Saturday, December 26, 2009

Things Rust in Winter

So I need to bust said rust. The thing about working in a mail room - any place that deals in shipping, really - is that things pick up a lot during December. There are holidays, and whether you celebrate them or not those holidays affect what your life becomes. As little writing as I got around to doing, looking back I'm very lucky to have done what I did. I'm even happy with a few parts of it!

I'll try to post more in the coming days, since I have quite a few of them off coming up. Maybe I'll post my loot list, and a few other things I plan to work on. Right now, my brain is fried.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I May Be In Trouble

I first realized this at the beginning of the week, when immediately after my health screening I spent twenty minutes saying everything I had wanted to say that was smartass-y, only afterward realizing that I had just said them to my boss, and if she had been anyone but my best friend I'd be fired by now. You'll be delighted to know that I'm in excellent shape - I believe they're going to name the Highlander gene after me.

It takes an average of 2,000 words a day to make NaNoWriMo happen, and I am well well short of that. The odd thing is I'm getting much closer as the process goes on. It's getting easier to start a segment, harder to stop until it's done, and my excitement builds the more I get into it and find the shape of the story. It's a lot of fun, writing this novel, so I'm almost certainly doing it wrong. On the other hand, what a fucking coup it would be if I could DO something with it, right?!

I have extra motivation to make progress, as I promised my co-conspirator in the movie biz that I'd shift focus onto the screenplay after NaNoWriMo.

So yeah. Trouble.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Video Games

I might have mentioned this before, but for those to whom it's new, I used to be addicted to video games. They're what I did in high school, and little else. I spent my weekends with Mega Man X and Samus Aran, I admit it. I got a taste of life without the controller in college, and afterward made a concerned effort to put myself away from them. I've slipped every now and then, but I thought I was doing well.

So well that when the holidays came around last year, with people coming by that I hadn't seen in years and myself with a new job, I figured it'd be safe to buy a 360 and a few games to be sociable. Since then I'd been worried that I was relapsing, since my library is mostly narrative-focused, single-player games like Mass Effect and Prince of Persia, and what multiplayer I do play is with select friends only. I don't think I've joined a random game more than three times.

Well, after my spending spree two weeks ago, and Dragon Age: Origins out last week, I may have to shut the hell up. I'd been excited about DA: O for the better part of this year, but I have only put in maybe 12 hours, not enough to get through one of the four big chapters after the introduction. I've had Brutal Legend on for the soundtrack whle doing laundry, I've played Borderlands twice, and Fallout 3 - a game of the year - isn't out of the plastic wrapper yet.

I enjoy them all, and I feel like I will get to them eventually, but after a full work day and some stolen writing time, I just don't have the energy. High school me wouldn't recognize today me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Quick Note

I am NOT going to make it through NaNoWriMo successfully, but I will be much closer than last year. I might even have a full story, though absolute garbage.

I'm considering starting a new blog that is made entirely of 50-100 word stories based around my word-a-day mailing list. Not certain yet, but lately I've been giving those emails lip service at best and I think that's a shame, on reflection.

Carry on.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Something New

I like the idea of being a focused person. People that can narrow their field of interest and get one thing at a time done seem to accomplish more than average. There've been times in my life where I've been able to get into that kind of mode and have done very well, and during my course in Falmouth that was a nearly essential skill.

But I'm trying something different. A week or so ago I had a really neat idea for a story that I wanted to get out of my head, problem was I'm in the middle of a completely different project and not anywhere close to finishing. It was late enough in the day where I needed to write something then if I was going to write anything at all, and I've had a few nights that I just sat in front of the screen trying not to take the winking cursor in the wrong way. So I wrote what I wanted to, not what I was working on. It's not something I'm going to get back to any time soon, and my current project isn't anywhere closer to completion, but I got over 1,000 words out, and damn it that felt good!

I'm often torn between the confidence that comes from having a masters degree and the fear that comes from having no recent publications. Most of my favorite writers insist that developing your ability with the art of writing is a continuous process, that you will never write as well as you want to, and that this is not necessarily a bad thing. I like this philosophy, for one thing because it's accomodating for when I lose focus. I also believe that it's better to write something each day than only write when the mood fits the project - it keeps one from losing touch with the brain muscles that squeeze the words out.

In other news, I'm trying to upgrade to Windows 7 after a long series of mild frustrations with Vista, but my very compatible machine is being "finicky" about the change, and so I've had to adopt drastic measures to simply clear out the old. I won't find out until tonight if any of it has worked for real, so here's hoping.

And in a bout of weakness, I took advantage of a 3-for-2 deal for video games. I'm going to hold to my "write what you know at the time" strategy in the hopes that I can get enough of the productive stuff done at work to make my playtime acceptable. Wish me luck.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Missed the Point

I spent the last few minutes writing a new post without mentioning that I spent a good half hour before that reading my first posts.

It was very comforting for me to go back and see where I was this time last year, and what I was doing. Here and now, I can look back at details I forgot and smile. It's been a good year.

