Looks like my get-up-and-go has got up and went

Everybody feels like this sometimes; today just happens to be my turn.
Amazingly, not as comfy as you’d think

I’m up to page 80 of the first draft, with maybe 2-3 pages to go to hit that next major plot point, which would put me approximately 7-8 pages over. Not necessarily too bad.

But there have been times lately, especially in the past few weeks, when writing feels more like work, which it really shouldn’t.

I’m not going to call it burnout, but it feels mighty close to that. Call it the writer’s equivalent of battle fatigue.

I don’t like it, and what bothers me more is the why.

Maybe it’s from not exercising as much, so my energy levels are down. On the other hand, I did two 13-mile runs in just under a week, so maybe I’ve exhausted myself.

Or maybe it’s psychological.  The ever-present concern whether people will like the end result is shaking my confidence, which makes it hard to focus.

A lot of writers say they write because they can’t imagine doing anything else. I agree, but what do you do when it’s tough to actually write?

It’s not writer’s block. I know the material. And it’s not motivation. Believe me, I really want to get this done.

The biggest drawback to all of this is if I’m not mentally jazzed about writing, the writing’s going to reflect that.

I could have an incredibly thrilling action sequence ready to go, but it might read as sluggish, listless or, god forbid, lazy.

It’s one thing to say to yourself “Keep going! You can do it!” It’s another to actually put those words into effect.

-Movie of the Moment – MAN OF STEEL (2013) Talk about tired and listless. How can a movie about Superman feel so empty? The special effects were impressive – I’d expect nothing less – but in terms of story and characters, I was very disappointed there wasn’t more of a sense of fun to it.

A friend says they were following the Nolan/DARK KNIGHT model and going for dark and brooding, which is what Batman’s all about anyway.

For a character with the nickname of the Big Blue Boy Scout, ‘dark and brooding’ isn’t exactly what comes to mind.

V and I saw it, and there were a few times she asked “Is it almost over?” This is a child who really enjoys a good comic book movie, and she’s known about Superman since she was really little, so when she asks that, you know it’s not a good sign.

Deterred? Me? Never!

Just...a little...farther...
Just…a little…farther…

And so another half-marathon has come and gone, along with my latest attempt to break the much-desired time of 1:55.

This time it was the SF WiPro on Sunday morning. There was a lot more uphill along the course than I expected, but I’m proud to say I didn’t stop on any of them.

End time: 1:57:28, for a pace of 8:58, which is actually pretty good for me. And taking all that uphill into consideration, it ain’t too shabby. It gives me confidence of how I could do on an entirely/mostly flat course.

Was I disappointed about still not hitting my personal best? Sure, but it’s in the past and now I can look ahead and get ready for my next race in August.  I’ll do my best for that one and see what happens. If I beat 1:55, great; if not, there’s yet another race in October.

For me, training for and running in these races is a lot like working on a script. I work at it when I can. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it isn’t. It’s a tremendous effort that takes a lot of dedication and commitment, and success does not come easily or quickly.  However, the payoff for when it does go well can be extremely gratifying.

Most importantly, no matter how hard things may seem, or how much I feel like giving up, I keep going.

Every single time I put myself out there, either for a race or a script competition, it’s a challenge to myself to do better than the last time. If I don’t get the results I’d hoped for, the next step is to figure out how I can improve.

I like to think I’ll eventually break 1:55, and my writing situation has been steadily improving, both in terms of skill and career development.

It’s been a long, tough effort, but my proverbial finish line is somewhere out there. It just takes a while to reach it.

-Movie of the Moment – ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER (2012) It sucked.

That’s me – the human flying buttress

Just offering what little support I can
Just offering whatever support I can

When another writer follows me on Twitter, I’ll send a thank-you DM when applicable and ask how their latest project is coming along. The responses are usually pretty enthusiastic, and it’s great to see such a wide spectrum of material and how each person’s path is developing.

(What writer doesn’t like to talk about their work? I’m no exception either.)

Or maybe they’ve hit a bump in the road. “I’m stuck in Act Two,” “This rewrite’s killing me!” or “I’ve been dragging my feet on getting this draft done.”  Happens to all of us.

Based on how they’re doing, I’ll usually write something like “That’s awesome!” or “Hang in there!”, followed by the ubiquitous “Best of/Good luck!”

And I actually mean it.

Honest.

So it was a little surprising when I got this response during a recent DM chat – “You have a special gift of encouragement. WHO does that these days?”

Really? Nice, supportive people are now considered a rarity?

I’m not an idiot. This is a savage business a lot of us are trying to break into. It’s extremely competitive, and the odds are definitely not in our favor.  It’s extremely easy to get disenhearted and want to throw in the towel after receiving that 97th rejection letter.

