Fear, Alone Time and Writing

This morning was, I think, the first time I’ve ever been afraid on the subway. It was only a few moments, but I’d promised Brody I’d be home a bit early tonight, and there was a sudden brief flash of time where it occurred to me that I might not ever be home again. My train pulled into the busy Yonge and Bloor station, commuters bustled off and on, all of us settled into our morning routines. The door chimes signalled that the doors were about to close – but they didn’t. Then the floor shuddered as the engine of the train shut down. Moments later, all of the lights went out.

Everyone was looking around, as though any of us could see the cause of the shutdown from our positions inside the train, and I realized that if a bomb were to go off, most of us would be screwed. Busiest subway station during rush hour, I was near the front of the train so would likely get the brunt of the blast if it was meant to take off the head of the snake, so to speak. And not only are we all crammed into the train, but the force of any blast would carry destruction down the tunnels, as well. It’s basically a big tube into which we were all trapped.

I wondered about the things people think about when they find themselves in the midst of a random attack, if they have time to think at all.

As it turned out, there was no bomb, but rather a trespasser at track level at College station. All of the power to the line had to be shut down so that the deadly third rail would be rendered inactive until the unauthorized individual could be removed. My fear turned to anger mixed with resignation, and as I waited for my journey to continue onward toward work, I listened to the update announcements – power off at College, emergency alarm activated on at least two different trains, possibly three. Thankfully they put the air back on in my train, as it takes exactly no time for the stench of the surrounding humanity to fill the nostrils once the air has stopped circulating.

The worst thing about public transit is the public.

In other news, I had a pretty sweet evening last night. I created it by myself, for myself, and it was pretty awesome, all things considered. It was all very simple – got flowers, which made my apartment smell amazing, then made popcorn, opened a cold beer, and watched TV with Brody. Well…Brody was all about the popcorn, not so much the TV. But all three cats and the dog eventually all just curled up in their spots and we hung out together. It was really nice.

I did have to laugh at the image of me walking home with cat litter in one hand, and flowers I’d gotten for myself in the other. Crazy cat lady spinster, I totally am! Yet, also content. I’d tidied my apartment a bit over the weekend, too, so everything felt fresh and cozy; my treasures all shined up and surrounding me with little reminders of who I am. I was home for a few hours, and it felt great.

I also just received word that the library’s Writer in Residence will indeed meet with me to chat about the opening excerpt of Carving The Light (my first novel), so I sent in my preferred time slots (leaving Saturday mornings and early afternoons open for the inevitable zoo visits I’ll be taking often very soon now that my bear is back in town), and will see which one ends up being mine. I want to refresh my memory going in this time, and maybe even have a clearer idea of what I want to do with the story, so that I get as much as I can out of this discussion. Things like this always get me excited about writing. Just talking about it ignites my passion for it. It’ll be interesting to see how things feel once I’ve spent some time speaking with another author about it all again!

Feeling My Way

Just found out that a brand new Wendy’s location has opened up mere blocks from where I work.

We are all gonna get so fat now! $0.99 Frosty?! Whaaaat?!

Do we not use the symbol for “cent” anymore? I don’t see it on this keyboard. I guess that says something about how much things cost. And that we no longer have pennies. Apparently, it’ll cost you at least a nickel to hear my thoughts now.

I have no idea what to talk about today, either. There is, as always, a lot on my mind, but I’m having trouble sorting through it all and staying focused.

I tend to carry things around with me – literally – to help me remember them. Mostly printouts of things, or lists in my phone. This morning I pulled out all of the paper reminders I had in my bag and went through to see what was currently important. It’s not that the other stuff isn’t also important – just that these particular things have my attention at the moment, and in the near future. My resume needs to be updated and re-organized, if only so I have it up-to-date and presentable in case I suddenly need it for anything. I’ve got notes for some of my writing projects – the picture book about hearts and a re-imagined extension to some of Carving The Light. I was thinking I might try to write it as a screenplay – possibly through the month of August, and I was considering signing up for a challenge like NaNoWriMo, but with screenplays instead of novels. As if I have time, but it would at least get me started. Often that is the toughest step.

