Do that Thing that You Do

 

You. Put down those fish crackers, I’m talking to you. Serious – this is a serious talk. No goofing around about anything. Just drop the crackers.

So, what do you do? Me? I’m a writer. It’s what I do. Technical writing, a little marketing, a little blogging, a couple of novels, a couple of short stories. It’s what I do. Working on a screenplay right now.

In fact, thank you for asking, it’s a screenplay based on my own novel, Droppington Place. It’s a funny story… well, okay. You’re right. We’re being serious here.

Have you seen Kubo and the Two Strings? Lovely picture, although a tad sad. It was made by LAIKA, a film studio in Oregon that makes handcrafted, stunningly animated movies. What could be a better fit? What better film company to make a major motion picture out of Droppington Place?

As you know, I’m a proponent of Gorilla Marketing – do little, expect lots. In this mode, we ask ourselves why we must go through all the hassle of selling millions of books. Why could we not simply approach LAIKA directly, make the motion picture, and then sell the millions of books? You know, it’s not really putting the cart before the horse: it’s more like they’re side-by-side. Boom. Anything could happen.

So I set myself out to write a screenplay from the novel. Piece of cake. I know the book forwards and backwards. What if I simply move these scenes around to make it more, you know, cinematographically friendly?

Well, three things happened. Three. You were expecting two, but, hey, it was three. Sorry to disappoint.

First, in reordering the book for cinematographic friendliness, I found a much better flow to the story. Rats. Now the book needs a rewrite.

Second, in retelling the story for the large screen, I found some motivations for characters I hadn’t seen before. Rats. See above.

Third, I had a revelation. A very sad, very tawdry little revelatory affair that hurts to write about, but you’re a writer. You know how it is.

Shakespeare is quoted as having written, “to thine own self be true.”

I was on an airplane, struggling with the screenplay, when the words came to me. Poop, I thought. I don’t want to hear these words.

The words came as clearly to me as if I had written them myself, but I’m not this good. It was simple poetry, and it hurt to read. It said, “write what you want and it’ll be great.”

Write what you want and it’ll be great.

Stop plotting and planning and pushing and prodding. Stop massaging and manipulating and maneuvering and marketing. What’s in here (taps on chest) is what’s important.

“Your lungs?” I asked.

I have written what I hope will sell, and hope you will buy. I haven’t written the Great American Novel. I’ve written something clever and fun and creative, and that I think you’ll like. I like it.

But the calling is to write what’s inside, and I don’t think it’s about my lungs.

What is the story I was created to tell? What can I give to you that will be great enough to make you think, wow, my life is now better? What epic saga lies inside here (taps on chest)?

Poop.

So, compadre, we have to saddle up another horse. It’s a long ride ahead, and now there’s another wagon to pull. Please don’t put the saddle on the horse that’s supposed to pull the wagon – you’ll just confuse things.

Okay. You can go back to your fish crackers now.

Writing at Disneyland

Image: Disneyexperience.com
Image: Disneyexperience.com

There’s something sort of crazy about being, well, sort of crazy. At the top of the list is that you don’t have to explain anything – well, I’m just sort of crazy like that.   You get lots of clever adjectives, like quirky, and different. And, because you’re just sort of crazy like that, you know, quirky and different, you find yourself with lots of free time on your hands. Let’s not invite her – you, know, she’s quirky and different.

This big and mighty world tries really hard to convince you that being busy is doing something. You can be busy all day long at Disneyland, but, what have you accomplished beyond exhausting yourself and dropping two hundred bucks to a guy in a mouse costume? Nothing, Jack. For all that busyness, you accomplished nothing.

So it is with we quirky, different writers, dontcha think? This endeavor right here, this very one you are reading, which hopefully brings a smile to your erstwhile lips and perhaps gives you something over which to mull when you are not busy being busy, may very well be busyness for the sake of busyness.

It occurred to me while thinking about marketing…I mean, promoting…my book, my mind spinning feverishly like a rabid squirrel in a hamster wheel, that there is nothing to do about marketing…I mean, promoting…my book until my adorable editor is done with it. For the record, she did say she thought this was the best so far, but had scarcely started chapter two. Sigh.

Without a product, what is there to promote?…coming soon from John Reinhart, the author who is, well, uh, is kinda waiting in limbo while his editor wraps up his glorious…wait, where ya going?

BUT, there is a sequel to MARIGOLD’S END, tentatively titled PELICAN’S WAY… there’s sort of a theme here, see, where the Marigold is a ship in the first novel that gets blown up…oh, poop, I spoiled the ending…double poop, because NOW I spoiled the ending by telling you that Phineas blows it up at the end of the book…oh, triple poop! So, see, Pelican is a ship in the next book that gets…well, you’ll have to read that one.

Anyway, the rabid squirrel brains rattled out a good synopsis of that book on Tuesday. And I must say, it’s a ripping good synopsis, as synopses go. That was Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the quirky, different sort of crazy writer that I am, I sort of cracked out a terrific synopsis for my other series of books, called DROPPINGTON PLACE. For a preview of Droppington, scroll to the bottom of this page and you’ll see that I have a blog for that, too. Oh,  I’ve thought of everything.

So, while my lovely editor does everything other than edit my book, my NEW plan is to work on DROPPINGTON PLACE. And thus my hands will be busy.

But, is busyness productivity? If the words crackle and dance from your fingertips, but never get published, is that accomplishing anything?

Maybe that’s why my crazy, quirky, different friends are so fond of Disneyland.