Fast Notes

I'm about to take my first trip to a bar I've lived by all my life. A friend is playing there (or maybe just watching friends play, I'm not sure) for the last event of its kind at this location. To be honest, I've had a frustrating day, I'm sore, I'm poor, and I don't really like dance club music, which is what this is going to end up being, but I've blown this guy off before and I hate doing that to anyone too often - he certainly doesn't deserve that - so I'm going in a few minutes.

I think I mentioned this already, but my artist is no longer mine. I haven't looked for a new one yet because honestly I need to change tracks. I can't stay on any one project for too too long, otherwise myself and my production get stale. The other web comic idea is back in the spotlight... kind of.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've made a few breakthroughs with my novel, one of those being the title change from WordWorld which I never liked to Babel Sphere - a title not as cliche as I thought at first, according to Google. I've plotted out a story that would accomplish the things a first book in a series should accomplish, if I can get a bit more of that done and find some more characters to fill it out, I think this can really work.

By the way, my trip to Kentucky went very well. I had a lot of fun, got a LOT of writing done, didn't see any weddings with only one family attending. The worst part was coming home, because within 24 hours I got majorly ill. Two and a half days off from work, never too far from a bathroom ill. I'm getting better.

I'm playing through Batman: AA again, it's still great and I'm making progress with the freeflow system. As wonderful as the gameplay and graphics are, and for the fine crafting of the story, it's really the tiny details that I love, like finding Ra's Ah Ghul in the morgue, only to notice he's missing when you come back later. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is not so honed an experience.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Last Few Hours

I'm going to take a shower, then find a quiet shop to read for a few hours, maybe have lunch, and then head back to Indy. This has been fun. I'm not looking forward to next week when the bills start coming in.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

There's No SAD in Louisville...

...or maybe there is. It hit me while I was in the coffee shop that I have no real energy. I look outside and it looks awful, and at lunch I lacked my usual appetite. I may have the leftovers and my remaining cookies (thanks Mom and Grandma!) for dinner. I'm talking to Garrett over Skype tonight, I have no dire need to leave the place until tomorrow. Maybe I won't.

I feel good about my writing today so far. On my short story I made a strong beginning, if less than I wanted, but I switched to the novel concept again and made a pretty significant breakthrough, linking it to a nice piece of dialogue that came out of my head right before bed.

I've got a disc of comedy I promised to watch, so I think I'll watch it, and draw as I sip my Coke.


I'm in a small coffeehouse getting some writing done while my room gets cleaned. Central Park would be lovely except it's been wet for the past two days. As I left the B&B I noticed a parking ticket for being a foot into the "No Standing" zone, only $15 but still inconvenient.

I've been playing around a bit with my BlackBerry, having just set up Facebook and installed Opera and a locking program that uses pattern drawing and not a code, all of which I really like. I'd prefer it if the alerts were simpler to change, but to date it's been a great investment.

I'm surprising myself in that I've finished a LOT of the reading I brought, more than I had any right to do. I finished a novel in a day, all but a few of the loose comics, and managed to get about 1,000 words written yesterday, all good stuff. I haven't drawn at all, I'm a little disappointed at that, but the day's still young.

Old Louisville is a gorgeous area, even under cover of rain cloud, but the variety of food isn't wonderful. I'm thinking I'll walk west for lunch, since just about everything else I've found has been east maybe something exciting will be revealed.

I should really make shit up now. Later!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First off, the accommodations are great. Enormous bed, great A/C, wonderous bathroom facilities (lacking bidet, but still!!), and a tasty if unimaginative breakfast, plus free beverages and light snacks. I may most of the day here tomorrow, especially if the weather's like they suspect it will be.

I spent today outside, not just outside the room I mean with sunlight and crap. I don't know if I'm just sitting in the "right" spots or what, but Louisville strikes me with an air of insulation, I suppose you'd call it. Everyone seems to know each other, and while they practice hospitality it's clear if they don't know you, you won't get invited to the fancy parties. I'm self aware enough to know that I can be a bit paranoid, especially when it comes to socializing with new people, but that isn't the case here. Every shop I've visited had at least two people strike up intimate conversation, once a day I've seen people shout greetings across a busy street. If one of my purposes for this trip wasn't social isolation I'd be nonplussed.

I AM nonplussed that after only one week, Daily Show and Colbert Report appear to be back in repeats.

I've read most of The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett today, and may just finish the damn thing. I've missed reading so much. Tomorrow I may write. Or read more. Both rule.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It Begins

After a hurried morning and a nice lunch with the grandparents, I am now sitting in lounge chair in my room at the Inn at the Park B&B. I'm trying to find a nice place to get dinner, a good bar to watch the game in, or alternatively a good place to get the supplies to watch it in my room as I type this.

Something of a big question: what do I do with myself now that I have no one else to work around? Part of the reason for this trip is to refresh my memory of what I like to do for me, not simply what is convenient and acceptable. It's not something I've had the chance to think of in a long time, and I haven't been in a position to act on what thoughts I've had in longer.

