Monday, December 6, 2010

Writing Failures, Career Endeavors, My Romantic Comedy and Other Charges

I've always wanted to write some long and dramatic story about a band of survivors who pull through some 'doomsday' scenario, living in a wasteland, the dynamic between each character fluctuating with every trial they may come across. The standard though, has been set so high for this area of writing, it's almost impossible to rise above everyone else's 'apocalypse' themed story. The idea now has to be so unique, so different and imaginative, that it would have to be ridiculous in its concept or exceptionally well done that the odds of either happening to me are quite slim. I had started work on a story many years, not long after getting my first computer. I would spend hours at a time, adding to its ever growing complex character interactions, descriptions of monsters, weapons, powers, it became so overwhelming, and I had to stop for some time to literally 'generate' ideas. No sooner did I take a week of, my computer decides to tailspin into an unrecoverable mass of wreckage. The story was lost, close to eighty chapters of material (though juvenile and certainly ridiculous), gone. I still remember its epic tale fondly, as I have wanted to continue this tale, but that would require work. And work is something that I really want to put forth to something I have more faith in.

Don't get me wrong, I loved dearly this tale (which I had deemed The Days of Damnation, and before that, The Odium Mountain). A lot of concepts and themes that I use today can be directly attributed to ideas that I had birthed specifically for the saga, which had been intended for three books total. I was teeming with ideas. Though not in word form. I did a lot of this fantasy writing strictly from imagery in my head. Imagine someone watching a movie and telling you what's happening, move by move. In the description I've given it perhaps is not so enthralling, but I of course made sure to go back and add various words of interest to make it not seem like the rundown of a six hour congressional hearing. The imagery would be so intense at times that I would get overwhelmed with the amount I would have to type, how quickly I would have to type to keep up with the action in my head. So much would happen at once, the story would degenerate from coherent sentences and chronological procession to a list of 'active words' that would be paired with an adjective. The emotion of the sentence, the action of the sentence, the effects and time scale would be forcefully condensed into four or five words, and then after I got through a certain scene, I would go back and start piecing together this smeared out, disorganized mass of words into articulate thoughts. It worked out pretty well considering I made it at least a thousand pages deep with this method before it all shot to hell. Well, not on my terms, anyway.

Even with what I thought was a very inefficient manner of conjuring up these scenes, the characters would inevitably witness some marvelous, fantastic locations beyond imagination (well, not beyond MINE, anyway) and they would encounter dangerous enemies, powerful gods, whose power would be assumed by these nine mortal teenagers. Yes, nine was the magic number. Nine was the recurring theme. Nine different protagonists, nine different gods, nine different strengths, nine different worlds. The whole book was meant to be symbolic with the number nine, so much so, I had nine word chapter titles, nine paragraph chapters and various other nine-related items. Obviously, at this time, the movie 9 had not even been conceived yet, so I at the time thought I was being original by picking an odd number and granting it almost godlike qualities.

The main protagonist was named Kevin. Kevin's troubling past led him to be sequestered in an institution for almost two years until a mysterious visitor appeared on a rainy night and offered him a box inside of it. In it was an orb which gave him several powerful capabilities. His specialty was fire. But with this power, he becomes schizophrenic to a serious level. Immediately after realizing his power, he flies into an identity crisis and subsequently turns his cell block into smoldering ruins, and flees into the night. From there he learns of a dangerous cycle that repeats ever million years or so. He also becomes aware that the human race has existing for billions of years and that our current scientific interpretation of the beginning of humans is extremely wrong. Humans and what turn out to be 'Angels' clash in a worldwide war so large and vast, 99.999 percent of the earth sentient life is eradicated, and with it, all of its technology, its kingdoms and almost all evidence of its existence. With his journey he discovers eight other people with similar powers. From what I remember, Kevin's childhood friend, Stephen, had the capability to an extraordinarily powerful, fur covered creature. Though some of the details have slipped from memory, I do remember a particular chapter where he fights an eighty foot golem alone. He survives. But he still gets his ass kicked pretty badly.

I remember the other powers included electricity, water, energy, blood, darkness, stone, and I think the last one was mind. Five guys and four girls. What with nine being odd, I don't have much choice. I didn't want the story to menstruate all over the pages after all.

I remember the gods, on this particular war cycle, had been crafting an enormous machine in space, simply titled END. A planet sized machine with a significantly sized lens in the middle that would fire terraforming-style beams of energy onto the earth. It also would affect gravity, launch enemies in these city sized chrome spheres that when landing, resembled nuclear bombs. I'll stop here, since if I go into any more details, I might as well just re-write the story. Oh wait. That's right.

