10/29/07 | Genius Mode, My Writings, On Writing | 0 Comments
This weekend was actually quite productive. I was able to work my way through TWO chapters, bringing me closer to the finish line. I’m really happy with them. It’s interesting, too… with this second draft, my antagonist is revealing much more about himself than ever before, and he’s becoming a much deeper and troubled person. I hope he continues to be as candid with me as the novel moves forward, and also that I get the same level of cooperation from the rest of the characters…!
Though, the more I write this book, the less I think it’s a YA novel… Everyone keeps telling me it’s YA because the characters are all in high school, yet the graphic nature of some of the scenes (which are too necessary to cut) suggests it will be hard to sell as YA. I’m constantly reminded on A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, because the majority of the novel is based in a time when the two main characters are young (beginning even younger than high school, in fact), yet that is not at all a YA novel. Come to think of it, you’d be hard pressed to find a high-schooler willing to read a John Irving book. (Not that I’m comparing myself to him, of course!) Would any of you read a book whose main characters are in high school if the plot intrigued you? Let me know your thoughts on this…
On a fun note, I’ve been quoted in a blog! The topic of Tess Gerritsen’s October 20th blog post was “Are Anxious Writers More Successful?” Meaning, if published authors harbor the fear of losing their market, they will work harder to improve with each and every book they write. However, it is not good to become complacent and not strive for betterment, because you just might become the old lion that way, toothless and forgotten, reminiscing of better days when you were the king of the jungle. This is my reply to her:
“During the Maui Writers Retreat, John Lescroart made a really great speech… He says that, during the writing process, there are two different modes an author goes into. When she’s writing the first draft, the author is in “Genius Mode,” where everything she writes is flecked with gold and diamonds. Then, when it comes time for editing and revision, she enters “Idiot Mode,” where the author realizes that what she had first taken for gold and diamonds is actually pyrite and kitty litter. It’s the worst thing she’s ever seen, let alone written herself.
I think there is a vast difference between cockiness and confidence. I think that people SHOULD have confidence in their own work and ability, but confidence does not beget anxiety. We all know how fickle this market is, and it’s not a good idea to become complacent. Plus, I would much rather read a book that an author has thrown themselves fully into, than one that they just threw out the door because they could.
I know I go into Genius Mode whenever I write something. But, as I look over it, revise it, and give it to someone to read for the first time, I’m always thinking it’s the worst thing I have ever written. There’s no plot, the characters are all one-dimensional, etc. I think you’re right, though… that thought does make me work just as hard (or harder) on the next piece.”
(If you look carefully, you’ll discover the origin of two of my Journal categories!)
Well, UK writer Ray-Anne Leutner liked what I had to say so much that she asked to quote me in her own blog, to which I happily obliged. So, if any of you are interested to hear what she’s got to say, a hop across the pond is only a click away!
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
10/16/07 | General, Genius Mode, My Writings | 0 Comments
This is just a short one, but I wanted to give you guys an update on something exciting…!
No, I don’t have an agent and my book isn’t finished (though I’m working on it!)… My website has only been open for a little over TWO months and I’ve already had over 1000 VISITORS! Combined page hits (for every page on my site) is well over 12,000! Thank you guys so much! It’s nice to know that this website is getting some good use…
On a side note, my revisions have been going slow, but extremely well. I’m getting to the point where I can read through entire chapters and hardly want to make any changes! That means that things are finally coming together. The structure reformatting is proving to be 100% the correct choice, and now I’m going through and making corrections based on that. I’ve also got some new ideas about certain plot elements in the novel, which I think will add a whole new level to the reading.
Keep me in your prayers that I get this all done sometime soon!
Kyle W. Kerr
I am going to see Elizabeth: The Golden Age today, which I am VERY excited about. In the interim, before I can post a review, here is a movie trailer that got me a little tingly…
Also, some movies coming out/in the works that you just might not know about yet… (Sorry, some of the links won’t provide any information unless you sign up for IMDb Pro, but hopefully that information will be up soon. Some of the movies don’t have links because they aren’t even showing up on regular IMDb.) The movies I am really looking forward to are in italics.
