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01/16/13 | Idiot Mode, My Writings, Procrastination | 0 Comments
Hey there. Remember me? Yeah, I know. Believe me, I know.
So, I haven’t written a blog post since April. Oh, you’ve noticed? Well, I’m not making any promises--I’ve made them all before--but HOPEFULLY that’s all about to change.
I’m a bad writer. I’m not saying I lack talent… I’m saying I have no discipline.
How long has it been since I’ve written? Well, before last night, probably about four months. No, you didn’t misread that, and I didn’t mistype it, either. It’s legit been four months.
I’ve always written in waves. The wind brushes over the surface of the water, gathering momentum, pushing the little H2O molecules against one another until they finally come crashing down on the shore with a thunderous roar. But then gravity and the tide pull them back in, swallowing them into the inky depths of the ocean, and they must wait for their chance to rise once more.
That’s basically how I write. For several months I’m highly productive, and then for the next several months I, well, suck. I did some great writing in 2012, but most of the time was spent in the “suck”.
I’m not going to make a resolution to write more. I’ve never been able to trick myself into that. Or make myself feel obligated somehow. At the moment, I only have myself to answer to, and I’m really not the disciplinarian I should be (considering it’s been eight months since I updated this blog, I don’t think I have to convince anyone of this).
What I’m resoluting (real word?) to instead is to write More OFTEN. An hour a day of sitting in front of my computer with a Word document open in front of me. I’m not obligating myself to a word count (I’ll leave that to my friend Dawn, who has pledged 500,000 words in 2013! Eek!) because I’ll never adhere to it. What I really need is to give myself the TIME to BE CREATIVE. To glue my ass to a chair and see what happens.
Wish me luck.
I’ve also joined Goodreads’ 2013 Reading Challenge. I read 30 books last year with an initial goal of 20, so whoopah to me! This year I’m aiming for at least 25, with hopes that I shoot past it again. Follow my progress:
I also saw 39 movies last year IN THEATERS. My additional goal is to make that 50 this year. I know that sounds crazy, but I love movies and think all need to be seen in theaters, so I’m up for the challenge (AND I LOVE MOVIE THEATER POPCORN).
Pray for me. Make a virginal sacrifice on my behalf. Or just wish me luck.
Either way, 2013 will be the year of NO MORE EXCUSES.
Kyle W. Kerr
09/12/08 | Genius Mode, Idiot Mode, Maui, My Writings, Procrastination | 3 Comments
[Please note that there is ANOTHER new post under this one as well!]
I suck. Honestly, I’m not kidding. I don’t know how I’m supposed to get published if I don’t write, and I haven’t been. Not for months now. I could talk about all of the stresses I’ve been having in my life lately, but they’d all sound oddly like excuses, which is exactly what they’d be. There have been many writers before who have kept going through tough times (*cough*Jo Rowling*cough*), so what do I have to say for myself? I suck.
Three weeks ago I made the 12 hour trip from Philadelphia to Honolulu for the Maui Writers Conference and Retreat (which was obviously on hiatus from Maui!). It was my second time attending the conference and retreat, and I just have to say… it was weird. I didn’t like having it in Honolulu. It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced the retreat in Maui, but there’s this sort of spiritual ambiance about that island, not to mention the fact that you are so secluded and are almost forced to interact with all of the other retreaters (which is a DEFINITE plus!). But that didn’t happen this year. Yes, I walked away with new friends (hi Edna, Kim, Ryan, Tracy and Linda!), but I don’t think we were around each other enough. Last year, I ate with someone new almost every meal, and had drinks every night. This year (as much as I love them!), I spent most of my time with my roommates, who I’d met last year. It was just off…
Besides that, the retreat itself was amazing. I studied alongside five other hand-picked students in a Masters Class with NYT bestselling author Steve Berry, who is a master craftsman himself. I had heard horror stories about him teaching a previous retreat in Fiji—something about half the class winding up in tears?—but I have to say that I welcomed the criticism. As he likes to put it, you don’t become a better writer by people telling you how amazing you are all the time. And Steve was nothing but honest, definitely giving compliments when necessary, but always keeping it real. Surprisingly, there were no tears (at least not IN class, anyway!), and I believe that we have all walked away better writers.