I did.

Upon discovering my trash heap of a computer (and the resuscitation that followed) I realized that I had to start it again, do it better, more brutal, more bloody, more action, and more darkness. I didn't make it NEARLY as far as the first one, about a quarter as much, but it also fizzled out, though not by any fault of mechanical error. I simply just ran out of juice. I did change some details. No longer were there simply nine people with powers, I decided to include a small militia of rebellious citizens. Instead of being institutionalized, Kevin wakes late in the night to hear his phone ringing. His friend, Alex, alerts him that 'the uprising has begun' and to 'get his dad's guns and come over'. Kevin is torn, but upon viewing the destruction on the television, suits up with what he has and heads over to his friends house. They leave with a band of about eight people in a truck to the heart of the city, where they combat various military outfits in the downtown area. After a few encounters with the enemy, Kevin discovers that there are things amiss. He learns that the war was provoked by angels in an attempt to eradicate all humans. And how much easier it would be if they were fighting amongst themselves, right?

So with this realization, and battling an angel, he falls off of an extremely tall building. Instead of dying, the concrete cracks around him, and he realized he has powers…So on and so forth, eventually adopting the same storyline as the original. Except I made sure to be a lot more bleak. Along with the whole 'Nine' theme, I also adopted red as the primary color.

This is absolutely not the first writing endeavor that has fallen in on itself in the face of writers block or motivation. Sadly, most will succumb to a similar fate.

"Feeders", "Messiah" and "Erebus" come to mind as well. Three well thought out and planned ideas that simply fall to the wayside. I especially liked "Messiah" because for once, the moral wasn't some convoluted message, nor did it bear any resemblance to being kind, respecting people, or living life to its fullest. I had intended on the moral being simple. "People are bad. We deserve what we get."

"Feeders" though, I must admit, I painted myself into a corner. One setting, one or two antagonists, millions of protagonists. Nothing changed. I suppose feeders would make a much more appealing and thought provoking silent movie, than a story. (A story that was intended to have little to no dialogue whatsoever. What the hell was I going to write about for 250 pages when no one would talk?) Did I really think that I would be able to keep a story going with a few million mute, homeless people walking through an endless plain? Sure. The forecast for that story would be rather bland. Thirty mute people having the best vocal conversation ever. What more could you ask for?

How quickly I forget that I'm not quite the genius I so quickly convince myself that I am. This leads me to my next thought.

Film. There's a lot of work there. If I for a second thought that I was a terrible person for all of the projects I abandoned before I decide to endeavor into movies, I should be beaten. Imagine the work I would need to dedicate to something like that. Effects, scripts, actors, fleshed out concepts, conversations…it would be a shitstorm of failure… I think that if I were to venture into that industry, I would have to strictly stick to the writing portion. I couldn't imagine the responsibility that an executive producer or director must face when making a movie, especially on the scale I want to create. (Think Avatar, King Kong, any effects laden films).

However there are some areas of film that have yet to be explored. In a time where the romantic comedy is king, and it's second in command is the 'remake', what choice does someone have? It's too much of a risk to be avant-garde in your thinking. The potential for failure is too high. People think that the only thing outside of the box is a pile of dead babies, half machine, half organic velociraptor rapists, a looping tape of 9/11 and a downpour of AIDS and feces. The gamble is too much, as a lot of films that are deemed different usually fail as far as money. Though a lot of them eventually get their cult following. I know a movie that I like a lot is "Begotten". Now there's a film that got its point across without saying a word. Describing it would be a chore, as some parts of it make no sense. I would much rather have you experience it on your own in a dark basement. Though I wouldn't suggest it for the faint of heart. I would demand it. That being said, I would love to do a movie similar to that. A film with hardly any speaking. All of it is visually based. Like an acid trip coming out of a projector. And not a "That 70's Show" groovy acid trip with bright colors. I'd love to make a bleak, dark, horrifying film with spectacular sounds… place a few recording devices in a mental institution. Get some oddball noises and try to mess with people's minds. I think the best feeling you can get from a film is feeling side effects from it hours later. Though I'm sure some vaginal group would have a problem with it because it's scary or because what I would have to do to get it in a theater.

