Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Snowing

We had about another two inches of snow overnight and it’s going to snow off and on all day. I took care of the errands yesterday, so I can just stay tucked at home today.

I ran my errands in the morning, and attacked the essay in the afternoon. I was reading it over about twenty minutes before deadline and realized just how badly it sucked. Completely flat, the equivalent of “blah, blah, blah.”

So I threw it out and started over. I rewrote the whole piece with a much stronger focus and got it in on deadline. Not my preferred working method — I like to hone and polish over a period of days — but it’s there, and I’ll post the link when it goes live at the end of the week.

Went out and played hard last night to blow off some steam, then came back and worked on a short story. It’s set in jain Lazarus’s world, although she is not the primary focus. She’s only going to appear in a single phone conversation, just to tie her into the world. A colleague of hers, who we haven’t yet met in the series, Hillary, is, and she gets herself into a pickle in San Antonio. I haven’t been to San Antonio in about 15 years or more, so I’ll have to do some digging, invest in a street map, get on Twitter and ask native San Antonians questions. Because I can’t go down there to re-research the city for a short story.

Snow plows woke me up at 5:30, so I only got about three hours’ sleep.

I think I’ll give myself a snow day today. I’m getting mentally fatigued, and need a break from the dark psyches I’ve had to inhabit over the past few weeks in my writing. I bought Elizabeth Kostova’s THE SWAN THIEVES yesterday, so I may start that. Men’s hockey starts today at the Olympics, so, if they’re covering the game live, I’ll watch that. Delighted by Seth Westcott’s win. I’m one of the five people on the planet not enamoured by figure skating, but I still enjoyed the gold and silver medalists from China. And can I just say Lindsay Vonn hasn’t even skied yet and I’m sick of her? Way too much coverage on someone who hasn’t performed yet. I’m going to have to root around online and find some more international coverage — I want to know about the international athletes, the ones I only get to see during the Games.

I’ve been watching and watching and watching the trailer for SHUTTER ISLAND (because the promos are on a lot). Suddenly, I got suspicious and thought, “What if X is really the big twist at the end? I’ll be so annoyed.” And I did some spoiler research and discovered I was right. So, now I’m on the fence about seeing the movie. I know what happens at the end, and that choice is a device that doesn’t work for me. But the filmmaking looks wonderful and I’m interested in some of the performances. Also, after having spent weeks deep within dark psyches, is it really a good idea to go out and see more? So I’m not yet sure what I’ll do.

Okay, back to the page for a bit — before I start my official snow day, I’ve got a bit of work to do on a couple of articles. But the bulk of the day will be spent playing. I need some light=hearted time to counterbalance the unrelenting darkness of Zeke and Eddie.

Devon

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 7:54 am  Comments (4)  
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

So this has been an interesting journey. Not only has going down the rabbit hole with Eddie in REDEMPTION KILL been difficult, necessary, and fascinating, but it helped me with the revisions in ANGEL HUNT.

Eddie in REDEMPTION KILL is called a sociopath, but he’s not. He’s on the precipice of making a choice that will either take him down the road of no hope and no return, or one that could give him a small measure of peace, closure, and the potential for a fresh start, depending upon his choices in the course of the book. Danica (who has plenty of her own issues) is very careful to make sure the choices are Eddie’s, and that she’s not manipulating him. Honestly, at this point, I don’t know where he’ll end up. In ANGEL HUNT, Lianna is desperate to save Zeke, in spite of the fact they’re antagonists. While part of Zeke wants to be saved, he’s too far gone, and the only thing he’s capable of doing is destroying Lianna. I’m not sure how that will play out at the end, either, but I’m a lot closer to finding out than I was a week ago. Yes, Zeke is even a bigger, darker, more complex mess than Eddie, and no, Zeke wasn’t in the serial of the same name. I’ve been wrestling with the revisions of ANGEL HUNT for over a year, almost as badly as Lianna and Zeke have wrestled inside the story. It was interesting that Eddie’s struggle in REDEMPTION KILL helped unlock the problems in ANGEL HUNT. Eddie and Zeke are hugely different, with hugely different motivations, although they both live in enormous pits of despair, yet devoid of self-pity.

And the Lianna-Zeke relationship brings “dysfunctional” to a new level while Danica and Eddie, although in a line of work that would horrify a lot of people, somehow craft a healthy relationship in unhealthy circumstances. The comparisons/contrasts are fascinating. ANGEL HUNT is a few drafts closer to getting out the door than REDEMPTION KILL, but I find it interesting how the two pieces feed off each other, and how REDEMPTION KILL somehow unlocked the blocks I had with ANGEL HUNT.

And of course, as I’m writing it, I’m a little bit in love with both Zeke and Eddie as I’m writing from my female protags’ POV, and then, when I get into Zeke’s psyche (not a place you’d want to be on a bad day) and Eddie’s psyche for the flip sides — well, it’s quite the journey.

It is very similar to good use of the method the way some actors do. I’ve certainly seen enough abuse of “the method” as an excuse for self-indulgence and bad behavior, but when it’s used as a tool to reach a goal rather than as the goal itself, it can help produce some excellent work.