The wine the give away for free (Ryan's liver: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!") is left out too long, I think. It's strong and drinkable, but close to turning. (Ryan's liver: "Whew.") I'm about to head out and get what I need to complete my exhaustive experiments on martinis and what makes the best ones. (Ryan's liver: "Fuck!") There's an italian place close by, I'm told, or I can go to Fourth Street live and its cajun place, I'm thinking, and close by is what looks like a good sports bar for me to watch Colts vs. Dolphins. $2 draft Buds and $0.50 wings, sounds fun!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Failure: A Perspective

The artist I was going to work with to bring "Losing Yourself" to publication will be finishing his involvement with the project after only twelve pages. My short stories continue to be denied publication, my novel series concept only gets more intimidating, and I haven't touched the screenplay project in weeks. One could easily consider this a list of failures, but I don't for a couple of reasons.

For one thing, this is twelve more pages than I had to begin with, and I can do just about anything I want with them. I own the copyright. Which means I can throw the word balloons together and at least have something I can show someone and say, "THIS is what I've been going on about." That is so much more concrete an experience than simply delivering a pitch, and it shows that I have really tried.

For another, this is not a definite ending. We've broke this relationship cleanly and all friendly-like, so should we find ourselves in a more compatible position later we can pick right back up. That is a more professional and more humane way to stop than some of the absolute horror stories one hears in the comic and graphic novel industry; tears, a sailor's dictionary, and months of defamation aren't standard, but they're also not uncommon, and I'm happy to have avoided them.

And here's something I just thought of today: when someone asks me what I'm up to, I have a lot more to say than "well, nothing much." Some people may think I'm insane for trying, others may not have meant to hear anything other than something about the weather, a couple might even think of someone that can help, but no one thinks that I'm being lazy. Except maybe the people that think I'm lying, but then those aren't the people I'm trying to impress. The act of attempting is, if all else fails, a marvelous conversation piece.

Tonight, socializing with fellow comic book nerds. Tomorrow, Windy City Con. And then, Louisville!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Next Week: A World Apart

After everything that's happened over the summer, I'll be taking a vacation. The idea appeared in my head one day after my third trip to the same department, and M suggested that she'd cave my head in if I didn't take some time off, so the idea became a plan.

I'll be going to Louisville, KY, exactly where is currently in a state of quantum flux but it should be nice. I know no one in Louisville, and there's no major event going on that I know about. It's just a day's drive away, with no one but me to consider. It's the first time in living memory that I've had a vacation by myself. Not to give the impression that I don't like those close to me, but I am really sick of people these days.

The idea is that I will get a lot done of what I love doing: reading, writing, and probably drinking. I'll try to update regularly while down there.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Super Short Interlude

And one that doesn't bode well for my immediate productivity:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a truly grand video game experience. It captures the atmosphere, mechanics, and terrible awesomeness of what you might imagine it's like to BE BATMAN. The voice acting is incredible (especially for fans of the Bruce Timm cartoon series), and the creators were clever and thoughtful everywhere they could have been clever and thoughtful. Someone noted that the only way to improve it as a game would be a co-op option with Robin, but as a self-described narrative whore I say keep the child away from this madhouse of fun.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Avoiding Writing with More Writing

I have to leave soon for a gathering at 4. Before that, I wanted to get a stressful letter polished and sent. I have it drafted, I've been told it does what I want it to do, it just needs polish. But it's going to hurt, so I'll blog first.

Within three days of my coworker recovering, he hurt the same foot in a different way. This was great, as it inspired me to come up with no less than five different swear words, since I'm the one that has to cover for him. Another good tidbit is that he didn't hurt it so bad this time, so he should be fine to work Monday.

I've found myself drifting towards my book series concept recently. It began years ago when I came up with a family during a writing exercise, and theother members of my group insisted on more. They've come up time and again, and then last year I decided that I should really figure out WHERE these people live. It turned out that this concept was a much bigger beast than I'd intended, and the single short story I was planning on to cover it was a laughably pathetic package. The more I get into it, the more I find to love.

I'm planning on planning a vacation in the coming month or so. As many people and places I'd love to catch up with, I find myself very tempted to just drive an afternoon, find a place to stay for a few nights, and write all day followed by bar crawling at night. I do not remember the last time that I was alone alone for more than part of a day. I feel like that's troublesome. I don't know that I'm going to follow through yet, though, we'll see.

Friday, August 14, 2009

No Way. No. Effing. Way.

It would seem that my wounded coworker has in fact recovered. Monday, I'm back at my normal routine.

I have a lot to do. A LOT. Some of that is catch up, but at least as much is fresh work. A wise and focused person would take advantage of the weekend to get some of those things if not completed, at least organized into an easily approachable obstacle.