I kind of wish there were an occupation where someone would be hired to 'create'. That would be the PERFECT job for me. I imagine it would pay rather well, too. Think about it. You establish yourself in the entertainment world as a 'creator'. You assemble a portfolio of things you've created. A well structured portfolio would include music you've composed, stories you've written, pictures you've created, ideas, and concepts, a little bit of every field. I can just imagine, the phone calls I would get from some vile businessman who wants to create a pie chart for some awful investment company to help 'bring the point home' about various stock choices for the quarterly projection. Meanwhile, they're taking their slightly out of date vehicle to the seediest part of town and scooping up some crypt monster of a hooker and taking her to a motel for a night of hijinks. He'd eventually realize that she's kicked the bucket during their foray into the world of love-less making and have to spend the rest of the night digging. Or if he were smart, he'd just let her do a 65 mph roll into a ditch off of a highway. Then you could blame a trucker, I suppose. That's their MO.

Glib events aside, I can imagine some businessman calling and asking me to 'create' for them. I assume their request would be bone-to-dust boring. Nevertheless, I would accept, and before you know it, I hand to them a disc with a tedious PowerPoint presentation accentuated with nothing short of elevator music.

You say "graphic design"? Well yeah, that area, at least. It expands farther than that. Imagine then some film company, perhaps a producer, approaching you with a request that I score his next bid movie. Sounds great, right? Absolutely. And perhaps with such a call, I would then receive requests from perhaps, gaming companies, asking for me to now write some music for their new action packed game where you drive around town and beat up women and children whilst stealing cars and fling helicopters and UFO's and derailing trains. Why does that sound so familiar?

Okay yeah, now I'm a composer. It still does not end there. Perhaps after seeing my now impressive repertoire of creative genius, a movie company will contact me with a dire problem. The writer of their next movie has quit with half of the movie unfinished. Well god damn, what are they going to do? Well no worries, they've contracted the best 'creator' around to finish up this romantic comedy.

People would love it. Imagine Helen Mirren and Gerard Butler starring in it. The next big romantic comedy with two huge stars. The first half of the movie goes into detail about Gerard and Mirren's awkward love affair, they're both so shy and afraid to tell each other how they feel. Gerard realizes that women his age are immature and only out for well muscled men who have money. Mirren is a cougar who hasn't had sex since she was seventeen, and realizing that she's almost about to commit to the ground, realizes she needs a man immediately. About thirty five, forty minutes into the film, Gerard professes his love outside of Mirren's apartment after dinner has gone awry. Mirren at this point, realizes that this relationship is going to face problems. They both want to very different things, and she would not want Butler to become clingy. She had acquired him solely for sex, and she fears that he has now become her true love! He stands there, cold, wet and frantic, trying to convince her that he loves her and wants to marry her. Right as they are about to share a passionate hard-nipple kiss, the ground beneath Butler cracks apart, and he falls into a deep chasm filled with bubbling magma. Mirren is taken aback, so much so that she faints on her doorstep in the pouring rain. It turns out that Butler and Mirren, if allowed to continue, would have conceived a child that would put a stop to Lucifer's plans to destroy the earth and conquer heaven. Rising from the small plume of smoke that Butler has left, a large gateway rises from the magma, a portal to Malebolgian realm. Hundreds of thousands of demon troops pour from the opening and begin to assault the unsuspecting city, toppling buildings, burning orphanages and laying waste to the less fortunate. Mirren is inevitably consumed by a small gremlin. Brimstone rains down on the earth, and the last camera shot features enormous hooves stomping up an ancient stone staircase, and the last slow panning shot is an armor laden Lucifer, wings spread, viewing his handiwork, a grin plastered on his face. See? Seamless.

I can see being a creator being tough work. Ideas and what is considered 'cool' is very subjective. Not everyone agrees. I would imagine that somehow this would pose problems for the companies that hire a 'creator'. Be it music, artwork, film, books, album covers, music video editing, designing movie posters, film effects, someone will have something to say about how bad it is. Especially on the internet, where everything you read is true and everyone besides you is perfect at everything.

Perhaps if I had continued my work on the book, or been responsible, and backed up all of this material, I'd be still working on it today, though I highly doubt that I would be at this time. I have a saddening motivation issue. A Da Vinci complex. Once I start some sort of project, art, music, literature, it had better keep my attention at 100% or it inevitably gets sorted out into an 'incomplete folder, where sadly, most of my work calls home.

The motivation has definitely affected my life negatively. I can't imagine the amount of media I would have released with the proper motivation behind me. Though I shouldn't say that this sort of problem is all bad though, as I now seem to only put out things I deem to be the best. Realistically, this is a bad idea, since I have less to speak for me out in the eye of the public, and since only my best is seen, I can't blame someone for being better by using the excuse "Well I upload everything, not all of it is going to be perfectly awesome!".

Instead of buying ten tickets at a raffle, I bought one because of integrity. Or mental illness. Slightly shameful, but it's something I've come to terms with.

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