Monday, April 24, 2006

Adventures In Commission

I'm approaching the first check-point: a draft is due in a few weeks.

I write best at night. And with music. These are things I've known, but not paid much mind to until now, when it matters. Some of the crucial discoveries I am happening upon originate from paying attention to myself. I try to notice my rhythms, let myself get swept up in currents of thought instead of sitting down with a rigid idea of how I will direct them. Why is it, that though we hope and expect that our accomplishments will be original and innovative, we seldom look for guidance in our own habits and inclinations? Maybe it's just me.

A structure is beginning to rise up:

(DAMIEN and SIMON enter. SIMON is carrying a guitar)

DAMIEN: You’re trying to tell me that I won’t regret it?

SIMON: That’s exactly what I’m saying.

DAMIEN: Naaaaaah.

SIMON: Do you really enjoy it that much?

DAMIEN: Do I enjoy it that much?

SIMON: Yeah.

DAMIEN: You don’t? Simon?

SIMON: Well . . .

DAMIEN: Of course you do.

SIMON: We hurt people for fun.

DAMIEN: They deserve it.

SIMON: According to you.

DAMIEN: You’re a wuss.

SIMON: We can’t just hurt people, Damien.

DAMIEN: What’s stopping us?

SIMON: Teachers, adults, eventually.

DAMIEN: You’re just giving in. Did you get caught? Expelled? Is that your story?

SIMON: We should stop because it’s wrong.

DAMIEN: Tell that to my dad when he lights a cigarette. People can make choices.

SIMON: And then people get burned.

DAMIEN: I get burned all the time. What about that? The heat’s got to go somewhere.

SIMON: So you give it away?

DAMIEN: I share it. There’s enough for everybody.

SIMON: There are guys who take karate or play football or something. You could do that.

DAMIEN: The rush isn’t the same.

SIMON: Too bad.

DAMIEN: I don’t even hurt people. No one’s gone to the nurse’s office.

SIMON: Sure, you don’t leave scars that they can see.

DAMIEN: That’s lame.

SIMON: Your feelings never get hurt?

DAMIEN: Never.

SIMON: Maybe that explains it.


SIMON: Maybe you have no feelings.

DAMIEN: Shut up.

SIMON: Everybody’s feelings get hurt.

DAMIEN: Why are you even talking about this? You said yourself that you enjoy it. That should be the bottom line. Screw everyone else’s feelings.

SIMON: Listen to this:

(SIMON takes out his guitar and begins to play a blues riff. After the verse, as he continues his monologue, he strums or picks here or there for effect)

SIMON: It’s called the “Cold-Hearted Blues”.

I woke up one morning and realized I was the worst person in the school.
I woke up one morning and realized I was the worst person in the school.
I knew if I kept on messin’ with people, eventually I’d lose my cool.

I wasn’t the dumbest, or the one who nobody talked to. I was the most horrible, because I made people feel like they were scum. Sure, I wasn’t the only one stomping on people’s guts, but I was the best at it. And I loved it. Like Thanksgiving . . .

© Nicholas D. Hubbard, 2006.

And it goes on--see two entries back for the rest.

I changed SIMONE to SIMON due to cast size. I have 12 characters, and three male and two female actors to play them.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Adventures in Commission

Had my first script meeting this week.

There is a given when it comes to writing in any form, but especially this one where the life of your words depends on many other artistis: your judgements about quality and progress will always be misguided, even when they've been refuted numerous times by important, experienced sources. In order to compose a play it takes, bare minimum, an instinct. An instinct regarding the potential of your ideas. This instinct will carry you through the ineluctable barrage of doubt and garrulous analysis that you will heartlessly pelt at yourself.

I'm on the right track. Not only that; I received the same comment from my advisors that I have been granted on other occassions: my writing is beautiful, well crafted, rich.

Has this stuck in my brain? Yes. Does it outweigh the doubt? Questionable. Can it foster that vital instinct? It appears that I'm still writing . . .

