20 January, 2003

So much I could prattle on about. I don't know where to begin. Things have been moving along. Making progress on the book and all of that. The only reason it has been a month since I touched the website is because there hasn't been a good opportunity. So rather than work on a journal entry that I wouldn't know when I would post, I just ignored the whole works. Which means there are a couple different things rattling around in my brain and I don't know which is going to scratch the surface first.

I didn't mean to let so much time pass without another journal posting. To be more precise, I didn't really want to leave the pornography rant on the main page for so long. I only wanted it on the main page for about a week. I wanted to write about something—anything—just to bounce the porno talk into the archive. I know. I know. I'm a big chicken at heart. Don't want the goons of decency to rain down on my head and try to get my little website yanked off the internet.

Okay, the truth is I find the subject just a little embarrassing. Did I really say all of that? Oh, boy, is my face red.

Anyway, I've made some really good progress on the prequel to The Magic Flute. The third chapter is all but finished. I don't have a page count, yet. It's still at the paper-and-pencil stage. I need to type it into the computer. Then I'll know how long it is. The last scene is really kind of cool. Lots of stuff with troglodytes and graths. Our heroes think Balthazar is behind it. I'm not doing anything to dissuade them from that idea. The truth is a little more complicated, but it is just one of those things that only I shall probably ever know.

Which is actually one of those things I hate with a bloody-minded passion. I can't stand it when an author plays all superior like that. You know what I mean. The cast and crew stumble across things that make no sense, and it is because of all kinds of stuff that happened while their backs were turned. Our intrepid heroes stand around scratching their heads while the peripheral characters are doing all this stuff. It makes me think that maybe the story is following the wrong group. Those other people seemed to actually be the ones doing something interesting. It always makes me think the author is cheating or something. Cheating the audience, anyway.

In this case, I'm crashing against another pet peeve of mine, which is the don't forget the kitchen sink approach to storytelling. Go see the movie The Postman for a splendid example of kitchen sink storytelling.

I want a lean story. I don't want excess baggage. If it isn't absolutely necessary, then toss it out with the bath-water. I want to follow these characters. I want to know what they know when they are thinking about it or when it is absolutely necessary for the continuation of the plot. I don't want to bog things down with a lot of exposition, which sounds like a really funny thing for me to say if you've read The Faire Folk of Gideon, but I swear that every single random word in that motherfucker is essential to the story.

Well, I'm drifting way off topic here. Suffice it to say that there is a whole lot of shit going on in The Etymology of Fire and The Magic Flute that never percolates to the surface. It gets hinted at once or twice in The Magic Flute, and there is more that you can pick-up on through supposition, but damn, if there isn't a lot that our heroes simply never learn.

Anyway, I've written this really cool bit in The Etymology of Fire involving the graths. That's something that has always bothered me. The graths never get a fair-deal. I mean everybody talks on-and-on about what absolutely indestructible killing machines the graths are, and they never get to do anything. I mean they only ever mix-it-up with our heroes, and I'm not going to have our heroes wiped-out by the graths just to show how mean they are. That would be pretty stupid on my part. I would have to come-up with a whole new cast.

Of course, that is one of those really cruel things I want to do in a story someday. About two-thirds of the way through the book, the whole cast and crew get slaughtered. Next scene has to bring in a whole new bunch of characters. I want to do that someday. I've just got to find the right opportunity.

Anyway, the third chapter of the prequel has this great scene where the graths are totally bad-ass. I mean our heroes still come out on top, but the sequence is really cool. Well, I think it is cool, and who am I really writing for anyway? ME! I write for me. I write things I want to read. I don't care about you lot. I'm doing this for an audience of me, which probably explains why I can't get anybody to read it.

So, chapter three is all but finished.

Oh, and I've started working on episode two of String Finger Theatre. Yes, you heard me right. If anybody cares, I am currently working on what happens after they send Spherecone back to the third dimension. In my notes, episode two has the title of The Search for Zed's New Groove. Time will only tell if that sticks. Other options I'm kicking around are Cthulhu's Younger Brother Strikes Back and Soul Repossesser Man.

So, I've got about twenty comics done for episode two. They are done in pencil-and-paper, anyway. I've got a plan. One of the things that really turned me off toward the end of Attack of the Third Dimension was dealing with Adobe Illustrator. I don't know why, but it just sucked all the fun out of doing the comic. That and keeping up the thrice a week pace. So, the plan is to do the entire story longhand before I touch Illustrator and start posting on the web. I don't know how long this will take, but I am determined.

