My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

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My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby Shaitan » 05 Oct 2010 14:17

As some of you may have noted in a few of my previous posts, I've mentioned that I have been developing ideas for an "epic" mixed media (or 'transmedia,' as it's most commonly referred to) sci-fi web series since I was a kid, and although I haven't been published except for non-fiction tech article writing and other non-fiction web publishing/site admin-ing since my teens and early 20s, I have very ambitious ideas for it which I consider some of my life's most important work after raising my children.

The idea that I could get bogged down in the shortcomings of my own writing style (I've worked as an editor most of my life in one form or another, and thusly I'm constantly nitpicking my own conversation style -- even this, as I write it! It's a constant struggle not to get bogged down making more tweaks than actual progress in explaining my point, as you can see from all this parenthetical commentary!) and turn into a target of justifiable mockery ala KJA horrifies me to the core.

To have spent most of my life gathering ideas, characters, plot-lines and imagined scenes that strike awe in my heart and bring happy tears to my eyes for concentration into a magnum opus -- a risky notion, for what will be my first fiction work in a long time except for a few one-off side projects I may practice my technique and technology on before starting work on producing the Series pilot in earnest -- and then fail miserably in the actual quality of my prose/presentation....well, that's definitely one of the things that keeps me up at night. Y'know, aside from the constant blinding physical pain I experience from my chronic health condition.

One of my primary reasons for being so interested in Jacurutu and you fine folks -- my passion for Frank's true Dune universe notwithstanding -- is that I'm trying to learn what *not* to do in my own work after so many years away from it. I look back at my writing as a youngster, and although there are plenty of big-picture reasons to be embarrassed by a lot of it that was never published, the few bits that I still have which did experience some minor commercial success aren't so terribly bad in terms of how they were actually written. I just fear the possibility that I'm not actually as good of a writer as I aspire to be when the pen actually meets paper as it were.

Of course when I write conversationally like this, I'm not trying to produce an example of my best prose by a long shot. I'm just trying to get the point out. But a lot of my nonfiction writing, most of it analytical articles for tech-related web sites, can be excessively verbose and not satisfactory to me when it comes to realizing my dream of creating a science fiction universe that will endure as a worthy entry into the pantheon of "best ever." The notion that I might not be able to transcend the limitations of that informal writing style is understandably troubling to me.

When I do start working on the first steps toward publishing the series pilot, I plan to enlist the help of you folks to tell me what the flaws in my writing style are. I have been writing for large (and geeky) audiences for long enough to know that I'll inevitably have to endure criticism both justified and unjustified....the feedback firehose is a brutal mistress, to be sure. I'm as prepared for that as I can be. What I'm worries me is that it will become difficult to sort out the two forms of criticism from one another as it often is when working in the public eye.

The concept of my series, on a practical/technical level, is to take my "big picture" plot-lines and refine them through a community process that allows other creative people that enjoy the series to participate in refining the fine-grained story ideas, submit feedback on drafts of the text scenes, and even submit their own "rich media" scenes to fill in the gaps between the text or even replace some sections of it with things like images/drawings, animation, CGI or live action video, music/other audio, and so on. I want to at least partially divorce the fate of the series from my own inevitable shortcomings; no matter how good I may end up being, it will always be possible to further refine the quality of the final product if I collaborate with the fans and a core of passionate contributors. The details of how I intend to do this are complex, so I won't bore y'all with them here. Suffice to say, I will attempt to co-opt the Feedback Firehose in much the same manner that one rides as Sandworm....trying to stay behind the giant maw full of crysknife blades, rather than ending up inside of it.

We shall see if I can manage to succeed in that aspiration....and in the mean time, thank you all in advance for having the patience to read my ramblings on this topic without (I hope) crushing my child-like passion for this aspiration that I've carried with me most of my life. My latest iteration of the series storyline has passed muster in the form of enthralling my five year old son with bedtime stories cherry-picked from the "ten seasons" worth of material built up in my head....he frequently asks "when is your movie/show going to come out?" and affirms to me that the stories are "better than Superman, Batman, Transformers, Iron Man, Star Wars and TRON" (high praise coming from a kid who has become almost as much of sci-fi elitist as his father before he even enters Kindergarten). That's a start....but I have much harsher critics to please before I can be satisfied -- starting with myself.

This should be a hell of a ride, and no doubt rife with great difficulty. But I have a feeling that many of you fine folks will be critical to my finally reaching the point where I can stop psyching myself out and start actually producing this thing in earnest.
"When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro." -Hunter S. Thompson
"Man, a guy gets drunk *once* and it's all anyone remembers..." -HBJ

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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 05 Oct 2010 14:43

Sounds like an interesting project to be sure, and you've definitely found a good group of people to critique your work (if you haven't checked out Omphalos's book review website I encourage you to do so).