I was sort of shocked that Steve was fairly complimentary of my work. Keep in mind my abovementioned statement of him being a hard-ass when I say… I was the only writer in the class that he complimented TO THE CLASS. We were sitting there, going over my writing sample, when he actually said “This boy can write.” (I almost added an exclamation mark there, but Steve doesn’t really talk in exclamation marks and he would probably die if I ever used one in my writing, anyway… and yes, I can see the four I’ve already used! Five… Damn.) His biggest criticism of my writing was that I need to work on structure, something I wholeheartedly agree with. He even wrote a special dedication in the book of his I had him sign: “You’re going to make it.”
I hope so!
The thing is, I need to get back into the swing of things. I still need to rewrite the entire second half of my book (about 40 pages worth… it’s a short second half), and add three or four new chapters to the first half, which will help with pacing and character development. Plus, the general editing that needs to be done for tightening and strengthening my prose. I’ve got a bit of work to do, obviously, and it needs to be done soon. I’ve even given myself a deadline to finish all rewrites and edits by the end of October, which is 49 days from now. Now, I’ve just got to sit down and DO IT!
It was nice being able to see so many amazing writers. Not only did I get to sit in the presence of Steve Berry for hours a day, but I got to be around David Morrell (the father of RAMBO), John Lescroart, William Broadbent, William Martin, Ann Hood, and my retreat teacher from last year and personal friend, Gary Braver. I was hoping to get to see James Rollins again, who I met last year in Maui and actually had drinks with at ThrillerFest in July, but he had to pull out at the last minute because of an unfortunate family emergency. He and his family are on my mind every day.
Now, for any of you who know me, this next bit may come as a shock: I WENT SURFING. Yes, me, in the ocean, on a little board. I’ll let you get the laughs out before we proceed.
Not only did I go surfing, but I went surfing with THREE BESTSELLING AUTHORS! Steve, John Lescroart and Bill Broadbent joined me with Steve’s wife, Liz, a friend of hers and the woman’s husband, and another member of my retreat class, Kim, who organized our little expedition. That’s a pretty cool story to be able to tell, right?
(I’ll save the embarrassing pictures for myself!
From far left: Liz, her friend, me, Liz’s friend’s husband, Bill, John, Steve, and Kim… muscle guy with no shirt is our instructor, obviously)
Okay, let’s just say that having long hair does not help in the slightest. And, being a rather bigger boy (*sigh*), I got tired REAL fast. I didn’t realize how much energy it would take just to paddle out to the surfing point! I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much in such a short period of time. Did it help that I was in cold water? Not really. While all of the skinny people were having a blast, I was ready to just die. I fell off the board a couple of times (five), and it’s very hard to get back onto it when you’re not allowed to put your feet on the ocean floor. Why weren’t we, you ask? Because it was covered with such wonderful things as coral, broken shells, sea urchins, and all manner of lovely things that you can cut your feet on and attract our little friends, the sharks. There was one instance when I was having a particularly difficult time getting back on the board, when the instructor pulled up beside me for encouragement. I had my arms stretched across the board and the top of my chest on, but couldn’t manage more than that. “One chest at a time!” was his helpful tip. I could only look at him with an expression I’m sure would have killed puppies. Then he said, “One tit at a time!” Ah, now I got you, thanks.
By the time we were heading into shore, I was so exhausted that I could hardly move, let alone paddle. So, our instructor pulled up next to me, put his foot on my board, and literally “toe’d” me into shore.
Let’s just say that it will be a while until I get back on a surfboard again. Maybe next year, if I’ve lost 100 pounds and can bench-press a small whale.
Kyle W. Kerr
11/6/07 | Books, Movies, My Writings, Procrastination | 0 Comments
Still writing, I’m chugging along as usual. It’s going well, and with the help of two of my friends I found another problem that was holding the narrative back (which I am now working to fix). I can only hope the novel will be finished by the end of the year. Keep praying!
I got the opportunity to see NYT and Internationally bestselling author Matthew Pearl for the second time. The first time I saw him was at an event, but this time he was generous enough to come to my writers group on campus! It was an amazing time. It’s rare that young authors get face-time with someone who’s “made it.” And he was very open about his experiences and he was an immense fountain of knowledge for our members.
In honor of Matthew Pearl coming, I bunkered down with his first book. Guys, it was really good. I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I couldn’t put this book down. It was based around a group of leading literary figures in 1865 Boston (who are all real people, by the way), who are trying to create the first American translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy. However, some of the leading members of society are being murdered, and they realize that the killer is reenacting the tortures found in Dante’s Inferno. So, in order to protect themselves, as well as the work they are trying to create, the group members become overnight sleuths. It was amazing, and it will honestly keep you guessing right to the very end. It’s kind of hard to get into because of the language (it’s written in 19th century prose), but once you get past the first few pages, it flows in a way you can’t imagine unless you experience it. Now I definitely have to pick up his second book, The Poe Shadow.
