Kolinski Chronicle – a glimpse into one writing student’s meandering creative labyrinth.
11-28-2022_THE BEGINNING: 7:00 A.M. Monday
Since age 14 or so, writing was my dream vocation, BUT life happens, I adjust…or dodge as the case may be; and authorship is relegated to what Steven Pressfield in “the WAR of ART” describes as a part-time amateur avocation. At 71-years young I am changing that paradigm, with I suppose the decision marking a milestone on my path to growing up.
Before the beginning of this section of writer’s maze, in June of 2022 I self-published through my own company, Grit Company Unlimited LLC, a work of nonfiction titled BEYOND ALL ISMS Lurks the Study Group System – Well Hidden in Plain Sight. For the curious, my print on demand (POD) services are through IngramSpark’s Lightning Source with wholesale distribution through Ingram Book Company (Ingram Book Group LLC) in conjunction with IngramSpark’s Global Connect Program. I am more than 100% satisfied with IngramSpark services. The book is available for anxious readers at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and most other booksellers as well as through my own author website at: https://brucekolinski.com/non-fiction-books/. I’m certain this provides a solid start for my adventure into archetypal fiction as a pro.
Anyway, moving back up to the beginning, November 2022, I’ve started work on a new screenplay after scrapping three others over the years, none of which survived the horror of their creation. Of course, as a new full-time vocated PROFESSIONAL instead of lowly part-time advocated amateur, I MUST HAVE a dedicated writing space. I’ve chosen my upstairs leather shop and have spent weeks planning and converting it to a full-time professional writing and leather working studio—immediately adjacent to what I refer to as the whiskey lounge with its man cave frig and sumptuous vintage leather couch by Hancock and Moore of North Carolina. No distraction here to worry about.
I confess to creative writing professors everywhere, I detest outlines—cringing at the idea of doing any kind of redundant work like developing character bios, story outlines, etc. I’ve taken university English courses and read dozens of books on writing novels and screenplays so am aware of the academic litany proclaiming the importance of such necessary work—but as Pogo said, “we have met the enemy and he is us”…or me in this case. So, in the interest of disciplined hard work becoming at least minimally useful, my new professional strategy is writing a well-structured 110-page spec screenplay as the outline for a well-structured 330-page novel. Easy peasy. Anybody can do this and two for one is a good deal in the end.
I should mention for the Hollywood unwary, spec scripts used to be 120-pages, but today’s systemically over-worked readers prefer 105 – 110 pages with lots of white space and some seriously good, bare bones writing or your amateur script finds the round file before page 10 and maybe before page 3 gets a look-see. In any case, I’m a Gemini twin, so compulsively am drawn to over-written, under-written or sometimes just right, despite addiction to “words, words, more words” as Beavis and Butthead characterize it, so also enjoy the bare bones discipline of white space juxtaposed with compelling conflict.
OK…good plan or not, workspace is dusted and ready, dark roast in a full steaming mug, computer purring like a well-tuned dragster next to Chanel, my 14-year-old feline manager waiting expectantly in the warm glow of her south facing window, mountains in the distance. Nice breeze coming in. Final Draft 12 is queued up on a 27” monitor, the Beat Board is coming on hot along with my brand-new 23” x 35” cork board on the wall, which I’ve lined off into Act 1, 1st half of Act 2, 2nd half of Act 2, and Act 3. This cork board strategy is by the way per both, old school Syd Field’s and the late Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT! Two sizes of index cards; 300 board pins; a dozen each, colored Pentel gel pens and fine point Sharpies are lined up.
READY TO LAUNCH! OPENING IMAGE ON THE WAY! Sitting quietly, breathing deeply, two typing fingers poised above the keyboard, all two dozen Aeron chair settings adjusted perfectly for long hours of rewarding labor. Leather high-top Converse All Star writing shoes tied tight. Run faster, jump higher, write faster, less errors. Ramping up the energy. Get the creative juice flowing. Hmmmn, I wonder. What is the opening image going to be? Need a perfect image. It must set the tone and mood of our story. Must mirror my ending image to tidy things up 110 pages down the road. Beginnings and endings. Must echo title expectations and must enhance the logline. Huh? Not sure about the best image to set the stage, capture the audience, begin suspension of disbelief. Close but not quite there. Needs some work.