Even though all of the steps are currently tough. Haha

I put out some feelers earlier today regarding Mind Reels stuff, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m having trouble committing to that, because I feel like I am the only one who is doing so. But I like it, so I don’t really want to walk away from it all together. I am just not sure how much to put into it anymore. I guess we’ll see. No need to decide anything on that front any time soon, anyway.

I’m finding this weaning off antidepressants thing pretty interesting. The first time I tried it, several years ago, I was an insane mess within a few days, and went right back on them. The second time, I barely noticed because I was happy and travelling back and forth to Colorado and kept forgetting to take them, until one day I realized I was pretty much off them. I saw on my Facebook memories the other day that I’d tried a year or so ago to take them every other day, but it had made me physically ill, over and above everything else. So I went back on them again.

Now I don’t know what I’m doing, and I definitely notice a difference in how I feel – mentally, emotionally and physically – but it’s not as bad as it was some of those other times. And I’m in no rush – just picked up a new refill last week which I haven’t even started yet – so we’ll just see how each day goes, and week, and take things as they come.

I imagine PMS is going to be more horrible than usual, so that might make go back to them full time.

For now, though – in that as in so many things – I’m just feeling my way along.

Dammit I Don’t Have Time!

Guys! My brain! I just don’t even know. I had a couple of ideas for what I wanted to talk about, but then the day got going and everything went to hell. As it does.

So whatever. I’m not above just babbling, as you well know.

The final round of voting in the Favourite TV actor category of the Reelie awards got underway this morning. Only a couple more categories to go after this one and then it’ll be time to do the live show to announce the winners! Stay tuned for that!

Tim and I are shooting the first of one of the new Mind Reels segments tomorrow after work. This one will be done weekly, or as close to weekly as time permits, so while I fully expect growing pains while we iron out all the kinks, I still think it’ll be a fun little addition to our spate of regular episodes. Getting excited about it, and have even started trying to work out a sort of format outline for it. We’ll see how that goes!

I got approved to attempt another Guinness World Record, which is kind of exciting. Doing this one on my own, I guess, but we’ll see. I kind of want to make some sort of event out of it, and I wish so much that I could tie it into a book launch, or something, but I don’t see having anything ready in time to do it right, so I’ll probably just make the actual attempt part it’s own thing. I don’t know. I haven’t really planned out very much yet, because I just delved into the specific guidelines yesterday. I also found an attempt that was made in April, so I’m using that as the target to beat, instead of what GWR lists as the official record, just in case that other one gets verified in the meantime. It’s just easier that way, I think.

For a brief time this morning, I was seriously considering signing up for a Writing Workshop that takes place in August. I was trying to figure out which manuscript I would work on beforehand to take with me and get some feedback on, but I decided to look into which agents would be there so that I could query my best with someone who might actually be interested. I checked the cost and it’s far from horrible, even with the agent query added on, but the problem is that it’s right before Fan Expo, and there are a couple of once-in-a-lifetime things I am interested in getting done there, too, if I can. Though, to be fair, I don’t know the pricing of that stuff yet, and might not be able to afford any of it, anyway. Then there are all the other things I want/need in the meantime, from a new pair of jeans to more tattoos. I’ll still keep it in mind (knowing me, with all the other stuff already spinning around in there), but it’ll probably end up on the back-burner (with most of the other stuff already spinning around in there). At least this time.

I really want to go, though. There’s one agent in particular that I wouldn’t mind querying, but I’d also definitely want to get it right the first time, with her. What I should be doing is practicing. Actually, I should first be editing and revising and just freaking writing more regularly. Like, instead of just here. I have all those writing projects on the go and none of them are where I want them to be yet. Not even Carving The Light. Yet.

Then there’s crafts I still have to make, another GWR attempt that I may or may not follow through on, a few vague project ideas typed into my phone notes (where I keep pretty much everything) that I desperately want to look into further but as of yet have not been able to find any time. No time.