This was a really cute movie. David (played by John Cusack) is a widower sci-fi novelist who adopts a young boy named Dennis… who thinks he’s from Mars. Sounds like a perfect match, right? David and Dennis are both lonely and need to be loved, and to love in return, and David should understand the boy’s fascination with thinking he’s otherworldly. However, it’s not always a match made in heaven, and David soon finds himself overwhelmed with the prospect of raising a “different” child all on his own. Really beautiful acting and a great storyline. Worth a watch!
Okay, this movie sounded… weird, to say the least. But, it also sounded intriguing. So, I rented it. I’m so glad that I did. As the title suggests, it’s the story about a murderer who’s obsessed with scent, and preserving scent… particularly, the scent of women. He finds these women with unforgettable scents, and harvests them (which usually includes killing the women; a small price to pay when you think about it, wouldn’t you agree?). It sounds insane at first glance, but it was really an amazing story. The director also did a beautiful job portraying scent visually, which is just as hard has it sounds. The main character is the anti-hero (he’s the one doing the killin’s), but he is played with such compassion and honesty that you can’t help pulling for him! Fantastic movie, and it has an ending you’ll NEVER see coming. Now I have to go and read the book…
Oh, and here’s a little treat.
Anyone else excited?
Kyle W. Kerr
10/21/07 | Books, Idiot Mode, Movies, Trailers, Procrastination | 0 Comments
My personal deadline for finishing revisions on my book is fast approaching. When I got back from Maui, I told myself that I would write a page-a-day (or whatever the revision equivalent is), and that it would all be done by the end of October at the latest! It is now October 21st, and I have only worked on four chapters… So, I’m no where near done, no where near where I should be at this point (considering my deadline), and have no possibility of finishing on time (unless I forego everything else in my life, including going to class, sleeping, and possibly even eating). There are ten days left. It’s not going to happen, and I’m disappointed in myself.
Since making certain decisions about the book, I have come to love it again. Yes, there was a time when I thought it was the worst thing ever and hardly considered showing it the light of day, let alone to friends, family or, god forbid, literary agents. I would have died of embarrassment. Now, I think it’s a story worthy of being read. I just have to finish it, and therein lies the problem. I can’t seem to motivate myself to finish, and it’s exceedingly frustrating. What I wouldn’t give to just go away, away from the world, from school, from interruptions like TV and movies, out of contact with everyone, no internet, nothing; just me, my computer, and possibly some books (show me a writer who doesn’t read, and I’ll punch them in the nose).
So, as I wallow in my reverie, here are some things that have kept me from writing…
This is a memoir about a boy who grew up with Asperger’s Syndrome and didn’t know it. Asperger’s is a type of autism, but generally mild—considering most autistics live in their heads. Aspergians, as JER calls himself and others like him, seem outwardly rude and misfit-like, while generally being very smart (savants). Yet it is their incomprehension of certain social rules and guidelines that is their true downfall. JER talks about his struggles to make friends and socialize, about his abusive and sometimes downright terrifying childhood, and about learning to live with his condition and making the best of a life that seemed set to fail right from the off. JER is the older brother of National and Internationally acclaimed memoirist Augusten Burroughs, who wrote the incredible memoir Running with Scissors. Here is a short clip of Augusten interviewing his brother (notice how very different the two are):
And, yes, John Elder Robison DOES in fact “Woof!” at the camera! This is one of his mechanisms for awkward silence (which he explains in the book).
If you remember, I have been waiting to see this movie since I first heard about it a year and a half ago. Besides a problem the theater was having with the sound (which isn’t a reflection of the movie), it was absolutely AMAZING. I am thrilled that I liked it so much, that it was able to live up to the epic movie I had been building it up to be in my head. Cate Blanchett is in her element, and Clive Owen lives up to his name, and Jordi Mollà (as King Philip II of Spain) is almost terrifying. Geoffrey Rush, unfortunately, wasn’t in the movie as much as I would have liked. Excellent movie, with some definite twists and turns that will keep you guessing right until the end of the movie. Sadly, it has had a poor box office run these past two weekends, only grossing $11.2M in 10 days. Not good! Go see this movie!
