Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow

AHHHAHHHHHG let’s not have another weekend like that, okay? Maybe even extend it to another week.

I feel like I was either apologizing or paying for or something my weekend with my lovely wife, as I hit the ground running – okay, in my case, hobbling – and had little time to catch my breath. My normal work hours, sure, but then I was covering for sick co-workers in the evening Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, working the live remotes for the School Board, Planning and Zoning Commission, and City Council. None of these are what you would call back-breaking. In fact, if I had to do extra work, this as just about ideal for my busted body. Outside of set-up, it’s all sitting at a mixing board and making sure a) people who are speaking get heard – not always easy, as “speak into the microphone” might as well be uttered in High Enochian to some people – and b) make sure that when the chamber erupts into spontaneous laughter, you do not blow out the equipment or the speakers of people at home.

I am assured that people actually do watch these things at home.

I had been asked to run similar duties at a Board of Directors meeting here at the college on Thursday. There would have been quite a bit more set-up involved in that. Luckily, our engineer was willing to help me out with that (as if I hadn’t been doing it, he would have been stuck with the whole shebang) and got tot he site only to discover someone else was doing the audio deed; those details had been e-mailed or voice-mailed tot he guy who was sick, so nobody had gotten the message.

That was, however, the best thing that could have happened, far as I was concerned. I’d had more than my quota of bureaucracy in action that week.

Thursday was the first evening off in a while; that had me looking over my shoulder, wondering if I was going to be called in to run audio for the Dog Catcher’s Union or something. Then, of course, the show on Friday and Saturday, and yes, funny that you should ask, I was filling in for an absent actor, and his character gets to stand and walk around for about an hour and 15 minutes. I was moving very, very slowly by the time these shows were over.

In case you're wondering what to get me for my birthday

Naturally, I had a shoot Sunday morning. At the San Jacinto Monument. Meaning a lot of walking was in order. That was the 21st Annual Monumental Bug Bash, which sounds like Cricket Stomping Day, but is actually a gathering of fans of the Volkswagen. Again, I’m not a motorhead by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Bug, and it is a very fortunate thing that I don’t have a lot of money, because I have no idea how I would have gotten those cars home, anyway.

The gimping around is bad enough; when you have a 45-minute drive home, that gives those ailing knees an ideal opportunity to lock up. When I finally got home, my cane seemed woefully inadequate to the task; I really wished I had a walker. Maybe with a little horn to honk at young hooligans who get in the way.

This week seems blessedly clear. There is a showing tomorrow of a anti-drunk driving film I did some camera work on, and that’s it until the weekend’s shows. An actual chance to heal? But then what will I bitch about?

Talking Myself Into Writing

So, right on time, I turned in the final pieces of my contract writing. I picked up my paycheck. A few days later, I looked over the rewrites editorial had done. They weren’t bad,  but I did wonder about the necessity of some, especially those that muddled the voices of the characters. Eh. It was work for hire. I did my,work, they liked what they got (and, I’m not too humble to admit, were impressed by the quality of what they got), I got my money, it’s out of my hands.

No, what is amazing me is the fact that I’m still busy. Thus far, this has been the busiest year I’ve had in quite some time, the old saying about “feast or famine” made concrete. I managed to get my foot tangled in some stage equipment a couple of weeks back and screwed the knee back up again, so I suppose some of the hectic nature of my schedule is due to the fact that I can’t be hectic myself. If a fire breaks out or zombies attack, I’m a goner.

But let’s see; the final weekly newscast of the semester was last week, and I had to scramble to find my last story. I like to cover things like local food banks or similar charities for that last slot, because it will run all month, until we switch over to our Summer travel magazine format on June 1. But for some reason I was anathema to the two local food banks we had done stories on before – I couldn’t get anyone to return my calls. Then I noticed the Fort Bend Boys Choir is entering its 30th year, I knew the artistic director, and there you have it. That was kind of nerve-wracking, but it got done.

Then that weekend was my 16th wedding anniversary, and my wife and I had decided that dammit, we are doing something this year, so we dumped the Teenage Moose off at the neighbors and headed to Galveston for a couple of days. Stayed at Grace Manor, a lovely bed-and-breakfast, and basically enjoyed being in each others’ company for two days without anyone else intruding.

I was probably the spoilsport for the trip, as I had to stop often and partake of the plentiful benches on the Strand while Lisa shopped. The 1900-style architecture is lovely, but damn, did they ever believe in stairs. The two flights of stairs in Grace Manor were murderous enough, but they at least had the promise of a bed at the top. (Also, I could admire the woodwork as I grumbled my painful way up) The shops on the Strand, located conveniently close to the dock for the Carnival Cruise ship? I didn’t need to go up ten steps for the privilege of looking at more tourist stuff. I do, however, regret not giving in to my baser desires and buying that gorgeous statue of Ganesh I found in one shop.

Now back to reality, and the second School Board meeting in two weeks (with two more in a couple of weeks in the offing). My boss, who normally does the audio for the Planning and Zoning Commission meetings, is sick today and I might wind up doing that tonight. So I’m just as busy as I was, the events are just not so closely scheduled as they once were. They’re down to One Extraordinary Evemt a day, instead of two or more.

One of the things that nagged at me while doing the contract writing was that I really wanted to be writing for myself. I haven’t added all the sections up, but I turned out probably between 60,000 to 80,000 words, which is sufficient for a novel, I’m told. Hell, this blog entry is about to pass 700 words. Though they couldn’t be defined as mine, I still got attached to a couple of the characters. I dredged up some painful stuff so I could put some truth about painful stuff on the page. Overall, it wasn’t as hard switching from a script format to a prose format as I’d feared, though I still rank my dialogue higher than I would my descriptive passages.

So, you might ask, besides the fact that your normal writing times are being taken up with running audio for the live broadcast of governmental sausage-making, what’s stopping you from getting back on the novel-writing horse? How far had you gotten the last time you tried this? Maybe 25,000 words, before you put it aside, feeling it was too close to a commercial franchise which had, at that time, not yet been run into the ground?

Therein lies the eternal rub. There is a NaNiWriMo book near my bed, called No Plot? No Problem!, which mocks me openly. I should try reading it again, perhaps. There are germs of stories I’ve been working on, off and on, for months and years. Time was, I wouldn’t sit down at a typewriter (which ought to tell you when that “tine was”) until I had the plot pretty much planned out, or at least the major setpieces.

Then, something odd happened. I wrote two scripts where I took advantage of only things that were easily to hand. This was, I suppose, exploitation scriptwriting at its finest, as I leveraged props and effects into the script. Video company I worked for had a junker they were going to retire? Fine, I have a car to trash. Somebody knows a local artist who specializes in transgressory sculptures featuring gruesome body parts? Good, we have a psycho’s hideout. We still have those ninja outfits we bought for that training film? Great! Those yellow contact lenses we bought for Forever Evil? I have a use for them.

I didn’t have much of a plot when I started writing those two scripts, but they were fun to write, and, honestly, they are some of the best things I have written. I have to find a way to apply that feeling. that let’s-put-on-a-show moxie, to the written word. Without the need for props and junker cars to drive the narrative.

At this point, I have written 1000 words for a blog entry. As my friend Roger keeps pointing out, do that 59 more times, and you’ve got a novel.