Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Knut Up: Id's Guide to Surviving Rejection


This is a photo of the then six-month-old polar bear Knut, snoozing and cuddling with his minder at the Berlin Zoo back in 2007. Remember Knut? Yeah, he got rejected, too. BUT BY HIS OWN MOTHER. Snap! I got me one up on you, Knut. My mother still calls me every two weeks, sucka.

Anyhoo, it’s almost the new year and, aside from teasing animal orphans, I’ve been spending the final few days of 2010 reflecting on my rejection journey thus far. For your benefit, here is some wisdom that I’ve collected along the way in my unsuccessful attempts to become a novelist and a screenwriter. These may sound like jokes but I’ve actually put all of these into action at some point – from my first rejection straight through to my fiftieth.

1) Get a haircut, but make sure it’s a good one. A new look always reenergizes me and helps me to get back at it. Do NOT, however, let the stylist take advantage of your vulnerability and talk you into a fringe.

2) Start a blog about rejection. When you write about being rejected, you’re still writing. And that alone should help you get better at writing, which in turn, will help you get rejected less.

3) Read other struggling writers’ blogs. But only while they’re still getting rejected, too. As soon as those bitches get a deal, remove them—promptly—from your blog roll.

4) Get a steady day job. Something with responsibility and deadlines that will keep you focused on finding success in other areas of your life.

5) Quit that job when it sucks the life out of you, leaving you too exhausted and depressed to get any writing done when you get home.

6) Read a crap book that reminds you that you CAN do better. For me, the book that made me want to do better was A Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing. Other recent disappointments include last year’s Giller winner The Bishop’s Man (that was it?), The Passage (it started out good and got bad) and, of course, Franco' s book of short stories.

7) Don't cry. (More than once a week and only ever in the shower).

8) Go to the gym as much as it takes to get your butt looking good. Then you can have the confidence to say to yourself “that editor may have rejected my manuscript but my ass looks really %$#&ing perky.”

9) Don't write snarky responses back to the people who rejected you. It will feel great in the moment but they'll just post them on their own blogs and laugh at you with industry friends from their table at The Spoke Club.

10) Find yourself a friend who says things like, "But when you DO get published and win the Giller and the Man Booker it will be SO great that you have this blog that followed you along the way. It'll make for such an amazing story!"

11) Find yourself a group of writers to write with now and then so you can feel a little less alone in the world, so you can tell each other supportive things (see above), and so you have some other writers to compete with, too. Bring something small and chocolate to every meeting. Avoid alcohol unless you get the shakes without it. If you do get the shakes, then you're awesome like Hemingway.

12) Do not entertain thoughts about killing yourself, make jokes about killing yourself or actually kill yourself. Because you don't really want to actually be Hemingway and because it's just a book, friend.

13) If all of the above fails and the rejection makes you want to toss your manuscript in the trash and flush your Mac down the toilet, do as Knut did. Knut's own mother didn't want him. And what did Knut do? Did he give up? No! He just kept doing his polar bear thing, and the entire world loved him for it. He became the symbol of the anti-global warming movement. He was on the cover of Vanity Fair. He got all buddy-buddy with Leonardo DiCaprio. And now, because Knut did not crumble, Knut did it -- Knut got himself a book deal. So if you're a writer as much as Knut is a polar bear, then keep doing your thing.

It'll all work out in the end.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The funniest non-research ever

I have a few wildlife documentary-related scenes in the latest re-write of my novel. For those of you who have read the terrible early draft, you're probably wondering "what the hell do wildlife documentaries have to do with Jehovah's Witnesses?" and you'd be right. Because wildlife documentaries have nothing to do with Jehovah's Witnesses.

Anyhoo, I was doing a fair bit of research for these nonsensical sections -- all of which was done online, of course. I mean, where else would a person find information on various topics all in one convenient place? A library, you say? Sorry, but what the hell is that?

PDFs galore, e-books, web sites... I found everything I could ever need to know on the Web to make these sections better than crap. But most importantly, I found video -- amazing video that inspired a whole series of imagery, stuff and things that made my new draft better. It scares me sometimes that I rely so much on video and television even though I'm a writer. Does that make me dumb? Maybe. My process flawed? Probably. Not as intellectual as holier-than-thou Heather. Absolutely. But, well, err, what was I talking about???

