•February 18, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I realized that is been several weeks since I looked at the manuscript for my novel. Up until last Friday I was still rewriting a screenplay and it was taking all my creative faculties. So this morning when I say down to work I found that I was still in editing mode instead of draft mode and that I was still thinking in screenplay format instead of thinking in prose.

So I decided to edit another screenplay.

I suppose this is actually a form of procrastination, but as forms of procrastination go; at least it’s a productive one. The screenplay I’m editing has been on the sidelines for several months. I wrote the original rough draft last February, then decided it would be better as a series and broke it apart in April. Then got distracted by the novel and didn’t look at it again until December when I decided to put it back together as a feature again.

At the start of the year I set myself the goal of submitting a script for the Nicholl’s Fellowship- a screenplay competition that is widely read in the film industry and is a good way for scripts to get noticed. You have to get into the top twenty percent or so in order to be taken seriously, but even if you don’t make the cut you can get reader notes which I’ve found to be very helpful. And you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. So I might as well submit and see how readers respond to my style.

So that’s my new project: to whip this script into fighting shape by the end of the month.



•February 17, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Well it was a helluva weekend for adulting. On Saturday morning the water heater went out leaving us with only cold water for the rest of the weekend. Our water spirits must be angry again: the roof leaks, the shower knob seizes up and now takes both hands and good bit of leverage in order to turn it, and now the water heater is dead. Again. The stupid thing is barely a year old.

When we moved into this house we had endless problems with the plumbing: both toilets leaking, the drain under the house cracking, the u-bend in the kitchen sink falling apart at the connector every time we poured a pot of water intro the drain too quickly… Etc.

I’d foolishly thought the nightmare was over. Well, it came back.

I mean, mostly it’s the landlady’s problem: and she takes good care of us. She’s been calling up plumbers and roofers and insurance adjusters etc and generally being very proactive about helping us get back to normal, but we’re still the ones faced with cold showers.

Oh, and speaking of cold showers: we did our taxes this weekend. And when I say “we” I mean me and when I say “did our taxes” I mean did them four times. IfyouknowwhatImsayin.

I really wish was a euphemism and not literally what I did all day.

We owed. Not as much as last year, but still in four digits which I consider a lot. Why?! I wailed. I’d changed my withholdings down to Single-0 on my W4 last March expressly to avoid having a huge tax bill this year! Turns out my company switched me back to Married-0 when the payroll system changed in April. So all this time my checks have been under-withheld.

But whyyyyy?! I continued to lament. I am married! I filed as married-filling-jointly! It should have been the appropriate withholding! It shouldn’t have been off by more than a grand!

I still don’t know. I tried redoing the return as married-filing-seperately which just meant redoing the tax returns twice (once for myself, once for the Lion) as then adding up the cost. Unsurprisingly it was a considerable amount more. So then- because doing a tax return three times wasn’t enough of a thrill, I did it a fourth time: married-filing-jointly, and sucked it up and paid the bill at the end.

So that was my thrilling day. Cold showers and taxes.

Peak February

•February 14, 2019 • Leave a Comment

The day began with a cockroach.

I walked into the kitchen to make the Curmudgeonly Lion’s lunch to find the little dude hanging out on the countertop beneath an overturned Tupperware: evidently trapped sometime earlier in the night by the Lion himself. I was impressed by the stealth of the capture, since it hadn’t woken me and since our usual method for the capture and disposal of cockroaches is to bash them repeatedly with an empty Pringles can until they crack or squish or both.

But this fellow was still very much alive, which left me with the dilemma of What To Do Next. I deferred the problem by sliding a postcard under the Tupperware and moving the fellow to another counter so I could work, then took him with me when I walked to the bus and dispatched him. In the middle of a crossroads. At dawn. It seemed fitting.

It was raining for my commute. Not hard, but steadily and straight down. Just enough to make everything damp. My boss had asked me to come in early so I’d dragged my ass out the door an hour early, but I didn’t make it to the office until eight forty five. So I was technically early, but it meant that I’d gotten up at the crack of damn dawn just to earn fifteen minutes of overtime.

Happy Valentine’s day.

After such an inauspicious start, my hopes for the rest of the day were not high, but things did seem to improve: the Powers That Be decided to bring in donuts and ordered pasta for lunch for everybody so the food was free, plentiful, comforting, and carbo-loaded. I felt like I was back in high school preparing for a cross country meet, but mostly the day was just spent in a marathon of payroll.

The Curmudgeonly Lion and my Valentine’s plans are similarly comfortable and straightforward: Chinese takeaway and a movie at home. It doesn’t sound like much but I’ve been looking forward to it all week. I’ve never been terribly big on the traditional trappings of Valentine’s day. Mostly it just marks the midpoint of February in a kind of peak hump-day for an otherwise unremarkable month of drab weather and low mood.

