The ever-elusive 1:55

Only one way to go – up

When you start out doing something, you know what your goal is from the very beginning.

“This is what I want to accomplish” is your mindset.

You work and work, always striving to reach that goal.

There may be setbacks, but you don’t let them stop you or deter you. You remind yourself that reaching that goal will take time. Persevere, as my dad is fond of saying.

Set that bar. Reach for it. Every effort and attempt gets you that much closer to it.

Hit a milestone on the way to that ultimate goal, and ask yourself “How can I improve?” Always strive to do better, because you know you can.

The whole time you’re working towards that goal, part of what keeps you going is looking forward to seeing all that hard work pay off.

And when that goal is finally reached, take time to enjoy it.  Besides, chances are you’re going to immediately set another goal and start working towards that one.

My goal in screenwriting is to write a script that will start me on the path of writing them for a living.  After a few more tweaks, I think the latest draft of my current script may be the one that does that.  This has been a long journey, but I’m a much better writer now compared to when I started out, and it’s all contributed towards reaching that goal.

And working towards these goals doesn’t just apply to creativity.

My goal in running is to do a half-marathon in 1:55.  This weekend’s run in Los Angeles yielded a time of 1:57:45, which isn’t bad. I still beat the 2-hour mark, but I know I can eventually hit my goal time. (The hot weather didn’t help. I don’t do well with the sun beating down on me.) In the meantime, I’m continuing to train and am already looking at potential races for next year.

My current goal in the kitchen is to make a pumpkin pie completely from scratch. After years of using the canned stuff, I’ve taken the plunge and bought a sugar pumpkin. (The baklava project has been put on hold until the holidays.)

Everybody has multiple goals they’re working towards. Don’t stop trying.

-Movie of the Moment – ARGO (2012). Absolutely loved it. Great story, great characters, smart script. Highly recommended. I’d be surprised if it didn’t get some Oscar nods. Also can’t help but wonder how Affleck would do directing a film where he wasn’t part of the cast.

Also finished Season 2 of THE WALKING DEAD. Solid all the way through, and ready to jump into Season 3.

Not yet, but almost

Must…stay awake…finish…rewrite….zzzz

Man, am I pooped.  But it’s a good pooped. Which actually sounds somewhat disgusting. But back to my original point.

K’s out of town this week, which makes me the guy responsible for getting V to school on time. As a result, I’ve had to stay home but have been really busy.

Apart from the usual dad stuff (rides to school, soccer, etc), this week has been prime “getting stuff done” time, especially in terms of running and writing.

For running, I’ve been getting ready for the Los Angeles Half-marathon this Sunday. If you’re anywhere along the route, I’ll be the panting, sweaty tall guy.  This’ll be my third half-marathon this year, and I’ve beaten the 2-hour mark for the first two. I’m hoping to hit  1:55 in LA, but don’t know if that’ll happen, although it would be very nice.

Running’s been good to me this year. That, combined with the biking everywhere, as well as trying to eat healthier and avoid crappy stuff, has resulted in me losing about 15 pounds. I’m hovering just below 200, and my jeans are 5(!) sizes smaller than the ones I wore in high school. Not to shabby.

Next up – upper body.

As for the writing, I dove into this rewrite with the intention of finishing it before week’s end.

Mission accomplished.

It’s 7 pages longer than the previous draft, but there’s lots of editing and fine-tuning to work through. Bet I can trim at least 3-4 pages before all is said and done.

Those notes I got over the summer really helped.  I was able to make changes where necessary, as well as throw in some improvements I never even considered before.  The hardest part was coming up with and implementing those changes. At first I resisted, but had to keep reminding myself “This is a rewrite, not a cut-and-paste. There are some things that need to be different.”

You’d be surprised what you can come up with when you throw willingness and openness to change into the mix. It’s almost freeing.

I wasn’t used to being able to spend so much time on a project. Several hours at a stretch.

I came pretty close to burning out at the end, but knew enough to step away when necessary. A short game on the iPhone or some brief internet surfing can actually be beneficial to one’s productivity, but don’t quote me on that.

-Movie of the Moment – still working my way through Season 2 of THE WALKING DEAD. Man, that is some quality stuff. Practically addicting. Looking forward to Season 3, and I still have 4 eps left of Season 2.

Originality abounds

Kind of busy right now. Hoping to steamroll through to the end of the rewrite before the weekend.