To top it off, I wrote most of a short story as well, which I hope to finish and polish in the next few days.

There’s been a lot of discussion about how there’s a lack of pilots this upcoming season written by women. And yet, two of the features coming out that I find most intriguing were written by women: SHUTTER ISLAND and the ALICE IN WONDERLAND adaptation with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter (oh, I am so there for that one — can’t wait to see what he does!) I’d like to see more women scripting and showrunning action, paranormal, drama, and procedural shows as well as intelligent comedy, but I’m also excited that two of (in my opinion) the most intriguing upcoming releases are written by women. Yes, they’re both adaptations of books by men, but I think that polarity will help strengthen the pieces. If those two films are successful, I think it will open the doors for a lot of talented women, the way Kathryn Bigelow’s work (over quite a few years) has opened doors. Someday, maybe gender won’t matter and we can reach what most of us actually working in the business want — that we are judged on the basis of the work’s quality alone. But we’re not quite there yet.

(Note: Yes, I am aware that I am talking about two features in the above and not television shows, somewhat apples and oranges. But while fewer women are writing/running upcoming pilots, two of the big feature releases are written by women. I found that interesting).

Moved script meetings to next week so I don’t sabotage myself. Some other opportunities have landed on my desk and I have to sort through them. The Universe is pushing me towards a particular location with several script opportunities, so I will see what happens. In another case, I was asked to do some script doctoring. I hate the script. I tried to refuse diplomatically, and the producer didn’t seem to get it. I was finally very blunt and said, “I find your script offensive and demeaning to women.” His response, “Yeah, but will you punch up the dialogue?” I made it very clear that no, I would not. They need someone enthusiastic about the script to do good work on it, and since I can’t stand it, I am not that person. And before those who haven’t worked in the biz start yapping that professionals should be able to write anything, when it comes to work like this, there’s way too much at stake to do something you despise and for which you have no respect just for the dough. Yeah, Faulkner did it and it nearly killed him. I’d rather have less money and a more peaceful soul.

Also was invited to do some guest blogs by two different publishers, which is exciting, for their house sites. One of it deals with pop culture and has to get out the door ASAP. I’ve also got to complete the assignment for Confidential Job #1, which is due tomorrow, and I need to get it out the door in the morning, since I leave for a site job around noon.

Huge snowstorm on Wednesday here. Loved it. Also enjoyed an early Valentine’s Day celebration — since we were snowed in anyway, we decided to make the most of it. 😉 We had about a foot of snow, not too bad.

LOST was a huge disappointment on Tuesday. There were no surprises; it’s unfolding the way I figured it would, but hoped it wouldn’t. I knew where every scene was going by the second line in the scene. The production quality is great, I like the actors, I like the writing, but I don’t find the big choices in overall mythology satisfying. The days I happen to get around to watching it, I will try to enjoy some of the moment-to-moment stuff, but I’m pretty sure I’ll feel cheated by the end –as I’ve felt cheated most of the past four seasons. That doesn’t take anything away from the phenomenon it created. It is simply not personally satisfying. The in-jokes and the way some stuff circles around but other stuff contradicts itself is fun in the moment, but isn’t adding up to the type of whole I wanted from the piece.

And I’m getting really stubborn about HUMAN TARGET, now, digging in because I don’t feel Fox is supporting the show adequately. I’ve worked on a few of those myself — big early hype and then suddenly, no more promos, no more support. Here you are, busting your ass on 14-18 or more hours a day on the set, giving your all, and the network turns its back on you, not even running regular promos. It sucks. I also think the show’s improving week to week. Are there things that don’t work for me on the show? Yes, mainly the under-developed villains who I don’t feel challenge the protags enough. Last night’s villain was better developed — I still wanted just three or more sentences FROM HIM, out of his mouth, to really take his character where I needed it. There’s too much ABOUT the villains and not enough direct character development. The action scenes are well done, and some of last night’s were especially clever. And in the first scene, as soon as she’s waiting alone on the bridge, I knew she was Doyle’s daughter, even though it was a surprise to the other characters in the mid-way reveal. But the things that work for me really work, primarily Jackie Earle Haley’s work and anytime the three leads are in a scene together. HIs scenes in the van during last night’s episode were darkly hilarious. He can do more with a sideways look than most people can do in a three page scene. His character loves to push other characters’ boundaries to see what they’re made of. I feel that the network is abandoning the show after hyping it a lot early on instead of giving it what it needs to hit its stride, turning it into more of an underdog than it should be. I know, like my measly viewership means anything, right? I didn’t say there was LOGIC involved, just stubbornness! 😉 And I have to admit that I learn just as much or more from what I think doesn’t work in the show as from what does.

Good first writing session this morning. I’m going to have to go and dig the car out later on, before everything freezes and I need a pickaxe to get the car out. Then, it’s work on the essays, Confidential Job #1, and packing for the weekend job.

No matter how deeply involved I am with Eddie and Zeke right now, a deadline is a deadline, and I don’t blow deadlines.

Devon