Meanwhile, 365 days later…

When exactly are the days of auld lang syne again?
When exactly are the days of auld lang syne again?

Things definitely changed for me during 2013, happily for the better.

-My script DREAMSHIP got me a manager, was a semifinalist in a high-profile contest and placed in the top 15 percent of the Nicholl. While I hope more things happen with it this year, I’m also pretty excited about the potential of the western spec and the two still in the rewrite/development stages.

Most importantly, I’d say I finally realized the true meaning of “write what you know”. A lot of what I write could fall squarely into the category of pulp material. A high-flying adventure guaranteed to buckle anyone’s swash. A western where you can practically breathe in the dry and dusty air and hear the thundering hoofbeats. A noir-style mystery that makes you want to hang on to your fedora as you toss back a shot of cheap rotgut.

I live for this kind of stuff, and strive to convey the same kinds of sensations and experiences in my work. It took a while to really understand this, but it’s made a significant difference for me and how I approach writing.

-Through this blog, assorted networking websites and writing forums, I’ve connected with a lot of extremely talented people from all over the world. Pleasantries, experiences and script advice have been exchanged, and I’m looking forward to continuing all of them (when possible, regarding the latter).

-Absolutely nothing happened with relaunching the podcast, mostly because I never found the time. Will do my best to change that.

-I ran 5 half-marathons, including two where I finally managed to break the 1:55 mark and set a new personal best – 1:51:10. I don’t know if I’ll do as many this year, but would like to try and at least hit 1:50.

-The running and bike riding definitely helped me stay in shape, and I attempted to maintain a semi-regular regiment of upper body work. Not as fit and toned as I’d like to be, but it’s helped a little. This will continue.

-The great baklava experiment was a smashing success. It’s been requested I make it again, this time with pistachios instead of walnuts. No reason that can’t happen. Still undecided about what new concoction to attempt this year, but baked alaska currently holds the frontrunner position.

As always, I’d like to thank you for coming along with me on this thrill ride of an experience, and hope you stick around because 2014 holds bigger and better things.

Happy new year, and see you on the other side.

Out of the fog – literally

Definitely the kind of weather you'd find this guy in
Conditions like this I call “Sam Spade kind of weather”

Call it a benefit of being a creative type.

Even though I may be working on one project, there’s always the strong possibility that ideas connected with another can still pop up. Happens to all of us.

When they do, I do my best to take advantage of it.

Just such a thing happened yesterday morning. As is my usual routine, I was riding my bike to work. (Didja know I leave the house at 4AM? True.) Suffice to say, it was dark.

And foggy. This is San Francisco, where fog is a serious issue. Visibility was limited to fifteen, maybe twenty yards.

So there I am, pedaling along, and I can’t help but notice how delightfully creepy and sinister it all is. Barely-lit slick streets blanketed with dense fog, the hearty blast of the foghorn sounding over by the Golden Gate.  Something in my brain switches on.

“This is the perfect setting,” I think to myself, “for the opening of the monster script.”

The fog hung around for about another two miles, giving me lots of time to come up with a mental list of what could happen during that sequence. After I got to work, I wrote some of them down. If only the rest of this was as easy.

Even though this is just a small part of the story, and the actual work on the script may not happen for a couple of months, it was pleasantly unexpected.

We can’t force inspiration, so when you suddenly come up with an idea, let alone one that works, no matter how big or small it is, grab hold with both hands and do not let go.

The details might change, or you might not even use it, but it’s still a small step towards being done that helps make the whole process a little more bearable.

Ear candy

From our mouths to your ears

If it’s not raining, I ride my bike to work.  Since it could still be considered the middle of the night when I do (4AM), it’s pretty quiet.  My iPod helps make the ride a little more tolerable.

Probably unlike a lot of people, I don’t do a lot of music. At first it was old radio shows, which I still enjoy, but some of them are starting to lose their luster and I’m slowly adding more podcasts into the mix.

The appeal of the radio shows comes from the quality of the writing, which could be extremely good.  They didn’t call it ‘theatre of the mind’ for nothing.  Even decades later, a lot of the material still works.  You can’t go wrong with a solid episode of Jack Benny or The Shadow.  It’s also fascinating how a show serves as a time capsule, preserving a moment 60 or 70 years in the past.

A few years ago, I attended a panel discussion about old time radio. I must have been the only person there under 55.  The guest of honor was an actor who had been on The Lone Ranger for a few years; his name currently escapes me.  They recreated parts of well-known shows, commercials and jingles and an episode of The Lone Ranger, complete with sound effects.  Probably not the same as watching it back in the day, but still fun.

While there’s no direct modern equivalent, podcasts come pretty close. There are shows covering just about every subject you could think of.  In my case, most of them deal with film (Filmsack), writing (Scriptcast) or a slightly different take on current events (The Bugle and Wait, Wait, Don’t  Tell Me!).  And for overall entertainment value, you can’t go wrong with The Dinner Party or The Nerdist.

The only downside to all this great material is that I can’t listen to it when I want to write. It’s great for bike rides, runs or working in the kitchen, but for work on the outline or pages, that’s when the music kicks in and I thank my lucky stars for the wonderful gloriousness that is Pandora.

What are you listening to these days?