Speaking of time, I also really want to get the battery in my watch changed. I haven’t worn it in years but have been thinking about it a lot lately.

There’s just so little opportunity to be creative when you’re so busy adulting all the time. Which is particularly annoying when you’re not really very good at either, nor even at finding a balance between the two.

Adulting sucks.

Thought Potpourri

This post will just be a hodgepodge of things – a mix – a potpourri, if you will, because there are a few things on my mind that I should probably delve into deeper at some point, but which for now I’ll just gloss over so I remember for later.

Since I got a phone with a camera, and for every phone I’ve had with a camera over the years, I stopped taking an actual camera with me in day-to-day life. Special occasions, I might take one, and the zoo I always take one, but I find that the best photo opportunities come when least expected, which is problematic, because I never have a real camera with me. I always, however, have my phone. It’s just the photos aren’t that high quality beyond sharing on social media, which is usually fine, until I want to do something more than that with them.

Take Brody, for example. I am always taking pictures of him, especially when we go for a walk, because he’s so flippin’ cute I can barely stand it. Just this morning I took this sweet shot:

Brody 2

However, I’d love to have a photo that was so awesome it ended up getting picked to be in, say, the annual Pet Valu calendar. He’s easily handsome enough, but my phone isn’t skilled enough to get a high quality snap, nor do I have a real camera handy when I am indoors. I tried over the weekend to take pictures of him with one of my actual cameras, but this was the best I could do, so I entered it on their website here.

P1080868

Not a horrible shot, but far from the attention-grabbing amazingness that he deserves.

Some day, maybe.

There are times when I feel like I am put in the position of arguing one side of a debate, simply because I can see more than one side, but whoever I’m talking to can’t. I kind of hate that, because I feel like it takes away from my ability to move past that level of comprehension and onto the next. I mean, I suppose it’s my choice, really. I could instead choose to just agree with whatever the other person is saying, because I can see their point usually, and usually even agree with some of it. But I also hate not challenging things when I can clearly see other points to be made, as well. To me, it seems like blind acceptance to not challenge something when it’s obvious that the issue is not so black and white as someone else may think. I try to push them, but for the most part, I am pushing myself, as well. Which is good, except when I get so frustrated at arguing the other side – a side I also don’t fully agree with – that I end up just playing Devil’s Advocate and lose sight of my actual thoughts involving all sides. I end up feeling angry and silently blaming the other person/people for putting me in that position, but not-so-deep down I know it was my own choice. I like to be thorough, I guess.

It’s interesting, my buddy that I hung out with over the weekend, I’d forgotten what our conversations could be like, and how much I loved them. His brain works a lot like mine does, in that we have our own thoughts and opinions, and those don’t always mesh, but our desire to talk things through from multiple angles is…rather invigorating. It really is a wonder we ever got any work done, sometimes.

Last week, a current co-worker asked one day if I had any writing projects on the go, because we hadn’t talked about any of it recently, at all. This was my response, more or less (including stuff about this blog and the possible resurrection of The Mind Reels podcast):

Carving The Light – My intent is to re-write the whole thing as a feature length screenplay. I also want to add in more unpredictable drama to flesh it all out more. The end will be the same, but the journey there will be more emotionally harrowing.

Ebon Black and the Seven Dryads – I keep toying with the idea of re-writing it in some way, skewing it for either a younger or older audience, maybe. Or turning it into a cartoon-type of format. Or maybe just shopping it around to agents and/or publishing houses to see if I can find a home for it. Regardless, it’s far back-burner at the moment!

Untitled Young Reader book about Ellie Skye – This is only a very rough first draft right now, but I really want to go back and take another pass or two at it. Eventually it’d be targeted at readers aged 9-12-ish, I think. Especially girls who need more heroes and adventure stories involving girl protagonists.

