Snag to peep ya my killer Chondrichthyes

If you're a newbie from Alex's blog, yo beatches, it's like way snag to peep ya! Dope, yo. Sorry, kidding. I don't really blog like that. Or talk like that. I read a blog once that employed some of that style. It was very distracting. I couldn't tell if the blogger was for realsies. Yeah. I'm about as hip as JD Scrubs.

Moving on...

I'm still working with Ellen Sandler and actually doing the exercises and everything like the good non-sinning girl I really am. My pilot is taking shape. In my head at least.

But I've hit the same wall I always hit when trying to break a story. Just as I'm about to sit down and really work out the beats, I start second-guessing my story. I fall into the trap of being just really not sure if this is the right story to tell, or if the way it pans out is the right way, or if I couldn't make it much more exciting with the addition of some top-hat wearing assassin sharks or something. Um, okay, probably not. But maybe? Uh, what do you think? Assassin sharks? It could work, right?

Where's my room full of writers when I need them?

I can't believe I've never really looked at Jill Golick's blog, Running With My Eyes Closed before. Maybe it's because I've never written a pilot before. Makes sense. You shouldn't run with your eyes closed. Unless you're somewhere really really soft. If you're writing a pilot, her discussion of what makes pilots tick really gets you thinking.

Warning. Thinking can be hazardous to productivity.

Things that are clogging my arteries
I'm totally over my Slacker Excuses segment and it doesn't look like I'm getting out to the strike this week (I'll buy extra Pencils to make up for it), so I've decided to start a new segment. I considered calling it Things That Are Making Me Fat, but I didn't want people to start thinking I was packing on the pounds Britney style (or is that a new baby?), so I chose to put the emphasis on health instead.

Yeah, so anyway. Clogged arteries.

Cold Stone Creamery. Love It size, Founder's Favorite flavor. The creamery is reasonably new to me. We don't have such a thing in Canada (it's too cold there. we don't eat ice cream. in our igloos). But I'm pretty hooked now. Thing is, totally expensive. Usually when we go there, we just make up our own flavors, but I had a coupon (2-4-1) for one of their standard combos. Hence, Founder's Favorite - now my favorite, too. There's still some in the freezer.


Rassling with major flaws

Seems like the happier I am with my writing, the less I feel the need to blog. My Bones spec is still giving me pains, so here I am.

My major struggle (since I solved the last major struggle) has been with theme. The other two specs I've written are for two shows that revolve tightly around theme – Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy. Hell, Grey's even goes so far as to state the theme upfront in Meredith's voice over, just in case you're too thick to notice it on your own.

But with Bones, the themes, such as they are, are usually added with a delicate hand, so as to be almost undetectable. In fact, sometimes they're so subtle, they're not there at all. Also, the theme doesn't always/often have much of an emotional impact on the characters.

Thing is, that's not good enough for me. I want to weave in a theme, kick my characters asses with it, have it be strongly linked to the A and B stories, and make it seem natural, like it completely belongs there.

Whoa. Now that I see that on-screen, I understand my own struggle a little better.

Turkey day notes
There are no strike shenanigans to report, so instead, let's talk about Thanksgiving. First, let me preface this by reminding you, I'm Canadian. In Canada, we do have Thanksgiving (it's in October), and it does celebrate the mass slaughter of native Americans by encouraging the mass slaughter of turkeys (I'm not sure I'm grasping the true nature of the holiday here), but as with everything in the US, Americans do Thanksgiving waaaay bigger.

I'm amazed by the lengths people will go to to be with their families on this day, sharing food and unearthing childhood rivalries. It's actually a pretty beautiful thing at its heart, despite annual turkey killings.

However, I'm equally dismayed by the lengths to which some people will go to save a few bucks on Black Friday. Really, camping out with the family in a Best Buy parking lot all day? I guess it's still family time, but isn't the commercialization of one annual holiday (namely Christmas) enough already? Then again, maybe a shiny new plasma TV is just the ticket for warding off those holiday family arguments.


Step 3: Become better sinner

The more books on TV writing I read, the more I become convinced that if you've read Alex Epstein's Crafty TV Writing and all of Jane Espenson's blog, you're golden.

