Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On Inspiration!

Yes that elusive silly muse ... She beckons and calls and then I follow into the tangled swampy abyss that is her mind, to float on those puffs of ideas, until, sadly and predictably, she leaves me high in the air and turns the gravity back on. Of course, I fall on my ass, look around in confusion and wounded pride and try to figure out how to get back up on those idea puffs.

And this is what this post is about - not that muse, the one that allows ideas to flow through my brain so potently and so quickly that my fingers grow numb from the late night typing, and the scribbling on napkins at bars, but the inspiration that comes slowly and haltingly, and from the strangest resources.

Take for example, this past weekend.

I went over to my friend, J's apartment in the ... er ..., well, if Toronto Ontario had a red light district a la Amsterdam, this would be it. But anyways, the rent is cheap and she's close to downtown - and besides, nothing wrong with a bit of skin, right? Regardless of the tangents, I was over there and we were sipping coffee and irritating her cat and boyfriend, and chatting and at 4am,I decided, hm - best leave, since I need to be up at 7:30, no? So I went downstairs and got into my car and pulled out onto Carlton Street. As I waited for the guy infront of me to choose whether or not he was going East, West or just fucking with me, I watched a skinny, tall girl walk up the street I was on. I noticed her originally because her skirt sparkled - it was that greenish blue that is almost turquoise, but misses it due to a little too much blue. Anyways, I glanced at her, and then my gaze was held, because she had the darkest, biggest eyes I had ever seen and I was just caught by how beautiful she was, in that instant, her stripper heels glinting in the lamplight, her hands alternatively feeding herself a cigarette and pulling down her blue belly top. And I realized, dimly in the back of my mind, she was a prostitute.

And that would have been the end of it, any other night. She walked past my car, towards J's building, then cut through it towards Jarvis, and Out of my line of sight. THe guy infront of me realized, I guess, that he actually wanted to go North and attempted to three point turn arounf me, making me slightly irritated before I blew past him and into the thrum of early (very early) Sunday morning traffic going Westbound to Young.

But as I approached my own house, the girl kept scratching my the creative little nub in the back of my brain, and I kept seeing those tragically lined dark eyes, and all I could think of was - there's a story there, a story about how that girl got to where she was (and more then why she was a female prostitute in the Gay district where most hookers were actually tall in heels with fake breasts and adam's apples), and I wanted to know it.

I had this irrational urge to get back in my car, turn around and find this girl (I had dubbed her Peacock Girl at this point because of the colour of her outfit). And I just wanted to sit next to her and ask her where she came from and what happened to her in life. And yet, I knew it sounded crazy, and vaguely paternalistic.

But then the stories started in my my own head, the little nubs of ideas that grow into sturdy stalks of stories. And I realized that I suddenly needed to write. And so I did.

A short story, not very noteworthy, except for the fact that I wrote it in the throes of what I thought was writer's Block.

Anyways, food for thought - Is there actually inspiration in everything around us? And to notice it, do we just have to be in the right place and the right time, with the right perspective to see it?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Oh, Authonomy!

For all those would be authors out there, there is a site that collects us all - and allows us a test audience complete with such things as rating systems and comment boxes. I am Ammy Belle on the site, and I put my first book, tentatively titled "By The Night" on it to now 31 reviews and a few "backings".

I would highly recommend this type of site for aspiring authors, after all - the bigger your test pool, the more likely you will be able to edit and mold your book into the best book - and that is what we all want, right? (Asides from making piles of money while living in a cottage in the mountains, I mean?)

Anyways, my experiences have been pretty fair with Authonomy, though there is a tendency to just back people who back you without reading their own works, which doesn't work for me - I read everything, which is probably why I am so slow to back things. "Backing" is a way of rating the book - basically, when you back a book it means that you would have bought it - it's that good. And then it gets put onto your bookshelf.

I like this idea, again because of the myriad of reviews and comments you can get - but also because it feels like a step in the right direction - and that's an important feeling.

It's almost like NANOWRIMO - this is a contest held in November to write a novel. I entered it last year after a friend, Smithy (who will guest blog here soon) told me about it and encouraged me to go in with her. The prize for finishing: Publication of your novel at Createspace. So we finished, and we got the prize - and when my novel came all prettified in the mail and I held it for the first time, I thought to myself: "Yes! This is how we do it! This is what I am meant to do!" (Then I saw all my spelling and typing mistakes, and realized I had a lot of work ahead of me).
The point is that these small steps are small for a reason: they are the mini boosts that keep you focused. It something so gratifying when you see the manifestation of the story in your head, that it keeps you grounded and just a bit giddy (Okay, a lot giddy - I think I showed everyone I knew... heh heh).