Suffer The Fury – My first attempt at a young adult novel, and would make an excellent series. I have done a few drafts, but it still needs more work before I can really try to do anything with it. I entered it in ABNA back when it was still going on, but didn’t make it far enough to get in-depth reviews of the whole manuscript. I got pretty good reviews from readers of the first 10 pages or whatever it was, though!

To Whichever Comes First – I wrote my first screenplay for a short film! I wrote it for a contest because I wanted a deadline I was forced to meet, but I also kept it super simple, so that I might actually be able to shoot it for a very low cost, if I ever get around to it! It all takes place almost completely in one room, and there are two main characters with, like, two other side characters that they interact with briefly. It could totally be done, I think! In my mind, I’ve even been casting it with people I actually know!

Sometimes I See Hearts – My first attempt at writing a picture book for children, again with a little girl as the protagonist. It even rhymes!!! Not sure if I should keep it in its current writing style or go back and Dr. Seuss it up, instead, but I’m content with the first complete draft, so far!

So there you have it. A few of the myriad of things swirling around my brain right now, in addition to finally getting approved to make an official attempt at another Guinness World Record. Got that news this morning, so still have to find time later to really go through the guidelines and see what I can sort out as far as a plan of attack goes. We shall see! More on that in the coming days, I think!

Before my alarm went off this morning, I was dreaming that I was having trouble waking up. I woke up at work, for some reason, but then everything went backwards, in a way, and I was horrifically late for work at the same time. Regardless of where I was, though, I could not keep my eyes open; couldn’t focus on anything. I think there were Muppets at one point.

So exhausted on every level today in waking life, and yet no Muppets to at least make things interesting. Geez.

Life can be so unfair.

Writing Choices

I realized something this morning, or at least noticed it happening again.

I was going over in my head some of the things I’m planning to do with the story contained in my first novel, and what I’m toying with having some of the characters do. One in particular is bothering me more than I’d realized at first, because it’s the one loosely based on moi.

Now, don’t get me wrong – our lives are not at all the same. I have a brother not sisters, I am the oldest not the youngest, and I am nearly a decade older than the character is in the book. I’m not with a Sarah, both my parents are still alive, I didn’t grow up in that house, or have Trick for a dog. I don’t think I’ve ever even carved a pumpkin for Halloween. Not on my own, at least.

So really, I guess that character is just more like how I think I’d react in the situation I wrote her into. Though I guess that could be said for everyone I write, in a way, because there’s part of me in all of my creations, to a certain extent. But that one in particular was written to give myself an alternate story to exist in, just as Sarah was written to give the person she was inspired by a different imaginary path to tread upon. Neither of them are more or less real to me than the others in their story, though. I just have I guess more of an emotional attachment to one in particular. I don’t want her to do anything I don’t think I would do.

But since the screenwriting conference, I’ve been considering doing just that. I’ve been struggling with a reason for it – a believeable reason, something that felt true – and haven’t come up with one as of yet. I did come up with a plausible yet similar act for which there would be justification (at least in her mind and kind of mine), so I might very well go with that. I’m not certain it’ll make the story stronger, but I’m not sure that it won’t, either, so I am betting on at least keeping the sense of truth to it all, instead. Because truth can do wonders for the power in a story, and for real life.

The crazy thing I realized or noticed again this morning was how much it was actually bothering me to try and come up for a reason for my character to do something against my own inner traits. I felt a little nauseous, and distracted, headachey and sadder than usual. When I say it was depressing to think about – to imagine possible scenes that would lead the character down the path to making that choice – I don’t mean it in a flippant or surface way. I mean that it affected me on every level – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I felt horrible just thinking about it in detail and trying to make it work.

My imagination can be pretty strong sometimes.

I felt worse about that than I have about many actual things that have happened.

So I’ve decided that – whether it works in theory or not – it won’t work for me. As in, I won’t be able to make it work, not for that character. I could easily have a different character in the story perform the act as it started out in my head, but that would have been more believable and far less powerful than having this particular character do this particular thing, but have the scenario leading up to it be a little different from what I had originally considered. Which means I get to add power to my story, while not making myself sick, or at least not in that way.

