Sunday, December 30, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Those three numbers will eventually all line up.

Convinced today that most of the problem relates to how a character is composed. If you make someone up in service of a storyline, it goes like this: I know person X has to do the following things, and I know thematically he should change some way, and then you hang traits off him like clothing on a scarecrow. The other way is to say "How would I feel if...?" And that's more frightening, because it makes your characters equal to you or, if you're firing on all sixes, they're slightly better than you are. You have to trust that they'll bend to the plot (or the other way around). You also risk looking like an idiot. Not that you weren't risking it already. You risk looking like an especially vivid, nude idiot.

But this error can lead to moments where a character vanishes and all that's left is spectacle. Spectacle is the refuge of those afraid of emotional engagement. It's profoundly safe, in that the noise and the light seem like they should distract the audience into forgetting they aren't enjoying themselves. "My word, that explosion was tremendous" is rarely heard outside the theater, or the moment the book is put down. If you have the emotions alone, that's good enough, but if you feel them and THEN thrill through a spectacle, that's much more satisfying.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I am honing in on my fears. There's this continuum of what you feel for your characters, and it runs from sympathy to contempt. "Contempt" makes you seem like a genius, because who wants to feel compassion for losers, anyway? But sympathy is always the way to go. And always the harder way. Right now there's a hard candy shell that if I crack will solve, like dominoes falling, about 75% of my problems. I think. I fear.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I am thinking of George Franju: "What is artificial ages badly and quickly. Dream, poetry, the unknown must all emerge from reality itself...What pleases is what is terrible, gentle and poetic."

Currently, there are a dozen people on stage and one of them in particular is of perfectly good character in many lights, but made of plywood. You can hardly tell except when it's important. When he moves, his limbs vibrate like plucked strings and wood shavings cascade through the spotlight. His conflicts are not that of son and lover and hero but puppet versus bundles of straw.

I'd say I'm not sure why, but that would come from the same place my character's shortcomings are generated: fear

Monday, December 17, 2007


How the drafting process works:

1 "He gave her a diamond"
2 "He gave her a 16-caret, swing-beveled, dazzling blue diamond whose bezels shone with grace, and he did so generously"
3 "He generously gave her a 16-carat, swing-beveled, dazzling blue diamond whose bezels shone with grace, and he did so generously and with much forethought."
4 "He gave her a dazzling blue diamond."
5 "He gave her the clap, generously and with much forethought."

I'm somewhere between 3 and 4 right now.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


A year ago today, I was holed up in a hotel, working on a pivotal scene, and when I finished, I wrote this:

I am a little sad as if from a parting of ways. I feel loss, and resolve, and aching, and knowing that nothing will ever be enough, but that in itself is enough: it is good to want. Desire is what makes us accomplish things, it is the way we move through the universe. There will be this small burst of chaos wherever I go, the unknown, the ways I could not know so many things -- where are the limits, what do I not know about the life? It is safe to want. It is also dangerous to want. I am awake. Because the point isn't fulfillment but desire, alive.

This goes counter to the Taoism I needed to embrace to write before. What happens when you wake up to ego and desire?

Saturday, December 15, 2007


And I never thought those numbers would end up looking so complex but really, they're working for me.