This is a documentary about how the MPAA rates movies. For those of you who haven’t heard of this, the board that rates movies is consisted of 8 “normal parents” who rate movies based on what they think is appropriate for children to see (which is why the ratings are all age based… G – General Audiences, PG – Parental Guidance suggested, PG-13 – Suggests parents should accompany any children under 13-years-old, R – Children under the age of 17 must be accompanied by an adult, and NC-17 – No Child under the age of 17 under ANY circumstances). However, this board is secret, just like the CIA. No one knows who they are… until now. Director Kirby Dick hires a personal investigator to find out the identities of these mysterious and all powerful 8, and they do, and they tell you exactly who they are. Kirby also delves into the biases these people show towards studio made movies versus independents, scenes with violence versus scenes with sex, and straight sex versus gay sex. Very eye opening view into the inner workings of the MPAA. Worth a watch!
Oh, and for anyone as excited as I am by the upcoming The Golden Compass movie, here’s an extended 5 MINUTE preview of the movie!
Now, back to writing (hopefully).
Kyle W. Kerr
09/16/07 | Books, Movies, My Writings, Procrastination | 0 Comments
This weekend, I saw two new movies… one new, and one a little older. Plus, a little on a book I’m currently reading.
Okay, I don’t know where to begin on this movie. We all know that Jodie Foster is a brilliant actress. Terrance Howard is good as well. This movie was freaking amazing. Though very brutal at times (you see about a two minute long beating scene, as well as a number of murders on Jodie’s part), there is such raw emotion behind it all. I don’t know if that is the work of the three writers behind the script (two of them are credited just for “story”, so I don’t know if they did any of the actual writing or not), or because Jodie and Terrance are in their element, but it is surely a sight to see. AND, it has one of the most satisfying endings to a movie than I have seen in a good long time. Our ENTIRE theater was in an uproar by the end, which only shows how quickly and deeply you get attached to these characters. Definitely a must-see.
I wanted to see this movie since I first saw the trailer (however long ago it came out). Renée Zellweger hasn’t been one of my favorite actresses, but she has grown on me as of late (I recently saw the first Bridget Jones’s Diary movie, which was cute… and I have liked the ever classic Empire Records since it came out on video), and the movie looked like I might enjoy it. Not to mention the recommendations I got from people telling me to see it (including the writer of Frida). So, I caved and bought it. I think I have to give it a 4 out of 5. This movie was so engaging, and to touching, that I was totally prepared to love it. And I did, but only up to a certain point. The last half hour of the movie completely dragged. For some reason, they (the filmmaker and writers) felt it was necessary to showcase her purchasing 4000 acres of land, working said land, and doing little, if any, writing or drawing/painting. I know this movie is supposed to be about her life, but the main pulls were her books and her love; I didn’t need to know that she was responsible for conserving 4000 acres of apparently prime English real estate property (though highly noble on her part, it doesn’t make for very interesting movie watching!). They should have cut that last 20-30 minutes and expanded the other sections instead. Still worth the watch, though.
I’m actually in the middle of this right now. I decided to read this because, well, I bought it in Maui so he could sign it and I needed something to read on the 14 hour trip back to Boston. Not that I got much reading done on the plane (I actually SLEPT, which is something I rarely do on planes… I like being on planes too much to sleep!), but I have made a slight effort to read it now that I am back. It’s actually quite good so far, and he’s freaking me out by having albino tarantulas attacking a group of archaeologists. Again, only halfway through, but it’s good so far. I’ll let you know if I like the ending!
(Note to self: Come up with some sort of cool rating system.)
So, now it’s time to get back to writing. It’s amazing that I have been back for two weeks already, and I’ve only worked on ONE chapter of my novel. I need to finish the rewrite of said chapter later today, and then start moving on to the next ones. My October 31st deadline for completion is approaching more rapidly than I could have ever expected, so I need to buckle down and WRITE! I am very excited about all of the changes, though, and I can’t wait to be able to read through the whole manuscript at the end (and to hear what everyone thinks about it!). GENIUS MODE!
Oh, for any of you who are interested:
Kyle W. Kerr
08/23/07 | Maui, Movies, Procrastination | 0 Comments
There’s about 20 hours left until I leave for Maui (7AM flight, 14 hour trip, oy). I have so much stuff to do before I leave, too. Do you guys know that I haven’t started packing yet? Do you know that I still have laundry to do before I CAN pack? I also have to go to the bank, to the post office, the store, start rereading The Silence of the Lambs at Gary Braver’s request for the retreat portion of the trip, and call a cab company to make sure I have a way to get TO the airport at 4:30 tomorrow morning. Fun… Yeah, yeah, I know. Does “Professional Procrastinator” not mean anything these days? I’ll get everything done. I hope.
