XIXAX Film Forum

Creative Corner => The Art Gallery => Topic started by: Sleepless on October 03, 2017, 08:54:57 AM

Title: Written by Sleepless
Post by: Sleepless on October 03, 2017, 08:54:57 AM
This year, I've been trying really hard to get back into writing. Fiction, specifically. After banging on trying and getting nowhere with my screenwriting efforts often because outside factors told me screenplays had to do or not do certain things, I kept abandoning things because the thrill was gone. I just got burned out on it. I wasn't enjoying it any more.

Over the past couple of years, I've become increasingly in love with writers like Hemmingway and Patricia Highsmith, and just the pure joy of reading their words - and seeing the things that they do and get away with - inspired me to give writing fiction, literature, whatever you want to call it, another go.

There have been some false starts, sure, but this year, I really feel like I've hit my stride. The big thing for me was finding a writing routine that worked around my already busy schedule with family and work. I've got that figured out now. In the beginning, I had a few ideas and wasn't sure where to focus my energies. I would flit between them - just waking up each morning, knowing I had an hour to write immediately ahead and I was able to choose, which one of these four or five ideas do I want to work on today?

A couple of months ago, I finished a short story - an easy win to help galvanize my commitment to this writing lark - based on a short screenplay I wrote a couple of years ago. I've kept it in my back pocket for a little while, reading it over and making little tweaks every so often, waiting for the right time to put it out there. I don't know if now is the right time, necessarily, but I'm ready to let it go. So I published it yesterday on Kindle.

It's called Cow Boy (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07647NJV6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1507029713&sr=1-1).

It's only about 5,000 words, but it was important to me that I wrote something and finished it. By the time I'd finished it, I had more or less decided which of my other projects I'd put on the back-burner and which one would become my primary focus. It wasn't too hard a choice, really. That new project is called Nightlights. It's based on an idea I've had rattling around my head for a very, very long time. I've tried to write it as a screenplay dozens of times. I completed two full-length drafts in the past, both totally different, but neither really close to what I wanted it to be. I think part of the reason I failed with Nightlights in the past was simply that I lacked the maturity and life experience. And, of course, I was trying to conform my idea to some sense of what a screenplay should be. It just didn't work at all.

But literature is a much more free medium. The playful does-what-it-wants nature of Twin Peaks The Return may have inspired additional confidence also. I've broken down my ideas for Nightlight into sections, then broken those section downs into individual episodes, my goal for each episode being about 1,000 words. I can write 1,000 words before work each day. So each week, I can write 5,000 words. In 10 weeks, I can write the first draft of my debut novel. And I am. By this time Friday, I'll be half-way done. And I'm loving it. Really enjoying the experience. And Nightlights is completely its own thing and I'm letting it be that. I should be done with my first draft by mid-November, and then I plan to give myself the next 2-3 months reviewing and editing it, then I'm going to stick it out there and let it be.

I've been listening to a lot of self-publishing podcasts the last year or so too. As with screenwriting, there's certain advice on how you're supposed to do these things. All good to know, but for Cow Boy and Nightlights I'm just doing what I want. Cow Boy is done, so it needs to get out there. Nightlights is so intensely personal and has been on my mind for so long, I just need to get it out of my head in order to move on and properly focus on something else. So if I put it out there, I can't go back. I have to go forwards.

The conventional advice of these podcasts, if you want to make any money at all in self-publishing, is to write a series of books. I never thought that would be something I could do, but over the past few months one of my ideas has evolved into something which could reasonably shoulder the scope of a trilogy. Some of you might remember I tried and failed to write a novel called Vs a year or so ago, publishing a chapter a month. Well, I tried to walk before I could crawl. I had a great opening scene and general idea for the story, but no concrete idea of how things would unfold. I have a much better idea now, and even how the story of the first book could be extended into a concept that would support three books. I'm still fleshing it all out, but that's my hot new idea once Nightlights is done and dusted. I'm going to work on Vs next and get all three books written before I start putting them out there, and test out these self-publishing best practices I keep hearing about. See if they really work. But writing series is not something I intend to continue with, I have plenty of much smaller ideas that I hope to get out of my head too.

In short, I'm enjoying writing again, and actually finishing stuff, and putting it out there. Now I just hope that the stuff I write finds some people who like it, and even if it just stays a hobby and pays for itself, well at least that's something and I can point to my books and say I accomplished something.
Title: Re: I wrote some stuff
Post by: Sleepless on March 21, 2018, 09:18:51 AM
I wrote a novel. It's called Nightlights. Now available in paperback or on Kindle (https://www.amazon.com/Nightlights-David-T-Harwood/dp/1980552525/).

It feels good to complete something. It feels really good to get this out of my head. This is an idea I've had for a very long time, and until I got it out, it never let me focus on something else. It's been like this mental ball and chain that I just had to get out somehow, and until I did it, I could never be free.

People always ask writers "how do you come up with your ideas?" For me, that's not the question they should be asking. I've always found ideas come from everywhere. I have a surplus of ideas. It's figuring out how to shape them into something bigger, something tangible... That's the tricky part.

Nightlights is something I've had festering in my mind for over half my life now. Seriously. I think I had the seeds for it before I even finished high school. I had the characters names. I had several of the story elements. I had some very definite scenes that had to be included in there somewhere. I knew I wanted it to deal with the concept of faith, with the notion of aliens and alien abduction standing in for conventional religion. I was obviously inspired greatly by my love for The X-Files.