I'm an aspiring author myself, and have also been working on something for many years, but I'll going the traditional book route, and like you have done, plan to periodically put my "great" (remains to be seen...) work aside to write other stories for the purpose of honing my skills (also I take college courses to help me along with my writing). I figure in a few decades I might be a decent writer, untill then I'll just do as best I can and enjoy the process. Once I have something more substantial to show I will be posting it for critique on another OH website, T(A)U, but I've been promising to do so for probably 2 years now so I wouldn't hold your breath!
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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby Shaitan » 06 Oct 2010 15:21

I think that taking some college courses in writing (my wife is currently in her second year of a six-year accelerated program to become an Occupational Therapist at USM Portland) will probably be part of my efforts to refine my writing. I just don't know if I'm physically or logistically up actually doing that....between my health problems, our financial challenges, and the fact that we only have one car, it's a tall order to make that happen. Still, I'd rather wait another year or two before bringing the series pilot into the public eye than fail to produce my best work.

The problem is, that's what's made it take so long as it is!

I don't often bring this up because it might come across as bragging, but I've had the privilege to know a couple of fairly successful authors. One of those I was closest to was Douglas Adams, who probably needs no introduction in these circles. I met him at Macworld San Francisco in 1998, and we were friends up until his untimely death in 2001. It was Doug that solidified my committment to actually writing the Series, rather than let it languish forever in my head. He was constantly on me to get on with it, to not psych myself out indefinitely. And this was more than ten years ago! I was barely in my 20s, but Doug used to say the nicest things about what he thought of my potential and the quality of the ideas I had for the Series -- even back then, when much of it was far more crude than it is today. Particularly the scientific underpinnings, and some of the key introductory action scenes/characterization which I've refined immensely.

Every time I start thinking that I should wait longer, I hear Douglas saying "get off your ass and show the world that everything they thought was good is actually shit!"

One of the chief things that Doug and I talked about was The Matrix. I was very frustrated when it came out, because I saw a lot of similarities (despite any number of vast differences, even from the crude version of the story I had then) between the underlying themes of my ideas and the film's. Doug didn't live long enough to see the sequels, which put my fears to rest -- I am quite confident that I can kick the Wachowski brothers' asses now -- but he frequently reminded me that it doesn't matter if people believe the fact that I had ideas about a main character who can "remake the world around him/her as he/she sees fit" 15+ years before The Matrix came out. Everything is derivative of something.....even Frank Herbert's work was derivative of any number of things. What matters is the degree to which you transcend your inspirations and what you build upon them.

There is a delicate balance between the forces that constantly discourage me from just sitting down, stopping my constant revisions to the "ten season outline" and writing a final draft of the pilot....and Doug's voice in my head, imploring me to get off my ass and Just Do It. When the deadlock will break, I'm not sure. I had intended to spend this fall and winter writing a draft of the pilot; now I'm not so sure.

As I said in my rambling first post above, part of my reason for joining Jacurutu wasn't just all the stuff directly related to Dune; it was the realization that I've spent a lot of my life as a nonfiction web writer deliberately ignoring the trolls who criticized my work -- largely because I didn't care about its quality in the same way I care so deeply about how the Series will be received. So, when I discovered Jacurutu, I saw the opportunity to co-opt a group of people that no doubt, KJA et al feel about the same way I have felt about people who've criticized my work in tech news. If I can create something that you guys find compelling, if I can avoid the kind of epic fail that brought you folks together.....then I think I'll be ready.

It's a little odd to put that much weight on the opinions of people I'm only just beginning to really know. But I've been reading a lot of the posts here, and you guys are exactly the sort of people that could either make or break the project that I've been most passionate about for most of my life. So I care a lot about what you think.

You're absolutely right, I'd be hard pressed to find a better group to critique my work. I just hope I'm ready for that! :-)
"When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro." -Hunter S. Thompson
"Man, a guy gets drunk *once* and it's all anyone remembers..." -HBJ

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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby SandChigger » 06 Oct 2010 17:13

:)

(Reading, if not yet commenting.)

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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby Robspierre » 06 Oct 2010 21:14

Start writing, you can always rewrite! :cylon101:

It's the only way to know how things will be received.

Rob

PS, what writing program you using?

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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 07 Oct 2010 01:06

I highly recommend not using notepad.
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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby Hunchback Jack » 07 Oct 2010 04:46

I heart vi.

HBJ
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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby Robspierre » 07 Oct 2010 14:45

A Thing of Eternity wrote:I highly recommend not using notepad.



From what I read, I get the impression it is either film or tv project he is working on.

I use Final Draft 8, however, it is expensive.

Celtx is free and comes highly recommended from a mate who used it when he was at Hofstra.