Anyhoo #2, I recently came across what is perhaps the funniest wildlife documentary video EVER made. I didn't learn anything from it that was useful for my book, but it made me laugh like a crazy person. Watch it here and watch it now.

Library. Phhh.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Alternatives

It's the holidays and I couldn't be happier about it! No, really. I mean it. My charred, scarred and rejected exterior aside, I get all gooey in December because of all of the incredible (inedible) Christmas consumables! Here are my Best of the Best:

Holiday Books
The Hockey Sweater (Roch Carrier, 1979)
If you haven't read it, get the hell out of my country!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Dr. Seuss, 1966)
Like, duh.

A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens, 1843)
The most classic book of all time, Christmas or otherwise.

The Polar Express (Chris Van Allsburg, 1985)
I love trains and I love Christmas. So, I mean, you know, yeah.

Holiday Movies
A Christmas Story (Bob Clarke, 1983)
If it was socially acceptable to bring home a leg lamp instead of a Christmas tree, believe me, I would.

Scrooged (Richard Donner, 1988)
Bill Murray. Enough said.

White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954)
You know that "Doing Choreography" dance number that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas but has those flying impossibly skinny legs on her and those sky-high waisted pants on him? Yeah, that scene is the best.

It's a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
I watched it last night while stuffing my face full of Christmas chocolate cake. Jimmy Stewart was, like, the most handsome-est 45-year-old high school student ever.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (Brian Henson, 1992)
Gonzo stole every scene... and my heart.

Now, because I'm also the kind of person who tends to gravitate towards the most depressing books/movies around the happiest time of year, here is my Bizarro Best of the Best:

Bizarro Holiday Books
Mao's Great Famine (Frank Dikotter, 2010)
This book explains why millions of people died of starvation in China between 1958-1962. I read three chapters of this book the other day while baking a Christmas cake... with rice flour. I felt guilty, but then I licked the bowl and felt better.

The Christmas Sweater (Glenn Beck, 2008)
Based on the harrowing true story of a young Glenn Beck who gets a "stupid, handmade, ugly sweater" for Christmas and learns a valuable lesson along the way. I haven't read it yet, but you know I will. I imagine that I'll throw up soon after.

Bizarro Holiday Movies
Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009)
Disturbing slow-motion sex, mutilation and infanticide in the forest? Um, yeah. I watched this one just days ago while shopping for gifts online.

Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2010)
A sexually repressed ballerina finally gets some... sort of. I'm sorry, dad. You're right -- I shouldn't have watched it so close to Jesus' birthday.

A Walk to Remember (Adam Shankman, 2002)
Mandy Moore gets terminal cancer and then falls in love. As you can imagine, it ended with me, inconsolable, on the bus ride home to Ottawa circa Christmas 2003.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

XO Id

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cold comfort

This is a photo of my home office. I took it yesterday. The image quality is poor because the photo was taken through a thick pane of glass with my camera lens squeezed in between two dusty wooden shutters. You see, my office is bloody freezing right now because it isn’t really an office per se, so much as a balcony that was turned into an office. The room is completely unusable in the winter because it gets unbelievably $#%king cold.

Now, see that white thing sitting in the middle of the desk? The thing south west of the Nacho Libre bobble head? That’s the latest version of my manuscript. The poor thing is locked up in my freezing office until the New Year. It’s really the ideal place for it – I’m never tempted to open the sliding glass doors to visit with it, which means that sometimes, for days at a time, I forget that it even exists.

