Friday, September 16, 2005

Things to do while getting advice from Stephen King.

- I've been trying to come up with new story ideas for the past couple days. I even bought a new loose-leaf notebook in the hopes that I'd actually write something down into it. (In high school, I used this one collection of loose-leaf notebooks to write a 400-page, cheezoid soap opera I made up with Vic. It was called HORIZON. And it was awful. But I wrote it all the damn time. I wish I was like that now.) Lately, I've been reading Stephen King's ON WRITING, for every published author I know recommends it. Well, every published author I know beyond my friends who've self-published poetry books, like Ash or Brad and Larry. I don't want to self-publish. But lately, as a writer, I've not come up with anything really great or nothing that wouldn't benefit from a significant rewrite.
- Yesterday, my manager Maureen asked me if I could help a customer come up with a good "birthday theme gift" for a guy turning 30. I'm 29. Is 30 the birthday where people are allowed to start buying me black balloons and "You're an Old Man" cards? I thought that was 40. I told Maureen I had no idea.

- How cute do all the young kids, including some Brit guy named Julian Morris, look in CRY_WOLF? Seriously, it's like a slasher movie cast by BOP Magazine. Since they're all actually over 22, I don't mind coming off like a creepy old man.

- Screenwriter-director Andrew Niccol has been involved in some really good movies (GATTACA and THE TRUMAN SHOW) and one really, really annoyingly bad one (S1M0NE). His new one, LORD OF WAR, looks like it'll be pretty good. It's got Nicolas Cage in it as an international arms dealer, and usually they're the antagonists in big movies like this one. Niccol's name is enough to get me to the theater, so long as there's never another S1M0NE.

- Reese Witherspoon's new romantic comedy JUST LIKE HEAVEN is getting decent reviews, and it looks harmless enough. I like Mark Ruffalo, though I usually like him when he's edgier (outside of that one Meg Ryan movie), so it's on my list of movies this weekend. It's from Mark S. Waters, the director of MEAN GIRLS, and it looks like an excuse for me to embrace my inner chick.

- The Margaret Mitchell House, one of the most fun places in the city and a gathering place for bibliophiles, is now taking reservations for the fall session of its adult writing class on Monday nights. The class starts in October, and I've already reserved my spot. It's a great, great class that gives you an opportunity to read a lot of new, good stories from other aspiring writers. Some stuff's good. Some stuff's bad. All stuff's discussed. You can be a new writer or an experienced writer to join up. The whole thing's moderated by a kickass college prof named Sarah Anne Shope. There are still some slots available, and we need the class, which has only 15 slots in it, anyway, to fill up. If you're a bad writer who wants to get better, if you're a good writer who just needs an excuse to devote more time to it or if you don't know what kind of writer you are but feel like writing, please join my class. We're good people, and it's a strong group constantly in search of new blood. Beyond that, if you just want to become a member of the Margaret Mitchell House, that works, too. Go there if you're a GONE WITH THE WIND fan. They also have upscale book signings there all the time, including upcoming visits to promote new books from John Berendt, Candace Bushnell and Alexander McCall Smith. Do me a personal favor, and please check it out. Make no mistake. I am begging.
- You might want to clean your apartment. People actually want to visit.
- Buy groceries. You can buy perishables now, for the refrigerator actually works.
- Check last week's list.
- The TV season begins in earnest this week, with a lot of new shows debuting. The first of the alien-themed ones begin tonight. THRESHOLD, with Carla Gugino and Peter Dinklage, airs tonight on CBS, and the reviews have been pretty good. INVASION, with Eddie Cibrian, airs on ABC next week after LOST. Both shows appear to be about otherworldly visitors. Both appear to be dark and complicated. (Don't even ask me about NBC's SURFACE. Aside from her one-note part on MISS MATCH from a couple years ago, that Lake Bell girl can't act.)

- Britney Spears gave birth on Wednesday. The baby's name is Sean Preston Spears Federline or Preston Michael Spears Federline, depending on where you look. "Sean Preston" looks like the official name. Of course, if we could get rid of any aspect of the baby's name, I would prefer to lose "Federline," but that's only because K-Fed's apparently a jackass loser. (Britney, word of advice, never get engaged to a man who already has another girl pregnant. Read "Dear Abby," for Chrissakes. Last year, it was like you were following the JULIA ROBERTS GUIDE TO COURTSHIP. Oh, and Britney, get K-Fed to take the damn hat and/or 'do rag off, and cut his hair.) I used to love Britney. I even took Doug and Kacoon to a showing of CROSSROADS, an evening that became a moviegoing highlight of my life. Watching Britney become this decade's Tiffany, though she was trying to be this decade's Madonna, has been difficult. Dear God, I hope she never produces another album, movie or - more than anything - reality TV show.
- Maybe, to get over my writer's block, I need to get out of town. In a couple weeks, I'm set to visit Lupo in Savannah, and he, Kenn and I are going to a Ben Folds concert, which should be fantastic. Savannah may inspire me, like it inspired Berendt and Forrest Gump. (Of course, I doubt I'll do much writing while I'm there, but maybe it'll help me clear my head enough for ideas to pop back into them.) Or maybe I should just lock myself in my room here in town until I come up with a really good story. Or maybe I make things chaotic on purpose because that's how I work best. But that's me. Any advice you guys could give me? What do you guys do to clear your head when you're blocked? Or where is your place of escape?

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