26 January, 2013
Editing Adaptations

Okay, the heavy lifting is done. The first draft of my adaptation of a Shakespeare play is complete. Next stage is tricky, waiting three to six months before starting to edit. Don't think I'll manage six months. I'll be lucky if I can wait three. The thing is it's important to wait. I can't spot my own typos and mistakes if I don't take a break from the text. I'll just edit in my head. The break is important. Also, I'm more likely to notice poorly written bits with a break. Just look at The Etymology of Fire, for example. I think I deleted about a third of the text in the editing stage. Probably an exaggeration. Just felt like a third of the text because I was the one doing serious damage to my own writing. Murdering lots of babies and little darlings and all of that. It was worth it, my opinion. I think Etymology of Fire really flows. Best written of the three. I know. I know. Biased. What can I say?

Anyway, the editing stage is going to be tricky for this new Shakespeare adaptation thing because there is very little text to be edited down. I mean. It's short. It's spare. It's downright minimalistic. So, there's not much that can be cut. Hopefully, the edit will mostly consist of spotting poorly done turns-of-phrase that I will be able to improve. Optimistic and all of that.

Funny thing about me and my approach to writing. I'm very much the warts-and-all type. First draft is also the last draft. Minimal editing. Editing is at the text level. Plot is locked. Chapters and scenes are locked. Characters are locked. Fix the grammar. Hunt down those typos. Fix descriptions. If something was described as on the right before, then please make sure it is always on the right. It shouldn't bounce around from left to right. Oh, unless that's actually important to the story.

I used to be much worse with the whole first draft is last draft thing. I look at The Magic Flute now, and I cringe. Especially the first few chapters. I look over those now, and I really wish I had given them a better polish. Been less obsessed with warts-and-all. What was I thinking and all of that.

Now, I just need to keep my mind off the Shakespeare adaptation for a few months, and I really need to settle down and name the damn thing. I'm still kicking around a couple possibilities. I mean, for the longest time, the name was set. Then, it was vacillating between two almost identical possibilities. Vacillating because the actual text wasn't really hitting exactly the themes implied by the title, and I'm certainly not going to alter the text in order to fit the title. That would be stupid. I need to go where the story tells me it's going and not the other way around. This has resulted in a big surprise or two as the story developed. Underlying principle and subtext may actually be the opposite of what I thought it was, kind-of thing. Doesn't matter what I wanted, thought I was going to do, or anything. Story goes where it will.

So, there are a couple different titles for this thing floating around in my head. In fact, I'm most definitely leaning toward one I hadn't really considered before. On the one hand, the title I'm considering is really cool. On the other, it doesn't really make sense. Not literally, anyway. But, it's cool and fits the theme. So, yeah.

Of course, I'm still not going to admit whatever the hell the title is because I'm still being super paranoid. This is an adaptation of a Shakespeare play, after all. I'm absolutely paranoid that people could figure out what I've done. Realize that it's actually a really cool idea. Not been done before, as near as I can tell. And just rip something off right quick. Get it out there. Suddenly, I'm following someone else's footsteps. Yeah, I know. Me just being paranoid.

That's actually another silly reason I'll only manage about three months before I get to editing. It's only a matter of time before someone, anyone, hits this idea and publishes. I'll feel quite the fool either way. Alone in the woods with nobody caring. Or, suddenly second place with others getting whatever little glory there might happen to be found.

What's far more likely is I'll dump my poor-ass little work on an uncaring populace. Nobody will notice. None shall care. Then, some few years or so down the road, a work very much like mine will come out and be a smash. That's irony that, I think. Poetic procrastination, maybe? I don't know.

Just being self-aggrandizing over here. Ignore me.

27 January, 2013
Vignette Plans

Long ago and far away, the plan was to work on a simple adaptation and on musical vignettes. The day-job was proving to be a serious pain in the ass, devouring far more time and energy than it had any right to be consuming. Needs of the world and all of that bullshit. Keep a roof over your head. Don't starve. Yeah, yeah. Bullshit, like I said.