So, if you're a struggling artists of any kind and want feedback and encouragement - I would highly recommend these sites and more! And if anyone else had sites to offer, leave a message in the comments!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Short Story to a Screenplay

Good morning everyone!

I have a friend who wants to direct, and she called me on Sunday in a panic that she needed a short story she could adapt to script so she could begin filming next week... was I busy?

Well ... I am, but I can't say no to her - I have known her since we were eleven years old, stuck in Catholic school together, her a new Polish student who was angry and suspicious, and me, an attitude ridden crazy person with an underdog complex.

So, now I am writing.

Here is a preview:

The red sweater was sitting on the bureau like a beacon to her. Slowly, her old bones creaking under the strain of movement, she rose from the soft pink chair and made her way, slowly and painfully, towards it. Her wispy white hair didn’t hang around her head so much as float around her sagged skin in puffs, as if what little hair she had left had been electrically charged, so that it stuck up at odd angles, in uneven bunches. Her wrinkled fingers were spotted with brown sunspots, from years of working in the garden, her once strong hands gripping weeds and pulling from the ground, feeling the tense strength of the roots give away to the former dexterity of her fingers. Those same hands looked different now – as if they belonged to someone else, but still she outstretched them with a practiced air, reaching for each milestone on her journey towards the red sweater.

Halfway there, she thought of the pain in her lower back. It throbbed, she knew, from decades of bending over ripened tomatoes and scrubbing stubborn floors. She knew also that its twin: the pain that throbbed in her upper back, was from years of sitting at the sewing machine, her shoulders curved downwards, her tired eyes straining in the half light to mend and stitch the expensive clothes of those who were far richer then she thought she could ever be.

Nearly there now. She thought, and felt the pull of a smile on her lips, but her gums were red and angry looking, so she rarely opened her mouth anymore, preferring to remember the days when they were pink and healthy, and coupled with two rows of strong white teeth.

The question is: Can this be the basis for a viable script?
What does the internets think?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Death of an iPod.

So here at work, something odd happened.

At 10:03, my iPod skipped.

It was just a flutter of a skip - the heroine in the story saying "Come on -" before getting cut off with a strangled sound that I am pretty sure she was never supposed to make (unless there is an adult rated version of this in the fetish aisles of the XXX store down the street).

I glance at my iPod, annoyed to be taken away from my typing work, and note that the little silver apple is on the otherwise black screen.

Oh, Shit.


I pick it up and shake it - lost as I am to the clutches of this Apple techno craziness, I still don't actually understand any of it. I probably look ridiculous to the IT guy who is still trying to fix a coworker's computer (he's in here about three times a week, just staring at her monitor wondering what he did wrong in school to end up at that exact moment).

Shaking it, of course, does nothing, so I raise an eyebrow and look inquisitively at it, willing it to show me what's wrong with it - and preferably, how to fix it. Afterall, it is my bloody property.

Obey me. I will.

It stares back at me, this time without the metallic apple for a visual and does nothing.

I glare.

It sits in my palm, heavy and irritating.

I sigh and press the two buttons on it.

Finally, the painted Geisha (my screen display) winks into view and I suppress a yell of triumph.

It winks out again.

"Curses!" I whisper at it, then purse my lips and consider my options. The Apple Store is like a vacuum of evilness built from wall to wall with people who halfheartedly but earnestly want you to spend more money on Apple products that will break or infuriate you into walking back into the store to buy more products that ... well, you understand - it's a vicious cycle of evilness.

Gmail blinks at me from my computer screen. It's the Boyfriend. Aha! Thinks I. My saviour! I quickly tap tap tap on the keyboard and tell him my problem.

He scoffs (yes, I can hear a scoff on Gmail chat, it's sounds like "dur durp dee durp" which is what he is really saying out loud when he types "ORLY?"), and tells me it's probably one of my pirated audio files.

Check the other files.

I frown and consider this, then slowly attempt to resurrect my screen. Gaily twinkling at me, the Geisha appears. Fudgeknuckles, yeah? Fine. I think and proceed to select another track.

So far, so good.

Give it another hour.

Damn Apple.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A new Blog!

Yep, this blogging thing is addictive - captive audience and all that.

This will be my new blog, all about how I am a struggling author, trying to get out in the world.

Please join me for my adventures!