In the spring, fall and summer, this office is a city writer's dream. So many dogs to stare out at, so much sun to shine down on the palest of literary shut-ins. The office has been good to me. We've shared some great times (figuring out my ending, researching my dream publishers, writing the first and third draft) and some hard times (reading countless rejections, writing the second draft, losing staring contests with the neighbourhood squirrels). In the most fertile times of my creativity, here's what the room looked like (click here for a close-up):

A far cry from the barren landscape of today, no? Anyhoo, I’ll crack open the office doors on January 1, 2011, and begin the final revision, the one that will tell me if all the time and trouble amounted to something that I can finally be proud of. But, until then, my book is safely and blissfully out of sight, out of mind. So thank you, Poorly Insulated Renovation, you have served me well. And to you, dear Manuscript? I'll see you next year.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A writer in wolf clothing

Hi. Remember me? My name is Id and I'm trying to write a book. Actually, at this point, I've already written a book -- make that three -- so what I'm really trying to do is write a good book. I haven't posted in a while because I haven't had much to say. I've just been plugging along working, blogging for other people, buying sweaters with wolves on them, etc.

Here's what's been happening on the writing front. My 76,000th re-write of my novel is running along nicely. I've some holes to fill in this week, which I'm very much looking forward to filling. (Yes, Matt. That's what she said.) Once that's all done, I'll back away from the beast for a month, then re-read and make my final tweaks after the holidays. After that, I'm sending my battered manuscript off to a freelance editor for a read, which I think is the next most logical step. Since I've decided to save my friends the trouble, I need another eye to give it a go. I've been trying to accomplish some fairly complicated stuff this time around and I need to make sure readers will actually get it. I'm loving the magical realism angle so much -- worth every single painful hour of cutting. And the cutting. Whoa boy. I've shed four major characters, pages and pages of descriptions of people and places. What am I left with? I'm not sure yet. I won't really know until I give it a re-read. But I feel lighter for having done it.

See, I'm actually taking my time for this re-write. No panic to meet a before-I-turn-30 deadline, no running out the door of Kinko's with my hair on fire. I'm reborn as a new kind of writer. A patient writer. With no fear, no extraneous characters, and yes, still no agent. And I'm cool with that.

In other news, you know that new cool show on AMC, The Walking Dead? They fired all the staff writers and will be using freelancers from now on. How fu$%ed is that? Read about it here.

In related news, watch this AMAZING cartoon about trying to get published. I think it's the funniest thing I've seen in a while. Funny, because it's true!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Playlists for Writers

You know how Stephenie Meyer thanks her favourite bands on the acknowledgment pages in all of her Twilight books? Yeah, me neither. Anyhoo, other totally unrelated things (probably something I read in The New Yorker) got me thinking about what my favourite bands/songs to write to are. While most often I need silence to write, sometimes -- depending on what type of scene I'm writing and what stage in the writing of it that I'm at -- I'll crank up my iTunes player and weeeee! off to the races. Here are some of my current favourites and what I'm writing when I listen.

Break-up scenes:
"Kill" Jimmy Eat World
"Sabotage" Beastie Boys
"Try" Blue Rodeo

Get-over-him scenes:
"Power" Kanye West
"Sweet disposition" The Temper Trap

Falling-in-love scenes:
"Friday I'm in love" The Cure
"I will follow you into the dark" Death Cab for Cutie

Generally sad scenes:
"Teardrop" Massive Attack
"Hallelujah" Jeff Buckley

Funny scenes:
"Me and Julio down by the schoolyard" Paul Simon
"Let the cool goodness rust away" Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah

While editing scenes:
Anything without lyrics -- the Chocolate soundtrack is my current #1
"Wish you were here" by Pink Floyd is great, too

Although I always have to go back and fix things up when music is involved, I often find that a song or two is great for moving things along and setting the emotional tone of any scene. (It also helps block out the construction noises courtesy my perpetually unsatisfied neighbours.) What are your favourite songs to write to? Or do you use music at all?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Some bitchy advice from Heather O'Neill

I like Heather O'Neill a lot. I think she has one of the strongest narrative voices I've read in a while. But damn if I don't hate her bitchy advice for wannabe writers. For example: "You should have been a huge reader as a child. You should have read everything you could put your hands on. This way literature is your mother tongue."

I mean, f&$%, Heather. Just because you were busy reading your childhood away and you weren't awesome enough to watch Saved by the Bell after school every Tuesday (from 1989 to 1993) in your friend Jane's basement doesn't mean the rest of us can't write, too. Right? Maybe? Sh!t. Mom, why'd you let me go over to Jane's house so much? Heather O'Neill quotes Dickens, Mom, and who do I quote? Bart Simpson, Mom! And Zack effing Morris!

