Is there a Why to your What?

I have a nasty habit of not listening to people.

Let me explain …

I love collaboration.  Nothing excites me more as a writer than getting notes, reading other’s thoughts and suggestions, seeing my work through someone else’s eye and discovering how much more it can be.  The rewrite process is much better when you have people to bounce your ideas off of.  So, when it comes to working with others, I play nice.

It’s only when someone tells me what I CAN’T do that I tend to tune them out.

For example, when I wrote my first screenplay in 2004, well-meaning friends familiar with the Business of Show told me that’s what I’d be for the rest of my career:  a screenwriter.  So imagine their surprise when I decided to write a play!  Well, they said, you can write features and maybe a play or two, but that’s really your limit.  That’s all you’re supposed to do.  Features, plays, that’s it.  Be happy with that, okay?  Okay.

Then I wrote my full-length novel, Martuk … the Holy.  And The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of Short Fiction based on Martuk … the Holy (currently being adapted into graphic novels)after that.

By now, these well-meaning friends — who really are sincerely lovely people I truly adore — weren’t quite sure what box to place me in.  Was I a screenwriter, a playwright, an author of Literary Horror?  Some Frankenstein-like amalgamation of all of them?  Which was it, really, because all this hopscotching across literary borders was getting annoying.

Well, I asked, why can’t I be EVERYTHING all rolled into ONE?

It was a reality they had to accept.  And with the industry changing so rapidly over the last several years, my dog-eared passport to the Land of Many Genres is nothing new, my journeys now more often than not spent standing shoulder -to-shoulder with a veritable mob of Writers as we move between features, edgy cable series, plays, fiction, non-fiction, more features, and advertiser-friendly Network sitcoms.

Which brings me to my next stop:  a sitcom.

Something I truly thought I’d never do, to be honest, most of my work testing the limits of human experience, my characters often hitting rock bottom before tunneling even further into the dark.  But there it is!  A happy, funny, sweet, sincere sitcom any Network would be lucky to get its hands on.

(Hey, Relentless Optimism, it’s good to see you!)

So if you write, write.  Don’t let form or convention or anyone with a half-assed opinion hinder how you decide to express yourself.  You may have to shift gears quickly — I’ll spend the morning writing and rewriting snappy sitcom dialogue only to take a quick lunch break before seeing the afternoon disappear in a prose-heavy recreation of 5th century views of religion in Constantinople for the bloody, violent sequel to Martuk.

But hey, unless you can give me a Why to the Whats you decide I can and can’t do, I’ll continue translating the insanity my imagination insists on throwing at me.

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Cirque de No Way

Balance.  It’s really all about balance, isn’t it?

Although the focus of this blog is obviously my work as an author, a fiction writer, the majority of my life these days has been, by necessity, devoted to screenwriting.  They whys of that I can’t explain right now — firm believer in jinxing potentially good news by premature blabbing, so I’m keeping my trap shut –, but suffice it to say there are people whose work depends on my getting them rewrites, supplemental material (log lines, tag lines, synopsis, etc), and all the other rigamarole that comes with it.

But in there is the work that needs to be done on Proseuche.  

And Red and Gold, the third installment of The Martuk Series which, coincidentally, is now being adapted into graphic novels.

In there is a TV pilot (finished) in need of an episode-by-episode Season Map.  

And in all of that, too, are at least three more scripts with strong titles I’ve scene mapped (I guess those are called Treatments, right?) and just need to sit down and write.  

And have I mentioned the plays?

You see, there’s a lot to do. 

But what I’m learning is there are some plates worth spinning and some I should just let fall.  I’m one person and spending eight, nine, ten hours a day writing may not be the best thing.  Yes, it gets work done, but is it REALLY necessary to get EVERYTHING done all at the same TIME?

No, it’s not, I’ve decided.  It just isn’t.

So I’m learning to prioritize.  Deciding what can wait and what absolutely is worthy of my considerable focus right now this minute.

And it’s a smart thing to do … I think.

So, to strangle an already battered and bloodied metaphor (via my headline for this post), I’m peeling off my tights, giving ’em a quick wash, and hanging ’em out to dry, momentarily happy to let the plates fall and join the ranks of those in the less popular — though certainly more crowded — circus known as Cirque de No Way.

(yeah, it probably sounded better in my head … Apologies)  🙂