Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Scent of a Facebook Banner

Created this for The Scent of Lavender's Facebook page. Feels good to be PhotoShopping again.

On Freedom

I've become increasingly perplexed by America's curious relationship with the concept of freedom. We believe we are absolutely entitled to it and that no-one can take it away and to even suggest we forfeit certain privileges is a violation of our constitutional rights. We've become so far removed from the events that created and sculpted the Constitution (not to mention the Bill of Rights) that we've forgotten the colossal sacrifices previous generations have had to make.

"Sacrifice" is another word that seems to have been co-opted by a specific group of people. "Sacrifice," especially when it relates to "freedom" now only applies to the men and women in our military. I in no way want to downplay the significant role the military has played in securing not only our freedom but the freedom of others around in the world. What men and women in the military (along with their families) have sacrificed these 300 years is incalculable. I recognize that and am humbled by it. But what of the civilian sacrifices? What about the men and women who have lived in this country who have had to sacrifice certain freedoms for the greater good of society? What about the minority groups who have had to live in the shadow of the majority, hoping to one day have the equal rights the majority of Americans enjoy? What about the sacrifices activists have had to make to ascertain equal liberty for all American citizens?

A sense of entitlement is infecting America. The sense of entitlement isn't specific to one party or one group of people. Everyone feels entitled to something. What's disturbing about the "entitlement" phase of our relationship to freedom is that it negates any sacrifice I might have to make but demands the sacrifice of others. Why do we feel so entitled? What have we done to earn or deserve this freedom? And if the majority are entitled to these freedoms, why isn't the minority entitled to such freedom?

You religion. Your guns. Your right to an abortion. Your right to marry whoever you choose. Your health. Your privacy. Your education. Your right to speak your mind. Your job. The money you earn. Your home. Your comfort. A trial with a jury made up of your peers in which you are innocent until proven guilty. The safety net of welfare.

What would you be willing to sacrifice for the freedom of others?

Monday, March 26, 2012

In Tense

I've been struggling to find my narrative voice. I never had a creative writing teacher that challenged me (except the exceptional Dr Byrd) and so I've had to find my own voice and my own style when it comes to my writing. It seems like such a natural, why-should-anyone-have-to-worry-about-that sort of thing.

For the last ten years, I've cultivated my "screenwriter" voice, a voice that speaks to directors, producers, and actors. It tells everyone involved in the filmmaking process exactly what they need to know, painting a vivid picture of the scene, explaining why and how it's happening, but ultimately leaves the specifics up for interpretation. For a screenplay, that's fine. For a screenplay, that's great. But I like prose that's vivid. I like words that come alive and transport you somewhere as they paint intricate scenes, characters, and locations. While books are a medium for the imagination, I crave specificity.

Which is why I've been struggling with the opening chapters of Oasis (its working title). The words aren't connecting. Everything feels clunky and everything sounds like I'm trying so hard -- which is, quite frankly, something new for me. Writing is easy. It's exciting. It's relaxing. It's freeing. It's not hard work.

Kelly kept telling me to relax and stop thinking about it. "That's when you write your best stuff," she said, "when you just have fun with it." But I couldn't. I couldn't have fun with it. I wrestled with every sentence, despite the fact that the story I'm telling is a fairly light one, filled with drama and childhood trauma, sure, but I want to veer more into adventure than horror.

Then I figured it out. I needed to let my characters tell the story. Specifically, I needed to let Benjamin Blakeney, the eyes and ears of the story, tell the story. He needed to use his own words. Switching from third person to first person was a game-changing decision that has made all the difference in the world. Now the scenes and the dialogue just flow from my finger tips, as usually do.

I just needed to stop trying and just do.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Catching Up

It's been a bit.

I'm not ignoring you, I just haven't had much to report. I've been spinning my wheels with very little traction to be found. I've had a couple of projects fail to get off the ground and I've found myself in the kind of gloom only John Cusack in High Fidelity can rescue me from.

But I've started writing again. I've often flirted with this idea that I call "Oasis" and I've just decided to sit down and make a young adult novel out of it. If you follow me on Twitter (@ScottishFogg), I've been posting word count updates at the conclusion of every night. It's my way of boring my followers and keeping myself honest. If I have to report progress (or the lack of) on a nightly basis, I find myself compelled to write. I hate not updating the word count but I hate updating the word count with a nearly insignificant increase even more. And while I have ideas every day, sometimes I don't. But I still need to be writing and there days when writing is just putting one word in front of another until you stumble on another great idea. Drafting will, hopefully, fix those boring bits.

I've also been approached about acting in the upcoming web series The Scent of Lavender. It's a bit of a murder mystery -- which is outside the realm of entertainment I usually find myself in so I'm excited. I'm also excited to be acting again, without worrying about the script or directing or editing or . . . anything else really. I've been working on some promotional art for the series and I'm an administrator for the series' Facebook page, but that is such a light load when compared to all the other hats I usually wear when I'm involved in a project.

Anyway. I'm off. I'll try to not let so much time go by between now and my next post.