This has been a strange and really challenging week creatively. I'm really weary mentally, and there is still a lot to do. I think there will be a lot to do for quite some time to come. This is in no way a complaint. The work is exciting and fun for the most part. Even the not fun parts of the past week's work will lead to something really exciting. It was just that every task was daunting in some way. I was slowed down by the constraints that came with every task. I was also dealing with a difficulty physically that I have not seen in quite some time. It's not anything to worry about. The legacy of chemo can be a new 'normal' life that comes with occasional obstacles. This was such a week. I'm hoping to make up for the sleep I lost coping with those difficulties. But that's no fun to blog about. Let's begin with the challenges.
I have found that authors and screenwriters who ask me for advice generally have a hard time distilling their work down to a short synopsis. The best high concept pitch ever, according to Hollywood lore, was for the ill-fated Cop Rock. It was just two words – MTV Cops. Brevity is an asset in both industries. Yes, I believe that this is true for any sort of publishing. With all the diversions vying for the attention of readers, it behooves a writer to distill their work down to a tantalizing concept that can be tweeted easily (140 characters – not words – or less). This skill is useful not just because producers and publishers have short attention spans. I have found that if a writer cannot distill their story down to it's simplest explanation, they usually don't have a good handle on the plot. One of the reasons Sybaritic Press remains largely dormant toward outside submissions is that I don't have the patience to read rambling query letters and equally rambling novels.
I learned to distill plots when I was a film and TV critic in college. And I've had a lot of practice over the years writing script pitches or blurbs for books. Still, the constraints placed on me for writing pieces over the past two weeks has made the tasks much more daunting than usual. For example, I had to turn my complicated romantic comedy into a two sentence summary that explains the film completely has some 'zing' in it. Zing, he says. Next, I had to do short bios on all the partners involved. Let see, how do I take decades of work experience in divergent fields and explain how that experience applies to a film project in a convincing and very brief paragraph. That was for our partners. For Jon and I, it was a matter of morphing our bizarre work histories into short paragraphs that showed we were an asset to the production. That was a long afternoon. Speaking of constraints, I had to write a cover blurb for the manga I've been editing. For that I had to describe the plots in the book in an enticing manner without giving even the tiniest whiff of a spoiler to avid fans. Avid fan geeks have hyper sensitive thresholds when it comes to spoilers. I spent a whole lot of time writing and re-writing that as well. All of that effort yielded less than two pages of actual text.
Goodness knows I enjoy writing this blog. It has kept me connected to friends and family during difficult times, and it has spread my writing and general quirkiness all over the internet. I started this blog to promote my writing. It soon drifted to my crazy life in LA and to observations on pop culture. And I was happy with that. However, to successfully market books and build a brand, I needed something much more specific that could be easily found on a search engine. Thus, Yaoi at Sybpress and Romantica at Sybpress were created to talk about and promote yaoi and romantic erotica respectively. So, this means writing separate blogs for these sites with some regularity. Fine. The new books have been selling rather well, and these sites are visited quite often by my readers and by new readers. Then, I realize that Digital Manga, the company for which I edit manga, wants its guild teams to promote their books among their fellow fans via twitter and blogs. I had no problem with that. I figured it would draw more readers to the yaoi blog. Then, I find out that the company would prefer the teams have blogs and twitter accounts under the name of the guild team and tagged in such a way that a search for Digital Manga would bring it up.. That's completely understandable and absolutely reasonable. Setting up these social media accounts is relatively easy when there is a team working at work. The difficulty came with actually writing the first blog for the manga, Again Tomorrow. I had to entice and titillate without revealing plot twists or or character spoilers. I had to be conversational but mindful that I am representing a company. And I had to not promote my own work. I have never been so nervous and tentative about a blog before. For those interested, the result is HERE.
Geez, I just realized I'm blogging about blogging. Time to move on.
On occasion, Jon and I have helped other filmmakers shape a pitch and a business plan for investors. I've even been paid to do budgets and schedules for film business plans. These are really easy, because they don't involve re-writing the script. The one time we were given a script to re-write, we were told to strip to the idea and start over. That script came out reading like a Deb and Jon script. Recently, we took on adapting a story into a pitch from TV. The story was not written for the camera. It was created for another form of media. Yes, I know this is terribly vague, but it is as specific as I can be. The creator has decades long experience and a large, avid following. The fans for this particular title numbers in the hundreds of thousands, and they are passionate about it. This adaptation is a daunting challenge. We've gone through weeks of pouring over the original works and asking questions of the author. The idea is to make the new material fit into the original seamlessly. I've had the treatment for the pilot a week, but have only written a a handful of lines. It's an intimidating proposition, dancing in someone else's shoes. But with the editing of the first manga out of the way, I can really focus on writing the additional material. At least, that's my plan for the upcoming week.
I've been giving them during this whole blog. Haven't you noticed?