Fun Fact – I wrote most of my screenplay in a mini van

Sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it?

Bet you thought I was tucked away in some idyllic cabin on the lake surrounded by pine trees and snow-topped mountains while the fireplace quietly crackled in the background as I listened to Beethoven’s 9th symphony and sipped perfectly roasted coffee, huh?

While I desperately wish that were the case, the truth is – I don’t have a lot of free time to light candles, contemplate my navel, and get my mind into “the zone” before I can put words on a page.

Ain’t…gonna…happen.

So, I steal time wherever I can and try my best to not be a slave to ceremony when it comes to writing.

And in my case, rather than banging out that first draft in a picturesque setting under ideal conditions, I had to lug my laptop with me while I took my kids to gym class. I would simply drop them off then race back out to the car, scoot the seat all the way back so that I had enough room between me and the steering wheel for my laptop, and wrote a large majority of the first draft in the driver’s seat of my mini van, under the glow of the street light while I waited for their classes to be over. One hour at a time I ate the elephant.

Until one day, I reached that final scene and wrote those coveted words – THE END

I guess the lesson here is – where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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The Homestretch

So, here we are in the last few days of 2017. Traditionally, I spend the last week of the year thinking about all the things I’ve accomplished, personal goals I’ve reached and what projects I want to try to tackle for the coming year.

This year, I am lucky enough to have the entire week between Christmas and New Years off. So, I’m taking some time this week to plan for how I’m going to use the free days to land the plane for 2017.

A few things I’d like to wrap up before January 1st:

  • Finish structural edit notes for my screenplay – I let the story sit for a week and now I’m in the process of reading through the draft and making notes about larger changes I’d like to make in future drafts. I’d like to have at least two structural read-throughs done and notes made by EOY.
  • Start outlining my next writing project – I haven’t decided if I want to write another non-fiction book or try to hammer out another fiction project. So, I’d like to take some time and kick around all the various ideas I’ve got and vet out which one I want to start working on once my current project is complete.
  • Lose 5 – 10 more pounds – I’ve not been as disciplined over the past week with my diet and running, and as such my weight loss has stalled. I am supposed to return to the doctor for a follow-up appointment in a few weeks, so I want to lose 5-10 more pounds before then.
  • Yearly review – for the past seven years, I’ve performed a yearly review during the last week of the year. Typically, I write out all the goals and projects I’ve completed and write out all the goals I have for the coming year. It’s a good way to put my intentions on paper and out into the universe. I’ve got the bones of the document written, now I just need to fill in the details.

Overall, I think I can end the year on a really high note. I’ve been able to push a lot of things over the finish line recently and have accomplished the majority of the things I set out to do. Just a few more days to put a nice bow on everything and close out this year’s chapter.

 

Screenplay First Draft – DONE

So, it’s 12:28am and the only reason I’m posting something this late (early?) is because I just wrote “THE END” on the first draft of the screenplay I’ve been working on over the past few months.

I have to be honest, this is a big milestone for me. I’ve tried writing numerous screenplays over the years, but none of them got over the finish line. I’ve written a few novels to completion, nothing worth publishing yet, but for some reason I’ve never been able to complete a full draft of a screenplay.

Until now.

Feels good to finally reach this creative goal that has eluded me for years.

The working title is called “The Scout.” Here’s the brief elevator pitch I wrote up at the start of the project:

The Southern Province has been reduced to rubble and is now ruled by a merciless tyrant who is hell-bent on extinguishing anyone who gets in his way. Struggling to survive on the outskirts of the city, a refugee boy becomes a pawn in a rogue bounty hunter’s plot to subvert the new empire. In an adventure laced with fear and broken loyalties, Paulo is forced to trust the very one who gave him over to the brutal regime, as he races to save not only his own life, but the lives of his fellow refugees.

I’d probably revise it a bit now that I’ve through the first pass, but it’s a good summary of the main storyline.

Now, it’s time to let the manuscript sit for a week or so. Then, I’ll print it out and do my first read-through to begin doing structural edits. The good news is that I think the story is pretty sound, structurally. I don’t see a lot of major overhauling that I’ll have to do when I go back in for rewrites. I may have to add a scene here and there to explain some things a bit better or to set up a few scenes properly, but I have a feeling that the bulk of my editing will be layering in more world building and character development.

Anyways, time for some sleep!  I expect good dreams tonight after celebrating getting this one over the finish line. 🙂

Deer Nibbling On Our New Pine Trees

Pine tree damage

Back in the early spring, we planted two rows of pine trees in the front pasture to try and establish a bit of a wind break and natural privacy fence. In all, I think we planted something like 80+ saplings around the property with about 50 or so of those as part of the wind break rows.

I headed out to give them some water during lunch and noticed that there are a handful of them that the deer have started nipping the tops off of.

Pine tree damage

We have a herd of about 8 or so deer that hang around our place, graze and bed down in our pastures during the night. I love the fact that I can walk out on to my back porch, shine the spotlight into the darkness, and almost always see the group drinking from the pond or munching on the sporadic patches of still green grass throughout the yard.

They know we aren’t a threat and even feel comfortable enough to come as close as 10 yards from the house, sometimes while we’re standing there on the porch. I consider it one of the perks of country life and appreciate all the opportunities my family have to see them bless us with their presence here on the homestead.

But sometimes their presence comes with a cost. When we planted the pine saplings, I knew it was a roll of the dice that some of them may be discovered and possibly chewed on by the herd. We made sure to plant extra knowing the risks. And if today’s survey is any indication, it looks like they have, in fact, discovered some of the trees.

Pine tree damage

That’s alright though. If I can get 50% of the trees to take root and make it past the deer’s curiosity, I consider it a win. I guess my thinking is that I’d rather lose a handful of trees to feed a couple hungry friends than not have the deer around at all. It’s a trade I’m happy to make.

The next stage the trees will have to make it through is when they are tall enough for the bucks come and start rubbing their antlers on them during rut season. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. 🙂

Mulching The Garden (Permanently?)

My father-in-law was looking to get rid of some extra straw bales, so I took them off his hands and used them to mulch the garden for the winter. Most of the garden was still bare and starting to really dry out (we’re dangerously close to entering into drought levels) and that’s no shape to leave the soil in during the winter months. Not to mention that I’ve been looking for a good way to mulch the garden permanently moving forward.

Coincidently, I’m also currently reading No-Work Garden Book by Ruth Stout which outlines a continuous, heavy mulch method to keep weeds at bay and soil in healthy order.

As I’ve read through the beginning chapters of the book, I’ve thought about our specific context here at the homestead and realized that the one thing we have an abundance of around here is pasture grass (and therefore hay). And now that I have an inaugural layer of mulch down on the garden beds, I may take the next few years and give the continuous mulch process a try.

Obviously, it will take a few years to allow the system to get up to full speed, but with two multi-acre hay pastures currently sitting idle, it’s worth seriously considering as a way to reduce or eliminate my current practice of tilling the beds. While we had good yields this year with tilling the soil, I’ve always had a long-term goal of moving to a no-till method. Again, considering our specific context, I think it’s worth a deeper look.