I love New Years. The whole idea of starting over with a clean slate and a new focus is something that works for me. Each New Year (and birthday, now that I think about it) forces me contemplate the great equalizer and most precious of commodities: time. We are all subject to the tick-tock, that steady march. We can dig in our heels with fits of denial, but it will do no good. Time is impartial to our demands. Best we get on board and appreciate its gift. The passing of time makes life valuable and what we do with it, our greatest responsibility.
For 2018 I have three resolutions. These resolutions are more directional than a list of things to accomplish. They are a framework for how I will invest my time, a thrust, a map sketched on the back of a napkin, a motivational tailwind that says, “let’s go in this direction and see what happens.”
I got an inspired start to the book back in November, but there is still so much further to go. Finishing the novel feels so incredibly daunting that the mere thought of it crushes me with insecurity and self-doubt. “If only I were smarter, more eloquent with words… The language arts was never my forte. I was more of a math and science guy.” These are the gremlins that lurk in my mind when I sit down at my computer to write. Yet, I know I must write this story. It has been with me twelve years and the only way to move on is to write it down and send it into the world. I have productive days and days when I only get a couple of sentences written. I’ve learned, in the short time I’ve been working on it, that the more I show up, the less of a struggle it becomes. I don’t know if I will finish the novel this year, but I will meet it each day. I will do my part and hope the great Muse meets me when I’m there.
It has been two years since my trip to India. I’ve been stateside since, but this year I plan to change that. I am one who must travel to far off lands. I get restless if I don’t. This world – its people, its landscapes, its history – is so fascinating, beautiful, and wonder-filling that a piece of me feels lost when I can’t explore. So this summer I’m going to Tanzania. I will spend a day with my Compassion sponsored child, Nicolaus; then I will embark on a six-day trek to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, the roof of Africa, and back. I will cap-off the trip with a few days on safari in the Serengeti. I will pay 100% of the cost of the trip myself, but I will be raising money for a clean water project in Tanzania as an effort to give back to its people. I’m putting you on notice; I will be asking for your generous donations soon.
I have a contemplative soul. I prefer to listen and observe. I work out my struggles not by talking about them, but by reflecting on them. I loathe small talk (but appreciate those who are good at it). I can spend a lot of time by myself and often my first impulse is to do things by myself - movies, dinner, hikes, etc. This year (and every year for that matter) I want to invest in people. I want to be intentional about spending quality time with friends, old and new, and family. If time is our most precious commodity, I think giving it to others is the best way to let someone know they matter.
I wish you and yours a happy and adventurous New Year!
I'm reposting a story I wrote about 18 months ago. It is a Christmas story written as text messages. In case you wonder why the story isn't told in emoji's, Ben and Laura are Gen-Xers who still send messages in mostly completely sentences and proper punctuation. ;)
I hope you enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas!
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) concluded with the sunset of November and I am pleased to report the effort was (mostly) a success. I did not reach the 50,000-word count that was the given goal of the project. I did, however, get my entire screenplay adapted and I was able to find time to work on the novel 26 of the 30 days. Coming up short on the word count bothers me a bit, but only because I don’t like coming up short on measurable goals like that. C’est la vie.
What’s next? Rewriting. A lot of rewriting. I’m pleased with the story and plotting, but there is work to be done on the prose. I think of it as building a house. The foundation is laid, and the walls are up, but now the walls need to be painted, and the details added that turn the house from a structure to a home. This task feels a bit daunting – eloquent prose is not my strong suit. But I’m learning to be patient with myself and take it one sentence at a time. I’m also watching lectures on building great sentences from The Great Courses hoping the information will absorb and help inspire my writing.
I shared the first couple chapters of my book with my writer’s group. They provided some helpful feedback and also inspired the idea that I should consider turning this into two books. One of the biggest critiques of the screenplay is that readers aren’t sure who the audience is. Half of the story is about a kid in a fantasy world, which has appeal for younger audiences. The other half of the story is an adult drama that feels more appropriate for mature audiences. While no one would consider making two movies about the same story for two different audiences, one could publish two books for two different audiences. One book would be the story, as is, targeting adults. The second book would remove the adult drama and expand on elements in the fantasy world. Both stories end up in the same place. The only difference is how the reader gets there.
Though it is fun to think about the possibilities, I know there is still a lot of work ahead of me. I believe the story is worth it. It is a story that needs to be told, so I will do my best to help it find its audience.
November is National Novel Writing Month. Every year a non-profit organization called NaNoWriMo rallies writers from all over the world to commit to writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. They provide community, encouragement, and accountability, but you have to put in the work. It’s an intense “seat of your pants” approach to novel writing that forces you to stop procrastinating and get writing – you only have 30 days. With the encouragement of a friend of mine who is also participating, I’ve decided to take on the challenge.
The decision does not come without trepidation. Over and over I’ve told myself I am not a novelist. I am not eloquent with words, with rich descriptions of accounts that leave readers with emotive mental pictures. I write screenplays – a medium that requires a less is more approach that rewards pithy dialogue and swift action. I dabble in short stories, but a novel? Good grief. These blog posts are typically 500-1000 words, and I can spend 2-3 days writing a single post. To write 50,000 words in 30 days, I’d have to write 1,667 words every day.
That said, I know myself. And I know that I thrive when I pursue challenges that feel a bit impossible. It’s how I became an Ironman. It’s why I run marathons. I’m good at accomplishing goals that require a substantial amount of focus and commitment over a set amount of time. I live for these types of challenges. So I’m going to give it a try.
I’ve decided I’m going to write a novelization of my screenplay The Resurrection of Dennis Munson. I think writing the story as a novel will be good for me; It will force me to think about the story differently and explore the characters at a deeper level. Maybe I’ll uncover some insights that will help the script get over the proverbial hump.
I don’t know what will happen. Even as I write this, I have my doubts. If I didn’t work a full-time job and could just write all day, maybe I'd have a chance. But I don't have that option. I guess that is part of the thrill. Sometimes we just have to say “yes,” leap and see what happens.
The pounding on the door startled Oscar awake. He sat in his bed and rubbed his forehead. The clock on the nightstand flickered 8 AM. He would need at least four more hours of sleep for his hangover to release its grip.
A WRITER KEEPING THE FAITH IN LOS ANGELES