So, the plan was to maintain some level of a reason for living by working on projects in the evening that wouldn't leave me so devoid of life and energy that I didn't simply keel over dead. Hate that day-job, did I say that already? Anyway, the plan was that an adaptation wouldn't devour as much mental energy. Musical vignettes wouldn't leave me so drained that I wouldn't be able to function. I remember the days—nights, really—working on The Magic Flute or The Etymology of Fire where I would fall asleep with pen in hand. Whatever word or sentence on the page left half-finished. I would startle awake at some ungodly hour past midnight to discover a great big ink stain on my pillow, which would invariably make me incredibly angry.

Knew this couldn't go on. Not as young as I once was. Sure, The Magic Flute may have been written on an average of four hours of sleep per night, but those days were long past. That and the doctors I worked for at the time kept telling me that I was killing myself by keeping up that schedule. These days I average five hours a night, but that's beside the point.

Work sucks. This is not news.

I hoped an adaptation would be possible and require far less mental energy. I also hoped musical vignettes would require less mental energy and possibly be less scream inducingly hard to do. Sure, I love my five piano sonatinas with a fierce passion, but they're all kind of dumb, all the same. They're all keyed. They're all varying degrees of derivative. I love them. They are uniquely me in their own way. They are something I had always wanted to do in the face of all composition faculty opposition, and they number five because that's a good quantity to display determination and dedication and possibly—dare I say it—maybe even ability. They're all also little more than variations on a theme. The pure joy I was feeling that they simply existed in the face of all adversity simply shone through so strongly that it overwhelmed any breadth of feeling I may have wanted to explore.

And, that's a digression without a purpose. Where was I? Oh, right. I simply didn't have time or energy for anything more serious. The Outgrabe for Piano, number 2, was supposed to have three movements, and to this day, it remains unfinished. I've also got very mixed feelings about how well that work was going, but that's another digression all together. My hope, then, was that musical vignettes would be possible. Little bits of nothing that had no real purpose or weight other than to exist. Taken seriously not at all. Just exist. Have fun. Explore ideas. Develop the good ones at a later time.

Oh, and I would work on both the adaptation and the vignettes at the same time. Yeah, I know. That didn't work out so well. I knew I had to do better than five hours of sleep a night and look how well that's been going. Something had to give. Something gave, and just yesterday, I looked at the date on my last musical vignette. July 2011.

Oh, sweet majesty of dung heaps and putrid swamps spewing geysers of flame born methane, you have got to be fucking kidding me. That just made me so angry, seeing that date, I could just spit. I could vomit forth a torrent of rancid, steaming-hot blood that would make even Kings weep. There's no way I haven't worked on a musical vignettes in a year and a half. No fucking way. I hate my wretched, petty, soul-sucking day-job with such an unjustified, malformed passion that it's a wonder I don't spontaneously combust. It defies time, that job does. Makes the months pass like days, I swear. I hate it so. I hate needing a roof over my head, and I most especially hate hunger. Why are these things even necessities, anyway?

Yeah, whatever. At least I'm feeling a little calmer about the whole thing today. Still can't believe it's been so long. Never should have looked up the date.

Look, the first draft of my Shakespeare adaptation is finished, and I need to fill time for a good three to six months. Vignettes fit the bill. Really looking forward to working on them. Scared to fucking death that those two string vignettes were a flash in the pan. Fluke. Serendipity. Never to be born again. I'm fucking terrified.

Not going to stop me, of course. The show must go on, as the misaligned saying goes. The next couple of weeks, I fear, shall be spent being slowly beaten to death by the people I work for. Not going to go into details. I shall say no more than grant deadlines happen on a schedule and every motherfucker wants one. I'm drowning in pig shit to make the world a better place for fish and livestock. No, not literally. The part about helping to make the world a better place is true. Just don't peer behind the curtain, okay? You'll be much happier that way. Just carry-on believing that I suffer for my art and a good cause. Or words to that effect.

copyright © 2013 by keith d. jones – all rights reserved
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