Rob

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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 07 Oct 2010 16:13

For just writing I've never figured out what's supposed to be wrong with just word or office or whatever. Better than pen and paper.
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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby Shaitan » 07 Oct 2010 16:35

A Thing of Eternity wrote:I highly recommend not using notepad.


I'm a Mac user, that being my tech-writing bread and butter for 15+ years (please don't judge me by the tripe I write trying to communicate technical details and industry rumors, if you ever read any of the articles I've written/edited on any of the sites I've contributed to; that's a completely different animal than anything I would be trying to do on a serious creative level)....though I do use and work with pretty much everything else too, including a lot of open source stuff (Linux, BSD, various other UNIXen).

So the equivalent for me would be TextEdit -- granted, that is a lot more feature-rich than Notepad. Maybe the Mac equivalent would more accurately be Stickies :cylon101:

In any case, point well taken.

I've ruminated for some time over exactly which authoring tools to use for a series that crosses so many different formats; some of the various free/open-source scriptwriting apps like Celtx have interested me, but I think that I may have to find a way to get help from coders (I'm not very good at any one particular programming language, though I understand the concepts and the basics about most of them) and build my own for this mixed-media format that I'd like to see used for more creative projects be they one-off web productions, series, "online movies," live broadcasting, or what have you. I think that the ideas that I've come up with to help me avoid the traps of Hollywood and TV -- which I've sworn countless times that I'll never let my work be crippled by -- could be helpful to many other content creators, and in fact I would like to open source it. The money to support its core development would come from revenues made directly from the creative projects I/we build from it, and from consulting on its use in the projects of others, hosting the systems, et cetera.

Until I can achieve that particular ambition, at least in a working v0.1-alpha sort of form, I'm working with whatever I can find or is recommended to me by fellow script/screen writers.

The really tricky part is that most scripts aren't really meant to be read like books, as this one is. Only certain scenes or elements of scenes will be translated from the text into other kinds of content, and that's designed to be scalable over time as revenue and resources become available to produce "rich media" scenes, as hopefully the series becomes more successful and attracts more contributors/artists.

Anyhow, part of the point of this "open" writing process, as centralized as it is still meant to be on one or a very few core creators/founders in order to prevent the bastardization of a project as often occurs in poorly-led open source efforts, is to keep the creator honest, and subject them to at least part of the feedback firehose *before* an episode is "finalized" instead of only afterward. Hopefully that will be a big part of helping me avoid any excursions into, shall we say, "KJA territory."

As for A Thing of Eternity's later comment: I agree. I would be just fine with TextEdit.app if I was just writing a text novel or ten. And that may continue to be my initial text authoring tool, with the content later pasted into the custom site engine that will power the authoring and collaborative sides of this mixed-media content format I'm trying to develop for my Series as well as other projects.
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"Man, a guy gets drunk *once* and it's all anyone remembers..." -HBJ

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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby Shaitan » 07 Oct 2010 16:38

Robspierre wrote:
A Thing of Eternity wrote:I highly recommend not using notepad.



From what I read, I get the impression it is either film or tv project he is working on.

I use Final Draft 8, however, it is expensive.

Celtx is free and comes highly recommended from a mate who used it when he was at Hofstra.

Rob


I've played with Celtx a lot but never really tried to use it for a full blown writing effort before. I'm hoping to write a few "short film" type scripts first, using the mixed-media format, in order to test it out. What I'm trying to decide right now is whether they should be set in the same "universe/multiverse" as my Series with a capital S, or completely separate. I'm leaning toward separate, but as with most things, I'm of two (or three, or a googolplex) minds about it.
"When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro." -Hunter S. Thompson
"Man, a guy gets drunk *once* and it's all anyone remembers..." -HBJ

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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby Shaitan » 07 Oct 2010 16:39

Hunchback Jack wrote:I heart vi.

HBJ


I'm more of a pico man myself when at the command line, but that's for expedient system administration, not so much with the magnum opus writing. :violin:
"When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro." -Hunter S. Thompson
"Man, a guy gets drunk *once* and it's all anyone remembers..." -HBJ

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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby Shaitan » 07 Oct 2010 16:48

Robspierre wrote:Start writing, you can always rewrite! :cylon101:

It's the only way to know how things will be received.

Rob

PS, what writing program you using?


I guess the short answer to your question is right now I do my outlining in TextEdit.app but I'm thinking of moving all that into Celtx and doing my primary writing in Celtx if I can format the content suitably. The text of the "script" isn't just meant to be read by producers/directors and actors and stagehands etc; it's meant to be read directly by the fan/viewer/reader, until or unless someone decides to submit an alternative version of a given scene in a different form: CGI video, live action video, animation, drawing/comic/graphic-novel-illustration, audio/music, etc....and I decide that the submitted version is better than the original text.

