One Story Closes, Another Story Opens

So I picked this rather provocative title, but all that I really want to say is that I finished one story and I’m beginning to work on another.  

I finished a short story that I’ve been working on for most of the spring and summer.  I, Magi is the story that I finished.  Readers of the blog will recognize the title as one that I was contemplating starting once I finished Citizen X.  I literally finished Citizen and started Magi right away.  I usually don’t work like that, but I was so enthused about the project that I couldn’t help myself.  Now that the project is done, I have at least 3 more short story ideas, but I find that I want to try longer works.  

I have Project Skye that I started on 2 weeks ago, but I have not worked on it since.  Today, while I wait on this week’s episode of Dr. Who, I want to work on a graphic novel project that I’ve had in my brain for a little while.  I’m calling it Project 51.  I would like it be a Sci-Fi project that I want to work on in tandem with Project Skye.  

The problem with working with longer projects is that they are marathons instead of sprints.  When it takes 2-3 months to sprint to the end of a short story, a novel, a graphic novel, or a screenplays seems like an ETERNITY.  At the rate I’m going, Project Skye may not become a reality until 2016/2017.  Project 51 may be done by the end of the school year, but that’s 10 months away.  That feels SO far away.  

How do you piece together the puzzle over months, over years, over decades, if necessary?  Creation takes time.  That’s the greatest flaw about creativity that most people don’t understand.  Even I fall victim to turning a blind eye to this fact.  I’m less than 2 weeks away from Destiny, a game that I’ve wanted since I first heard about in February 2013 and yet, I’m chomping at the bit to play it, to devour it, to lose myself in the world that Bungie has created, without regard for the amount of time they’ve spent on it.  

Another way to look at it would be this: imagine reading your favorite book 1 page at a time because that is how much you were allowed to read by some unnamed person, organization, etc.  Imagine how infuriating that would be.  That’s what its like to be a writer who wants to write long, but is limited by time.  It takes me so long to write something, to build something, that it is easy to freeze by looking at the enormity of how long it will take to finish what I want to accomplish.  

If I can find a solution to this problem, I’ll definitely post it here.  Some authors don’t have this problem–for them, writing long is easy.  I’m not one of them.  I’m a perfectionist, or at least, one who has a definite idea of how the project should go.  My philosophy has always been, “better to have it done right, even if you’re slow about it, than to have it fast and wrong.”  For some parts of my life, this has been helpful, but right now, trying to transition to a longer form writer, it is very discouraging to know that there are projects that I won’t see the end of for many months or years.  Somehow, someway, I need to find a way to make peace with this prospect, or I don’t think that I’ll ever mature into the writer that I would like to be.

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Dr. Who

Dr Who

I watched the Dr. Who season premiere last night on BBC America.  I mostly liked it.  I thought that they maybe tried a little too hard to create a link between the “still cooking” Doctor scenes of David Tennent and Matt Smith.  Once the “mystery” was introduced and the Doctor and Clara began to investigate the mystery, that’s when I thought it settled down.  I began to like the episode at that point.  

As a Whovian, I have been watching Dr. Who since it “rebooted” with Christopher Eccleston.  I saw the first series with him, but missed episodes, not understanding that British TV runs their seasons differently from American TV.  I managed to catch the first (of the current Doctors) regeneration where Eccleston’s Doctor morphes into David Tennant’s Doctor.  However, because I still hadn’t figured out how British TV worked, I was still missing episodes, so I didn’t have to get used to David Tennent’s Doctor–there was no emotional investment on my part.  

It wasn’t until I saw the episode “Blink” that I was hooked.  “Blink” introduced the Weeping Angels and was probably the most suspenseful TV episode that I’ve ever seen with some beautiful emotional moments.  After that episode I made it my mission to figure out how British TV worked (I was helped that around that time I also discovered Top Gear–and both series helped me to figure out the way British TV works).   I followed Dr. Who since then, and I really did have to make the transition when David Tennent’s Doctor gave way to Matt Smith’s Doctor.  At first, I didn’t think I’d like the new interpretation (too mad-cap), but the episode was so well done and Amy and Rory played off each other so well that by the end when Matt Smith’s Doctor was in full form and calling the aliens back at the end to chastise them, I was totally on-board.

I said all that to say that the last scenes of last night’s episode, “Deep Breath,” while it didn’t grab me in the same way, I have hope that I’ll at least be able to like Peter Capaldi’s Doctor.  The mad-cap humor may be gone, but the wordplay more than makes up for it.   The final scenes where the Doctor mentions that he doesn’t think he’s a “hugger,” or a “fetcher,” and Clara’s responses to both was absolutely priceless.   I’ll try to revisit this again when this “season” ends to determine if I like Peter Capaldi’s Doctor Who.