Anyhoo, if you're looking for the best collection of advice for writers from writers, click here now and thank me later. (If you haven't already, you will fall hard for Margaret Atwood, I promise.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A bad day for Franco


I'm feeling a bit desperate today. For some reason this always seems to happen on Thursdays. I'll spend my lunch hour trolling the Internet for agents I haven't yet queried and tips from people who managed to break in while I'm just breaking out. (Seriously, I'm getting anxiety zits like a 13-year-old boy.)

Normally, this very low day would be the perfect one on which to rant about James Franco and his book of short stories. After all, the thing did just come out the other day. But I'm on the edge of feeling sorry for Franco. The bastard is getting horribly sour reviews. You know that smell of cantaloupe when it goes bad? Not the actual flesh, but when you stick your nose in that little depression and take a whiff and you know that you missed out on something that could have been really good? That s#i% fills my nose when I read one of his reviews.

"... after finishing "Palo Alto' one feels the urge to not so much review it as grade it. And not highly."

Sorry Franco. But a bad review is still better than no review at all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

FFS - you saw it here first

So, NBC's Writers on the Verge program never wrote me a letter of rejection, which I found very annoying. Obviously I didn't get in -- the program started a few weeks ago, FFS!* But just an e-mail, a form letter, anything at all would have been appreciated. It's these kinds of rejections that are the worst. The ones that tell you just how low you are on a list of priorities. At least the WB had the courtesy to send me a rejection in the mail. Oh yeah. I didn't get into that program either.

Anyhoo, since I'm tired as hell of only writing bad news here, here's some good news!

These two white chicks** got in to Writers on the Verge!

I don't know about you, but I can hardly wait for another boffo season of Cougar Town and Army Wives!!

* = for fu#%'s sake
** = yes, I know I'm a white chick, too.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Burned before reading


The following is a path to rejection so bizarre that I had to share it. Pay attention to the dates. They make this &#it matter:

May 11, 2010

Dear Id,

Thank you for sending us the query below. Please do send the complete manuscript if you can. A Word attachment would be just fine. It will take 2-3 months for us to get back to you. We are considering manuscripts for fall 2011...

Sincerely,

XXXX
Associate Editor
XXXX Books

I forgot about that e-mail. Time passed. A trip through Europe happened. A new job was gotten. No manuscript was sent. Fast forward to...

August 26, 2010:

Dear Id,

My apologies in taking forever to get back to you. I would like to take a look at your whole manuscript for A Happy Armageddon. You're welcome to send it to this email address in a doc format. I will get back to you some time this fall.

Sincerely,

XXXX
Associate Editor
XXXX Books

Time passed, personal problems arose, a re-write began. More problems. No trip to Europe. No manuscript was sent. Fast forward to...

October 7, 2010

Dear Id,

Thank you for your query back in spring of this year. Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you.

Unfortunately we don't think A Happy Armageddon is a good fit with our list at this time. We are once again overwhelmed with professional submissions for our annual award for an unpublished novel or story collection, and it is difficult to make the necessary decisions. Editorial judgments are subjective and often wrong, of course, and I wish you all the best with your writing.

Sincerely,

XXXX
Associate Editor
XXXX Books

I'm pretty sure that this qualifies as a new low.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

It's not easy writing short

Yes! I knew it wouldn't take long! Evadne found me, folks. (See post below for context.) So log on to her blog here and read her excerpt. And she makes you work for it, too! Evadne, if you're reading this, you are a freaking genius! Do you want to be my agent? :)

As you can tell, I'm rooting for her pretty hard. Maybe someday I'll have the guts to post online as well. But I doubt it. And hey, does posting online count as published? Technically? The CBC short fiction contest rules and regulations make me think so:

"Requirements: All entries must be original and unpublished works. All works that have appeared in print or on the Internet, including self-published works, are considered previously published and are therefore not eligible for the competition."