In the meantime, check out some of the creative types I met at APE last week…

The Selling – I first heard about this on the Nerdist podcast with Diani & Devine. Can’t wait to see it.

Band

The Chapel Chronicles – written & drawn by 15-year-old Emma Capps

Zoms – V got a stuffed Horace and absolutely loves it.

Gulls

Kevin Wood

Squid Row – out of Salinas (Steinbeck country!)

Dr Lollipop, Unicorn MD – not sure if her site mentions the Kitten Pirates, but both are great

Boston Metaphysical Society – sort of a steampunk X-Files

Finn and Charlie are Hitched

Ryan Dow

Sumo Fish – cool designs. Both V and I liked the Sushi Robot shirt

The holidays are coming up fast, and a lot of these would make great gifts. Just a suggestion…

Leaps and bounds!

Up, up and away…

Honestly, I didn’t expect to be the rewrite to be this far along, but that’s how it’s working out.

Utilizing elements of the previous draft, the revamped outline and the occasional sudden inspiration, I’ve been copying, pasting and making fixes left and right.

Pretty significant – changes in Act One extended it another 6-7 pages, which turned out not to be the problem I thought it might. This combined with changes in the first half of Act Two have kept things on track, so now I’m around 4 pages ahead. Still not a problem.

Even more significant – I’ve been able to insert important story elements in appropriate places, except for one. Still working on that, but not worried about it.

Basically, the whole process has been extremely energizing. And I’m loving it.

-Had a nice chat with the guy whose script I provided notes for a few weeks ago. He’s already made two films on his own, and this is his third. Despite his eagerness to start filming, I did my best to emphasize the importance of making sure the script is rock-solid and bulletproof first, including recommending a 2-week break from the script, followed by a page one cold rewrite.

After I gave my two cents about other topics like incorporating theme, conflict, character development and so on, the poor guy seemed stunned. Almost as if I’d scared him into submission. But he said he’d take everything I said into consideration – but he had to get going because he was headed out to scout locations.

Can’t say I didn’t try.

-Movie of the Moment – THE WALKING DEAD, Season Two. I’d watched Season One on DVD about a year ago, and thought it was fantastic.  I never got around to catching Season Two when it actually aired on TV.  Now Season Three has started up, but we’re phasing out Comcast (Roku or Apple TV? Your thoughts please) and I’m using Hulu and Netflix Streaming when I can.

Hence Season Two.

One of the many things I really appreciate about the show in general is the suspense factor. Sometimes it’s low, and sometimes it’s through the roof, but it’s always gripping and definitely leaves you wondering what’s going to happen next.  And the occasional plot twist out of nowhere doesn’t hurt either.

Throw in 3-dimensional characters, believable situations (despite the whole zombie apocalypse aspect), and just plain great writing, and it’s easy to see why this has been so successful. Very eager to keep going.

-Totally forgot to mention – took V to APE this past weekend. Met a lot of great self-published comic creators. Hoping to write about it  later this week, including links to some extremely talented folks.

Didn’t know I had it in me

Seemingly insurmountable? Maybe not.

One of the notes I got back in August was that my main character had to be challenged more. That really struck a chord with me.  Challenged how? How could I accomplish that? Does he mean in a story sense, or character development, or something else entirely?

I had no idea what to do.

Rather than stress myself out, I opted to shut down the analytical part of my brain and just work on the outline.  Which led to the current work on pages.

Then I got to this pivotal sequence near the end of Act One.  The previous version was okay, but needed improvement on several levels.

And that’s when it hit me.

Here was the opportunity to not only challenge my hero, but to emphasize the threat of the bad guys (extra conflict courtesy of a 2nd antagonist added to this sequence) AND to play up the fantastical elements of the story (also advised via the aforementioned script notes).

It was surprising how this was working out.  Something I was anxious and stressing over was becoming easier to do.

The now-revamped sequence definitely changes things, and really sets a tone for what’s ahead and what kind of bad guys our hero has to deal with if he’s to accomplish his goal.

This sort of thing seems to be happening more.  Initial nervousness, followed by calm, analytical thinking, resulting in better-than-expected final product.

But this isn’t the time to rest on my laurels. A main supporting character is about to undergo a major personality adjustment, and that’s going to be even more of an effort.

Can’t wait to see how that works out.