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.

“Shocking, bloodthirsty … remarkable”

Buried deep within the mountain of scripts, plays, books and sequels I’m writing — not to mention the film I have in development and the continuing adaptation of The Martuk Series into graphic novels –, I sometimes forget the work that’s come before.  The odds and ends and quiet flashes of creativity I’ve slammed out and self-published over the past year or so.

Like The Elder, the most recent in The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of Short Fiction based on my award-winning debut novel Martuk … the Holy.

So I paid a little visit to The Elder over on Amazon, rediscovered and read with a small smile the two glowing reviews — that’s where the “shocking, bloodthirsty … remarkable” quote comes from –, and reminded myself of what I could do with two weeks, a constant supply of coffee, and an intriguing cast of characters trapped in a very strong story.

And the point of this Post?

I don’t know.  Maybe it’s just a gentle reminder to schedule the writing of the third installment in the Series, Red and Gold, somewhere into my life.  A gentle reminder that sometimes my best work comes without torturous planning or a complicated re-orchestration of my schedule.  A gentle reminder, as well, that I love writing these prequels, if you will, to the monumental Martuk …, creating the lives of the Priests and the Wounded King and the Elder in the days before Martuk’s arrival.  Giving the reader a glimpse of what was going on around the titular character, events he was unaware of but, nonetheless, deeply impacted his life … and eventual immortality.

It’s also a reminder that new covers for The Wounded King — “a darkly disturbing character study of evil” says one review — and The Elder will be uploaded in the next couple of months.  Very exciting, that. 🙂

Okay, enough reminiscing.  Time to climb back into the mountain and get to work.