Sunday, September 17, 2006

Why do I write?Or maybe I should be asking why do I set up a tiny toy Ninja in a forest of cut carrot root tips?

So I'm at work on yet another story. It's one that has been with me since I interviewed a plethora of scientists for the planetarium show on global warming I was hired to write a couple years ago. One scientist handed me a report on global warming in the Northeast that he and others were tapped to write by the former Clinton administration. They were instructed to publish books on the subject that most educated people, yet folks with little or no scientific background, could understand. It was to be a global warming research study for lay people.

Enter the Bush administration.

From the get go Global Warming was taboo and these wretched little comprehensible research studies were among the first things to be tossed out. One scientist called it a regular book burning. In fact, in giving me a copy of his book, he would only be left with a handful. He hoped that I could put it to good use.

Not a Bush supporter, I wasn't completely surprised by the account. But a book burning? That sounded about as legitimate as turning the White House into Hugh Hefner's estate. Wait, maybe I shouldn't go there.

Somewhat skeptical I contacted the other scientists who headed up similar studies in their regions throughout the United States and heard the same story again and again. I was able to get my hands on two other editions, but the other ten or so regions claimed they had so few copies left that they weren't willing to part with them. "You can visit anytime and read our copy here in our offices," one scientist offered.

Weren't these the books that were supposed to be made available to the public at large? No one went on record, but that's exactly the irony that met them.

This story is so incredible that it haunts me still.

I took all the facts and multiplied the stakes by about a hundred percent, wrote up a screenplay, and sent it to a studio reader friend of mine who loved it. In fact his story notes when we talked on the phone consisted of praise and glory, reveling in my characters. Then he ended by saying, "Now toss it out and rewrite it from scratch; send it to me when it's ready."

I have no doubt he can help me get these words to screen, if only I can clear my schedule of a few weeks and get the story re-told. But that's not been my problem. My real challenge has been in re-conceiving my story.

Remember that Three Day Novel competition I entered a couple weeks ago? That deadline helped me work through another story I had only begun to conceptualize since my dance with the bat. But the deadline was so successful in getting me to draft the copy, capture my story on paper (even if the judges don't care for my content), that two days ago when I learned of a short story competition with a due date this Friday, I couldn't help but to write.

So that's what I'm up to now. I'm nearly 3,000 words into the piece, and expect I'll wrap at 6,000 to 6,500 words. The competition is limited to stories of 7,000 words or fewer, recommending a cap of 3,000. Perhaps I'll be able to cut considerably once it's out of my system. We'll see what this week brings.

Then I'll have my treatment. My new direction for the screenplay that I've been encouraged to rewrite. Who knows, maybe I'll actually get to that, too. Just as soon as my Goddard semester is through in mid-November.

And that's what I've been up to lately. How 'bout you? Any new writings to report?

Thanks for dropping by.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Will cut classes lead to home?

Two weeks into the year and already my son has had two detentions. In a school of about 950 students he has been alone for each of them. My husband pointed out to him that by cutting classes, he's actually spending more time at the school. You would think he'd have gotten that by now.

You'd also think he would have realized by now that I'd find out that he skipped three out of four math classes and most recently his English class. I swear the Vice Principal has me on speed dial. Our last conversation he pointed out the positive, "At least he attended math today." As my mom would say: "There's a pony in this sh*t somewhere."

A friend of mine--a fellow mom of an eighth grader who, along with my eighth grade daughter and another eighth grade student, attends advanced geometry at the high school (traditionally a sophomore level class) pointed out that my sophomore son is, if nothing else, "consistent."

Or stubborn.

He's bright. Too smart for his own good. But he's not putting what he knows to good use. So maybe home schooling is the answer. Not the traditional style, like when he was younger and he and I and his sister sat and worked on lessons together for a year when we decided we needed to free him of an institutionalized setting. This time we're looking at GED prep, so that at 16-plus he can attend community college or an art school that has already expressed some interest in him.

There's a magnet on my fridge that reads: "life does not put things in front of you that you are unable to handle." (-unknown) I often walk by and glare at it. But this evening as my Amazon order percolates with the latest GED prep book and a text about earning high school diplomas non-traditionally, I feel like this too shall pass, which is to say maybe I can handle this life challenge, too.

It would be interesting, us both at home studying. He as he begins his lifelong learning, me in my continuation of that goal as a low residency grad student.

Okay, that's enough contemplation for now. And airing of our family laundry on what's supposed to be my screenwriting blog.