Screw that. Screw it all. Screw everyone. Nyaaaaaaaaaaa.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Good news: my artist continues to rock on levels I scarcely imagined being associated with. Also, the movie script I'm working on is coming along very well - in the process of getting the scene breakdowns ready, I've solved some problems my little siblings created, and I should be ready to start scripting very soon.

Bad news: work is to the point where I'm sore all the time, and I'm exhausted. Oy.

I got word that at least three good friends have had to break up with their partners recently, so it's been a stressful time for all of us. With some, at least, we can share pain over drinks before long, which will be cheerful I hope.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ahhh, June

I'm currently sitting in my boss's chair at her desk trying to track everything I am working on and wish I were working on and what I don't need to be working on and I realize a couple of assistants could be very handy at such a task. A couple other points that spring to mid are 1) coffee should not take the place of actual food, no matter how tasty it is, 2) Zero Punctuation is a hilariously aggressive review site that'll amuse whether you play video games or not but can affect the way you speak or write in potentially disastrous ways, especially if you've been drinking a lot of coffee.

The temptation to write about my negative feelings is unusually strong these past fews days, and given that this is the internet, it seems the proper forum, but screw that. Having a rough time isn't in itself very interesting, especially if you quote alternative song lyrics to make your case. There's a fine line between feeling down due to recent happenings and feeling down because it's too much trouble to pull yourself back up. As anyone with a basic understanding of narrative structure will tell you, any problem is just half a story until there's resolution, and even if that resolution is "and then the dog died," at least there's the pleasure of that particular problem being over and done with. So I'm going to take a cue from proper storytelling and applying it to my blog: no pointless bitching without some sweet ending to tie the thing together, like the rug from "The Big Lebowski."

You might have seen one of the many pictures or articles featuring Lady GaGa. I saw her on the cover of Rolling Stone a while back and proceeded to exclaim "What the shit?!" The article implied that we shouldn't think of her as a pop singer because she has some musical aptitude and isn't another cute person with someone surgically melded with a mixing board in the background. I have listened to an album by Lady GaGa, and I can comfortably say I'm done seeing her everywhere. I'm happy you pop dance club music lovers have someone you can listen to that's not hyper-filtered and remixed, but sadly this girl still can't think of anything more interesting to sing about other than how nice it is to be pretty and rich. I don't have anything against people that are either pretty or rich, but when all you do is self-aggrandize it reeks of psychological incest/ masturbation and I for one will not stand idly by and help you act either out.

Sorry, just had to get that out real fast. The outline for the movie script is very solid, getting to the point where I'm going to have no choice but actually start scripting soon. I'm reading "In the Land of Invented Languages" by Akira Okrent (probably spelled wrong) which is giving me some keen insights into the novel I plan on writing, and between that and the graphic novel I'm writing some random scenes that I may not use anywhere, but it feels better to have them out of my brain.

Anyway, I should get back to the day job.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

And Then There Are Weekends

Edgar Allen Poe would have loved my Friday after work. The dog dug up a dead raccoon. What's worse is that he had to have done this a day or so ago, nothing else could explain that smell, or his recent eating and crapping habits. Matt (my brother) and I put what was left of it in a garbage bag, put that in another garbage bag, and are going to put it with the trash this week. It's communal faith that will keep other animals from tearing into the bag - faith or the universe recognizing that we will not give it a third burial.

I talked with Kwee on the phone Friday also, with helped balance the day out. He seems very excited to work on a comic that will be published, sounds interested in the story, and showed me some of his more recent work. We talked about artists that we liked, some ways not to write a comic script, and what we're doing when we're not aspiring to be the next great artists in the world.

Today I helped my father and brother get an old broken refrigerator out of the basement. This is one of those fridges made from metal that could store your household adventurer through large explosions, and the basement was not made for tall people (I'm 5' 10" and the runt of the three of us). It came up to a twisted ankle, a wrenched shoulder, assorted bruises and pinches and a few near-crushings between the three of us, but we got it out there, and if heavy trash pick-up isn't this week I'm a gonna cut somebodah.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Everything's an Effort

So I'm going back to the gym early mornings. I can't do a whole lot, seeing as I have maybe an hour to work with between the time the gym opens and the time I have to be at work, so I swim. It's a good way to get a balanced workout fast, and I personally love swimming, even if I'm not a very strong swimmer. Problem is I haven't worked out regularly in something like two months, and I seem to be developing insomnia, so between it all I think I'm too tired to feel the pain I'm probably in.

My mother's birthday was yesterday, and everyone seemed to have a really good time. It was a quiet little thing, dinner and cake, and she loved it.

the script for the thing I'm not comfortable talking about is coming along. For all the potential impact it could maybe have on my career, it's not a serious project, and I think that's helping me stay motivated - it means I can throw what I want in there and not worry. This kind of story is very friendly to my brand of crazy as it is, so hopefully I can pull something off.