It’s amazing how much better I felt as soon as I realized the effect even thinking about it was having on me and made the decision to literally change my story. Even just a tiny alteration made all the difference.

Breaking Ideas

And that’s a wrap for the Toronto Screenwriting Conference 2016!  I’m not sure if any other event gets me so jazzed up and yet completely drained at the same time.  My body is exhausted, but my mind is full and wired and churning.  I have so many seeds of so many ideas, and very much want to make time to work on, like, all of them.  Definitely some more than others, though.  From ways to revamp things I’ve already written, to some brand new concepts and possibilities I want to try out.  At the moment, I have no idea if anything will happen with any of it, but at the same time, I can’t stop thinking about it, and am so excited to try.

In no particular order:

  • a screenplay to turn my first novel into a feature-length film.  Same characters, same general scenario, but vastly different plot points which would hopefully make it less gentle and far less predictable.
  • develop my Ellie Skye book for young readers into an animated series (far less expensive to produce, and endless possibilities to work with in that world)
  • I haven’t quite settled on what to do with Ebon Black – I originally conceived it as a middle grade chapter book, a one-off fractured fairytale that could possibly be turned into an animated feature, or possibly an animated short…maybe a comic book.  Something visual, but I don’t know which medium would suit it best, or even if it should be animated or if live action would work.  I think it’s almost always been animated in my head, but I haven’t completely ruled out live action just yet, either.
  • Suffer The Fury could definitely be developed for a series, definitely live action, but first the whole plot would need to be re-vamped and … I don’t know.  Made better.  Stronger. Faster.  Haha
  • one new project idea that I am giddy-excited about is that I want to try writing a spec script for one of my favourite shows of all time.  It’s no longer on the air, so in a way it’d be more like fan fic, but I am okay with that because I’ve never written anything like that before, either.  However, I’d also be writing it as though it were taking place now, like re-booting the series, but 30-odd years after the original series took place.  If it were still going on, what would be happening with those characters now?  What would the world in which they existed look like after all these years?

There are some far less realized seeds germinating, too, but those are the main ones that came out of this weekend.  The two I am most focused on right now are the Carving The Light screenplay, and the spec script/ fan fic script for a new episode of an old show that I love.  I’ve been wrestling with them both for the past two days, and have broken a few obstacles on each wide open, and I’m excited by the direction each seems to be going.  There would be a boatload of work to realize even a first draft of either one, but one step at a time, right?  First I’d need to  brainstorm ideas, especially for the spec script, because I only have the barest bones of an idea for it.  A plot would be handy.  Carving The Light at least has a plot, however basic.  I just need to turn it on its head and add some more meat to it.  A lot more, but I at least know where the characters are going, as opposed to the spec script.  Right now, it’s still at the “what if” stage.

In both cases, I am thrilled at the idea of living with those characters again, though, and that’s really what’s generating my excitement and drive in their directions.  I can’t even say which I am more drawn to yet.  My mind keeps flipping back and forth between the two, asking questions and trying to answer them.

I should really write down what I have breaking thus far, but I am way too tired, I think.  Maybe tomorrow.  Or after I walk Brody and brush my teeth.

I can’t believe the weekend is over already.

St. Patrick’s Day

It’s St. Patrick’s Day!

There was a time – a long time – when I was all over this day like green on a leprechaun. But lately, I think I’m just not feeling it anymore. Kind of sad, really, though I am wearing a green shirt. It’s the t-shirt I made for my first novel, Carving The Light, so it’s a shameless bit of self-promotion, too.

I don’t think I really have much Irish in me, anyway, but still. St. Patrick’s Day was always a thing. My grandma used to send us cards every year, and sign them “Nanny O’Park”. There’d always be a cute verse or something on them, ’cause the Irish always have a way with prayers and toasts, among other things! My mom later took up the card-sending mantle, too, though given that I only have the one mom, there wasn’t much need for a last name to go with the O’. Regardless, though, it was always a day we marked, in my family.