I found a blog post from another blogger written about a year ago who wrote about the 5 Stages of Accepting a New Doctor Who.  The post is so spot-on that I want to link to it in this blog.  If you have a chance be sure to check it out–it’s a riot (& true too!)

 

 

Characters

So, I was watching TV the other day and I heard something that made me take note and I jotted it down so I wouldn’t lose it.  I was watching a small featurette that plays in the couple of minutes before the new feature movie started on one the Epix channels.  In it, one of the directors of a movie (I think World War Z–yes, it was that movie because I remember him talking about how the book didn’t lend itself to film).  

Anyway, at the very end, he said something profound and I wrote it down just to be sure that I wouldn’t lose it or forget it.  He said, (paraphrasing): “Begin with the character and you can explore any world you like.”  

This resonated with me because even though I write short fiction, I read novels, graphic novels, and watch movies–all longer forms of writing.  I’ve long been interested in trying to write and create these longer works myself, but have been unable to maintain the “traction” needed to make it through to the end.  I literally have notebooks filled with ideas that could become the basis for novels, screenplays, and comic/graphic novel scripts, but after about the first twenty pages or so, I seem to lose the thread, even if I’ve meticulously planned/plotted them out to the end.  

I think it is because I’m so caught up in the plot, in the cool actions and settings of the world, that I set out to write the longer works with only the vaguest hints of my characters.  I have a name, but perhaps I only have a cipher of a character rather than a true character when I start.  

I’ve decided to try again at starting a novel.  I have a character: Skye.  She has a personality.  She is a “grease monkey,” who works on airplanes.  She has a problem: She is only an Aviator, but she wants to be a Pilot (there is a whole WORLD of difference between the two titles in the world the story takes place.)  Somehow she must earn her place as a Pilot even though she “technically” doesn’t have the right qualifications.  

I think I have a title for the novel, but for the moment I’m going to refer to it as “Project Skye,” to remind myself that it is the CHARACTER who is the most important part of the story (not the cool setting or all the cool things I hope to have her run around doing, but that she needs to be the coolest and most important part of the story.)  And if this works out and I manage to publish “Project Skye,” then I owe the Director of World War Z a BIG thank you (as well as a non-alchoholic beverage of his choice 🙂 )

Knights

I’ve always been fascinated with knights.  Swords, armor, shields, horses, the medieval timeframe, and the idea of a warrior class has intrigued me since I was a child.  I remember checking out books from the library about knights.  One of the reasons why I like and can play chess is that I found a book that showed the various chess pieces and moves using illustrations that were based on knights.  

Eventually, as I grew older, I expanded my love of knights to a love of heroes in general.  I think that expansion started with Star Wars and the explanation of the Jedi Knights.  It was that movie (along with lesser movies of the time: Krull, Legend, and The Dark Crystal) l where I saw that heroism could apply to more time periods that just the medieval age.  Now, I know that knights as a class of people were not the “heroes” that we often think they were, regardless of the chivalric code.  However, to a child, they seemed to represent the best of both worlds–fighters with a code of ethics.

Perhaps that’s why I’m so fascinated with knights.  They are a class of warriors that (ideally) can be awesome at warfare, but also can respect others (yes, again, I know that this is naive and that “real” knights–from the Templars all the way down to the Crusaders were little better than thugs, but it is the IDEAL of knighthood that I’m discussing).  

Many of my stories revolve around the idea of something or somebody as a hero.  I got tickled by a former co-worker who read my work.  She happened to read two of my stories in which the main character fails.  I think I only have two or three of these so far.  She was saying to me that it looks like I like “sad” endings.  Actually, I think I’ve written 20+ stories so far, and out of all of these 90-95% the hero wins.  I really wanted to tell her this, but patron came up and I never did explain myself.  I’ve never been a fan of the “sad” (aka kill the main character) ending.  I only use it when the main character must sacrifice himself/herself for the greater good.  I’ve read too many stories (“All Things Dark and Deadly,” which I’m pretty sure was published in the RPG Cyberpunk 2020–although I could be mistaken for I no longer have the RPG to fact-check it) is a prime example of this.  Spoilers–the main character dies in that story for NO good reason.  This is the worse type of “ironic” ending, but I see it all too often (especially in short works).  

I seem to have an affinity with knights as several of my published works have some element of knights embedded in them.  Don’t be surprised if you see more “knights” (or heroes) in my fiction.  I really, REALLy like them!