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If you’re connected to me in some way through social media, you may already know this: Just Another Week in Suburbia has been optioned by Truce Films, who are interested in trying to turn my novel into a television series.

Some people might think an option is a guarantee that a property will be realised on the screen. It’s not. An option allows the company a period of time to try to get a project up off the ground. This isn’t easy. In the US, they might throw money at something and give a greenlight to make a pilot, but Hollywood is Hollywood for a reason.

In Australia, getting anything up off the ground isn’t easy because the money just isn’t there the way it is in the US. Ask any writer, director, producer about the battles they face trying to get their projects off the ground. Last year, I attended a screenwriting workshop where an established producer told us that, on average, it takes eight years to see a project go from inception to appearing on the screen.

That’s all the negative stuff out of the way.

I had coffee with Jim Wright from Truce on Monday morning, where he apprised me of what they were doing, and what they’d prepared. That was exciting – and flattering (whatever happens). As was the news that Chris Hemsworth could star. And I could definitely see JAWiS working on the screen in a similar way to Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap did (which was then picked up in the US and remade – Melissa George actually played the same role in both versions).

Here’s hoping.

When I was younger, I tried to get into screenwriting. I was intensely passionate about it, and would’ve done anything to succeed. Most young writers (and artists) burn that way, whatever their field. It’s about succeeding at all costs, and every setback – every rejection – becomes a personal attack. Because writing is personal. You produce something only you can produce as a writer. It’s your story. They’re your characters. It’s you. So, naturally, rejection feels like a slight on not only your abilities to tell the story you want, and not only on you as a writer, but on you as a person.

I wasn’t very well equipped to deal with what you needed to do once a screenplay was finished. To tell the truth, the same applied to my prose. Lots of times (most of the time), stuff just sat there. I didn’t pursue submission the way a writer should, which is to submit, submit, submit. Get rejected, then it’s submit all over. That’s only a side to my writing that I’ve developed over the last ten years (since I studied as a mature-age student for a tertiary qualification). And it easier now, because the bulk of submitting is done either through email or an online submission interface, such as Submittable.

But as I’ve developed that side, that fanaticism for success has declined. That’s not to say I don’t want to be successful. Every writer would want their own qualification of success. And that’s not to say I wouldn’t do everything required to make something the best it can be or to give it every chance of success. That’s become ingrained in me. But (for the want of a better word) it doesn’t sting as much if these things don’t happen. I’m older, I’ve gone through things, I live in chronic pain thanks to being hit by a car back in 2011, I’ve had people close to me either pass way or lose people close to them. It puts material success into perspective. There are things more important. Unfortunately, most people don’t realise that until those things are lost.

I’m thrilled, excited, ecstatic – all the adjectives – that JAWiS has been picked up, and I hope it does become what Truce envision, but I’m still keeping everything in perspective.

 
Last Week’s Lie: Last week I wrote, I try to write every night. Some nights, it comes flowing, pure and right and beautiful. I do write every night, but it never comes flowing, pure, and right and beautiful. I tend to believe if something comes flowing that well, it’s probably pure shit.

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Before I start my blog in earnest, here’s a look at the cover (click to enlarge) for my new novel, August Falling, due out sometime in September with Pantera Press.

The blurb reads:

    The past.
    Sometimes we can’t escape it.

    After a bad relationship, August is trying to piece his life back together. It’s not perfect – his flat is small, he works in a call centre, he can’t finish the book he’s working on, and he’s socially challenged when it comes to women.

    When August meets Julie, he finds she’s everything he isn’t – confident, composed, and purposeful, despite her troubled childhood, and with her, August finally begins to feel he can be himself.

    But Julie has a secret – one that threatens to plummet August right back into the miseries of his past.

    August Falling isn’t a love story, but one about acceptance, choices, and finding a way to be ourselves.

You should go out and get it. Demand it. It’s not printed yet. But demand that it is. Then demand it.

Anyway, I’ll write more about August Falling in the coming weeks. For now, it’s back to my work-in-progress, and the issues I’ve faced this last week.

Somebody asked how me much writing I’d done this week.

I answered, ‘Not a lot.’

‘Why not?’ she asked me. ‘What have you been doing with your time?’

There’s a massive preconception that writers just sit down, and everything spills perfectly formed onto the page. All you need is an imagination. That’s it. Don’t worry about structure, plot, arc characterisations, clarity of expression, etc. It’s not even a question that those things are required, or that they exist. It’s imagination and nothing else.

I wish.

I try to write every night. Some nights, it comes flowing, pure and right and beautiful.

Other nights, I struggle to get into it – not only can’t I find the right words, but the right ideas to get me back into the story. It’s like being a voyeur, trying to find the best way to peek in so I can translate what’s going on, but sometimes the view isn’t right. Then what? I can try write what’s happening from my vantage point. Sometimes it might open a better view. Other times, it’s a patchwork fix. Most times it’s just not good enough – especially for somebody as obsessive-compulsive as me. So I’ve got to keep probing until I find the view I need, even at the risk of all it collapsing under me.

Then there’s other times I don’t even realise that it’s not good enough, and I write obliviously. Like every writer, I have an internal gauge of what’s working and what doesn’t, but sometimes that’s awry. I write some scene, think I’ve got it working, then am taking a walk, or washing the dishes, or am lying in bed about to drift off – it’s always once I’m away from the computer (I believe this happens because it’s only then the pressure is off me and I start seeing clearly again) – when it occurs to me that, nope, that didn’t work for whatever reason, and I need to fix it. So then I’m back at it, either trying to make it work, or deleting it and starting over.

On other occasions, the scene itself is right, but the prose isn’t. Usually, I wouldn’t bother revising until the draft is completed, but sometimes it’s such a mess – and a mess might’ve been the only way I had to get it out so I had something to work with, as vomity as it might appear – that it does need mopping up. Or if might contain idiosyncrasies that I’m trying to unlearn as habits, e.g. words I overuse, or repeated turns of phrase. Every writer has them.

And other times a reread of a scene shows it’s underdeveloped. Again, it’s something that I’d usually address in revision. But other times, it just needs to be done because it helps as a foundation for what’s meant to come. Without it, I’d just be building on air. And that’s never going to turn out well.

Or something else that regularly pops up is the need to foreshadow. I’ll be up to a scene and think, Wait, this does need a little bit of setting up earlier. An example is an incidental character – a barmaid the protagonist worked with – this week gained some backstory that she was an aging but (still) aspiring actress. The second scene in which she featured came out fine. But I had to go back and seed some of this new information into her introduction (originally written five weeks ago), even though that was only a paragraph, and it wasn’t going to get much bigger than that.

Or, for all the work of my imagination (imaginations are teases, all alluring and seductive, until you engage with them, only to find they’re difficult, uncommunicative, and – sometimes – not what they first appeared), it just doesn’t want to translate. It’s like watching one of those mediums who operates in abstracts and being left to interpret it. I see somebody tall and fair. It could be a mother figure, or an aunt. Or a cousin. Geez, I don’t know. Sometimes only retrospect does.

And, sometimes, I’m just so blocked up by all the doubt and confusing, that I struggle to produce anything at all.

There’s just so much that could go wrong, and it vastly outweighs what could be going right and what – in a first draft – does go right. The odds are up there with winning a lottery.

Writing takes a lot of building blocks, and it’s not always building up. Sometimes, it’s replacing blocks. Other times, it’s strengthening a section of a wall. And other times it’s improving the foundations. Not all of them will reflect in the word count – not in any substantial way.

But they’re just as important.

 
Last Week’s Lie: Shockingly, I’ve never been arrested for drunk and disorderly, even for research.