My critical faculties put me through a gauntlet. The consistent danger is that I won't come out writing. If I don't turn back and involve myself in other pursuits, then I often welter between the various hypotheses my brain can cook up. Is this language human enough? Is the action dynamic enough? Are you subconsciously robbing from other writers? Is this story engaging? Where is the realism? Where is the experimentation? Where is the fantasy? I'm fortunate if I can still produce words when it's finished. When all is said and done, if I do--if the words manage to grow and vigorously--then maybe the whole fucked-up process is what drives my writing beyond an indulgent hobby, toward a craft.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Adventures in Commission

I've been hired to write a script. I've got a contract and everything. And so the deadlocked trance of self-motivation has given way to the stalled perfectionism of an actual gig.

Momentum is key in this enterprise. Do not take your time. Write even when it strains. Ideas are like children. Without attention, they wither. Without constant and continuous attention they metamorphose into schizophrenics and throw shoes at you while screaming about the high volume of your voice.

I find that I'd rather fumble with a personal style than successfully graft nuances from the masters. If people like my work, I want that to stem from what I craft, not what I borrow.

I've got to write a show that appeals to a broad, unconnected (except by age) audience and promotes specific and given ethical notions. My odds seem narrow.

Here are initial scribblings:
GREG: I wear long sleeves so people don’t notice the bruises. My mom has stopped asking me where the visible ones come from—she knows it’s either a football game at lunch or a rough day in P.E. I pretend that they are tattoos. Like I’m a biker and I’ve got to hide all my skulls and stuff because I’m going to work. Or they are my P.O.W. scars. My dad was in Desert Storm and my grandfather was in Vietnam. I think I’ll be a soldier too. Then I can build up my muscles. They won’t be able to put bruises on me anymore. In my dreams I wake up and I’m on the floor of a cell. I have some classified information that the enemy is trying to get out of me—sometimes it’s a map of our compound, other times it’s the names of the top ten richest people in America. These men who have foreign faces—they’re people I don’t know—come in and ask me too many questions. I won’t answer. Finally they get tired of my refusals and they start to kick me. They take short kicks, little jabs into my side. They use the edge of their boot, like they are kicking a soccer ball. Then they pelt me with their toes. I don’t cry. I just breathe like I’m lifting weights. Someone takes a big kick. I don’t wince. The men take big kicks. When it’s a good dream I wait for the right moment and then I escape, making my way through the jungle like Arnold Scartzenegger. Otherwise it’s a nightmare. Suddenly the cell walls become school corridors and those aren’t foreign enemies that are kicking me—they’re people I know. Except it’s everyone I know. And they all see my bruises. And they are all kicking me. And it hurts so much I scream.

SIMONE: I woke up one morning and realized that I was the worst person in the entire school. I wasn’t the dumbest, or the one who nobody talked to. I was the most horrible, because I made people feel like they were scum. Sure, I wasn’t the only one stomping on people’s guts, but I was the best at it. And I loved it. Like chocolate. It was like a holiday every time I stuck out my foot and watched somebody topple. You know that twisting feeling you get in your stomach when you do something you’re really proud of or you’ve never been able to do before? Yeah? That’s the feeling I got when I hurt somebody. It’s weird to think about. I’m like a freak. Because I still get that feeling when it happens—I just try not to let it. When I was a little kid my parents didn’t encourage what I liked very much. I wanted to make clay sculptures. My dad said it was too expensive, my mom said it was a waste of time. I wanted to learn to ride a skateboard. My dad said it was too expensive, my mom said I’d get hurt. I’m not saying it’s an excuse, but maybe that’s why I started to enjoy it when I took something from someone—whether it was their new pen or their balance. It really took off when I was about twelve. I was in the lunchroom, and I saw this kid who I thought was kind of a dork. His name was Cosmo Fisk. He was carrying a tray. As I watched him everything became almost like underwater. Really slow. He moved toward me. With the tiniest reach I made his tray start wobbling. His eyes got really big, though he hadn’t seen me do it. He tried to hold on but it spun out of hand and his food was on the floor. I was so smooth. I pretended to be surprised. The whole room burst out laughing. After that it was a natural progression. The more people laughing, the more twisting in my stomach and the more I’d want to do it again. I know it sounds heartless but I didn’t care about anything. I didn’t enjoy anything else. So this was my thing. This was what I had…and then I woke up. And I still get cravings. But I’d rather not go back.

© Nicholas D. Hubbard, 2006