Thursday, April 23, 2009

This is Not a News Flash

So I feel like some of my posts these days are getting redundant - and for that, and if so, I apologize - but when I'm in full-on writing mode, I probably go into a little bubble where I have the same thoughts over and over again. :) But once again this week I was reminded that the hardest part of this gig is WRITING. And once again, I was also reminded that the best way to overcome this is TO WRITE.

To wit: every day this past week, I have come up with A MILLION excuses not to write. A hundred different websites to check. A thousand different Scrabble games to play. A gajillion reasons to check Twitter. (Which, incidentally, I'm now really loving. Check it out if you haven't. I'm @aswinn.) But, after all of my procrastination, I did indeed carve out time every day to write, and I was shocked, shocked, SHOCKED, each day to discover that while the words didn't always come easily, they did eventually snowball, such that I wrote at least 1300 words each day, topping out with 2k words on Tuesday. I! Just forcing myself to do it for an hour can actually add up to something substantial.

Again, I know that this is repetitive but it's also such a good reminder. Sit down. Write. Surprise yourself that you can be productive. Even if it's just a few hundred words. It's more than you had yesterday. And you'll always write more tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Is Music Your Muse?

So one thing that I've definitely noticed now that I've written a couple of manuscripts is that music DEFINITELY helps boost my creative brain cells. This probably isn't anything revelatory, but it really kicked in for me this past weekend when I was walking the dog and listening to The Killers over and over again. They have a theme running through a lot of their songs that sort of echos small town life - the joy, the despair, the claustrophobia - and I found, while out with the pooch, that the songs almost played as background music for me while I ruminated my characters and their next plot development. Like, I could see the songs playing in the movie trailer, and while on this walk (and listening to said music), I worked through the next part of my book. Something clicked in to place for me, and voila, I knew what I had to write.

This isn't new for me - when I wrote TOML, I was definitely influenced by more female-oriented songs about loss, longing, regret, rebirth, and even now, whenever I hear a song like Chantel Kraviazuk's Time or Sheryl Crow and Sting's Always On Your Side, I think of my characters and how those songs shaped them (and my writing process). Ditto the Ben Folds song, The Luckiest for The Department of Lost and Found. But still, this weekend was a good reminder to me that sometimes, I just have to let my brain go, listen to the literal music and see where it takes me. Try it - if you're a music obsessive like me, it might work.

Anyone else use this technique? If so, what are you listening to now?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Scrapping the Screenwriting

Question of the day: Why didn't you try to be the screenwriter for Time of My Life? Do you care that someone else is writing it?

I get asked this question a lot, and to begin with, I didn't even entertain the idea of adapting TOML. For a few reasons: 1) I had no idea how to write a screenplay. I'm sure I could have learned, but at the time, it felt like selling the book was enough. 2) The various producers who were looking into acquiring the project weren't interested in using me, or so I assume. Producers like to vet their own "talent," work with people who have reputations or experience they're aware of, and I totally respect and understand that. And 3) the stakes were just too high. Selling this project and getting it made mattered to me personally but also, let's be honest, mattered (and matters) to my career. I didn't want to mess around by either not landing the producers we wanted or producing a screenplay that wasn't up to par. It was just too important that everything came together seamlessly, more important (to me) than writing the script.

So I guess, to answer the latter question, I don't care AT ALL that someone else is drafting it. To begin with, I totally trust the producers - I met with them several times, and my vision is very cohesive with their vision. But, that said, even if it weren't, it's a win for me to get this made, period. Even if the movie were total crap (which I don't expect it to be), that's no reflection on the original book. The book stands as it is. THAT was my work. The rest is gravy. A bad movie still sells more copies, a bad movie still raises awareness of the book. Beyond that...I don't feel any real ownership. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love this book, and I love the characters, but whether or not they're perfectly translated on screen...well, I have other things to worry about. (Really, I do!) I mean, sure, are there some actors who I might not want playing these roles? Well, yeah! But the fact that ANY actors are playing them is enough for me.

For now.

For the next book, if we're lucky enough to sell it, yeah, I might be interested in tackling that script. But I'm at a different point in my career than I was when we sold TOML, and I feel more confident with that challenge. And if they opt for someone else? That will likely be okay with me too. The good news is, is that by then, I'll hopefully have moved on to my next book, and with that one, there's always more possibility for another movie and another challenge and another option to write a screenplay...not to mention new characters who promptly make me forget the old ones.

Would you guys be okay letting your work fall into someone else's hands or do you think you'd be concerned over the implications?