Then, you know, alcohol came along. I think I’ve only ever actually had one green beer in my life, it was always the plan to go find a place to drink with peers on the evening of the 17th. Or the afternoon/evening. Or…whatever. You get the idea! Drinking happens on this day!

Or, for me, it used to. Recent years, not so much. Like today I am at work, then meeting a friend to go shopping for wool (more on that another time, perhaps), then home to walk the dog, feed the critters, watch TV and go to bed. I even have beer in my fridge that I could drink, but probably won’t because I am hella tired. There always used to be a plan, though. Always.

There was one year not long after I moved to Toronto, I was working, and wanted to go somewhere with my coworkers after, but none of us knew the city very well yet. One guy finally remembered an Irish pub nearby that we could check out, and since it was crazy cold out that year, we all agreed to make a go of it. Really, if there was green beer, nothing else mattered, by that point.

So we closed up, trekked through the frigid temperatures to this alleged Irish pub. When we finally arrived, my one friend and I just looked at the guy and shook our heads.

It was called the Artful Dodger.

About as un-Irish as you can get. Our friend who had suggested it was Trinidadian, though, so he was forgiven for not really spotting the difference on appearance alone. And, as it was so cold out, we decided we didn’t care as much about atmosphere as we did about alcohol, so we promptly went inside.

It was actually kind of dead, but cozy and warm. The bartender greeted us with a friendly shout in our direction, and assured us that she had green food colouring for the beer if we wanted it. So we stayed.

Truth be told, that was actually an iconic meeting in the course of my life. The moment I laid eyes on the bartender that night, I knew I not only wanted to stay, but that I’d want to keep going back to the Dodger (as we came to call it) on a regular basis.

Her name was Garvie, and there was something about her that just drew me in and think I needed her in my life.

As such, we all ended up going to the Dodger on a very regular basis. Sometimes we could call ahead and let them know who would be arriving just in time for last call, and they’d have our regular drink orders ready for when we walked in the door. One of the employees, Lizz, became my roomate and then best friend, which she remains to this day. We had staff parties there, birthday parties, when there’s a delay on the subway, sometimes I just go in to have a beer and wait for the mess to clear so I can go home. My ball team went to the Dodger some Sundays for brunch and beers after a morning game. It became my Cheers – where everybody knew my name.

And as for Garvie, after…probably a good decade of stalking her and following her around like a love-sick puppy, we finally had several drinks together one night, and I’d apparently reached an age/maturity where she could now talk to me as more of an equal. Instead of the aforementionned love-sick stalker puppy. Next thing I knew, we were actual friends, and even though she’s moved far away and we barely talk anymore, I know she’s out there, and still a loving part of my world. I even fired off a quick email to her a few minutes ago to tell her that this is the anniversary of the first time we met. I can’t remember which year, but at least I remember the day!

The Dodger and I…I keep taking breaks from it – sometimes for years at a time – but I always seem to end up back there eventually. I remember laughing with friends back in the beginning, saying that if we were in our 40’s and still drinking at the Dodger, that we’d want to be shot and put out of our misery. But here I am in my 40’s, still drinking at the Dodger, and I kind of love it. It’s my place. Even when much time goes by, it’s still the one spot where everybody knows my name. Or some people know my name. The main thing is that it’s familiar; it has that homey feeling to it that can’t be replaced with any other spot. Even though some things have changed over the years, there is a lot that stays the same, including many of the faces I see when I swing by there.

I miss the Garvie doodles on my receipt. I miss knowing every staff member’s life as one knows a friend. But it’s like McDonald’s, in a way. When you’re craving a Big Mac, there’s only one place you’re going to go, and no other burger will do. Same with the Dodger. When I want that feeling of comfort and safety and familiarity, even if I am a regular in other places now, there’s still only one place I’m going to go.

My non-Irish pub. Just, you know, not tonight. Tonight I’ll be even less Irish than a British pub, but that’s okay. I know the Dodger is there whenever I need it to be.

The Rest Is Silence”