Sunday, January 3, 2016
Write or Die
I've made a commitment myself to put writing above everything this year. For the sake of my soul, I have to. I've long since known what the creative process means to me - and what it does to me. It's been brought to my attention by well-meaning people that when I don't write, I get cranky. I imagine other writers experience the same temperamental response to being cut off from creative expression. For those who don't write, there's nothing else quite like it. While writing itself is hard work, the act of bringing imagination to life on the page is exhilarating, to say the least.
I'm challenging myself to produce more work this year than I've ever produced before. That's not to say I won't still give attention to areas of my life that also bring me considerable joy (spending quality time with my partner, Edward, for example). However, I'm calling 2016 as it is: Write or Die.
Okay, that sounds a wee bit dramatic - but it's honest. I really feel the stakes are that high for me right now - not just from a career perspective, but from an emotional and spiritual one. I have a lot to prove this year - to myself. It's one thing to talk about writing (and even teach it), but it's another to do it. Therefore, write or die.
So, I will be retreating from the world from time to time this year, disappearing to my home office. Not because I don't want to hang out, take your phone call, text you back, meet you for lunch, go to your party, or because I'm antisocial (as a high-functioning introvert, I really am). It's because I have a lot of work to do - and no one else is going to do it for me. Otherwise, stories will go untold. I promise to surface every now and then to check in with the world (as a college professor this will be required of me more often than you think).
To the left of this post is a detailed list of all of my projects scheduled to be released this year (thanks to those carefully planted seeds last year). I won't bore you with details about each. Instead, here are a handful I'm particularly excited about. These projects are fueling me on, keeping me motivated, and my eye on that proverbial brass ring.
Scotch and Cat Food (Screenplay): This screenplay - about the unexpected discovery of love between a woman named Marjorie and a man named Alvin (they're both in their 80's) - is a love letter to many older people who have inspired and influenced my life, including my own grandmother. By far the most heartfelt script I've written to date.
Blue Navy (Screenplay): I may get some heat for this script, but I've never been shy of controversy (bring it on). The story is about a a lonely high school sophomore and a young sailor - and the one night they spend together that forever changes their lives. It was very inspired by many of my favorite indie films, including Susan Seidelman's Smithereens and Frank Clarke's Letter to Brezhnev.
Whirl (Screenplay): I've worked on this script for over five years and it's will finally be finished. I've always been fascinated with traveling carnivals (I have an aunt who owns one, so perhaps this strange obsession is in my blood). I'm using this setting to allow a very masculine male character (he's recently been discharged from the military) to come to terms with his feelings through a relationship he has with a young man who works at a local car wash. The main character must also face his unforgivable past, including the preventable death of his best friend, a fellow soldier. This cast of characters are the most intense I've written in my career.
Tidal Waves (Screenplay): This screenplay has been in development for over a decade. It's about a high school teacher who takes on the concerns of a group of students the school has labeled "lost causes." I fell in love with these characters and their stories as I wrote them, I think I got this one right.
The Marijuana Mermaids (Novel): After fifteen long years, this novel is finally happening. It's long overdue. It's the best book I've ever written. It's everything I want it to be. I hope the world falls in love with my mermaids.
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