Thursday, August 19, 2010


Things have been slow going as far as my writing goes. I have a couple things I'm working on because I need to do some submission work with them, but for the most part, I'm doing the busy work of making packages, writing letters, wrangling synopses, etc.

We decided to get rid of cable about two weeks ago and rely on Netflix and the internets for television. Honestly, it's like cable never even left--we still watch the same stuff--The Simpsons, Law and Order--but the main difference has been that we are able to get whole seasons of shows and really plow through them.

Which leads me to Breaking Bad. We've watched all the Breaking Bad we can until season 3 comes out on DVD, which is God knows when. I try not to talk about television on here--I don't know why--they are scripts, they are sometimes well written, sometimes not, but for some reason, I always feel like television is somehow beneath acknowledgment--you know, the boob tube, brain drainer, etc. But I have seen some pretty amazing television in the last six months or so, with some pretty amazing character development, incredible writing, tight construction and some of the best acting I've ever seen.

Breaking Bad is not a show for everyone. It's gritty and it depicts serious drug abuse, violence and death. One thing I love about it is that it's real. Walter White is an every day dude--a high school chemistry teacher, about to turn 50, managed to have a baby on the way with his wife, Skylar, has a son with Cerebral Palsy already who is a student at the high school he works at, and he's pretty straight laced--and then--BOOM--inoperable lung cancer, which will cost lots of money to treat. The next thing you know, he's making and dealing meth to secure his family's financial future. And the next thing you know, all sorts of insanity is going on and they are going places in this show that just make you scream and kind of freak out and it's super intense. And then there's Bryan Cranston--seriously the best actor. I watched him on Malcolm in the Middle and he was pretty amazing on there, but there was something about him that just said that there was more depth to him as an actor than he was given on that show. And he gets it in Walter White. I fall a little more in love with him as an actor every time I see him on the show.

But what I really want to talk about is the character development and writing and plotting. The characters have been extremely well thought out--everyone has his or her own way of speaking, a point of view and secrets. And the secrets are fun and surprising, and real. Love it. The writing is tight--great lines, real real real scenarios, amazing. And the plotting is tight. SUPER TIGHT. I am not certain I have ever seen anything so tightly and beautifully plotted that wasn't a movie. And the way it's filmed is gorgeous. New Mexico is a gorgeous state and they exploit that at every turn.

Breaking Bad has given me a lot to think about as a writer. There's these wonderful ten minute or so extras on the DVD called 'Inside Breaking Bad', which give an perspective of the episode that is pretty great. I would give a lot of things to just be a fly on the wall in the writer's room during a season--I feel like I could learn so much.

The cliff hanger of the second season is hardcore--they did an amazing job of showing tidbits from the last episode of the season throughout the second season. Lots of red herrings but in the end, it all snuck up and made sense.

That is what I want to do with my writing--complete characters, great dialogue and tight plotting. I have a long way to go, but I think I at least have an idea of what to aspire for.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Garage Sale

We're having a garage sale this weekend to get rid of some unwanted items. Our apartment has been a complete disaster due to getting ready for this thing. There's Heroclix all over the living room, boxes of random clothes in the garage, and tons of boxes with loads of priced crap just ready and waiting to go clutter someone else's house.

And the major thing I am getting rid of is my computer from college.

It's a Dell and it was probably the bottom of the line when I got it, but it was the best I could afford at the time. And since I didn't game or anything, it didn't have to be the best thing ever. About a year ago, the internet card pooped the bed, and I inherited Bill's old laptop--my first ever. Yesterday and today I was spending time going through the computer to get rid of stuff on it--outdated programs, any personal information, my docs, and my writing.

Most of the stuff I had moved to my external portable harddrive when Ollie first decided it didn't like the internets anymore. But there were these discs I had to go through.

This computer has a floppy disc drive--not the ginormous ones, but the little hard discs that were just starting to go out of vogue when I was still at Iowa. I thought that maybe I would toss in the ones I clean off as a total package kind of thing for the computer--along with the awesome printer/scanner/copier that I can't use anymore either because it doesn't have drivers for the current version of Windows I am running.

Going through those discs was like looking at a photo album--but instead of pictures (well, there were some) it was mostly short stories and a lot of No Shame pieces that never made it to the stage, as well as all my exercises for Playwriting 1 and 2. I was VERY excited to get all these things onto Lorby, my portable harddrive. Now I could upload the very first No Shame piece I wrote way back in my first year at Iowa. It was presumed lost to the annuls of time, and it was probably better that way, but I will upload it anyway. I found several other plays and bits and pieces of things and I was struck by one thing.

This is a girl who is rough, but she's got a heart and a pen, and that, in the end, is what matters. I grouse about money for graduate school and about being impatient about my writing, but when I look back at the sheer volume of stuff I was writing at the time, it's mind-boggling. Not all of it was good--a lot of it was quite bad. But I am glad I got to see it. A lot of it has been deleted now--especially the stuff that I wrote for my fiction classes, but it was wonderful to see myself in a portrait of writerly progression. I can look back and see where I came from and realize I have come a long long way in a short amount of time. This is still something to be proud of, and build on.

Ollie is pretty much ready to go I think. Honestly, I won't miss the clunky heavy monitor and the tower, I do much prefer the laptop, Bad Horse, I am writing this on. But it was a wonderful, precious thing to see where my roots came from--and continue to grow.