One thing to keep me in high spirits on my long flight (besides the booze, that is)? This message by Gary Braver:
I’m looking forward to working with you on your story, which I think has potential. You have a smooth and engaging narrative style.
Can you feel the heat coming off my face right now? I’ve gotten compliments before (as well as scathing reviews), but to hear that from a bestselling author?
On a side note I went to see the movie Stardust yesterday.
It was surprisingly well done (not that I had any notion of what to expect… I just knew it hasn’t been doing too well at the box office). Claire Danes is glowing as usual, and relative newcomer Charlie Cox plays an all around good performance as well. One of the real surprises of the movie was Robert De Niro’s cross dressing, tea making, piano playing (and swashbuckling?) Captain Shakespeare. Totally unexpected, totally hilarious. Pretty good special effects (though sometimes a little cheesy, but always worth it), and I wish the witch duel could have lasted a little longer (you’ll have to watch it to know what I mean!). Definitely worth the time and money to see.
Okay, I must get back to my Maui checklist. Next time you hear from me I’ll be roasting!
Kyle W. Kerr
08/21/07 | Books, General, Movies, Procrastination | 0 Comments
I’ve been procrastinating again. All of my ‘worry’ voices keep telling me to get more work done on editing my novel, but I can’t even seem to force myself to do it the past week or so. I actually got through a nice chunk yesterday, but a whole helluvalot of procrastination happened before that. What have I been doing instead? Why don’t I tell you…?
The Black Tattoo by Sam Enthoven
It was actually an interesting read. It’s about a demon from Hell who takes over this boy’s body, hell-bent on, well, destroying the universe. It is Sam’s first novel, and is written for the young adult crowd (which is fine, because I think there’s a bit too much violence for the children’s crowd!). Bit dark, but a lot of humor is brought in with the character of Jack.
Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim
This story begins during the summer of ’81, when two boys from a Little League are molested by their coach. One of them likes it, believing it to be love, and goes on to be a hustler when he gets older. The other blacks out the experience and, later in life, is convinced that those five hours are missing from his life because he was abducted by aliens. He’s not too far off, actually. Stunningly written, though I would extend a word of caution if you don’t have the stomach for a bit of violence.
Director Alfonso Cuarón impresses again. I’m not shy about my love of all things Harry Potter, and I was first introduced to his work with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (the most visually stunning of all five HP movies so far, I think). Here, he does it again, and with seeming ease. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should definitely check it out. But, if you HAVE seen it, you should take a second look, and pay attention to the three or four scenes in the movie that are actually ONE CUT. The opening scene with the coffee shop, the scene where they are attacked in the car, as well as the final battle scene are ALL done in one shot. Amazing. Alfonso is one of the top directors I would choose for my screenplay Bethanine if I were able to pick the director myself.
I get more and more amazed by this movie with each viewing. Everything is so subtle. Nothing is thrown into your face. From Clint Eastwood’s quiet struggles, to Hilary Swank’s determination (even at the end) to go out a champ, and rounded off nicely with Morgan Freeman’s soft narration, you get sucked in and just nestled in the flow of the movie. Throw in Paul Haggis’s superb writing, and it’s no wonder this movie won the Best Picture Oscar. Paul Haggis is another person who intrigues me… To have written TWO Best Pictures in a row (MDB and Crash), as well as being versatile enough to take on projects like the recent Casino Royale, he’s the kind of screenwriter I want to be. (Oh, and try HUNDRED MILLION Dollar Baby… That’s right, this little movie brought in BIG bank!)
WANT TO SEE:
Since it came out almost 10 years ago, Elizabeth has been one of my favorite movies. Cate Blanchett is one of my favorite actresses. So, you can imagine my joy when I learned they were making a sequel! I first heard about Elizabeth: The Golden Age about a year and a half ago, and have been eagerly awaiting its arrival since. Now, the trailer has finally been released, stating an October release date (!!!). So, if you have a moment, why don’t you bask in the gloriousness that is Elizabeth: The Golden Age…
A line that gives me the chills every time I hear it?
Queen Elizabeth I: Tell your king I fear neither him nor his armies.
Spanish Minister: There is a wind coming that will sweep away your pride.
Queen Elizabeth I: I too can command the wind, sir! I have a hurricane in me that will strip Spain bare if you dare to try me!
What was that line of Jim Carrey’s? Joygasm?
Kyle W. Kerr