Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

They say it’ll be in the 80s all weekend, yet there’s still frost on the ground this morning. Go figure.

I took Valerian last night for the migraine/neck pain and slept in this morning. I’ll do my third run of the week tomorrow. I’ve still got some residual soreness, but, on the whole, I feel a bit better. I go to acupuncture next week, so she’ll fix me.

Yesterday was a long day. I took my mom to her meeting, which took 2 1/2 hours, but I think we’ve got things sorted, and we have the right people representing her to make sure this elder-abuse-by-corporation stops. Then, we had to drive up from the Bronx to South Salem to the vet to drop some more money on tests for Elsa. Hopefully, they will figure something out, because I’m getting a little impatient.

Too tired to cook, so tossed a pizza in the oven and vegged out in front of the TV. I’ve had trouble getting into FRINGE, but really enjoyed last night’s 40’s noir episode. Mixing the modern gadgets in with the 40s gave it the equivalent of “steampunk noir”, but I liked it.

I decided to expand the novella back into my original vision and, when it’s actually finished and polished, submit it elsewhere. I mean, I’ve been working on it off and on for about four months, I’ll send it elsewhere. I won’t be limited by the 30K word count (I think it’ll come in around 50 or 60), I can explore the characters and themes in more depth. I was trying to streamline everything to keep the action in under the word count, which meant I violated the integrity of the piece. That would have weakened it overall. Believe me, I respect guidelines. It is MY job to meet the guidelines, not their job to bend them to suit me. And, if the piece can’t be manhandled into fitting the guidelines, then it needs to go elsewhere.

In this draft, I’ll keep moving forward, without worrying about word count. I cut some characters early on. If it makes sense to re-integrate them in the second draft (especially some that bring comic relief), I will bring them back; if it suits the piece to keep them out, that’s what I’ll do. My goal, always, is to realize each character as vividly and memorably as possible, even if the character makes a brief appearance. The river rat snitch in the first chapter is one of the most fun characters, even though he’s only in that one scene. But, believe me, people will remember him!

The scene I wrote day-before-yesterday, the capture of our group of heroes by the villains, happened too quickly. In fact, the last few chapters happened to quickly, because I was worried about word count, and will have to be fleshed out a bit in the second draft. I also want to do some work on the first love scene between Annabeth and Dustin. I originally envisioned it as both comic an sexy, but because of word count and the target anthology, had to push the sexy and cut the comic, which dimmed the unique flavor of the scene. Now, I can put it all back.

See why I was struggling?

This morning, I will go back in and fix it, then really explore the villains’ lair. Since the whole next section of the book takes place there — only the final wrap-up chapter will take place back in DC — I have to really make sure the description, logic, and geography work.

Good think I bought all those book and maps about the development and building of DC!

On today’s agenda: Do at least 1K on the novella. Handicap and post tomorrow’s Derby card; work on ANGEL HUNT. I need to check the job listings — i’ve got to land some short turn-around, quick-pay jobs in the next few weeks. I’ve been focusing on long-term projects, and I need a quick infusion of cash, especially with Elsa’s medical bills mounting up.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 30, 2010 at 6:06 am  Comments (3)  
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Waxing Moon
Rainy and cold

I was up at 5:30, but decided not to run, a mixture of the rain, the coyotes,and the fact that I could barely put weight on my left knee yesterday. Nothing says “prey” like a limping target, right? If I feel better tomorrow, I might give it a shot later in the morning, not at dawn.

I did a little writing Wednesday night, after I scheduled the post — mostly outline work.

Yesterday morning, the cleaning crew came in, so I packed up and took off for the Greenwich Library, to do research for the Chet Grey story. I’ve wanted to do it for weeks now, and the story is at a standstill because of it.

It was a very intense few hours of reading about neurology, neuoplasticity, interior and exterior artificial “brains”, neurowarfare, biological and chemical warfare, and the development of the elite “warrior-athletes”, commonly labeled “Super Soldiers” in pop culture. My dad was a chemist, and wanted me to be a nuclear physicist. I forget, in between bouts of science reading, how quickly I take to it, and how natural a lot of it is for me. Truly good science writing is a joy. It’s inspirational on so many levels — quality of writing and quality of content. And it sometimes makes me wonder about the road not taken.

The research will serve far more than this Chet Grey story — which may well turn out to be a novella. It’s given me a few ideas for some straight-up sci-fi, and additional info to get past the “stuck” on a piece that started as a screenplay for Script Frenzy a few years ago, and then morphed into a novel.

I also picked up a nice stack of books at the library sale.

And Strand Books, bless ’em, already have some relevant books on their way to me. They are my go-to book resource.

At first, I was totally elated by the research, high on the possibilities, both in actual terms and in terms of fiction. However, as the day progressed, and the weight of the information really began to sink in, I was filled with a combination of hope and despair. I don’t believe that the governments and the private companies funding this work have the ethics to safeguard it. And, deep down, most people want to believe they do, but don’t and therefore ignore the fact all this even exists — hence the basis for best-selling espionage fiction. Anyway, it depressed the hell out of me. We can’t just have the intelligent in charge — even the most intelligent of people can get caught up in the excitement of discovery or of greed. We need people with strong ethics and a strong sense of social justice. The right wing nuts in this country have hijacked the term “social justice” to be a Bad Thing for America — when, in reality, the only “bad” about it is that it doesn’t let the corrupt have all the money and all the power. “Social justice” is a concept far removed from “socialism” — but then, most of the people who toss around that term have no idea what it really means, either. This country is not heading towards socialism, and socialism wouldn’t work here.