On that note, Packet Number Two went off to my Goddard advisor today. In this one was the lengthy teaching Practicum write-up. It included a twenty-page essay, results of student surveys, my syllabus from the Advanced Feature Screenwriting course I taught last semester at UNH, samples of student work, a letter stating that I really did teach the course all the way to completion, my bibliography for the course, a report from a classroom observer, and sample handouts that I shared with the students during our time together. Whew.

Next packet I will be back to submitting script pages and annotations, plus my second five-page paper. So that's what I'm working on now, plus a magazine article I just penned on how to get started scriptwriting, and a short story that won't leave me alone until it's finished. I am also compiling my syllabi for next semester's UNH courses: Advanced Short Scriptwriting that focuses on writing pilot sitcoms and dramas for television, and Media Writing, an all new course for the university.

And I'll be talking with the high school vice principal. Or not, if I'm lucky and my son stays out of trouble. I wish I knew which path he was on: the road more or less traveled. Ambiguity intentional.


(Photo above of the path that leads from the "village" dorms to the library on the Plainfield, Vermont campus of Goddard College. Picture available at the college's website.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I'm a new fan...

...of Moviefone Shorts, especially the short this link should take you to, The Fan and the Flower. Haven't seen every short featured there yet, but I also enjoyed American Storage and Unfair. Check it out...and let me know what else I should surf over to watch.

Want to Welcome the fellow writers of the New Hampshire Writers' Project to the site. The list you seek of the last known approved screenwriting competitions as published by the former NY Screenwriter Monthly is located on one of my sister sites, Green Chair Lists, or you can search the archives on this blog; it appears in the July 17th post.

For news of courses I'll be teaching next semester at UNH-Manchester, of upcoming workshops, and more, please visit my website Green Chair Pictures. You'll also find a list of my services as well as additional frivolous information.

As you may realize from my heading on this blog, I believe short screenplays are the poetry of the scriptwriting and cinematic world. Like poems, short scripts have precious few words and lines in which to convey a message and evoke an image.

There's also the added benefit that the stories are short, so if you don't like one, at least it was brief. I believe the two old timers of the Muppets would agree with me. In A Muppet Christmas Carol they complain over how ridiculously abbreviated Fozzie Bear's speech is at his Rubber Chicken Factory's annual Christmas Party. But then they realize with delight, "It was short; we loved it!"

On that note, let me keep today's blog entry [relatively] short. Thanks for dropping by!

(Photo above taken by my husband; it features the Pamela J Lobsterboat on Cliff Island in Casco Bay, Maine. It's named for Lobsterboat Captain Anderson's wife. On a side note: when my fifteen-year-old son complained that we were going to be vacationing in the middle of nowhere, I countered with the fact that we'd be buying our lobsters from Pamela Anderson, even biking to her house to pick them up each day. It took him a moment. Finally his huge grin waned as he realized, "There's more than one Pamela Anderson, isn't there?")

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Buoy, am I tired!

How I spent my Labor Day Weekend: I wrote a novel!

Okay technically perhaps...a novella.

It was part of the 3-Day Novel Contest . I usually do not admit publicly when I've entered a competition since later when the winners are announced I too frequently have to say, "well, it was a good try."

But I feel completely different about this competition. I want to shout it from the rooftops of the world: "I WROTE A NOVEL IN THREE DAYS!!!"

Whether it's a great American novel (or Canadian, since the contest is out of Vancouver, BC) or it's a work of rubbish, I completed it. Finished at seven minutes before midnight. Sent it in the next morning.


And those of you who have followed my summer's bat stories will be happy to hear that I used that as my jumping off point. Write what you know, after all. Before I dove in at 4:00 Saturday morning, all I had thought up were three possible openings, and I decided that the antagonist would be someone from a terrorist organization.

I was thrilled with where the story went and how much my summer's research into bats and rabies ended up helping me pen my 101-page story.

That's all I'll say on the subject for now. I'll know the results of the contest in January; maybe I'll post them here.

Some up coming dates to consider:

Saturday, October 14, 2006, I will be presenting an "Art of Re-Writing Workshop" as part of the 3-day New Hampshire Film Expo in Portsmouth where we'll channel our inner hero & villain in a character study workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. Earlier that day join me as I sit in on a Creative Writing Warm-up Workshop led by screenwriter & filmmaker Bill Bourdon, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Check it out!

Saturday, November 18, 2006, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., I will be one of three judges for the Rochester (NH) Short Film Festival along with Mark Constance, a DGA Assistant Director, and Matthew Newton, of the NH Film Office. There's still time to enter your film of fifteen minutes or less.

Hope to see you soon. Thanks for stopping by!

(Photo above by, you guessed it: my hubby. At Cliff Island, Casco Bay, Maine. Buoy Sculpture Artist Unknown, but please feel free to identify yourself here!)