This Monday morning, Memorial Day 2020, is rough, I’m not gonna sugar coat it. I was up until 3:00am, unable to sleep, anticipating having to get up at 7 to take my son back to his mom’s house. Of course, he woke me up at 6, banging around the house, getting a snack, firing up the iPad to watch YouTube videos. I slept for shit anyway. Bad dreams.
Today, I wanted nothing more than to just get the day going with some writing. It’s nearly 10:30am and after an attempt to go back to bed, get showered, and an Americano to start the day, not necessarily in any semblance of that order, I am up. Forcing myself to put my butt in the chair and write. So I decided to start here.
I could probably benefit from getting some exercise in this morning. Maybe do some kettlebells, or take a bike ride around the area. I have to do something to get my brain to start working because whatever I’ve done so far today sure as hell isn’t working.
I’ve been thinking about a few things regarding writing, and in the last few days, I have been fortunate enough to see three examples of good writing that made it to the screen.
First of all, the show Fleabag. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a goddamned genius. This show, based on a play she wrote and also starred in was brilliant. Seeing something like this makes you want to just give up and say, “I’m not a writer. Not when there is something like this around. Nope.” It was that good. I binge watched both seasons on Amazon Prime last week. I wish I had known about this sooner. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.
The next piece of writing I have enjoyed was the series, Peaky Blinders. Not only for how everything is put together, but also from the acting. The juxtapositioning of the modern soundtrack and Wes Anderson type slow-mo walking and looking like badasses throughout, as well as underappreciated actor, Cillian Murphy and his cohorts who could really benefit from a decent fade at a barber shop.
The third piece of work that I have enjoyed thoroughly has been Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The N-word free Tarantino film (even Inglorious Basterds got one in there), and honestly, one of his best films yet. I’ve watched it 3.5 times already. I look at a movie like that and from concept to writing to executing on a film-making level, it is also intimidating. The guys from Half in the Bag consider it to quite possibly be the last great American film that will ever be made. It’s entirely possible. I don’t see movie theatres coming back after this pandemic. Not that there is anything really worth seeing out there anyway. It would be nice if books came back.
As far as movies go, I think last summer saw Apex Marvel and throwing in phase 325 of the MCU will just bring out a bunch of obscure characters nobody knows or cares about, a lot of “woke” Disney fuckery/puritanism, and honestly after ten years of Marvel movies blowing their wad on Thanos in the last one, we are collectively owed a nap and some orange juice for the next five or six years to recover. I haven’t seen the last Star Wars movie, and I probably never will. The Mandalorian set the bar pretty high for that, and it’s because it’s all about the Characters, stupid.
Today, I planned on working on my own book. The forerunner to Song of the Cinder, which has elements of stories that have been knocking around in my skull for most of my life. Some of these ideas stem from a comic that I drew when I was in the Fifth or Sixth grade. Which I’m sure my mom threw out along with various other treasures because I decided I didn’t need to clean my room, but rather just shuffle my feet through the piles of toys if I wanted to go from point A to point B. The world that finally took shape from a Tolkienesque high-fantasy world to the alternative history fantasy world of Cinder came about because some things really bothered me about fantasy writing.
Everybody just loves Tolkien, but I have the same problem with him as I do everyone else. There are familiar elements to our world that have absolutely no business even existing in the stories. Take for instance, the use of the days of the week in the Hobbit and LotR. If it’s a pre-history, then why the hell is there a Monday-Sunday week? So many things in fantasy books are anachronistic. Either it’s another world, or it’s this world. Even language, if it’s another world, has things based in Latin and Greek roots, French, and even Asian languages. Armor, weapons, all of it is basically a bunch of furniture hoarded up in the attic of a Dungeons and Dragons-esque compendium of tropes and tidbits that just get hauled out whenever someone needs a monster, or a cool sword, or something sampled from another writer/world/game whenever the mood suits them.
So, anyway, my story evolved from the same ripped-off high fantasy story to something else. Something that was more recognizable and I didn’t have to go about reinventing things like weapons and language because I learned too much and understood its origins. And how much they rely on roots that are deeply set into our own world, with centuries of religion, nation-building, folk-lore, and other elements that you cannot deny.
I think I need a nap.