And by the way, short stories are really really really hard to write. Did you know that? Because I didn't. I thought I wrote one the other day... until I re-read it. STINKTOWN, let me tell you. You short story writers out there are a different breed altogether.

Anyhoo, I gave up on that idea pretty quickly and got back to the business of long-form. Specifically, the business of begging for money for my long-form courtesy the Ontario Arts Council. Third time's a charm.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Better blog than mine

Since my blogging has been temporarily stalled by another attempt at re-writing my novel, (more on that later) you may want to check out this one instead. When you read it, please keep in mind that the author of this blog doesn't actually have a book deal. This is easy to forget for all kinds of reasons. Read one post and you'll understand why. Just look to your right -- that's another clue.

I have no idea if this woman can write. She's never posted an excerpt, I've never gone to a reading (yes -- she has them) and blogs offer up poor evidence of true literary talent. (At least I sure hope so.) So she could be the worst or she could be the best. But she has balls and she's going for it her way. And so, this woman, this incorrigible optimist, has become my hero. My newest reason to keep trying.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Franco is back, too.

I used to love Vanity Fair. I loved it for its richer-than-you, closeted-gayer-than-you, more bulimic-than-you attitude. But right now, I hate VF because the editors at this esteemed WASPY rag, have fallen under the Franco spell.

Here's what I mean. In March of 2010, Vanity Fair made fun of James Franco here. Less than a year later, however, the magazine published him here.

What the fu$%, Franco? What powers do you hold?

Monday, August 23, 2010

The book is back... sort of

I know this sounds made up—kind of like the loser in your math class who kept insisting he had a girlfriend in Oregon and oh yeah she's a model, check out this photo that, yes, was ripped out of a magazine, because he lost the original okaaay—but my friend Tobias who loves pizzalicious-flavoured Pringles and lives in Sweden asked to read my book the other day. I know. And it was totally out of the blue. Tobias, if you read this blog, please fill me in.

I wasn’t sure how to respond at first but it made me think about how things have both stalled and progressed since I wrote that godforsaken manuscript. While the book has been turned into a TV show (in my mind only) and while I’ve got another writing project on the go (I have 20 pages so far and I already want to quit), the book still burns a hole in my hard-drive. I have not forgotten about it. I couldn’t even if I tried.

But here’s the thing. I can tell myself it’s bad luck or bad timing or Can lit sucks for only so long. Once you’ve gotten as many rejections as I have and even your publishing contacts get you nowhere, it’s time to realize that maybe, just maybe, your book stinks. And I think it does. I re-read a bit of it the other day and I made this noise: eeeeewwwww.

It made me a bit sick to think that this was what I’d been putting out there. It made me think that a year from now a re-write would be necessary if for no other reason but the easing of my own creative conscience.

Again, as always, my mind veers back to this terrible but familiar question: when is giving up a good idea? Anyone?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New ideas and great pink slacks!

You know when you're at work and you're trying really hard not to cry because you checked your personal e-mail and you got bad news bad news that you hoped would be good news that would let you write for money what you wanted to write for once instead of press releases and don't misunderstand you're lucky to have a job in this economy and everything but come on you would never be let in to the VIP parties you write about because these kinds of people would never take the subway to work because they don't work not really or eat in a food court where you ate today reading a book about Writing the TV Drama because apparently you don't know $hit because the CBC rejected you?

Well, that was me last week. In case you couldn't keep up with the run-on, here's a picture that represents my state at the time:


Okay, the pants/shoes/shirt combo is amazing, I know, but I was actually really sad for a day or so. But that was last week. A lot can change in a week. Real things that matter can happen to people you really love and it puts everything small and stupid into perspective or if that's a bit too much to think about and you want to distract your sad away with something happy you wander downtown for a game with some friends and meet up with more friends still and you eat a gluten-free and vegan poutine and you hadn't had poutine in over a decade and you're from Ottawa which is practically Quebec where if poutine ran for Prime Minister he would win.

So this is me now:

As you can see, I am writing. And you can't tell here because of all of the opium I'd been smoking when this photo was taken, but I am actually smiling. Yeah, I know. Even I'm amazed.