Losing Yourself is coming together. The web address is bought, will be speaking on the phone with the artist for the first time hopefully tonight, and some of the more bureaucratic details are coming together. I wonder if this is what's causing my sleep problems - I told myself I was prepared mentally for the reality of publishing my own work, but actually being here's a very different thing. I do wish my subconscious would get used to the idea soon, because I truly am exhausted.

You don't believe me? Well, I'm going to stop blogging and start sleeping, you just see if I don't!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's Not You, Blog... It's Me

So this once-a-day deal isn't working out that great, is it? I'm trying to keep the pressure on myself so that I update at least almost-daily, but I don't know if I'll be able to put in 30 updates this month. We'll just see.

Yesterday I had an accidentally productive day. I emailed a lawyer to make sure he was going to work for me, I reset my iPod to work with my desktop, I went to the gym (more later), helped Mom and Dad in the yard, and cleaned my room a bit. If I'm going to not go out in public much, I might as well get crap done.

Saturday's visit to Evan went awesomely! They've made incredible strides with the back yard, their cat is huge and shy, and my baby brother has developed truly mad skills with a grill. Evan's installation in Milan seemed to go pretty well, Erin's job is working out, and they have plenty of opportunities to spy on the neighbors. It seems great, I'm happy for them.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Running Til I Pass Out

I spent yesterday working on parts of the script for one project, waiting for a lawyer to contact me, and in the evening playing Rock Band with Tim and his closest friends. I felt young.

Just a quick update today, I'm spending the day with the family traveling to and from Chicago. May the traffic gods watch over us and smile!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

For My Next Trick

I'm going to blog about nanomachines!

Nanomachines are small like brain cells. Brain cells hurt because they argue, and arguing hurts my ears. Ears of corn are delicious, and one time they told Nero Wolfe who the murderer was. Nero Wolfe doesn't listen to vegetables very often, maybe that's why he's rich.

Rich foods can be delicious like fudge, or overwhelming like a meteor. Why is it one meteor kills the planet and makes people go "AAUUGHHGHG," but a whole shower of them is pretty and makes people go "ahhhhh?" Isn't it nice when we can say one little word and mean everything we want? That's why swearing's fun. Another thing that's fun is backgammon, butI haven't played in forever.

Four could be the loneliest number if it wanted to. It's one lonely number that happens to be with three other lonely numbers, and someone said you're never lonlier than when you're in a crowd. It might have been the guy that sold breath mints, but I don't know why he'd do that, except that he thought people felt lonely due to bad breath anxieties. I don't like mint, it feels like I'm setting fire to my mouth, only it's cold, but I have to brush my teeth anyway. I like my fires hot, it's kind of how I know they're fires. Fire's another thing that makes people go "ahhh" or "ARHRHGHGHGH" depending on the details.

The tails are connected to the butt.

That Didn't Last Long

Okay, so I missed yesterday. My month-long streak of consistent blog entries lasted two days, and that's okay. You know why? Because I'm going to make up for it.

I'm reading an article on historical languages (Science Vol 324, 29 May 2009, p1165), and I wonder how much most people take language for granted. Information gets transmitted in more ways than a lot of people think about. Any time two elements interact, information is transmitted. When proteins align to form bigger proteins, that's information transmission. It's as fundamental to the working of the cosmos as mathematics, but there are hundreds of different schools regarding language while math is more or less universal.

It sounds unfair when it's put like that, but there's a counter-argument that kind of puts math back a peg, and it's that math doesn't carry cultural significance the way language can. It used to, millenia ago when the Greeks were tinkering with theoretical geometry and the Arabians had come up with zero. Over the centuries those and other schools of math became global constants, and it's as though the cultures those constants came from didn't matter. Can you imagine a world where children learned, for example, the iconography of Chinese alongside the meter of English poetry in the same class and couldn't identify the distinctions? Did advanced math students in Greco-Roman times imagine a world where the questions their teachers couldn't answer would be solved by grade-schoolers?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Here Comes Two!! - SPOILERS BELOW!!

Thanks to one of my readers, I'm giving a quick review of another movie seen since my last post from April: Star Trek. It was a great movie with excellent characters and actors to portray them, a smooth-yet-fast plot, and incredible special effects and action sequences. I do NOT agree with the reader's assertion that I "forgot" to mention the movie, in fact I think its omission was an act of brilliance. Seriously, anyone who has seen these movies would acknowledge that Star Trek is far too good to be listed with the movies I reviewed yesterday. It'd be a grievous insult to Star Trek, and now that I think of it I'll spend the rest of this blog entry insulting Star Trek in exactly that manner.

(In all fairness, I'm making Angels & Demons seem terrible when it's not, it's a decent movie... just NOT when compared to Star Trek.)

In fact, perhaps the only thing all four movies (Star Trek, Wolverine, Angels & Demons, and Terminator) have in common is that they are all franchise movies, single stories involving settings and characters established elsewhere. Franchise movies are beloved be Hollywood these days because, among other things, you don't have to work as hard to find an audience. They already know the property, maybe better than anyone involved in the new movie, and need much less effort in order to get them into the theater. Within the story, you have more freedom in regards to introduction, like you can introduce less and add more time to the meat of the story.

