The Method to My Madness, Part One: The Writing
Welcome to my shiny new website and blog about my adventures in writing, story editing, and producing! I thought I’d use this first post to start to set a few expectations about what sort of content you’ll find here…
I’ve spent most of my professional life helping others realize their creative goals. I’ve been a movie producer’s assistant, a script reader, a story editor for a series of webtoons and an interactive narrative game, and a production coordinator in animation and visual effects. I derive deep satisfaction from helping people manage their time and talent. The work suits my personality. I used to keep paper instruction manuals and warranties alphabetized in a three-ring binder; now I save them to a well-organized Pinterest board. Why not get paid for that kind of compulsion?
But I’m also a creative soul. Over the years, I’ve had a handful of poems appear online and in journals. I was once hired to write a zombie screenplay about Civil War soldiers raised from the dead by a spell-casting priest. And I earned ten whole dollars when I had a story published on an erotica website in August 2012. I still have the check (deposited electronically, of course) on the wall by my writing desk, next to the bevy of brightly colored prize ribbons I won as the 2018 San Mateo County Fair Literary Arts Exhibitor of the Year.
Sometimes, I wrote diligently; oftentimes, I did not.
About seven years ago, however, I developed an almost-daily writing habit. This coincided with having my ass kicked by the instructor of a novel workshop I’d enrolled in. He told me I was composing beautiful sentences, but my story was lost in the language. I decided to confront this criticism by taking a short story class. My hope was that the form would force me into economy. I pared down verbiage and concentrated on story, emerging with a newfound respect for my talent to string words together and an understanding that learning the craft is a lifelong pursuit.
I continued to refine my technique. In particular, I needed to work on layering in more character and setting (I’m accustomed from screenwriting to front-loading both instead of weaving them into the narrative). I also wanted to cultivate the ability to tell an entertaining story that stays with readers beyond the last page.
To that end, I applied for and was accepted into the Stanford Online Certificate Program in Novel Writing in October 2013. I relished becoming part of that brilliant and close-knit creative community. It’s reassuring when a friend tells me she loves my writing, but it is more productive for a thriller writer with no personal investment to point out where she would up the conflict, or for a science fiction author to show me where he got confused.
The project I undertook over the next three years was the novelization of a screenplay I wrote in 2004. Here’s the pitch:
Dirty is the story of two thirty-something women living in the San Francisco Bay Area who lose their jobs making web cartoons when the dot.com bubble bursts in the early 2000's. They then leverage their internet experience and severance to start a softcore porn website for women. YourFantasyMan.com features men in various stages of undress doing household chores.
Nora is a straight-laced, buttoned-up Stanford MBA who keeps her eyes locked on the business prize. Katie is a bohemian artist who instinctively understands that the people are more important than the product.
When the company is targeted for takeover by Balthasar, a North Beach strip-club impresario, the ladies must figure out how to navigate the male-dominated world of adult entertainment. Only by taking a page out of each other’s emotional intelligence and intellectual playbooks will they succeed in both their professional and personal lives.
Dirty is Sense and Sensibility set in the porn industry.
Now, after many go-rounds with my diligent and superlative writing group and a couple of developmental editors-for-hire, I’m finally about a month away from having a polished draft of this manuscript ready for querying literary agents. It's my intention to post here periodically about my progress in that process, as well as how I go about working on my next two novels, a few personal essays, and a pair of app design projects.
The common theme among these seemingly diverse projects is that they all involve producing copious amounts of words. I fully acknowledge that adding consistent blogging to the mix is likely a form of outrageous folly. But I feel compelled to share and document my journey in hopes that it will inspire and motivate others to embark upon creative expressions. And I’d love to have you along for the ride!