Playtime desired

The fact of storytelling hints at a fundamental human unease, hints at human imperfection. Where there is perfection, there is no story to tell — Ben Okri

Because I accepted the challenge of writing my first screenplay, I’ve been slightly obsessed, for the last few weeks, with finding movies — feature and short — to watch. Or at least add them to my ever-growing ‘to-watch’ film list.

I have four feature films I’d like to watch, hopefully, this week, assuming I can find the time. The four films in question are Milk, American Gigolo, Neruda and Lust, Caution. It’s a diverse list. I threw in American Gigolo just because I needed to see what I was missing out on when the film hit theatres and I was only 12 years old. All four films are rentals. If I like them enough, I just might want to own a copy of them.

And then, there is Wong Kar-Wai’s classic In the Mood for Love. From the snippets I’ve seen of the film, it is visually sumptuous and I’m in the mood to be seduced by what the director has to offer and to discover his deftness as a storyteller. I managed to find a copy of the film and I’m looking forward to watching it.

Because of the diversity of the viewpoints of these directors, I’m excited to discover how they spin and weave a story on screen. I’ve already viewed a number of short films online at a site called shortoftheweek.com. There are some beautiful gems on that site. So much to absorb and to think about. The art of storytelling is endless fascinating to me.

And I desperately need to play with my characters. It’s annoying that I’m still so busy. Maybe I can finally start shifting focus onto my boys and girls. I’m somewhat surprised they’re not harassing me every waking moment.

I suppose a reason for this could be I’m already engaged in the silly nonsense of looking longingly at my playmates while I’m doing something I don’t want to do. It’s not one of those hideous lovelorn looks two people give each other. It’s more like ‘You know I’d prefer to spend time with you, getting into all sorts of trouble, rather than doing whatever responsible adult thing I’m doing right now, right?’

All work and no play make for lack of writing bliss. Boo. Yeah, I want regular playtime with my characters. If you met them, you would want to play with them, too. However, it’s an exclusive relationship. We’re all mutually possessive of each other and we’re not particularly concerned with how dysfunctional that sounds.

Gotta make this short. I need to put in my playtime.

Spinning my wheels

I’m restless. An energy is simmering in me, waiting to boil over. The wheels are spinning but they’re going nowhere.

Sure, I could keep busy with the everyday mundane but necessary bits of life. However, that’s just maintenance.

Maintenance, while necessary, can be really fucking boring. A major non-writing project was completed last Monday. But my commitment to the organization which is connected to the project, isn’t quite done yet. So, I’m in a bit of a limbo waiting for some elements to come my way to finish designing a smaller but final project for them. I’m hoping to be done in a couple of days.

I think I’m restless partly because it’s Spring. Being the transitional season it is, spring gets your brain out of winter to start preparing for summer. The non-writing project, which happens to be an annual gig, also happens to mark that transition for me. It signals that I will soon be free to dive back into the personal projects that ring true to my heart.

But knowing that doesn’t keep me from getting antsy and wanting to break free and run away somewhere with my fictional characters to spend some quality time with them. Well, I’m out of the winter phase, goddammit. And as much as I appreciate spring, I need to be in summer phase, to be in a more unencumbered, productive frame of mind.

The restlessness might also be partly due to some sort of delayed cabin fever. I’m itching to get out of my physical environment and wander off to parts unknown or parts I need to revisit. It’s more than wanting to be in another part of the country. It’s more like needing to be on another part of the continent or the other side of the planet.

Shed the things that want to define me as something I’m not. Get out from under some sort of oppressive weight. I need to be around people who naturally re-energize me. God knows I’m around enough energy-sucking vampires to know I need a break. There aren’t that many vampires around because I kicked a bunch of them out of my life. But the ones that remain can be really trying. We all have those vampires in our lives, right? And sometimes, having a wooden stake just sitting in your hand feels good, right?

This is what happens when I don’t spend enough time with my writing. Everything feels oppressive and I’m close to climbing the walls.

As you can see, I need to re-direct the restlessness and refocus. I need to get back to the writing process. That’s what it will take for me to settle down and feel grounded.

I’m tugging on the restraints big time and my characters are sorely tempted to grab a pair of bolt cutters and free me. But I’ve told them to wait a little longer. They actually do listening when they’re not barreling around like mad lunatics vying for my attention.

Soon, everything will fall away. Soon, everything will fall into place.

Taking risks

Creative risk taking is essential to success in any goal where the stakes are high. Thoughtless risks are destructive, of course, but perhaps even more wasteful is thoughtless caution which prompts inaction and promotes failure to seize opportunity — Gary Ryan Blair

As an artist — be it writer, painter, musician — creative risk taking is essential if you want to grow regardless of how high the stakes may or may not be. Figuring out how to do something is one thing. Taking what you’ve learned and throwing yourself into something that allows you to use that skill set in something you haven’t experienced before, is altogether exciting and terrifying.

In my own little way, I’ve always been a risk taker. Not the kind that puts you in mortal danger, unless you consider horseback riding life-threatening. I’m referring to the kind that takes you out of your comfort zone, where you discover something new about yourself.

Someone once joyfully (and I mean that in the most positive way) described me as having a reckless confidence. Reckless, not thoughtless. There’s a difference. In all my time here on this blue planet, no one had ever described me that way. I can be a lot of things. And I know I have been described as a lot of things. And I own all of it. And I really love owning reckless confidence.

Anyway, the risk taker in me has always been there. It only shows up when an opportunity or idea (good and bad) seizes my attention. I’d like to think these days that the opportunities or ideas are more good than bad. I’ve had my share of bad ideas when I was younger.

Without a doubt, my risk taking has unnerved some family members and friends. But only because they’re looking out for me. More often than not, my risk taking is a source of entertainment for these folks (my friends, in particular)… once I get around to informing them about what I’ve done.

Writing has allowed me, and is allowing me, to creatively take risks. Writing has opened doors to opportunities and interesting ideas that would have never appeared if I was doing something else.

The latest risk (it’s more of a challenge, quite honestly) which is to try screenwriting has me excited. I’ve been reading up on the subject, doing a little research and finding valuable resources before I start barreling into it, before I have to figure out how to juggle two writing projects. This isn’t a case of finish one and start on the other. Something tells me I need to work on both of them concurrently.

As I do the research, I sincerely believe working on the screenplay will only enhance my work as a novelist. That is exciting to me. I live for this kind of shit. I can’t wait to go through the process. Could be one helluva ride. It will definitely add to, and sharpen my skill set. It will make me a better writer, a better storyteller.

Start up the rollercoaster. Let’s go!