Tuesday, June 19, 2007

525,600 minutes...

... how do you measure, measure a year?

I sat down to scrapbook this morning (actually, I knelt down - on the floor, because clearing enough table space to work was not an option, so I took the floor) and finally started to do something with the photos from the Europe trip.

The Europe trip from last summer.

How did a year, an entire, whole year, go by so quickly? What happened to all the stuff between last June and this one?

When I think or talk about that trip, I want to say, "When I went to Spain, a couple months ago..." It seems like it was yesterday. But then again, I was dating Mr. Lexus at the time - and he seems to have been millenia ago. So how does that work?

Maybe this school year was so taxing and depressing that my brain has decided to block it out, and Freddy feels like such a natural part of my life now that my brain tries to place him in all parts of my life, even those before I knew him. Maybe I'm just getting old, and forgetting things.
Last year at this time, Jen and I were prancing around London and Paris, and I was picking up any and every brochure, menu, and pamphlet I could find because I was sure I'd find some use for it in my classroom. I went to Shakespeare's Globe Theater (saw two shows, both awesome) and bought half the gift shop, because I was going to be teaching Julius Caesar to my sixth graders - how cool was I going to be, bringing all this authentic material to class?

While I was cleaning out my classroom, with Freddy diligently telling me to throw things away (because I didn't need them anymore, and he was right), I was softly simmering. Here were all the things I bought just last summer for my classroom - posters, postcards, books, magazines, books, kids' books, and some other books. I was embarrassed that I spent so much money, most of it my dad's (some of it mine, but most of it his, over the summer) on classroom supplies, just to quit a year later. I'm saving all the stuff I bought over the summer (except for two posters that the copy-room lady screwed up when she laminated them), even though I don't know why - I don't plan on teaching again soon - but I just couldn't throw them away, or even give them away. The least I could do was keep them, even if the only thing I'll use any of it for is taking up room in my attic.

On the plus side, I do have a nice little library for my future children, and I can set up my own counterfeit mini-museum of impressionists and surrealists - maybe I can make the money back by charging admission.

Speaking of my future children, going back to school will put all that on hold for two years, if not more. Am I really okay with that, or am I telling myself I'm okay with it because that's just what I have to do now?

How am I going to feel about it 525,600 minutes from now?

On a side note, about this time last year, Jenny was also putting up with me whining about my aching abscessed tooth. Funny - about this time this year, I've developed a new but equally intense toothache (the earliest the endodontist can see me is in three weeks, but the dentist gave me penicillin and some very nice pain meds, so it's all good). Let's just hope this is not planning on becoming an annual ritual.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Script Frenzy

(For some background information on Script Frenzy, please read my Helium article. Or, I guess, you could go directly to the Script Frenzy website.)

As a three-time NaNoWriMo veteran and winner, I thought Script Frenzy would be a breeze. I mean, come on! Plays are all dialogue, right? Writing dialogue is my strength! And the word count - 20,000 words? That's it? That's less than half of NaNoWriMo's 50,000-word goal. I can do that in my sleep!

I guess three Winner certificates hanging on your wall can give you a misguided sense of hubris.

Armed with my laptop, detailed formatting guidelines, and a great story idea, I started typing. Slowly. And not just because I had to keep checking the formatting guidelines and centering the character tags... writing a script is hard! There are no thoughts, no feelings. No reactions. You can't even take your characters into the other room!

You know what the problem is?

You have to plan.

I'm not good at planning.

I have always been a write-by-the-seat-of-your-pantser. Sit, write. It'll come. If you get stuck, describe the room. Or have some random conversation - you can always cut it out later, and who knows, it might end up going somewhere.

However, in a script, you can't describe anything. And a script made up of random conversations is what they call in the business, "utter crap."

I tried sticking to my original idea, but it was depressing me, because I was getting nowhere and I was ruining a good idea. So I quit.

Now I see why Stanley Kubrick wrote his screenplays from novels. He even asked Arthur C. Clarke to write 2001 as a novel, so he could adapt it into a screenplay. The planning is done for you! You have the ideas, all you have to do it take them and put them in the proper format.

Also, with a screenplay you have more freedom than with a stage play - you can have voice overs (yes, you could probably do that in a stage play too, but it's less common and more complicated, and it sounds crappier because it has to be pre-recorded, yadda, yadda), you can show TV and computer screens, letters, signs, etc. for your audience to read, and you aren't as limited with location and sets. You can have a three-minute scene on the beach sandwiched between a scene in the movie theater and one in the library. On a stage... not so much.

Now, a smart person would ask at this point why I don't just take my story and write a screenplay, instead of stage play.

Because I like to be difficult, that's why.

Although the screenplay has the above-mentioned freedoms, I feel more comfortable with the stage play. I set out to write a stage play, and I don't like to admit defeat. (Also, deep down inside, I want to stick to the stage play because I feel it's more "cultured" - every Tom, Dick, and Harry will be writing a screenplay because it's "trendy," and I want to be different. Yes, it's childish, but so's your face.)

Eight days into the Frenzy, I'm throwing my original idea, and its 1,225 words, out. With 22 days to go, I'm starting over. With one set, and not much more than a general idea... but one that lets me focus on my strength, dialogues, instead of trying to develop an intricate plot. Will it be any good? Who cares! As long as it fills 20,000 words, it's beautiful.