Wednesday, June 9, 2010

me & my chalkboard

Some time between purchasing our house and moving into it, my wife (hencforth referred to as "Kelly") surprised me by turning one of the walls of my office into a chalkboard. She did it out of the kindness of her heart. She looked at me, said, "I have an idea," and the next day I had a chalkboard. She had to sand the wall smooth and before covering it with chalkboard paint, but in the end, I had a wall I could write on and not get in trouble for (something I've wanted since the age of 2).

I use the chalkboard to sort out ideas. If I have something that I'm not sure about, I write it on the wall. Sometimes giving an idea a tangible presence is all that it takes to prove its worth; some ideas boldly stand out against the dark wall, others just whimper there, waiting to be erased.

I use the chalkboard to keep my timelines straight. Season 1 of Remnants, for example, takes place over the course of about 8 days. It's nice to be able to see that. It's nice to be able to step back and look at the timeline of events. Being able to see that helps me keep the story rooted in reality -- how fast should this story take place? How much time is needed to get from Point A to Point B? Can I rearrange the events a little bit and fill in the some of the gaps to give the overall story a better flow?

I use the chalkboard to keep score. Back in 2009, I had 28 skits and plays to write for the General Conference. As I completed each one, I made a mark. Watching the wall fill up with marks kept me focused. Walking into my office and seeing that I had completed only 6 skits reminded me I had 22 more to write -- so I better sit down, strap in, and get typin'.

I use the chalkboard to leap over writer's block. Sometimes then adjectives fail me, all it takes to jump-start my brain is a quick doodle on the chalkboard. Most doodles involve a spiky-haired boy with his tongue sticking out. Sometimes I trace my hand and use different colored chalks to turn my fingers into feathers and my thumb into the head and face of a turkey -- you know, the kind of doodles you did in kindergarten. My art skills haven't progressed much past that.

Right now the chalkboard is blank.

I'm in between projects, so I don't have anything to fill the wall with. Nothing needs to be recorded. Nothing needs to marked, kept, erased, or cataloged in chalk. No writer's blocks need to be hurdled with a pole vault doodle.

But I'm ready. Justin North came over last night and we discussed Season 2 of Remnants -- what it could be, what it needed to be, and what we wanted it to be. And ideas are creeping forward. Out of the ether, God is calling them. They're making themselves known. They're demanding attention and demanding to be written down.

It's time to fill the chalkboard.

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