Haven’t wasted precious time on a metaphoric title or compelling ironic logline yet but that shouldn’t be a problem. I hate that planning stuff—it kills spontaneity. Academic nonsense. Have a great scene in mind though; to be honest, three or four killer scenes every audience will love. This is the best story idea I’ve had in over a decade—so profound, it’ll be a cult classic practically writing itself. Just need that pesky opening image. Then it’s first draft done in 21 days per Viki King or maybe half that time. Cooking with gas now. What‘s that opening image again? Hmmmn? I had a great idea for an Arizona sunrise this morning. Allegorical sunrise with pinks blending into purples over the mountains, then to lighter blues above—symbol of new beginnings in our ordinary world. A little cliche and we’ve seen it a hundred times, but I can tweak it a bit, make it a different sunrise. Same but different. That’s the key. Give the audience a hint but let ‘em figure it out…take ownership involvement right off.
You know what? I didn’t take my vitamins yet today. How stupid is that? Let’s go downstairs and fix that. OK. One chocolate protein shake loaded with 20 grams of powerful whey protein, 2-pound handful of vitamin supplements, 16 ounces of filtered water, and to make sure, two poached organic free-range eggs on buttered (grass fed of course) organic sour dough toast. Preparatory stop in the throne room on the way back up. Oh! Hold it a minute, need a refill on coffee. OK. Got our coffee. Uh-oh. Better do these dishes and sweep the kitchen quick. Don’t leave a mess for Nan to deal with. Just take a minute. This trash needs to go out too doesn’t it? Get it off my mind. There we go. Got ‘er done. Back up the stairs. Good exercise.
Back in the Aeron chair. Computer’s sleeping. Wake the dragster up. Final Draft 12 Beat Board coming on hot. Here we go! Act 1 – Page 1 – Scene 1 – Opening Image. Jesum Criminy! Does that sunrise thing really work here? Where am I going with this? Feels kind of vague. I know what to do. Search Southwest desert sunrise images to jolt the perfect vision lose. Maybe catch that last closing image too? What else is the internet for? A perfect world. Efficiency rocks.
Well look at this YouTube thing. An early morning fight between a cute, trapped squirrel and a nasty poisonous rattlesnake. Wow! Gotta’ see this. Tuck it away for allegorical story ideas. Impressive how that little squirrel got away. Poor rattler is still hungry though. Hey! Look at this. A grainy 1935 newsreel showing a Joe Louis versus Max Baer fight. Only 20 minutes. Let’s take a look. Geez, the Brown Bomber was amazing. I need some a’ that training discipline. Let’s swing some kettlebells real quick and jack up my energy level so I can focus better. Whew! Feelin’ great. Energized. Back in the perfectly set up Aeron chair. Like William Goldman said, “seat of the pants to the seat of the chair—don’t get it right, get it written.” That’s me.
OK. Computer’s asleep again. Lazy thing. Wake ‘er up and let’s get ‘er done. Success is about work ethic. Amateurs talk, pros work. Jeez, it’s already eleven o’clock and the old stomach’s growling. Now what? Haven’t written one word today. Forget low blood sugar. Dial up those desert sunrise images and get some work done. Need 5 pages a day to stay on deadline. Man, oh man, these images aren’t cuttin’ it. Not getting’ the job done for my audience. Need something better, a more powerful image to convey…convey what?
Huh? Not sure where this story is going. Not sure at all. Not quite sure where it starts or how it gets to my cool scenes. You know what…I need to boost that blood sugar a bit. Post kettlebell lunch. Then I’ll get ‘er done.
OMG!!! Do I need an outline?