But someone sent me a free copy of Ellen Sandler's The TV Writer's Workbook, so as a way of procrastinating and still accomplishing something (if you're accomplishing something, is it still procrastinating?) I started to give it a read. So far I've learned three valuable lessons.

1. I suck at workbooks.

Really. I'm good at reading. But when I get to the end of the chapter and they want you to do exercises, I'm all like, sure I'll do exercises, just after I peek into the next chapter to see what's going on there. Ten pages later, I figure the exercise from way back in chapter two can wait.

Which answers my question from two graphs ago. It definitely is procrastination.

2. Without theme, I'm nothing.

One of Sandler's exercises that I did attempt involved writing an episode premise line. Nothing new there. Still, in writing a fresh premise line for my struggling Bones spec, I realized my so-called theme was like microwaved marshmallows. Sweet, but no substance. That little premise line re-focused my mind and this morning's rewriting was a smashing success. For the first time, my Bones is starting to read like their Bones. And not the crappy Bones that pop up every once in a while. The really good ones.

3. I need to sin more

Sandler can come up with a whole page of purely glutinous acts in which she has actively engaged. Wait, that should be pure acts of gluttony. I wasn't trying to invoke Elmer's White Glue - which, incidentally, some sinful kids used to eat in school. Not me. Might have sniffed it a little, but that's it. Never was a sinner. Not even in grade two. Though there was that adorable Mark Sutherland who sparked a few lustful thoughts... couldn't help that. Mark said he liked my red hair. He was much more interesting than arithmetic.

Holy bats on ponies, where was I?

Oh yeah. Sandler and Sin.

Must become a lusty, wrathful, proud, envious, greedy, gluttony-filled, sloth-like creature. Bad for friendships. Great for my art.

So there you have it, folks. Three salient ways to improve my writing, in just six chapters. Thanks, Ellen.

Strike notes
I walked the line at Universal on Friday. It was fan day, but I'm pretty sure the only fans there were BSG nuts (I love the show, but not the way those guys love the show). I felt a little sad for the CSI, Friday Night Lights, and Law and Order people - their gates were all underpopulated and a bit lonely. I was feeling a bit lonely that day, too. Some days I'm a great meet-and-make-small-talk-er. Some days, like Friday, I'm just rubbish at it. I really could have used a strike buddy.

I only spent a couple of hours there and now I feel even more sorry for the writers. Walking up and back in an endless loop, waving at honking Prii (the plural of Prius, natch), and chanting "Union power!" is not nearly as exciting as it sounds, and I'm well aware that it sounds dead boring to begin with.

Managed to have a few little chats with Jane Espenson, who is obviously as lovely a human being as her blog would indicate. We mostly talked about House, and all the TV we'd watch if the strike goes on so long that I run out of new episodes of old favorites and she finds herself with time on her hands. On our mutual to-watch list: Six Feet Under, The Wire, and um, something else, I'm sure.

I also met a guy who won an Emmy in the early nineties for some kids show I admittedly had never heard of. He's now waiting tables to make ends meet. His advice was all along the "Steel yourself, kid. It's a tough business" line.

Also walking for a piece of the internet pie:
• Justine Bateman, very perky and cool. I would never have known it was her, except she kept shaking people's hands and saying "Hi, I'm Justine Bateman. You may remember me from such shows as TV's Family Ties." No. She didn't say that last bit. But I would have loved it if she had. She very cleverly had a strike buddy with her.
• Actor Adam Busch - better known (by me) as Warren from Buffy. Also with strike buddy.*
• Writer Harlan Ellison. Mr Sci-fi. Many buddies.
• Ron Moore, of course. Swamped with fan buddies.

So yeah. I wouldn't say striking is fun. But then, it's not supposed to be. I'm going to head out again tomorrow. Hopefully my inner extrovert will be awake.

*Update: Just discovered Adam Busch's buddy was Amber Benson, one of my Buffy favs. Here's a picture.


