Lynnfield MA, 02/09/1981

As you probably know, if you’ve been reading my blogs for long, I have been working on a novel for the last year and a half. You might also know, that the last 6-9 months of that time I’ve been not doing much on it. Back in October, I started a time-travel story in its own separate blog, and as of today (or 02/09/1980) its word count has surpassed my novel’s. My novel has 38,348 words so far (40,000 is when it ceases to be a novella, and becomes a proper novel) and now my time-travel blog, “Without a Tether,” has 38,833 words.
I know this probably sounds like nonsense to many of you, but it’s a piece that I’m really proud of, and now that it is officially the longest thing I’ve ever written, I just wanted to mention that. I hope you enjoy it!

Without a Tether

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February 9, 1981

My grandmother came over to my apartment, and we recorded our film.  I set up the camera, along with a few lights, I wanted to make sure that she was well lit enough that it wouldn’t allow for any doubt of its authenticity in thirty years.  I wrote a little bit of a script for her to read, in order to convince my parents of who I truly am.  I knew my father would be skeptical, and while DNA would be an option, but I wasn’t sure I could get that far without more evidence.

“Hi Maria, Hi Scott.  By the time you see this film, or Michael calls it a tape.  He says it will be a tape, or disk or something by the time you get to see it, but by the time you see this, I’ll have passed…

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A Writer’s Dilemma

When I write, I try to just write whatever story, or thought I’m having, and I let it go where it goes, and I try not to confine it based on genre, medium, or anything else.  Also, when I’m editing—at least with fiction— I tend to let it sit for a couple of weeks, or maybe even months, and then look at it with fresh eyes.  At that point, if something stands out as not being clear, I have a better idea of whether or not it’s working (if something is too recent, I may overlook a flaw in logic or sentence structure or whatever other issue I could be running into).

One of the elements in writing, that I try not to pay attention to in writing is length.  On my novel, that I’m working on, I’m certainly conscious of where I’m at length-wise in comparison to where a traditional novel would be, but I do try not to focus too strongly on that.  When I’m not working on my novel however, I’m pretty free with length.  I write until I’ve included everything I wanted to, and told the story that I wanted.

About six months ago, I wrote a short story, and revised it, and submitted it to a couple of magazines, and contests.  It didn’t get accepted into any of them.  This really didn’t bother me, but I didn’t want to abandon the story—I think it’s one of the best pieces of writing I’ve ever done, so I can’t let it go too easy.  So, needing a little help, I sent it to a few friends with opinions that I care about, and the reception confirmed that it’s one of my personal bests, but obviously there were slight suggestions.  Every suggestion that I received, made perfect sense.

So what’s the issue?

The piece is nearly 7,000 words, which is already pretty long for publication in most magazines and contests, and the suggestions I received were all to add more.  Specifically, I was told to flesh out a character or two, and to further define one of the relationships.  It’s very good advice for the story, however I think the process of filling it out to my personal satisfaction would nearly double the length of the piece.

Doubling the length makes it virtually unpublishable as a short story, but if it’s under 20,000 words, it’s certainly not novel length, in fact it’s on the very short side of a novella.

So what do I do?

Typically, when I have written something that I’m not sure where to send it, or how to further market it, I put it on here.  But one of the benefits of being published outside of this site is to bring further notice to this site, as well as my writing, and to be honest—and perhaps a bit obnoxious— I want it read as widely as possible.  I love writing this blog, and I like publishing short stories on here, but my highest view count for any post is under 100, and it’s for a post in which I was kind of—unintentionally— shitty to someone I don’t even know, which isn’t the kind of notoriety I want.

There is also the tone of the story.  Honestly, it’s a bit darker, and dirtier than anything I’ve written on here, and so I’m not sure what to do with it.  I definitely think that I’m going to further flesh it out, I’m going to make it as close to perfect as I can, but at that point, I have no idea what to do with it.

If you have any suggestions, know of any places that take 10-20k word count stories, or know anyone who’ll publish a short novella, please let me know.  Is this the type of thing worth writing a query letter to an agent about?  Let me know in the comments.  Thank you.

13 Reasons Why

One of the things that I did this week, was I watched the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” based on the book by Jay Asher.  I haven’t read the book, so I cannot tell you how it stacked up, and this isn’t really going to be a review in the strict sense of the word.