A few words of support are never the wrong thing to say, even if it’s something as simple as “Good luck.” That may be just the extra push you need to get yourself to keep going, start again, or what have you.  If you’re lucky, you have loved ones, friends and trusted colleagues who support your efforts, regardless of how long it takes.

And consider me part of that group as well.

-Movie of the Moment – STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013). Nice to look at, but is it really asking too much for an original story and characters – again? I didn’t like the Leonard Nimoy/Spock part of the 2009 movie, and was disappointed at the way this one played out.

For a funnier, NSFW spoiler-filled review, click here.

It bothers me that Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof have become the go-to guys for pop culture sci-fi flicks. Yes, they’ve got talent (to a certain extent), but their work just feels like something’s missing. Maybe too much relying on flashy spectacle and not enough smart storytelling?  The effects should enhance the story, not the other way around.

As much as I enjoy a good fanboy film, I’ll take a solid story over gee-whiz special effects every time.  I suspect a lot of people also feel this way, or at least hope they do.

Trust your audience to be able to follow along; they’ll appreciate it.

Just call me the human perpetual motion machine

Stop working? That's crazy talk!
Stop working? That’s crazy talk!

Well, this has been an interesting week, to say the least.

-Rewrite was completed and sent it off to my manager. Hope they like it.

-Found out DREAMSHIP was one of 25 semifinalists in the Tracking Board’s Launch Pad competition. The top 10 finalists will be announced at the end of the month, followed by the winner a few days later.

Even if the script doesn’t advance, I don’t mind (although it would be nice). I’m just thrilled to have made it this far.  As K said to me after I got the email from the Tracking Board people, “See? Somebody who doesn’t know you thinks you’re a good writer.”

That’s a nice reminder.

-The Nicholl deadline came and went. DREAMSHIP was sent to that back in March, which makes it one of at least 7,200 submissions. The final count should be tallied sometime soon.

(If you have the time, do a quick search to find out what past winners are up to these days. It’s a fascinatingly diverse range of material, including film and television.)

-With a lot of this contest stuff out of the way, it’s time to return to the first draft of LUCY.  It’s been about a month since I last worked on it, so it’ll be interesting to take a look at what I’ve written so far.  Nothing like fresh eyes on your old work!

-I can also start running again. Next race is in 6 weeks, and I really want to be ready for it.

-Movie of the Moment – SKYFALL (2012) Took me three separate viewing sessions, but I finally made it through.  I enjoyed it.

Easy to see why this was so popular. It was a well-written combination of old-style Bond movies with 21st-century themes, thankfully without dipping too much into cheesy joke territory.

Odds, ends & everything in-between

A little of everything for all tastes
A little of everything for all tastes

It’s spring break this week, so script progress has been somewhat limited, but at least it’s still happening.  In the meantime…

-Had an unusual case of writer’s block yesterday. Scene notes in the outline had the main character asking something completely out of the blue, and I didn’t want that. Just couldn’t fix it, so rather than sit and stew in frustration, I stepped away. Potential solutions have been brewing ever since.

-Been reading some great material from assorted gurus – check out recent scribblings from Lee Jessup, Erik Bork and Michele Wallerstein. Each has some info and comments worth hearing.

-For all my fellow Passover celebrants, do NOT be misled by the way Manischewitz portrays its products on the packaging. Just about every one of their items tastes the same, no matter what it looks like. Trust me on this one.

-Seriously considering entering DREAMSHIP in the Tracking Board’s Launchpad contest. deadline is Sunday night. Details here.

-2nd year in a row of not being able to attend Wondercon this weekend in Anaheim. It’s usually here, but the idiots who run the venue can’t get their act together so it’s down in SoCal again. Hope fading it’ll return for 2014.

-Movie of the Moment:  Since it’s spring break, V and I had a double feature yesterday.  First up was OZ THE GREAT & POWERFUL (2013). Liked it, but didn’t love it. Thought it felt kind of sluggish in parts.

And you know how an antagonist’s goal is supposed to be contrary to that of the protagonist?  Didn’t really get that here. If they really wanted to stop Oz, wouldn’t they have been more active, rather than just sitting around?

Still, nice to see Sam Raimi include Bruce Campbell’s obligatory cameo, and I think I figured out where the 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 made its appearance (courtesy of a teaser from Campbell himself at a personal appearance a few weeks ago).

-Second movie was JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (2012)  Never saw the first film – JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, but this looked like something V would like, and she did. Family-friendly Disney-esque adventure with some honest laughs (courtesy of Dwayne Johnson and Luis Guzman). Not a bad choice for family movie night.

-As always, what are you working on this weekend?