Although my rejections are voluminous enough to fill a very chatty blog, I keep going. Perhaps it's my Persian roots, incredibly twisted spine, pointy breasts, or fabulous taste in headdresses but my love for writing cannot be quashed. In fact, my next project is not just any writing project, but the most rejection-prone writing project there is: the screenplay.

It's just a loose story so far. Five minor plots melted together with some cheesy characters and white bread with the crusts cut off and... I have no idea where that metaphor was going so clearly this project, like my others, is doomed. The other sign? The title:

Tennis with Strangers.

Yep. I think we all know where this one is headed:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crap hell crap.

We have had a chance to read and discuss the material and I'm sorry to inform you that we will not be able to move your project forward for development. Although Avery is a strong protagonist and it is fun to watch her interact with Mike, the tone is a little too comedic for our 9pm slot and it skews too young for our desired demographics.

- CBC

I'm afraid of the CBC (and Americans)

Oh God. I just checked my inbox. The CBC wrote me back about the pilot. And I'm too scared to open the e-mail.

Here's the thing. My CBC attempt was never part of my original plans for my pilot. I never thought it would work for the edgy tone I wanted to exploit. I never thought it would find room next to Being Erica since it's also a bit fantastical. So instead of bothering to start caring about the CBC, I've always been all about HBO or Showtime. But suddenly, now that that email is sitting there in my Yahoo, I care very much about the CBC.

Oh balls. I need some good news. Really really really. Please send me your positive vibes. Please #2, send me your hard drugs.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The horror.

That's it! This is one insult to books too many! I'm officially retired. Heck, I'm not even going to bother to reformat this font. I. Just. Can't. Bear. It.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

The CBC and 10-Year Plans

When I was 20, I wrote myself a 10-year plan. To keep a long, anal-retentive story short, to complete the list I had to check off this particular point: get book deal with major publisher by the age of 30. I'm still not sure what 30-Year-Old Me thinks about this "failure" of mine. I haven't quite come to terms with being this old, let alone missing such a deadline. 20-Year-Old Me is pretty pissed though.

Anyways, let's see what else has been going on. Oh yes. I sent my pilot pitch off to the CBC. By the way, if you want to do the same, click here. I wish someone had told me about the magic phrase "independent producers" sooner. But now I know -- thank you friend of a friend of a friend at that barbeque. Sorry if I spit some corn water on you. It was very juicy, as you may recall.

So I pitched, and two days later I got a response. I can hardly believe it myself, but the CBC wants to see my pilot. Good news, right? Sort of. See, I wasn't expecting to hear from them for a few weeks. I figured I'd have time to Canadianize the thing and stretch it out by 15 pages or so into a full-length drama.

Let's just say I've been scrambling like crazy for the past two weeks and I do not eat eggs.

But it's almost done. And get this, 20-Year-Old Me: I like it. I like it a lot. So I'm sorry that I let you down. I'm sorry I didn't get you a publishing deal. But I'm so much happier here in TV Land. It's a friendlier neighbourhood with so much less snobbery. Everyone in TV Land owns a TV. They don't sneer at me for watching The Bachelor, for spending entire weekends with ginger-haired serial killers and misogynists in skinny ties. So it's okay, 20-Year-Old Me, we'll get there eventually. The road will just look a little different. It will be have more dialogue and less exposition. It will be more plot-focused and more fun. The formatting will be a f#%&ing bitch, though.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kill me now

Okay, it's not as though I believe that this software can actually "read" my writing, or even that the programmer behind it can read anything but Internet boobies and code (half of which looks suspiciously like Internet boobies, by the way: 00 00 00). But THIS is who it "thinks" I write like? Really? Really?? Really.

If you can take it, try the test yourself. I'm currently in the throws of regret and could use some company.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The First Rule of Write Club...

"By the way, that sounded like Solitaire, but it’s not." That's what she said. No really. That's what my friend said to me the other night as we sat down, laptops in laps, to work on our respective writing projects. We're the most frequent attendees of Write Club, a place where a few writer friends and I get together, eat take-out, gossip and then actually get some writing done for an hour or two. It's not one of those groups where the members hem and haw their way through those little writing exercises that let my kind procrastinate even more than we're already prone to. No sir! Real, honest to goodness writing actually takes place in my club.