During the summer in between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I wrote my first screenplay.  It was called Blood Stained Hearts—a title my friends assured me was absolutely terrible, and one friend nicknamed the screenplay “Shit Stained Brains”— about a high school student, who was being bullied, and kills himself.  The character (who’s name I cannot remember) calls out his bullies in his suicide note, and the movie is about them all dealing with guilt and the other emotions that would come with this situation.  I spent the entire sophomore year trying to get the movie made, but due to the script having some swearing, and the subject matter, my Catholic school wouldn’t let me do it at school.  Eventually I moved on.  Over the years, I’ve thought about rewriting, and trying again, but have never followed through, because I haven’t been sure if I could do it without making it too melodramatic.

Then I watched this show, and after the first or second episode, I realized that it was a MUCH better version of that same basic idea.  In what I had written, the bullies were two-dimensional caricatures, loosely based on actual bullies I had dealt with, and I had never considered them real people, in Netflix’s version almost every character is extremely well written, and fully developed.

The execution of the show is somewhat like that of a detective story, and things keep getting revealed, building intensity and keeping me hooked for the couple days it took to watch all thirteen episodes.

For me the show means two things, one that I can never revisit the idea of making Blood Stained Hearts, because it would be a poorly made knock-off of “13 Reasons Why.”  The second thing is that I finally got to see this idea realized, but in such a better way than I could have imagined.  The truth is, at sixteen when I wrote the screenplay, my writing in general wasn’t deep enough for the subject matter, but also I was far too close to it.

I think that the show was arguably the best depiction of bullying and suicide I’ve ever seen, and I do think that teenagers should have to watch it.  It humanizes the bullies, but also shows the impact of not looking at our own actions.  It does a great job of dealing with responsibility, not only of the bullies, but of the bullied, and the witnesses.

I definitely recommend that you watch the show, it’s enthralling, and even if you don’t learn anything from it, I think you’ll be hooked from the first or second episode.  Just watch it, it’s great I promise!

 

Have you already watched it?  What did you think?  Tell me in the comments.

31 Day Blogging Challenge Day 24: Your Favorite Childhood Book

As long as I can remember, I have had an obsession with time travel.  I consume as much time travel fiction as possible, and also have read a good deal about time travel science. Right now due to an abundance of time travel themed TV shows feels like a golden age for time travel.  I am currently watching “Making History,” “Legends of Tomorrow,” “The Flash,” “Time After Time,” “Travelers,” and “Doctor Who,” and I haven’t even had time for “Frequency,” or “12 Monkeys” (although I saw both film versions) or “Timeless.”

This love for time travel came from two sources, “Back to the Future” and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (it definitely has added to the appeal of Time After Time).  Wells’ the Time Machine was amazing.  It had the fantasy of time travel that I fell in love with, the idea that you’d get to see the past and the future, but it was also pretty scary.  I read it at about ten years old, and the Morlocks terrified me.  The book seemed to have everything a ten year old boy could want; adventure, thrills, and action.

As an adult, there has been a movie version of The Time Machine, but I haven’t seen it.  I’m a little worried to revisit it (I haven’t reread it as an adult either) for fear of ruining my mental image of the story.  I had to read The War of the Worlds in middle school, and thought it was awful, so I worried that either The Time Machine had been the only book I might like by Wells, or maybe if I went back and reread it, that I would find I didn’t even like IT any more.

But this book, really helped to shape my love for time travel, because of it, I began to realize that time travel was not really a genre as much as it was a narrative device that allowed for the writer to tell interesting stories across an array of different genres.  One of my favorite films as an adult is About Time, which uses time travel as a device to analyze life, and philosophy, it could not be more different from 12 Monkeys, in tone or in plot, and yet they’re both “time travel movies.”

Another thing that Wells did in the book, was create a feeling of scientific responsibility, as well as encourage scientific discovery. I remember reading the book and thinking how cool it would be if time travel were possible, now as an adult, I realize it wouldn’t really be that cool, because I would be too worried about all the repercussions, but it still fascinates me as an idea.  I’ve read essays about the scientific theories about how time travel is possible, and if I’m being honest, I only understand about half of the science in them, but it does not make me any less interested.

So what about you?  What was your favorite book as a child?  Have you gone back and reread it?  Did it hold up?  Let me know in the comments

31 Day Blogging Challenge Day 16: What’s at the Top of Your Bucket List

This is a tough one.  I have done a lot of the things on my bucket list, I have a son, I have a wife, I’ve traveled quite a bit… so what else is there?

I think that the things at the top of my bucket list, and they’re tied, is to publish a novel, and have a feature film that I’ve written get made. Neither have to be huge successes.  To hold a novel of my own, to sit and watch a movie on my TV that I wrote.  Those are the big two.

I’ve been very lucky to accomplish my personal goals, and I am now working on accomplishing my professional goals.  I have written more than half of my first novel.  The feature film will require a little more time and work, but I’m good with that.

What is at the top of your bucket list? Tell me in the comments below.