Of course I intend to write at least a few scenes intending those from the start to be the first and best candidates for conversion into video or other rich media content. I hope to work directly on the production of some of the key video scenes, partner up with a few of the best artists to create graphic-novel style drawn illustration scenes, play in role in creating music to act as a soundtrack, and so forth. But a lot of what ends up being the best content may be produced independently, sometimes only loosely based on my original text. Things like deciding on a consistent look for the characters across formats will be challenging, but they're challenges that I welcome and intend to thoroughly enjoy.
"When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro." -Hunter S. Thompson
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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby Shaitan » 07 Oct 2010 16:53

I didn't quite properly explain in my rant about Doug Adams and The Matrix that I was concerned at the time that people would think I "stole" my ideas from the Wachowski brothers even though I'd had similar themes to my stories for many years before the first Matrix film came out. It was Doug that convinced me that I had nothing to worry about in that regard, even before the later two films came along and completely absolved me of all concern that anyone would consider my work merely a "pychedelic Matrix in space with bigger guns, cooler ships and hotter chicks."

Still, you have to admit, even if that's all the Series was, that's not such a bad description to be stuck with 8)
"When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro." -Hunter S. Thompson
"Man, a guy gets drunk *once* and it's all anyone remembers..." -HBJ

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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby merkin muffley » 07 Oct 2010 23:47

Shaitan wrote:
Robspierre wrote:
A Thing of Eternity wrote:I highly recommend not using notepad.



From what I read, I get the impression it is either film or tv project he is working on.

I use Final Draft 8, however, it is expensive.

Celtx is free and comes highly recommended from a mate who used it when he was at Hofstra.

Rob


I've played with Celtx a lot but never really tried to use it for a full blown writing effort before. I'm hoping to write a few "short film" type scripts first, using the mixed-media format, in order to test it out. What I'm trying to decide right now is whether they should be set in the same "universe/multiverse" as my Series with a capital S, or completely separate. I'm leaning toward separate, but as with most things, I'm of two (or three, or a googolplex) minds about it.



I have Screenwriter and found that I liked it even better than Final Draft. Screenwriting format is a bummer...
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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby SandWrrm » 22 Oct 2010 16:13

Because I'm lazy and have no attention span, I didn't actually read this post, but the name cracked me up! It should be a motto for OH artists everywhere.
:lol:
...You feel flesh crisping... like chicken. You feel flesh... dropping off... like crumbs from chicken...

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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby SandRider » 22 Oct 2010 19:10

sloey ?
................ I exist only to amuse myself ................
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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby Shaitan » 22 Oct 2010 21:36

SandWrrm wrote:Because I'm lazy and have no attention span, I didn't actually read this post, but the name cracked me up! It should be a motto for OH artists everywhere.
:lol:


I don't blame you. I sure did babble on for a bit there. It's a bad habit that I'm trying to redirect (back, after many years away) into creative writing.

I don't mean to go trolling any one person, Kevin included. I've been on the receiving end of more than enough trolling for ten lifetimes, running or otherwise being involved in a few fairly large sites/forums over the years, and have very little patience for it unless it's done with a hell of a lot of flair and there's an actual point to it other than general jackassery. Then, I begin to find myself having a sort of twisted appreciation for it.

Which is why I find myself liking this site so much....despite my natural inclination as a forum admin to be wary of any site that is a gathering place for people that have been banned at other forums.... :cat fight: :violin: :Adolf: :violin: :cat fight:

I, Shaitan, vow to be teh un-KJA as long as my quarks and gluons decide to stay adhered to this particular brane. If I ever have the opportunity to share in a truly great creative universe created by someone else, I will not hog it all to myself nor will I suck out loud if at all possible.

Order in Council, this date, etcetera, etcetera.

I think that sums it up. All you need to know, pretty much.
"When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro." -Hunter S. Thompson
"Man, a guy gets drunk *once* and it's all anyone remembers..." -HBJ

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Re: My creative mission in life is now to NOT become KJA.

Postby SandWrrm » 23 Oct 2010 16:12

Shaitan wrote:
SandWrrm wrote:Because I'm lazy and have no attention span, I didn't actually read this post, but the name cracked me up! It should be a motto for OH artists everywhere.
:lol:


I don't blame you. I sure did babble on for a bit there. It's a bad habit that I'm trying to redirect (back, after many years away) into creative writing.



Oh, no, I'm fine with rambling AND KJA-trolling, and any other time I would've taken the time to read it. BTW, this

I, Shaitan, vow to be teh un-KJA as long as my quarks and gluons decide to stay adhered to this particular brane. If I ever have the opportunity to share in a truly great creative universe created by someone else, I will not hog it all to myself nor will I suck out loud if at all possible.


made me laugh. :lol: :lol: :lol:
...You feel flesh crisping... like chicken. You feel flesh... dropping off... like crumbs from chicken...


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