This works against creators when they're not careful. The audience that already knows the property has also come up with their own opinions of what the next story should include, and they probably LOVE the story they came up with before even hearing about the official one. It's the job of the team behind the next official production to create a story that blows away any possible idea the audience came up with, at the same time without disrespecting the views of the characters or setting the audience may have. This point is what makes the difference between a great franchise movie and a poor one.

Let's take Star Trek: the producers made it clear in their promotions that this was the crew from the original series, so fans right away know pretty much which characters are going to be in it and where they'll spend a lot of their time. This is a franchise decades old, so people have had a long time to imagine the story of how these characters got together. Seems like a Kobiyashi Maru - no story could satisfy everyone's expectations build on years of obsessive study and speculation; hell, even a small fraction of that demographic would be a lofty goal, so the creators need a way to tell THEIR story in a way that gives them an escape in case the audience doesn't like it. Solution: time warp to an alternate reality. They didn't tell the origin story of the original crew, they told the story of their versions of the original crew, meeting the goals set before them without putting their views above ours, and it was a brilliant way to do it.

You can note that this is one of the rare rare RARE occassions where I will praise the use of time travel in a story. These guys did it right.

Another thing they did right was focus on the characters rather than the ship or one story from the series. I always thought of Star Trek (TOS) as an anthology like The Twilight Zone, as a vehicle for zany science fiction stories. The difference between Trek and Twilight is that Trek had characters that tied each episode together, and I'd argue that Trek's greater commerical success comes from the love the fans had for the characters. All the central characters in the new movie have great moments that give a nod to the original series without being ruled by them - Kirk gets in fights and scores with ladies, Spock arches eyebrows and pinches neck, Bones insists that he's a doctor, they all assert their connection with the classic characters while making them their own.

For the counter-example, I'm going to use Wolverine. This franchise started from the comic book continuity, but also had to pay respects to the movies in the X-Men series. There was an origin story to the character in the comics, but by now the movie continuity is established as seperate, so they could have done whatever they wanted. What happened was they took the comic-based origin, something like six issues worth of material, compressed it into a ten-minute sequence with massive changes, and spend the rest of the movie covering the story of Wolverine's adamantium skeleton and missing memories.

The movie is supposed to be an origin story, it says so in the full title, but it doesn't tell the character's origin. His beginnings, both in the comic and in the movie, take place in a mansion where young Jimmy Howlett makes his first kill, setting him on a fighter's path. The comic book took its time in connecting the dots from this moment to Wolverine's defining characteristics: his sense of justice, his desire for peace, his struggle to retain a sense of humanity. While the comic series didn't receive the widest popular or critical acclaim, it did something very right that the movie missed, and it fact it wasn't until I saw the movie that I appreciated this aspect.

The Wolverine everyone loves both in the comics and the movies began AFTER having his origins wiped from his mind.

Think about that, and then think about the movie. The movie ENDS with his brain getting blown apart, and all his memories leaking out. That origin story we just watched was rendered pointless, and where they could have spent the time showing how Wolverine's personality in the movies might have been formed, they instead had a bunch of action sequences than introduced a school full of different characters. They did a better job introducing half a dozen different characters than the one they promised to introduce.

So I've been griping this whole time to make a point, and that point is: Stories disappoint when they don't follow through on the promises they make. "But Ryan," you may say, "no one actually promised anything. You're being a judgmental prick!" Screw you, person that's actually me! Any product makes a promise the instant it steps into public attention, and in the case of movies they usually make the same promise five or so different times in 30-second montages.

And just like in real life, it hurts when someone breaks a promise.

Monday, June 1, 2009

June Delusions

First: I am challenging myself to update this blog once a day this month. Maybe I'll fail, maybe I'll get in the habit and update more regularly from now on. We'll just have to find out, won't we?

Next: Losing Yourself the Web Comic. WEB COMIC?!?! Yeah, that's what we're going for as of right now. The pages will see web publication first, and as we build an audience we'll have a better chance to cover costs when we print the full story as a single volume. I didn't intend for this story to make its debut on the web, but this makes a lot of sense given everyone's situation, and I couldn't resist.

I cobbled together a draft of a contract over the weekend, and it was as much fun as I was afraid it would be. It's not that it was especially complicated - legal text is written to be exact more than clear, but if you concentrate it's hard to get lost - it's simply a long process. I hope to get a bunch of the bureaucratic components taken care of soon so that page production can begin.

Last: Movies. I've seen Angels and Demons, Terminator Salvation, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine recently, and I'd rate them in that order. Angels is okay, nothing remarkable but you feel entertained. Terminator has explosions and robots abusing puny humans, and that's really all it has going for it. Wolverine has characters named for characters that appeared in comic books that you may have really liked, but the resemblances range from passing to malicious mockery; it's a shame, because it had decent actors.

Maybe tomorrow I'll blog about the disappointment potential to some stories. I feel inspired.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Titles, Those Tribulations

I should make a note - assuming I keep this job through another year - that the months of April and May are an absolute bear carrying a number of plagues to get any writing done in. Along with the extra workload that comes with the end of the academic year, I get called in to cover when everyone uses up the last of their vacation days. To be fair, I've taken days of this time period myself, and made constructive use of them, but it's not helping me keep an energy level that's anything above hibernating sloth.

With the complaining out of the way, I am happy to report that the short story is more or less done. Unless my readers come up with any notable errors I'm ready to put it away save ONE problem. I need a better title, and it turns out I'm crap with them. I thought it was just an attribute I was casting onto my villain but it's true for me as well. I'm hoping I can put it into the back of my mind while I'm working my day job, and while the monotony chips at my soul maybe something will come to me. Or I'll trick someone into making it up for me.

With that done, I can devote more time to a couple other things that're coming very close to something interesting.

First is Losing Yourself, the graphic novel script I will not let die. I have an artist that has talent, a sense of professionalism, some interest in the story, and a genuine interest in the medium. Assuming he comes through on this little litmus test I have him on, I can start going over the atrocious details that will eventually become a contract. That would be something very, very exciting, so much so that I'm not letting myself get excited about it.

Speaking of, another project that was almost a joke of mine caught the interest of a friend, so I'm hoping I can steal some time someplace to work on it a little more and have something concrete we can work with. If nothing else, this will be a good exercise at something I haven't done in years, and loved doing anyway, so I can't lose.

It's become a habit of mine to twist situations into a position where I come out ahead in some way. Everyone does this to some degree, but I'm wondering in my case if I'm trying to WIN or simply NOT LOSE. It's a world of difference, and the further I get with things the more I need to know which it is. Trying to win is a scary thing, with a lot more on the line and it calls for a huge investment, but the payoff is bigger, where trying to not lose is generally easier and safer, if not a little more dull. I feel like I've been trying to not lose recently, but the reason for that is that things are happening that feel much better than simply not losing. They're great feelings, but the only way to maintain or improve on them - and really the only thing to do with them - is to switch to a trying to win attitude, and that's more intimidating than I care to admit.

It's been said that the only way to succeed in life is to make everyone believe you've already succeeded and will only continue in the future. It's an art that, if you're either good or lucky enough, life will come to imitate. We'll see, I guess.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Broken Records

I could apologize for the lateness of my post, but I'd sound like... well, my blog entry title.

Last week I submitted a brand new short story in to a new contest. They're both new to me, and the story at least was new to many of the people I told it about. The bad news is that I don't think the story is actually DONE. IT has a beginning, an ending, and characters who - by the time they get to the end - aren't quite who they were at the beginning. Depsite this, I think it could be better. I thought about holding the story back and missing this contest, but I feel like I have to have something out there. I could easily stall forever on the pretense that "my work isn't perfect," so I figure it's worth the attempt at least.

This isn't the only development I've had recently. I'm in talks with an art student about illustrating Losing Yourself, and to date this is the closest I've come to actually locking an artist down! With some helpful albeit grounding advice from the uber-talented Stuart Sayger, this project is starting to look like a concrete book. Getting the material together and trying to be professional about vetting the guy out certainly feels like concrete.

I also had a wonderful surprise concerning a story I came up with at a bar one night in London. I shouldn't say anything about it, more for fear of jinxing it than disclosure liabilities, but it could be an amazing and fun opportunity.

To help fund any or all of these, I have invested in something called Powerball. Just a little investment, and true to the economy they've told me my money's gone. Grand.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Had a Good Day Today

Nearly 1,200 words written. Coraline 3-D witnessed. Credit card bills paid. Fence materials for injured dog moved to back yard. Chicken dinner eaten.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Florida was great! The beach was lovely, the water cold but fun to swim in regardless, and there's a decent amount to see and do. After all the greasy spoons I ate at, I feel like I could render paper transparent just by looking at it.

Mike and I did have a chance to go over the stories, and without revealing too much, he's playfully intrigued. This means I'm not catastrophically screwing up, and that if I finish that's another person that would like to read it. I can only hope this is the first of what will be an army.

I also learned just what 12 hours of straight driving will do to a body. It's not great.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Travelling and Tribulations

If all goes well, I'll be driving to Florida within a couple of hours. This is my first time venturing into the deep South, and while I'm not expecting much in the way of culture shock, I'm sure I'll see a lot of curious stuff. This is also the biggest road trip I've attempted solo, and while I'm not worried per se, some of my family and co-workers are voicing concerns/ fears/ zany schemes that will be rendered useless should I become an impressionist art piece in the medium of fiery twisted metal, and I'm catching a bit of bleed off.

This trip started as going to a European folk music concert, when I was no big fan of European music, and my good friend Mike lives down there and didn't want to see it alone. The concert got canceled. Since I'd already started planning and setting aside dates, it seemed rude to let it all go to waste. Besides, I enjoy seeing places I haven't before, and Mike hasn't moved in the intervening weeks, so why not.

Something I just realized yesterday, and I feel ashamed and penitent in confessing this to you interwebs, is that I haven't done any substantial writing in almost two weeks. Birthdays, family events, work rushes, none of these things by themselves are enough to really distract me, but they haven't hit all at once like this for a long long time. It's depressing.

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, or maybe I was always this way and didn't know about it until adulthood, but I do get noticeably depressed when I haven't written for long periods. We all have something, I suppose, that we do to keep the glooms away, and as odd as it sounds I think we tend to build our lives around those things. Considering how much we each have to go through in our lives, when we find something that gets us to the next day it's worth that bit of effort to make sure we keep access to it.

Anyhoo, I'm hoping that I can at least go over some of my work with Mike, himself not unfamiliar with the intricacies of the writing arts, and get a new perspective. Those are refreshing, much like oceans, which I shall insist on visiting while I'm down there. If I were a kinder blog entity, I might open a twitter account just so I could provide continuous updates to all my concerned readers and regale them with my adventures and escapades. But I'm not.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Adequately Laid Plans

So one of the purposes of this blog was to keep me honest about a writing schedule. I figured if hypothetical people were keeping track of how much I hypothetically wrote, it would motivate me to write more, hypothetically speaking. This is requiring, of course, that I update the blog on a regular basis.


The past couple of weeks have been pretty dramatic, both at work and at home, and only some of that drama was useful for the short story I'm writing right now. Pacifying drama is a very necessary skill for a writer to have, but difficult to cultivate.

In real life, you want to calm things down first off, identify the source of the problem, and find a way to correct it that leaves all parties walking away sated, if not happy. In writing, especially fiction, this is exactly the opposite of what you want to do. Action movies would have muscle-bound guys speeding towards grocery stores before the last Cadbury egg was bought, political and medical dramas would be a bunch of smiling people agreeing with each other, and the soap opera genre would be dead. Dead. Without emotionally driven people devoid of empathy to take things out of proportion and mess things up for the maximum number of people involved or not, most fiction would read like a stereo insturction manual. I don't care if it's written in iambic pentameter from the perspective of God-King Xerses and penned in the blood of a dragon, an instruction manual is not the aspiration to shoot for.

It should not be surprising when you read about a writer or any artistically-thinking person acting like a moron and throwing away what appears to be a wonderful career. Odds are it's because of some clusterfuck of a personal situation that probably never would have happened if someone had said, "Well, I can maybe see you point..." six months prior. Drama sells. Drama has a wide audience. People love to see drama if for no other reason that to identify what they have successfully avoided in their lives. And if an artist is able to understand and present drama well enough to sell, the risks that they won't be able to handle real life drama responsibly go higher than Amy Winehouse locked in a hospital pharmacy. (Okay, that was a cheap shot well out of date, but you get the idea, right?)

This is not a confession to some grand error in judgment on my part that is leading me away from writing and to hermitage in Montana, though I understand that's a good place to go for such things. It's as much a reminder to myself as a warning to any hypothetical readers: there's a distinct difference between fiction drama and nonfiction drama, and handling both right is crucial to prosperity and very likely posteriors.

By the way, I'm 4,139 words into the story, and I could easily have enough written by the end of the day to start showing my test people. Occassionally I manage to do what I say.

Friday, January 23, 2009


The next time you find yourself marveling at the majestic faceted nature of humanity, consider this:

One of our ancestors looked behind him and remarked "Hey, food came out of my butt!"

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Foul Things

As I write this, the temperature is -2 degrees F. I BELIEVE that's -10 C, but no matter how you measure it, humans weren't meant to survive those temps for very long. I love this time of year, even when the weather's like this, because it's pretty and it more or less forces you inside, huddled in covers or other people. Being out in it, though, is foul.

I promised you my take on foul language last post, so I might as well follow through with that shit. I like swearing, it's fun, but it's a flawed thing. Anytime you swear, people around you get the idea that you're probably upset about something, but it's not easy to tell what. A passerby may think you're swearing at him for wearing ugly pants, or accidentally bumping him as you were on your phone getting directions, and it would affect the rest of their day negatively because they didn't see the fresh dog poop you just stepped in. Swearing gets your idea across, but modern society's far too complex to say WHAT it is you're pissed off at and WHY using a few short words. I don't want to be ambiguous, and I'd like people to know what I'm talking about, so there'll be a cap on swearing. That only applies to the main body, in the comments it's a whole new game.

So WordWorld is still going strong, and I think I've come up with a couple of ideas for short stories in the same setting. This is something I was worried wouldn't happen - I wanted a couple of shorter things to work out the bugs and really get a feel for writing this piece. The ideas are fun, give love to a few conventions and challenge others, and make people laugh, so I'm going full-tilt.

Oh, by the way: Happy New Year!