Basically, I think we’re all fucked at this point, no matter who’s in office, because there’s so much greed and so much corruption, corporations can do anything they want without consequence, and the ones who scream the loudest against it,the fake protesters, pretending to be grass roots, but, in reality, funded by the most corrupt and ethically-challenged individuals in this country, funded by the ones who want to maintain the status quo and just have all this distraction, the noise, the smoke and mirrors, so they can continue to economically and socially rape the country. The current administration hasn’t taken strong enough steps to turn back the previous regime’s corruption — and the Cheney years will go down in history as the most corrupt since post-civil war reconstruction — provided we have a world left in 200 years to read the history of this era. And, honestly, I’m beginning to doubt that we will.

But you know, with all that volcanic activity in Iceland, in addition to their economic collapse, I’m kind of glad I didn’t buy a place there a couple of years ago, when I was considering it!

I started reading one of the books I bought, something light to take my mind off it all, written by an author whose work I’ve enjoyed before. Not this time. The premise is good, the characters engaging, the execution doesn’t live up to it, and the writing is so sloppy I can barely get through it. Big disappointment.

Fortunately, I’m not friends with this person and don’t have to fumble to find something nice to say about the book, because chances are, we’ll never have to have a conversation about it!

The reading certainly made me look at last night’s episode of FRINGE with a different viewpoint. And, much as I enjoyed the scenes between the Walter Bishop character and the character played by Peter Weller, I still can’t get into the show. Part of it is Dunham’s unrelenting dourness. I understand, she’s really busy saving the world and all, and was experimented on as a child, but really, can’t she have a moment or two of pleasure, relaxation, or joy? This is nothing against the actress, she’s very good; I just disagree with the conception of the character. I also disagree with the show’s insistence (at least in the episodes I’ve seen), that everything in an alternate universe/alternate plane/whatever they’re calling it is negative and a threat. You know what? I bet they’re just trying to get through the day as much as we are, and with many of the same problems, corruptions, joys and sorrows. My philosophy differs on such a basic level that I can’t just accept and enter the world presented in the show.

I promised comments on the season finale of HUMAN TARGET, and here they are. First and foremost, I thought it was an excellent episode — the villains actually had personalities and posed a threat — finally! I was worried that the character of Katherine Walker would be a disappointment. We’ve heard so much about her all season. She was played by Amy Acker (whose work I liked a lot in both ANGEL and DOLLHOUSE), so the casting was a relief. And the creators made a smart choice — she wasn’t a Super anything. She was ordinary, and it was her very ordinariness and kindness that was Chance’s tipping point. Fantastic choice, and not one that’s usually made in this kind of show. There wasn’t enough of Jackie Earle Haley in the episode. Good fight scene with Mark Valley, and Haley gave my favorite delivery of any line in any show all season. The simplest line you can imagine: “Dude, it’s me” when Chance wonders how Guerrero found him that told us VOLUMES about their past, their relationship, their future. Perfect example of how the simplest of lines can have the biggest impact with brilliant delivery. The episode really needed to be two hours long, so we could have a bit more of the early Chance/Guerrero years, but if they come back next season, hopefully we’ll see. Something happened between them to make them intrinsically loyal to each other in a way they aren’t to anyone else. It might be better if we never know what that is; it might not measure up. I also loved the fact that Haley had the last line of the piece, about getting Winston back, and it’s the first chance we had to see that Guerrero not only gives a damn about Chance, but he also gives a damn about Winston. I also liked the fact that Katharine did not die in Chance’s arms. I was worried they’d go that route. Not doing so was the right choice, and it also opens up other possibilities.

Problems with the episode: Dog continuity. I’ve had trouble with it all season. They’ve got the dog, and don’t really utilize him properly. They keep sticking him in because they established him in the pilot, and they showed how Chance got him in this episode, but their use and continuity with him is shaky. Another problem: Winston’s phone. We see Chance steal it from his pocket early on to find the text with Katherine’s safe house address — another problem, I don’t believe the cops are that stupid to text Winston with the address — but, a few scenes later, Winston talks to Katherine and Chance on the cell phone. Katherine wouldn’t have answered her phone if she didn’t recognize Winston’s number, so how did Winston get the phone back? Another problem: Baptiste wasn’t hungry enough to prove he’s better than Chance. It was referred to briefly, but there wasn’t enough desperation and resentment there. Another problem: Towards the end, I don’t believe Guerrero wouldn’t take the old man out when he had the gun on him. I believe he wouldn’t shoot Chance earlier, and he went off the grid — that sets up a lot of their relationship. But when the old man shoots the guy who’s about to shoot Chance and Guerrero has the gun on him — I believe he’d have taken the shot (and succeeded) and he and Chance would have figured out where Winston is and how to retrieve him. I understand, in the overall arc, why it couldn’t happen, but it wasn’t logical or true to the characters in the moment.

I’m glad this wasn’t the pilot — it worked well as the season finale. If it is the SERIES finale as well, if the show doesn’t get renewed, at least we have enough information not to feel cheated. I hope it comes back. I’m interested to see where the creators take it in another season –whether I agree with those choices or not! 😉

I do miss being on set sometimes, but I’m where I need to be right now — writing — and, although I feel a little stuck, it’s the pressure I need to get me going in the right direction. Spending time on my own work rather than pouring that energy into other people’s work is where I need to be.

Got to go help my mom on something this morning, and then, it’s a day of writing. Will probably work on the Chet Grey story, make use of the research while it’s still fresh, but the bulk needs to be on the novella. The novella needs to be finished this weekend.

Back to the page. From neuroscience to 1889 in a heartbeat. I love being a writer!

Devon