The Dark Knight*
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Sex and the City: The Movie
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (sadly, Rachel Weisz will not be returning)
The Time Traveler’s Wife
Dead Like Me
The Lovely Bones
A Christmas Carol (with Jim Carrey as Scrooge and all three ghosts, Tom Hanks as Bob Cratchit, and Michael J. Fox as Tiny Tim… no lie)
Untitled X-Files Sequel
Imperial Life in the Emerald City (I don’t know what this is about, but it has Matt Damon and is being helmed by Bourne director Paul Greengrass, so I’m intrigued)
The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Beverly Hills Cop IV
The Birds (remake)
The Power of the Dark Crystal (from Jim Henson Productions)
Sin City 2*
Jurassic Park IV
Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins (no Arnold!)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Superman: Man of Steel*
The Hobbit (possibly with Peter Jackson directing!)
Fahrenheit 451 (with Tom Hanks)
Angels & Demons
Stephen King Movies: Cell, Dark Tower, From a Buick 8, Black House, Creepshow, Dolan’s Cadillac, Pet Sematary
Toy Story 3
Life of Pi
Labyrinth (looks like another Oscar for Hilary Swank)
The Subtle Knife
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
The Secret Life of Bees
A Song of Ice and Fire
Red Sonja (remake?)
I, Robot 2
A Spell for Chameleon
Anyone notice the overabundance of Comic Books* being put into production?
Okay, I think that list is quite long enough! Hope some of these got you as excited as they got me (Note: not ALL of these sent me reeling, but most I thought were interesting… again, the ones in italics are the ones I wet myself a little when I saw them, I won’t lie).
Off to see Cate as Elizabeth!
Kyle W. Kerr
10/9/07 | Books, Genius Mode, Movies, Music, My Writings, TV Shows | 0 Comments
The rewrites have been going really well. So well, in fact, that I expect to crash and burn any time now… I finally realized what my problem was, and now it’s almost like the book is correcting itself, with minimal effort on my part. (Not saying I’m not putting effort into it! Just saying the work isn’t really work.) And I’m really excited about some new developments that have recently been revealed to me. If you’re a writer, I can’t stress how important it is to LISTEN to your characters! They will never lead you in the wrong direction (unless you have an unreliable narrator, and that’s a whole different tin of biscuits).
In the past few weeks I’ve…
Excavation by James Rollins
I had a conversation with Jim about why his books aren’t classified as Science Fiction. In Excavation, a band of archaeologists stumble upon a lost Incan temple, get stuck in it because someone is trying to steal the treasurers within and causes it to collapse, trapping some of said archaeologists and forcing them to find a way out… and they encounter albino tarantulas and mutated, cannibalistic ape-like beasts (that turn out not to be apes at all!), as well as discover a substance that is some form of nano-biology that is able to bring people back from the dead and regrow human bodies from nothing but a severed head. Sounds pretty far fetched, right? Science Fiction-like, even? Well, to put it bluntly, his publishers said “We can market it as a Sci-Fi novel and sell okay, or we can market it as a thriller and sell 10x as many copies.” Yeah, not a tough decision there. Point being, this book was very, very good. Just be willing to extend your suspension of disbelief a bit more for this one than regular thrillers.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. What the hell am I listening to this emo crap for? Because I love it, I can’t lie. I LOVED DC’s album The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, and have listened to it religiously since I bought it six years ago… Nothing DC has made before or since has really lived up to that CD, because Chris Carrabba’s vocals and lyrics, coupled with the acoustic instrumentation, just completely took me over. And there are even a few tracks when he gets so into the music that his voice breaks (one of my favorite things in the world… really). Everything else has been more rocker-ish, and less intimate. Until now. In The Shade of Poison Trees, Chris returns to the acoustic songs he does so well, and I’m absolutely loving it. It’s on repeat right now.