But I could never figure out how to make it all come together. Of course, I tried to make it work as a screenplay for the longest time. I wrote two screenplays out of it in fact. The first one roughly 12 years ago. The second, 8 or 9 years ago. They're both completely different from each other, and this eventual book it finally became.

Within the past 5+ years, I figured out how to take the different pieces of what I wanted it to be come together and make it work. I think it would work as a film, but not the type of script that'd win any competitions necessarily or that someone else would pay me to make. But the barriers to writing a novel are so much less. And I just had to get it out of my fucking head. So that's what I've done.

I finished it around Thanksgiving last year, I think. I've done three rounds of edits on it, and got my wife to read the whole thing just to proof it for me. There were lots of typos I missed, so very grateful that she did that for me. And now it's out there. I got my paperback copy yesterday.

I might talk more about my ideas and what it all means to me, if people want to know. For now, I just want to celebrate with my Xixax family that I've accomplished this. I've put this to bed and I can start moving forwards. Start working on one of those many other ideas I've accumulated over the years. Honestly, it feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

So, of course I would love it if you would consider buying and reading it. If you liked it, I would be thrilled if you would write a review on Amazon and tell other people about it if you think they'd like it too. I would really, really appreciate that. Kindle or paperback, I only get $2 profit from Amazon. But I'm not too worried about making money off this book. I just needed to get it out of me.

And now I have the writing bug again. Feels so good. Since I finished my first draft of Nightlights, I've been planning out my next books. Advice is indie authors is to write a series of books, the idea being it's an easy way to get readers to read your first book for free, and then they'll buy your remaining books to finish the story and check out what else you've written. That's what I'm working on now. I don't think I have many series in me, but I do have an idea which will sustain a trilogy, at least. It's called Vs. It's much easier to come up with a logline for than Nightlights: "A prostitute who is half-human, half-vampire must fight for survival on all fronts when a vampiric Jack the Ripper starts killing off hookers in a claustrophobic, dystopian city." I'm a few chapters into Book 1 already. I hope to have the first draft of the first two books completed by the summer, then I'll edit those, work on the third book. I'm hoping to have Book 1 out for Halloween (but it could be later) and then release Book 2 and 3 so they each come out a month apart.

Will keep you posted in this thread as things develop. Thanks in advance for any and all support. Love y'all.
Title: Re: I wrote some stuff
Post by: Something Spanish on March 21, 2018, 09:59:14 AM
Congratulations, dude
Title: Re: I wrote some stuff
Post by: Sleepless on March 21, 2018, 11:05:39 AM
Thank you :)
Title: Re: I wrote some stuff
Post by: Reelist on March 21, 2018, 03:55:27 PM
Wow! Congrats.. Very inspiring. I like how you kept reiterating how good it feels just to get it out of your system. Thatís a kind of high I think all writers are chasing but you never really know what itís like until youíve put in the hard work to get there. And then, having one down and really enjoying the process just pushes you to keep the momentum going with more work, because thereís nothing more satisfying than finally having something set in stone thatís been months, years, DECADES in the making. A quote I like from Lucille Ball is ďThe more things you do, the more you CAN do.Ē

Iíve got an idea myself that had itís impetus when I was a teen and Iíve just been obsessed with it ever since because it keeps expanding as I go through life, and my own experiences give the character more and more depth when tacked onto his story. Problem is, I just NEVER FUCKING WRITE IT!! Iím not concerned about where it begins or ends anymore as much as I just want to see it on the page so itís a separate entity from my brain. Then all the toiling away about it doesnít seem so futile. Thatís mainly what I take away from your post is that I need to JUST DO IT whether itís made into a film or not, because I really want to know what itís like on the other side when you have a final product from all your efforts.
Title: Re: I wrote some stuff
Post by: Sleepless on March 21, 2018, 04:15:28 PM
Iíve got an idea myself that had itís impetus when I was a teen and Iíve just been obsessed with it ever since because it keeps expanding as I go through life, and my own experiences give the character more and more depth when tacked onto his story.

Yes. Same. I couldn't have written this in the form it ended up in until last year. I am all of these characters.

Thatís mainly what I take away from your post is that I need to JUST DO IT whether itís made into a film or not, because I really want to know what itís like on the other side when you have a final product from all your efforts.

Yes! Write your thing! Do it!
Title: Re: I wrote some stuff
Post by: jenkins on March 21, 2018, 06:00:55 PM
Title: Written by Sleepless
Post by: Sleepless on June 06, 2018, 08:47:21 AM
I was recently asked to write a 10-minute play for an annual theatre festival which my wife participates in each year. I knocked something out pretty quickly. It was the result of a combination of ideas... I wanted to do something very simple - a two-hander - so came up with the idea of someone just having a conversation with their cat. And that the cat talked back. Lots of these sort of plays are usually very pretentious, but I didn't want to do that at all. I thought it would be funny to give it a pretentious title, "Queso and Ipseical Dissonance," but really it's just stupid. though it touches on some themes of identity confusion which do interest me. This isn't the best example of my writing, but it was very rewarding to write something so quickly and then actually see some other people interpret and perform it. A very cool way to learn about my own writings' shortcomings, and I now want to edit the script and then publish it on Kindle for free. While I was decidedly very hands-off once I turned in the script, I think it is worth stating that I'd intended for it to be played very straight and dry, with the dialogue delivered like something out of Pinter, and that the humor would come more so from than that. That's not the way they went with it at all, but it was still a good experience for me.

Title: Re: Written by Sleepless
Post by: polkablues on June 06, 2018, 01:27:06 PM
Thereís little greater thrill than actors performing words you wrote, and little greater anxiety than realizing their interpretation is miles off of yours.