Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Where I've Been

Around, pretty much. I just haven't been blogging. The reasons run the gamut from the holiday hustle-bustle to the fact that most of my thoughts have been too bummeresque (I could say 'dark,' but that sounds sickeningly teen-gothy and melodramatic) to share with the world. I had a nicely written post a month ago about why I wasn't in the Christmas spirit, but decided that no one would be better off having read it. I worried that if I posted it, I would receive a visit from Dickens's three ghosts, and since I was spending Christmas in New York City, the spirits would just end up hanging around my house, scaring the cats and emptying my liquor cabinet.

The primary reason for my blog-lapse is a good one, though. Most of my creative energy is finally focused on writing fiction. Currently I'm working on my first original screenplay, a romantic comedy (a "romcom" as we "say" in the "biz" as we sip our "carrot and wheatgrass juice" off of each other's--never mind) with an existential twist. I don't have a title yet, but "The Velveteen Roommate" makes me chuckle.

As you might remember from a previous post, I was working on a novel a month or so ago, but it was starting to depress me. I needed something enjoyable for the holidays, so I went back to this screenplay I'd outlined over the summer. For the most part, it's been a trip. No one battles the forces of evil, no one is the victim of a government conspiracy, no one struggles for redemption. It's just a guy trying to fall in love and be himself, preferably at the same time.

When I finished Act One, I got stumped, trying to figure out what to do next. I sat around, wordless, for over a week before I got sick of myself, called me a loser and plunged into Act Two just to spite the other Jeri. Since then, I've bounced along, writing one, two, five, seven, sometimes even ten pages a day, which is a lot when you consider a screenplay is only 120 pages. I'm now approaching the end of Act Two, reaching the character's point of no return, when all looks darkest for our hero and he's got to find a way to win back both the girl and his self-respect.

Except I'm not sure how he does it. I have a general idea, intellectually, thematically, what has to happen, but I don't see it, and ever since Thomas Edison invented the DVD player, movies have been a visual medium.

Gene Fowler once said that writing is easy, just a matter of staring at the blank page until your forehead bleeds. I checked the mirror--no blood yet, not even sweat, because I've been here before and somehow, with an infusion of stubbornness and caffeine, I got through it.

But ask me in a week, after I've written twenty blog posts to avoid the screenplay, how Act Three is going. And bring an absorbent towel.


This Side of Salvation

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“A smart, well-rounded, and unpredictable tale...bringing to light issues of belief versus free will, spirit versus body, and family versus self.” —Booklist, **Starred Review**


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Jeri Smith-Ready

Jeri Smith-Ready is a Maryland author of books for teens and adults.

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