With luck things will look brighter from here.

Into The Wind

•February 13, 2019 • Leave a Comment

It wasn’t rain so much as it was fat mist, and it wasn’t wind so much as it was thick air, but the combination of the two made my evening walk damp and unpleasant. I opened my umbrella, holding it in front of me more than over my head and used it to cut the wind. Since I was pretty much walking straight into the wind this meant I was pretty much walking blind, following the painted white line on the bike trail for guidance. Now and then I would raise it just long enough to see if anybody was coming the other way, but nobody ever was: it was an hour later than my usual walk, and with the weather being unpleasant I had the path to myself. Even the usual drifters who live along the route had retreated into the rain-shadow of the train tracks and highway overpasses.

As I walked, I considered how this particular evening’s walk was a good parable for life: sometimes you gotta walk into the wind. Sometimes things are just damp and uncomfortable. Sometimes you can’t see where you’re going and it’s just a matter of following the line on the path until you get there.


•February 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I decided to up my daily plank routine from three minutes to five, and it’s gong about as well as can be expected. Everything hurts. But I guess it’s a good pain because I’d made it to the point where three minutes of planking was…well, not easy exactly, but at least it was doable and it didn’t leave me winded.

Five minutes leaves me winded. I usually have to break it up into segments with a little rest in between. But I’ve been pretty consistent about the planking routine for about nine months now and I’m still seeing the results so I guess it’s worth it.

My Dad sent me a clipping from the newspaper about trying to make little, inevitable one-percent changes to create better daily habits. And I like to think I’ve been pretty good about doing this with the walking and the planking and the intermittent fasting: it’s certainly been the easiest diet I’ve ever been on. Excuse me- lifestyle change, not a diet.

I wish I had some better perspective about how to apply this towards career goals. Today I went into the office an hour early to tackle an enormous stack of W4s for the Grammys. It took most of the morning and gave me a lot of time to think. I’d read an advice column once that posited that if you’ve set yourself a goal that all your daily tasks should move you towards your goal, even if only by a tiny percent with the goal of having fifty percent of your time/energy moving you towards your goal. Which sounds good on paper, but in reality leaves no room for flexibility or spontaneity or enjoyment because every minute has to be both qualitatively and quantitatively measured against this goal. So I’m not sure how helpful I found it.

Anyway, speaking of using my time wisely- it’s now time for bed.

Page Eighty Seven!

•February 11, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I mean, I said it as a joke last week when I said that I couldn’t get past page eighty six of the screenplay rewrite that I was working on, but by Friday I was working on the script three times a day and I was still only on page eighty six by the time I called it quits.

“Ok,” I told myself. “If I have to skip to page eighty seven just to break this curse, then that’s what I’m going to do.”

Luckily, this was not necessary.

Now I’ve gotten into the part of the script that needs the most overhaul. Several of the characters have changed their M.O.s so quite a bit of the climax has to be rewritten. I’m wondering if I need to treat this as a second-first draft and just put down enough fresh words to get the bones in place so that I can really fine tune it in the polish. It’s surprisingly tricky work, but that’s what keeps it interesting.

And I’m glad that the new draft is sparking my inspiration just as much as the first draft did. I was happy with the first draft. Now I’m happy to be pitching big chunks of it out the window. I think that if I were just going through the script making minor word changes it would be a sign that either I was being too precious or the writing was dead and neither would bode particularly well for me to be able to turn out my best work.

So the process is continuing and I’ve got my workcut out for me (and now a hard deadline to keep me on task) so I look forward to seeing how the new climax will evolve.


•February 10, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Well the weekend didn’t go as planned, but we made it through. I feel guilty: I’d had grand plans of finally getting past page eighty six on my screenplay rewrite, but… Well, I like to think of myself as a dedicated writer, but sometimes it’s more important to prioritize life over writing and this weekend was one of those times. It rained, I ran, I focused on family and just did my best to make it through some complicated emotions.

Oh, and I got my period. So. Yeah. There was some crying involved.

But I feel like it was all necessary in a kind of eat-your-vegetables kind of way: sometimes it’s important to prioritize introspection and the past few weeks I’ve been so focused on looking outward that I’ve neglected to take the time to really acknowledge my own internal struggle. So there was some rather uncomfortable self recognition that was pretty humbling, but was probably good for me.

Anyway, this is all very vague. It’s all still tangled in my head and I need some time to square it away. But it did take up the lion’s share of tyre weekend which is why I didn’t write yesterday, and is now filling my mind today so it’s all I can think to report about.

I’ll try to have something more interesting to say tomorrow.

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