So, first things first, the day of leaping was a bit of a struggle, trying to get in everything I could on our extra day. I succeeded, but it was troublesome trying to get everything done. Didn’t help that I started my day with a long meeting that managed to drain me of all energy. However, that means that Run!’s first draft has now reached (well, it’s a couple hundred words shy) 60,000 words! It is quickly nearing the initial goal word count, and that’s exciting.
And things are shaping up rather nicely. Had a couple of things come up that I wasn’t sure how to deal with from a narrative point of view, but got through them without too much trouble and am moving forward today. I do, however, have to do a bit of research on a series of tunnels that exist, which I’m going to have to stretch the truth on a tad.
But, I don’t really want to talk about that today, instead, I want to tell you what about what I’m currently in the midst of watching. I watch about a movie a day. One of the nice things about working from home is that there’s plenty of time to keep a movie running in the background, and since I’m such a good multitasker, I really get to catch up on a bunch of flicks I missed, or ones that I just wouldn’t have watched otherwise. One that falls in the latter category is a documentary called The Captains.
I honestly expected this one to suck donkey, but, it’s shaping up to be pretty good. I’m only about a half hour in at the moment of writing, but needed to take a break from work for a few minutes, so, figured I should get my writing warmup out of the way. The concept involves William Shatner, known to the world as Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise, going around and interviewing the other captains of the Star Trek franchise.
And it’s goofy. One moment you see Shatner sitting in a cardboard box on the sidewalk with ‘Captain Inside’ written on the side as he waits for Kate Mulgrewe to appear, the next he’s arm wrestling with Chris Pine outside Paramount Studios. That one I found especially amusing as it gave us a chance to see which Captain Kirk was stronger. Of course, they left out who won the third match. However, seeing as this is a Shatner-made film, I think we can easily determine who won between the old and young Kirk.
But, the crux of the story so far is what got me thinking this morning. They began with a bunch of little short interviews with all of these captains, mostly discussing how they came about becoming the captain of a Star Trek spaceship. This discussion invariably led to talking about how they got into acting in the first place. Their stories differed, between having a family of actors, to just deciding that they were going to do it and moving forward.
But it got me to thinking about how I reached my current career goal of being a writer.
Honestly, if you had talked to me ten years ago and told me that I would be working on my second book at this point, I don’t think I would have believed you. At that point in my life, my interest was acting. I loved acting. It gave me a chance to not only create something, but also show it to the world. I had decided a little less than ten years ago that acting would have to be my career path, as it was the only thing I could do, could sweat over, lose sleep over, and still be happy to get back to work the next day on.
But regional community theatre wasn’t going to give me the opportunities needed to do it as a profession. I had great big plans about moving out west (which would have been impossible because I barely had enough money to live) or moving to Chicago. And in actuality, I had made official plans to do so on several occasions. Each time it fell through, mostly due to money. Although my interest in a lady might have added to my reluctance to move.
So, I did the only thing I could think of next. I decided to start making my own films. This way I could still act, but I would also have the opportunity to have some sort of Kevin Smith-style explosion of a career. I looked up to Smith as a pattern for what my existence should become. So, I made my first film. It was the first real writing I had ever done, but I still to this day think it was based on a strong concept. We had a month in which to make the movie, from concept to completion, as I had wanted to submit it to a film festival that year. I had assumed it would be that easy.
I assumed wrong. The movie wasn’t bad. It’s still technically watchable. But it was missing a lot. It took me years to get over that failure. I couldn’t understand why it didn’t get immediate accolades. Well, I mean, I could understand it, based on what came out, but I was certain that it should have been much better than that.
Finally, after a couple of years had passed, I got the urge to try again. This time, I decided, we would do more things right. I mean, Kevin Smith had maxed out all his credit cards to produce his movie, so, perhaps that was the issue. I came up with something I considered to be much more epic in scope. Came up with the idea of shooting on location for a week. And put together the script over a period of a month or so. Did a ton more editing on the script than I did with the original film. At least one character didn’t make it into the final cut.
Then shooting began. I figured I must have everything right. I had talked some photographer friends into working behind the camera, I had lights, I had these ideas for crazy special effect shots, and I had a great cast together. Of course, the week on location had been cut down to a weekend. The weekend was cut even shorter because of work schedules that people couldn’t work around. And we got only about a third of the film in the can by the end of the couple days. And, well, we didn’t get to spend nearly as much time on each scene as I had wanted to because we were rushing from shot to shot trying to get as much in as we can.
But none of that really matters. In the end, the movie looks kinda pretty, the acting is pretty darn good (except for my own, because I was having a very difficult time acting while also acting as producer and director). What it all came down to was the story. The story was okay, but, honestly, just not good. I can’t even watch that movie any more.
Another couple years of being pissed at my failure, and paying off credit cards due to purchasing items for the film. There was in here a couple of attempts at coming up with something much more short form. None of those ended up panning out. Mostly due to a lack of energy on my part to put so much time and effort into something like that again.
In fact, I really did very little in the way of expressing myself creatively until August of 2010 when I finally decided to move forward on my superhero novel idea that I had been sitting on for over a decade. When I finally put my focus on it, it came out quickly. And I found myself loving the process. I adored creating these ideas, and I found my depression lifting again. I had these high hopes, once again, that since I had written a book, it would sell. Obviously the book market’s an easier one to get into than the film industry, right?
The story of Buddy Hero has been pretty well documented here, but I’m going to be honest for once on that. Even as the book stands today, it’s still only an okay story. It needs a good boost in narrative excitement to make it worthy of being sold. But it’s better than my previous works.
And that’s what got me excited about trying again. But I just couldn’t come up with something I wanted to spend so much time on again, as I really couldn’t imagine dealing with the fact that I could possibly fail yet again. The failure with Buddy was almost the end for me, I just couldn’t deal with the fact that I could fail yet again.
Then the idea for my current work in progress came to mind, and it sounded perfect. The entire idea of the book was action, something my previous stories lacked. Outside of my first movie, the main characters tended to be these guys who just let life take them where it wanted. Not exciting. With Run, I once again have a character who’s trying to keep control of his life, and, well, has more than enough things standing in his way.
But, something even more important happened when I began writing Run!. I realized why I began writing in the first place. It’s because I enjoyed being creative. When I was acting at the community theatre, I didn’t do it because I expected to reap rewards, I did it because I enjoyed it. Writing, unfortunately, came out of a desire to make money off of my creative efforts, and therefore was too attached to that concept for me to see past it.
But writing has been something I’ve loved for as long as I can remember. It started when I was just starting to learn how to write. I began thinking I could do it, so I tried. I had a great story about these kids who ran away to live in the jungle. I started writing it, and, well, got done with the story after only one page. My first failure, in my mind. How could I possibly write an entire book if I can’t make the story longer than one page?
And so began my battle with writing. Over the years it would happen again and again. I would write things, but they wouldn’t turn out as I hoped, so I would stop for a while. I wrote poetry for a very short while, but, still, just didn’t seem amazing to me. Off and on for my entire life I have been trying to create in the written form, and just like Spiderman, I would find myself wanting to quit because I obviously wasn’t good enough.
But, the thing is. . . I am. My writing has been getting better and better with each attempt, I just wasn’t realizing it. Each failure has caused me to learn another thing about where I’ve gone wrong, and has allowed me to fix things for the future.
And now, Run!, the product of 30 years of failures, is finally shaping up to be the first product that will actually be ready to be considered a success. But it could still fail. I’ve come to terms with that. It just means I’ll have to work even harder the next time, once I figured out what went wrong here.
Anyways. . . back to Shatner.