The comic is going great. I've got—what did I say?—twenty strips done, and the plot hasn't even kicked-in, yet. That actually surprised me. I've been really impressed with the mileage I've gotten out of what I thought was going to be a three-strip gag. I just hope I haven't beaten it into the ground too much. All I can say is that the comic is amusing me and that is all that matters.

Okay, I've prattled on long enough for one night. I just got to remember I want to say a few words about the movie version of The Two Towers and another flick called Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 someday. I was really happy to discover that The Two Towers is very much improved upon a second viewing, and I was surprised as hell to discover that Blair Witch 2 is a much better movie than The Blair Witch Project.

25 January, 2003

Okay, I finished chapter three of The Etymology of Fire, which weighs-in at fifty-four pages. Yes, those are word processor pages and not finished book pages, but I never can remember which way the page count goes when I lay it out in PageMaker. I really didn't add that much more to the end of the chapter. It was about a paragraph, and I really can't shake the feeling that I should have done more. I figure it was just really late at night and I was tired. I have no plans to go back and add more. Not right now, anyway. I'll look at it again in a few weeks or months and see if it needs anything. The chapter is long enough, anyway. It doesn't need any more, which is really kind of funny. I figured that the prequel to The Magic Flute would be really short. It was supposed to be short and sweet. It was supposed to be a harmless little romp. Light fun and entertainment.

Now, let us see. Chapter one is thirty-nine pages. Chapter two is thirty-five pages, and chapter three is fifty-four. Now, let me see if I can do a little arithmetic here. The first three chapters are 128 pages. No, I am not going to do a word count. Oh, what the hell. The first three chapters are 52,553 words.

Okay, now for some real fun. Let's do a word count of The Magic Flute. No, really, this is fun. If you're not entertained, then stop reading. Oh, wait, the joke is on me. You probably did not read this far, anyway. The Magic Flute is 120,363 words and 315 pages. Yeah, I know, the published book is only 220 pages. What do you want from me? I used a nine-point font to save paper. Hey, I found a lot of published books with type that small. I took that as my guide.

Okay, now, let us carry this way too far. The Faire Folk of Gideon: Pin the Tail on the Donkey is 113,027 words and 270 pages.

Now, this is very interesting. The first three chapters of The Etymology of Fire are half the length of the complete text of The Magic Flute. Oh, I really hope there are not a total of twelve chapters in The Etymology of Fire. The book would be a monster. Actually, it kind of makes sense. I am about half-way through the story so half the length of The Magic Flute sounds reasonable. Except for the fact that The Etymology of Fire was supposed to be a short and light-hearted romp. It was not supposed to be long.

Yes, I consider 315 pages and 120,363 words to be long. I am not a kitchen sink author. Okay, let me rephrase. I do not want to be a kitchen sink author. I want to tell a good tightly paced story. I don't want a word out of place or a single solitary unnecessary word. This is probably why it takes me so damn long to write. Every word is sacred. Not a one is wasted. Every word is precious. It must be the poet in me, and I consider myself to be a lousy poet.

Have you read any of my poetry? It sucks. Well, aside from Requiem for the Merimont and For Christina. Okay, and maybe Thought Returned Screaming. But, damn, I don't even understand that poem anymore. I mean what was I thinking? Okay, I know what I was thinking, and I remember what I was feeling. But, don't try to understand the words.

Here is what I can say about Thought Returned Screaming and Knowing only that fire is pain. Don't try to understand them. Don't try to interpret the language. And, don't you dare look for any symbolism because there isn't any. Those poems are concerned purely with sound and feeling. Read it and feel it. If you read it and the language just gets you right in the gonads, then the poem worked. If not, then I just fucked-up completely. It's supposed to be a rush. Just wash over you and leave you moved. You should walk away feeling yeah, that was cool! If not, then I just screwed the pooch. Poem failed. Why do you think I never write the crap anymore?

Actually, the same basic thing can be said of my stories. It reminds me of something that Terry Gilliam once said about his movie Brazil. He called it filmatic rape or something like that. The same could definitely be said for The Faire Folk of Gideon. If I did my job right, you should walk away from that one feeling like you've been mauled, which sounds really disturbing considering I started that book attempting to do a light-hearted romp.

Oh, well.

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