a lot of the promised projects due to lack of money. Right, because it’s going into pockets instead of projects, and I don’t mean the people on the rails doing the work! Hey, they break their promise, the fares should be rolled back.

I’m taking the car in for inspection and running some errands, then it’s back to the page. I want to get the sci-fi horror western draft done so I can let it sit for a day or two before edits, and then . . .off it goes. I’m so close I can taste it, but by 11 PM, I ached so much I had to stop typing. So the writing all night thing didn’t happen.

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.


Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on March 26, 2008 at 7:35 am  Comments (6)  

6 Comments

  1. You would’ve made an awesome scientist, Devon. My better half is a scientist. He paints, he meditates, he watches birds, and he enjoys getting lost in challenging work-related stuff. What he doesn’t like is that his attempts to introduce plant-based medicinal remedies fell flatter than a crepe. It’s cheaper to make synthetics, and in hindsight, he says the plants he collected in the Amazon would’ve been helpful, but may have spelled doom for the Amazon.

  2. What a wonderful post! YOU ROCK! And it sounds like you’re all excited over the Teleplay. Good for you!

    I bet if you did go into The Science Field you’d be a lot like Temperance from “Bones.” Only you’d be less robotic. 😉

  3. I agree with what Lara said – a totally intresting post. I love your opinion on the SFF genre. One of the reasons I love fantasy is because it gives you a world you can only imagine and puts you there. You should read Patrici A. McKillip’s Alphabet of Thorn. I couldn’t put it down. It’s a truly wonderful fantasy. And it made me wish I’d thought of it! haha

    Happy writing. 🙂

  4. Have you ever read anything by Linnea Sinclair? I enjoy her Sci-Fi/Fantasy books. She makes her heroines strong.

    You sound really excited and “fired up” about the genre and the science aspect of the other thing you’re working on. I wish you the absolute best!

    Sorry to hear the building crud is still going on. Sending good thoughts and hugs for you to feel better.

  5. I cut my teeth on speculative fiction and one of the long-time arguments I’ve heard for the genre (against naysayers claiming that it’s all phallic spaceships and chicks in chainmail bikinis) is that the fantastic element is used to frame social commentary. I mean, the social commentary has always been there–it’s just that most people don’t bother to look past the Wizz! Bang! Kaboom!

    Interesting that you mention physics–I once considered majoring in it. But even after meeting some world-renowned physicists and having some of them as profs, I’m still convinced that the most interesting puzzles are biological. Of course, that doesn’t mean that quantum mechanics and biology can’t mix (some of the hottest research is going on at that particular intersection). Anyways, more and more science curricula are incorporating ethics classes so I’m sure some future scientists will have more common sense. 🙂

    Lori–I agree on the synthetics being easier. Extracting a pure compound out of anything is a big pain in the butt.

  6. If you are enjoying Pat Benatar, then perhaps a bit of Melissa Etheridge would help round out the mix…

    Glad you are enjoying stargate atlantis. I have seasons 1-3 on dvd if you need ‘research’

    Off to detroit for the wedding this weekend!!!

    xoxo


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