Battling obsession - and losing

I drink a glass of water, and I'm thinking about my pilot. I buy the groceries, thinking about which show to spec next. Stuck in traffic, I mull over the best ways to network. When I sweep the floors, I try to work out how to improve my Bones spec. While I'm watching TV, I'm thinking about story, character, and structure. I'm out running, thinking about the strike. At night, I dream that I meet Aaron Sorkin in an elevator, and he needs a new staff writer.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am obsessed.

The last time I was all-consumed in this manner was during my other life as bassist for The Lollies. The scary thing is, we never really got anywhere. Our dream never came true.

I don't want to spend the next decade being obsessed by writing, only to never get anywhere.

Believing in yourself is really hard. Sometimes.

Strike notes
This video is worthy of The Daily Show.

I went to the strike on Friday. I think 4,000 people is kind of a conservative estimate. For every writer hoisting their sign high in the air, there was a SAG member, a wannabe, or a fan to match them. If you weren't in the front third of the crowd, you didn't hear a word Jesse Jackson said. We got up there for Seth McFarland, though. He was awesome and inspiring. And also funny. Very funny.

I met Jane E briefly. In the thirty seconds I talked to her, she had four other people who wanted a piece of her. I took pity and made our encounter brief. Said hi to Jeff Garlin - I really liked his I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With. Saw Judd Apatow, who my husband kind of knows through working on Walk Hard, but Judd was swamped as well, so the husband didn't interrupt. (Note to self: Must improve husband's networking skills.)

I'll be striking again this Friday, when I expect to meet lots of other TV fans walking in support of the writers. But I won't be getting there at six am. I'll reserve that pleasure for when I actually become a WGAer myself.


The dark blog

Just a blank page today, in solidarity with The Glowy Box et al who are standing in solidarity with the WGA.



I support the writers, the writers support me

In 1988 there were no blogs. In 1988, there were no YouTubes, no iTunes, no webisodes. In 1988, mobile content was the stuff hanging from that thing above your baby's crib. There was no wireless, no bittorrent, and no HDTV.

That was then.

Imagine how much things will change in the next 20 years. You can't. You simply can't imagine. No one can.

Which is why this strike is so thrilling. Thousands of people are coming together - writers, showrunners, actors, directors, teamsters, fans - to fight for the writers' right to a portion of the rewards that will come from something we can't yet imagine. They're also fighting for my right, as a future WGA member, to my portion of that ethereal future something.

Confused? Don't be. Watch this little video. Forward it to your friends. Writers wrote it, so it's pithy, it makes sense, and it's entertaining to boot.

Please make no mistake.

TV fans support the writers. Whedonesque sent pizza. Maggie is wearing red and spending her lunches on the line. We will not watch the reality replacement crap the studios are planning on shoveling into the schedule.

Tomorrow morning, Friday November 9, fans will come together with the writers, the actors, the showrunners, to lend our support.

Fox Studios, 10am. See you there.

If you're not in LA, you can show a bit of support by adding one of these great "Fans Support the Writers" icons to your website.


Point three percent? That's just an insult.

In a remarkable show of solidarity with the WGA writers, my computer is flat-out refusing to work. It worked fine all day Friday, then Saturday morning, no go.

The happy Apple people tell me I need a new hard drive. Which would make more sense to me if my computer was more than a few months old. But a brand new Mac book needing a brand new hard drive? That's so shoddy I'm almost tempted to switch to PC.


Some of you loyal readers may remember this same thing happening to me only a few months ago. Is it me? Am I zapping the hard drive with my eccentric electrical charge?

I think this as a sign that I should go down to the picket lines and show my support. Writers like big boxes of donuts, don't they?

Those of you expecting an email from me regarding that scheme involving drinks and pens we've been dreaming up, hold tight. Things are looking very good. But I may not be able to get to it until my computer is returned to me. Oh, and my hard drive is on back order. So it'll be seven to ten days if I'm super lucky. Which obviously I'm not, or this wouldn't be happening in the first place.

Slacker excuses
Aside from the obvious, my in-laws are here, so I'll be visiting the Getty, Griffith Park, and all those other wonderful LA places. The in-rents want to take the Universal Tour - is it wrong to cross the picket line as a tourist?