This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but I was going through a low point and needed to take my mind off things, so I watched all 60 or so hours of the first three seasons of Grey’s Anatomy… in 4 days. That’s right, I watched disc after disc of that show, and couldn’t have been happier to do so. As sad as it is that I did that, I don’t regret it. And now I’m obsessed. This is one of the best shows I’ve seen in years, and has the kind of characters I can care enough about to WANT to watch new episodes live (I don’t have cable, so anything I watch is either on DVD or I download it from iTunes… I don’t like commercials). Bailey is my favorite (“O’Malley, stop looking at my VA-JAY-JAY!”), I’m totally shipping George and Izzie, Meredith and Derek need to get over their issues, and Christina is just fun. Totally hooked. Though, I have to say, I am totally disappointed that they created the spin-off for Addison. I loved her, and now she isn’t even Addison anymore. Did anyone else notice that her hair doesn’t even look red? Hopefully, when that show fails, they’ll bring her back to Seattle!
Okay, this movie was absolutely insane… Fantastic, intriguing and immensely well put together, but insane nonetheless. Talk about your unreliable narrator! You think this movie is just about a teacher schtooping one of her students, but NO, it has a completely other level of crazy! When they say “A Story of Two Obsessions,” they’re not kidding. It’s one of the worst kept secrets in the world that Cate Blanchett is one of my favorite actors (second only to another Kate!), and what she is able to pull off in Notes is nothing short of brilliant. My love for her grows with every movie I see her in, and the emotion she was able to bring to this role was so tortured, so vulnerable, you couldn’t help but feel for her pain. Is it crazy on my part that I could understand why she did what she did (the character)? Not deflowering a 15-year-old, of course, but her need for something more than the life she was dealt, her need for escape? And Judi Dench’s character is… terrifying is probably the best word. I may just have to pick up the book now.
This movie was produced by Walden Media, the same folks who brought us The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and Bridge to Terabithia (they like the whole making-a-movie-out-of-popular-children’s-books thing). It had a lot of promise, and the trailer made it look really good. To me, it didn’t disappoint. It has a really great premise, the foundations of which were lain down by Susan Cooper, who wrote the book back in the 70s (I say foundation because the book and movie apparently have very little in common. I’m reading the first book in the series—the movie was based on the second book, which has different characters than the first—but I have found a website that lists all of the changes, and they are extensive. If any of you loved the book Eragon and saw the movie based on that book, you’ll get a sense of what I’m talking about with this one. BUT, because the movie was my introduction to the world, and not the book, I was able to enjoy the movie for what it was). Definitely worth a buy when it comes out on DVD, though I don’t know how happy the studio is with it at the moment. Opening weekend on the purportedly $60M movie was a measly $3.75M… Ouch!
A sad side note…
If you remember my excitement about the new TV show The Sarah Connor Chronicles, you’ll know how disappointed I am to find out that Fox has decided to hold off on launching the show until mid-season. Why? Because God hates me.
Kyle W. Kerr
10/2/07 | Genius Mode, My Writings | 0 Comments
Okay, it’s back. My mojo, that is. I finished the rewrite of chapter 2 of my novel. And I’ve begun editing chapter 3.
What brought about the change? I wish I knew. But I just know that something clicked, and the writing is flowing (as it usually does). I just hope that the funk stays away. Somehow I angered the gods and got some bad juju. Bad juju be gone, I say! If you’re missing a virgin, or a goat, I sacrificed them. Both of them.
So, like I said, I finished rewriting chapter 2, and have once again posted it under Love, Simon in the novel section. This is all that I am going to be putting up for you to read, so I hope you enjoy it. Now I just have to finish the novel, sell it, and then you can read the rest.
Kyle W. Kerr