Write Club has been, perhaps, the most important new element in my writing life these past few years, and I'm grateful I have friends who take it seriously. The Club holds me accountable -- it makes me feel like an asshole if I haven't been writing on my own time, and it makes me feel like an asshole especial if I don't use my WC time for writing.

Which is where that above quote comes in. It's true, for all I know, my friend could have been playing Solitaire. Typing away in an isolated little corner by the speaker in my living room, Japanese food containers strewn around us -- both of us could have been up to anything at all but writing, I suppose. But we almost always write. Because we almost always love it.

Anyhow, before I started wrestling with some TV writing, here's what I managed to create for my poor, nearly forgotten second novel at this WC meeting:

My downstairs neighbour has a poodle. It's white and bigger than I always expect because I always think small when I think poodle. It doesn't really ever bark or chase cars or anything. It's got much more self control than I do. It's quite skinny as well which substantiates my theory about self control. I didn't think dogs could do that sort of thing, stop themselves when they've had enough, or even know what enough was. Sometimes even I forget so I try to spend as much time with the poodle as I can. This is easy because my upstairs neighbour lets him out the front door and leaves him in the yard for hours sometimes, even in the winter. It sounds cruel but it's not. If you saw my downstairs neighbour you would understand. She's not built for waiting so who's fault is that? It's not the poodle's so I frequently let him through my patio door for leftovers. Some dry toast or spaghetti or the smallest bit of butter because he just wants a taste.

So if you haven't your own Write Club, I highly recommend forming one. Not because I think this bit of writing is so great, but because it likely wouldn't exist at all without it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bloodletting and miraculous abs

So I went to see the latest Twilight movie last night and had a great time. But before we got into the theatre and grabbed our seats next to a bunch of overweight, 45-year-old Twihards, my friends and I were approached by two irritating people (a.k.a "marketing executives"). Standing next to the Twilight step & repeat, they were doling out the newest line of tampons, pads and liners from Kotex. Eww.

As gross as it was for the Kotex people to recognize the limitless co-branding possibilities between their blood-related products and Summit Entertainment's blood-related products, the actual pads were the worst part. The packaging of this new "savvy, urban girl-power" menstruation marketing strategy is done in Las Vegas-style, impossible-to-miss neon. Bright pink, fluorescent purple and electric blue pads and tampons? Right. Because that's exactly the kind of thing I want spilling out of my purse on the subway.

Anyways, tampon tragedy aside, the literary horror / delicious cinematic lobotomy that is Twilight inspired me to try writing a new pitch to a new TV agent. And by incredible coincidence, the agent's last name is almost "Meyers" -- the author who brought all of us over-30s a little closer to large-scale pedophilia arrests. I took this as a sign. Here's the fated letter:

Hello Ms. Myers,

I'm a Russian spy moonlighting as a 29-year-old professional writer in Toronto (Wired, The Toronto Star, Inside Entertainment...) and I have a very funny spec (an episode of NBC's Community) that I'd love to send your way. An evil ivy scam, an Eastern Bloc prostitute, career assessment day, Mouldy and Scully... I know I've put together something original, smart and hilarious that NBC will eat up.

I've also just finished writing a pilot. The show is a drama with a dark comic edge called Happy Armageddon. It follows the life of Avery -- a conflicted 24-year-old dealing with the fallout of her boyfriend's decision to become a Jehovah's Witness. If I had to compare it to something I'd say a Weeds/Big Love combo would be close. My pilot has even been compared to Истории в деталях. But now I'm just bragging.

If you're interested, I'd love to send my spec or pilot (or both) your way. Or give me a call. I'm (mostly) confident that my phones aren't tapped.

Thanks very much for your time and consideration.

Do svidaniya!

Id

P.S. I'm not really a Russian spy, by the way. But wouldn't that be the coolest?

And in case you're wondering, Readers, yes of course I took the free Kotex. What do you think I am? Employable?