Monday, June 3, 2013

"Silver Streak is a runaway. What do we do?"

I'm firmly tucked into my writing spot.  High atop the word in a double decker commuter rail car.  It's a great use of time and except for the occasional loud talker, is a very peaceful place to get a lot done.  The only catch is, as a creature of habit, I run the risk of only being able to write when I'm on the train.  My wife even made a joke about me having to take the train, even after I leave my "day job", just so I can keep up the writing pace.  I like those kinds of jokes.  They presume success.

To keep from being locked into only being able to write "in my spot" I try to mix things up.  When I'm home I'll pick different rooms or, if the bugs aren't to bad, head out to the porch for a change of venue.  Mostly it's about how I'm sitting - when I start writing, what's going on around me doesn't really make any different.  What matters is whether or not chair rocks, what my elbow keeps hitting, or if the cell phone with the sonar ring tone is riding in my car today.  For some reason that one always distracts me.

Most writing experts say you need to pick A spot and A time and guard it religiously or you will not be able to maintain the discipline necessary to succeed.  I'm not disagreeing with that, but I'm adding that complacency is deadly and if you don't shake it up once in a while that comfortable spot you've worn into the cushion of your chair will become a rut you can't escape from.  You need to - wait for it - train yourself to write anywhere.

We had a very busy weekend.  I needed to go to the hardware store to get a replacement shower head.  Some how my entire family ended up going along and my daughter bought a couple of dresses.  Not at the hardware store.  It was that kind of busy.  While we were wandering the store, my wife with my daughter and I with my boys, I figured out a scene in the screenplay I'm currently working on.  It clicked.  I wasn't in my spot, but it was there.  I didn't have any index cards with me so I had to recite it to myself.  Descriptions, action, snippets of dialogue.  I'm surprised security didn't escort me out - the strange old guy mumbling to himself through housewares with a couple of kids asking if Bobby Flay was the guy who said, "Bam!"

I'll close with a final thought on story telling.  We also watched an amateur production of Alice in Wonderland.  It was done well.  I'm not a huge fan of the story, I didn't really even like the production I was in as kid.  Doesn't matter.  The young men and women who were performing did a great job.  Alice has lasted because, as wild as the trip down the rabbit hole is, it is consistent.  Each character is unique and the rules of wonderland are never broken.  We are not surprised by contrivance.  Twas Brillig makes no sense, but it doesn't suffer from double mumbo jumbo because we don't expect it too.  The slithy toves belong in the wabe.  My life experience is very specific and I've been trying to make my story to real.  It doesn't have to be real, it has to make sense.  Real is complicated and who wants to work that hard to be entertained?

I'd write more, but I'm late for a very important date.

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