Sunday, June 17, 2007

No matter whether I win or lose, I'm always the Victor

I have a tendency to get long-winded, so I’ll attempt to make this short (I failed). My name is Victor and I’m a writer. (Hi, Victor!) In reality what this means is that I’ve mastered the art of doing everything BUT writing, and have developed an amazing assortment of activities to do when I theoretically want to be writing. But I’m getting better. My output of actual writing is increasing, and the quality of it is (I hope) getting better.

Joining this writing group last September has been one the best decisions I’ve made. I’ve made more than a dozen new friends and I’m involved in a variety of fantastic new creative endeavors that I never would have imagined otherwise. I hope everyone else in our writing group enjoys it as much as I do, and if you’re not a member of a writing group, I highly encourage you to join one (unless you don’t like to write, that is…)

I’ve always been a creative person from my earliest memories. After devouring almost all of the Hardy Boys books as an eight or nine year-old, I started writing stories to amuse myself. My first ‘series’ was called “The Trail Boys”, and it was about me and my friends and the adventures we had riding the trails in the woods near our neighborhood. Sadly, that series never clicked with the general public and I abandoned it. Anyway, throughout my life since then, I’ve always had some sort of writing project going. I’ve entered a few writing contests in my school days, and won a couple. Winning something is always good for perpetuating a passion.

My creative energies ultimately followed the path of video production, and since 1987 I’ve been involved in this industry in some capacity. I’ve been a general operations person at a TV station, I’ve been the lead producer for a TV station’s 6pm and 10pm newscast (worst job I ever had), and over the past decade or so, I’ve been owner or co-owner of an independent video production company, first in Louisiana, and for the past three years here in Houston. A big part of this career has involved writing, and I’d venture to say that I’ve written maybe 300 commercials and a few dozen long-form videos. But as anyone that HAS to write stuff knows, this kind of writing sucks all the joy out of writing. So my ‘fun’ writing had to come from another source.

About fifteen years ago, I started writing my magnum opus Star Wars fan fiction epic. Well, not WRITING, but “working on”. I have about 300 pages of notes and histories and all the sorts of stuff you’d find for any sci-fi/fantasy epic. I never looked on it as a waste of time (which most fan fiction ultimately is, if the goal is to ever write something that might see the light of day outside of fan fiction circles) because I absolutely enjoyed every last minute of writing it and plotting and everything else. I learned a lot and to this day still think my story is a solid piece of work. I doubt I’ll ever get around to finishing it, but I still have the massive binder to remind me of what I’m capable of when I put my mind to something. But the main reason I kept on working on this story was that I didn’t have any other stories to tell. This all changed in 2005

My Star Wars epic (“Shattered Force”) met its untimely end as a result of a CGI movie called “Robots” that came out in 2005. You might have seen it. This movie was so cookie cutter, so by-the-books in terms of plotting, scripting and presentation, so uninspired, that it ANGERED me. Hard to explain exactly what it was, but a switch was flipped in me, and from that moment, I’ve had a completely different outlook on the sorts of things I was going to be spending my valuable creative energy on. Combined with modern technologies, such as (relatively) inexpensive production gear and new distribution methods, like youtube and NetFlix, I decided in that moment that I was going to pursue a filmmaking career. I began devouring any info on producing independent films, and writing screenplays. While I’ve written and produced hundreds of commercials over the years, it’s not quite the same as venturing into films. It’s two years later, and I’m STILL devouring information and trying to learn how best to approach producing a film. But the good news is that I’ve made significant progress.

I’ve directed and edited a few short films over the past couple of years and have the beginnings of at least a dozen screenplays, with the germs of ideas for a dozen more. The ideas keep flooding in and it’s the most exciting feeling. There are a couple of these projects that are actually looking like they might bear fruit and I’m really trying to kick that into high gear. One is a project with one of the Humble Fiction Café members, Gary. It’s a film project that will incorporate a strong Christian message into it, which makes it an even more attractive project for me.

But it was in the midst of this creative renaissance that the Humble Fiction Café started up at our Barnes and Noble in the summer of 2006. It was a tentative group at first, all of us very nice and supportive but afraid to give brutally honest feedback on each others’ writing. But we kept on meeting and getting more and more comfortable with each other and one meeting, I’m not sure when or by who now, exactly, the idea for our anthology book project, “Split”, was proposed. It’s gained more and more steam with each passing day until now it’s something that I think the majority of us are working on in some capacity just about every day (at least judging by the dozens of emails that circulate each day). It’s fascinating to see how we manage to creatively tie our stories together more and more. It’s becoming a very rich ‘world’ we’re creating for this anthology.

My entry into this anthology (well, the first of what I hope is three or four) is called, simply, “Spirit” and is a part of a ‘tri-chotomy’ consisting of Body, Soul, and Spirit. Dorlana had already started working on her “Body” story and had offered someone that opportunity to do the “Spirit” part of her and Darah’s (“Soul”) trio. An idea instantly came to mind and it just started flooding out. The basic idea for my story came from my wondering how the Holy Spirit (of Christianity fame) might view the soul He’s co-existing with. It quickly turned into an exploration of my own view of God and trying to reconcile all the different aspects of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and the seeming contradictions.

For my own sake, writing this story has really helped me to solidify my own faith and to straighten out some inconsistencies in my own understanding. All of this is embedded within the story that, on the surface, is simply the sad final journey of what could be any Christian that has gotten caught up in something that has led them astray. The culprit in this story is drugs, but it could be anything; alcohol, pornography, a marital affair, criminal activity. "We all sin and fall short of the glory of God." How we do that is different from person to person. In the end, the most important distinction I wanted to make was between how WE view ourselves and the world around us (and in our mind what constitutes success or failure), and how God views those same things. I opted to tell a dark, bleak, horror story that from an earthly standpoint ends horribly, but from God’s standpoint, has a far different outcome. I enjoyed writing it, and I hope people get something out of reading it. One trivia note: They are buried deeply within the story, but there are numerous references to “Dante’s Inferno”, some more obvious than others. I used the story as a VERY rough template for the structure of “Spirit”.

I can’t express how excited I am about this project and about belonging to this fantastic group of writers who are all in the early stages of their writing careers. I can’t wait to see where this leads and to chart our growth as writers.


No comments: