Archive for the ‘blogging’ Category

Express yourself

For me, writing is hard. Everything about it is hard. From forming ideas, to formulating plot and characters, to actually sit down and write. It’s 90 percent torture and 10 percent joy. It’s joyous when it’s flowing, when the story seems to actually write itself. But that is so rare. Usually I have to hammer at it and write with fits and starts. I can’t remember when was the last time I actually wrote continuously for 3 or 4 hours.

Sitting in front of a blank screen and trying to find the first words is a very stressing experience.

True, I write in this Weblog. I write in this Weblog much more than I write screenplays or stories. It’s easier to write in a blog. First of all, it’s not a story. You don’t have to think about plot turns, dialogue or characters. It’s a much more intuitive, flowing form of writing. The second reason is that I’m much more motivated to write here because, as a friend of mine mentioned, it’s the instant gratification of seeing your work published, pure and simple. You write something, hit “submit”, and it’s out there, for all the world to see. A miracle of modern technology.

So why is it so hard for me to write fiction? When I look at my body of work over the years, I get depressed. I first began setting pen to paper about 20 years ago and been at it continuously in one form or another ever since, and what I got to show for it is three short decent stories, one feature screenplay, and a couple of other screenplays in varying lengths, from 5 pages to 45 pages.

this is not meant as another self-depreciating rant like I’m “fond” of doing, but as a clear view of the facts. In 20 years, I have produced very few completed works of written fiction. Sure, I wrote dozens of short stories in my youth, but they were easier to write because I couldn’t care less about characters or sensible plots. I just wrote them intuitively, applying things I learned from reading other people’s stories. Sadly, all those stories were thrown away over the years and so I can’t really look at them today and see what they were really like. I suspect they were crap, but it could be that some of them held good nuggets of ideas or even just characters that I could’ve used today. And so I have many, many beginnings of stories just laying around in my computer, begging me to complete them, but I have no idea how.

So why is it so hard for me? As I see it, a writer is someone who sits down and write. All the time. And not come up with a script every five years. I now read George R R Martin’s amazing Song of Ice and Fire series and I marvel: How does he do it? each book is a tremendously detailed and flowing and riveting and highly readable tome of 800 pages or more, obviously the product of an incredible effort behind the scenes, of planning and then planning some more. The guy must have 50 drawers full of background and research material.

And this is what separates the professional from the amateurs. The level of commitment. You have to be committed for it with every fiber of your being. You have to skip on television, movies and even eating. You have to skip on being with people. you have to sacrifice your social life. In order to be a prolific writer, you have to cope with the loneliness of the writer. Sitting in a room for hours and typing away.

Just look at Stephen King, who has written more than 50 books in 30 years. His memoir, On Writing, is highly recommended for every aspiring writer. King’s methods may not suit everyone, but he has some very good points to make about the craft.

I find it hard to mold ideas into a narrative. I lack the patience and the peace of mind. I’m too restless. That’s why most of my work is short. Short stories, short screenplays. The idea of writing a feature, not to mention a book, intimidates me. When I see a book written by some model about her life I get envious. Even people who don’t consider themselves as writers manage to finish a book and get it out there. That’s a great accomplishment in my… hmm… book.

Because I’m a guy who thinks too much as it is, and sits alone at his house too much as it is, the notion of making this life style into a profession intimidates me in some way. That’s why I love to direct and create a visual story with other people – collaborate – then sitting alone at home and write. I write the scripts, because if I want to make a film, nobody is going to write the story for me, unless I purchase the rights for written works which is out of my budget right now.

There is one clear resemblance between writing posts on the weblog and writing stories. I write them only when I have something to say. The most underwhelming experience a writer can have is the feeling that he has nothing to say. That there’s no issue or theme or a facet of the world or the human condition that motivates him to sit on his ass and start working. Crafting a story is work. Writing in a blog is a hobby, unless you do it professionally. It helps you flex your writing muscles and communicate ideas in another form, but for me, at least, it is no substitute for fiction writing.

Coming up with ideas is easy. Ideas are dime a dozen. But it takes commitment and passion to actually sit down and do something with them, and doing that can be torture. Procrastination can be an art form for a writer. I also don’t believe in writer’s block anymore (at least for the most part. I do acknowledge that sometime a writer just hits a creative block and is unable to continue, but that usually happens in the process of a work, not when you first sit down to begin).
Also, an idea that comes up in King’s book as well in other professional writers’ musings can basically be summed up like this: “Fuck inspiration”.

Waiting for inspiration to grab hold of you can be a long wait indeed. In order to write you have to make yourself write, adopt a writing routine and have self-discipline, traits that I’m not capable of achieving right now, apparently. You need to work hard and not wait for inspiration. When it arrives, it arrives. IF it arrives at all.

And the most important question of all: Are you really a writer if you’re suffering most of the time? There’s this romantic notion of the suffering writer which may or may not be true, but many successful writers admit that they just do it because they love every minute of it. So I guess it shouldn’t be that torturous.

I know that today I write much better than I did 20 years ago. Practice always makes perfect. But it’s still not enough, I feel. That’s a big question that I sometime ask myself: If you only wrote one piece during your entire life, but it was a masterpiece, are you considered a writer? I think so, but I think you can only be considered an author or a screenwriter if you actually have the body of work to show for it.

With the advent of the Internet, writing has become more widespread than it ever been. Everybody blogs, writes reviews, writes articles. Everybody’s commenting on everything. On Amazon, you have comments for the reviews. Soon we’ll have comments for the comments for the reviews. It’s a lot of clutter and noise, but I also find it fascinating. Are we better people because we all write now? Human beings need outlets to deal with urges. If those are not dealt with through creativity, they can explode in negative ways such as violence and anger.

My answer will have to be no. The violence and anger is seen clearly all over the Internet, so the fact that you’re writing a comment instead of punching the guy doesn’t make you a better human being. Everybody’s a big hero behind the mask of anonymity the Internet provides. Everybody’s a writer in some form or another. Illiteracy is an unheard of notion in the Western world, but I don’t think it makes us better human beings.

Hey, that could be an idea for a story.

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Ebb and Tide

When I first started this Weblog, I did it because I felt there were things I wanted to say: About life, about the world, and maybe a little about myself. I saw all those other Weblogs that began to spring like mushrooms and was a little envious. Me, who always wrote in one form or another, don’t have a blog, while 10 year old infants share their thoughts with the world. So, despite my dilslike of “joining herds”, I established my own little public notebook.

Lately my posting rate has dropped down considerably. This is the ebb and tide of writing. I experience it with my screenplays all the time. Enthusiasm, followed by a lack of enthusiasm. An idea comes up, then tossed aside. A piece starts to get written, only to be neglected.

I am not  a hard-working writer. In other words, I’m lazy. In order to write, I need a strong motive. Will power usually isn’t enough. It is no coincedence that most of my scripts are short ones. It is no coincedence that I’ve never written a book. I lack the follow-through. I find it very difficult to handle stories on a large canvas, because they require patient, methodical planning, and quite frankly, I’m not too good at that. Especially the “patient” part.

One of the reasons I didn’t write a lot here recentley is because I tried to devote what little writing energy I had to writing actual stories, screenplays, and it worked to some degree.

One of these screenplays, a little story called “Hype”, I’m actually trying to produce as a short film. I’ve already been all over town to find locations, and there is still a lot of work to be done. Getting people, getting actors, getting equipment. The way to do it, at least for me, is try to do it step by step, because I just can’t think about everything at once, because then I’ll just go hide somewhere and whimper.

So that’s it basically, that’s how it goes, take it as you may. This Weblog can again become my favorite writing pad – where I post something new three times a week, but it can also stay dormant for long periods of time. It is what it is and it mirrors my writing life and my moods.

I mean, I know I’m not a 10 year old, but hey, sometimes I sure feel like one. 

Static

Well, hello.

I don’t really know who visits this blog on a regular basis and who just happens to read these lines because he searched for the words “Blond Ventriloquist” on Google and found himself unexpectedly here (gotcha!), but I just wanted to apologize. Apologize for not writing as much as I’d like to. These days leave me strangely lethargic. I think it’s a combination of the cold dry weather outside which makes one a little sleepy, and the distracting worries which plague me. Worries of the immediate nature, like finding another apartment, finding ways to save money, and worries of Meaning of Life type, which I won’t get into here, with your permission.

Now, I did write a new post the other day, but decided not to publish it. It happens sometimes, although rarely. I see this blog as my venting place, my thought pad, but I also want it to be enjoyable and worthwhile to read. When I deem a post unenjoyable or not thought provoking or illuminating enough, I decide not to publish it. So yes, the draft section of ABAIG has a few unpublished posts in it. Maybe I’ll publish them at a later date. in the meantime, they are kept there. Some of them are too personal for my taste, and some of them are just pointless rants.

So even when I don’t post anything, it doesn’t mean I haven’t written anything. That is the nature of my writing. I am myself most harsh critic.

For the past few days I’ve been riding a lot on the New York subway, an extremely efficient piece of transportation with endless opportunities for people watching. The subway is like the United Nations on wheels. (And those MTA employees inside their glass booths. Boy, are they short tempered! I guess they’ve seen and heard it all).

And in New York it’s still quite cool and very dry. My body’s oozing static electricity. I get zapped from objects like my computer, the tap in the kitchen, the chair I’m sitting on. Static is also a great way to describe my feelings in the last few days. Trying to find a cheaper, or less expensive apartment in greater New York, but not really getting anywhere. As usual for me, I play the waiting game. The big question is how long to stay in New York. That is unknown at this point, since (again) I’m waiting for things to happen on other fronts, things that I have no control or influence on.

So I’m waiting.

And in the meantime, I realized that the relative lack of music and movies is depressing me. I don’t have with me my CD’s and especially my 150 mp3′. I bought Frou Frou’s CD, but it’s just one CD. I’ve seen two whole movies since I left Israel: The Fountain (extremely boring and pretentious) and 300 (Cool visuals. Enjoyable, stylish gorefest). I toyed with the idea of renting movies through Netflix, but since I’m in a very temporary residence, it seemed a bit silly. I thought of buying some DVD’s but didn’t find any I really wanted, and besides, I think it’s stupid to buy a movie just because I want to see one. There are movies on TV (I saw 3/4 of A Time To Kill), but they are botched by endless commercial breaks, which makes the whole thing much more annoying than enjoyable.

I’ve been to a short stroll in Central Park, which looks suspiciously like Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv. Saw a lot of dogs and kids playing baseball, and found out I could cross it surprisingly fast from the east side to the west side of upper Manhattan. I really thought it would be much bigger. But then, I’ve only been to a small portion of it.

I wanted to end this post with some music, so here’s the beginning sequence of Hair, one of my favourite film musicals and a very New Yorkish film. It takes place at Central Park, and it’s featuring that infectious, great song… Well, you know which song I’m talking about.

The one about the opposite of static.

Reality blogging

Is the blogging phenomenon actually an offshoot of the reality craze that has swept popular culture in recent years? I basically abhor reality TV, as it’s just a big fat lie. There’s nothing real in reality television, no genuine reality can exist where there’s a camera. The presence of the camera changes reality. People don’t act around a camera the way they would have acted if it wasn’t there. Reality TV is a manufactured reality built to satisfy our voyeuristic needs. Survivor is manufactured drama using real people instead of actors. The Bachelor and the likes trivializes love and deep human emotions. American Idol is just an excuse to see sad wannabes make a fool of themselves.

Granted, there is something very addictive and entertaining in Reality TV. The voyeuristic impulse is very strong. Come and watch other people, who are presuambly like us, try and become famous singers, or join their quest to find the love of their lives (and plenty of cash along the way), or just get a not-to-sneak-peek into their lives in a big house riddled with cameras. Naturally, if it was real reality, it would be boring. No one wants to watch other people’s lives without some… well, editing.

Hitchcock said that drama is life without the boring parts. It is true for storytelling, and it is true for Reality TV. Reality TV is just drama, but it involves non-actors. That’s all there is to it. Reality shows DOES have writers, who come up with possible scenarios and conflicts. Why does Reality shows considered “real” while scripted drama is considered “make believe”? Do people actually think of Reality TV as real life? Bullshit. It’s as phony as is gets. I’d always prefer scripted drama, with great storytelling and acting, over the cheap sensationalism of the reality shows. Reality TV was basically created so that people like you and I could have our 15 minutes of fame. The allure of such a possibility can cause even has-been stars like Silvester Stallone and Paula Abdul to get in the game. Hey, maybe it can be the beginning of a beautiful comeback.

And that brings me back to blogging. Isn’t sharing your life with other people you don’t even know is no better than those pseudo “reality” shows? Are blogs just another way to satisfy voyeuristic needs? Is the person represented in the blog is actually the same person in real life? Or is it just a mask, another persona? Is a blog just another way to achieve those 15 minutes of fame?

I think not. While I’m far from being an exhibitionist, I think that sharing  your thoughts, ideas, and your life with the whole wide world is a viable way for self expression. Some bloggers tell more about themselves, some tell less, and some tell nothing, creating a “topic” blog about wine, cars, computers, or whatever. I think the need to write a Weblog is first and foremost a personal need, the need to “get your stuff out there”, to be heard. while the need to share your life on TV is based on the desire for quick fame and fortune, and possibly stems from of low self esteem.

Writing a blog, even one that concentrates solely on your personal life, is far from being an easy task. It takes time and effort, and at the end you’re not even sure you’ll be read at all. So basically, you do it first and foremost for YOURSELF, and I think therein lies the big difference between these two popular forms of self exposure.  

In conclusion, I want to address the issue of possible generalization on this topic. Sometimes there’s a fine line between Reality TV and documentaries. I want to stress out that by Reality TV I primarily refer to shows like the ones mentioned above. For example, although labeled sometimes as a reality show, I consider HBO’s Project Greenlight as more of a documentary series. So what’s the difference between Documentaries and reality shows, you might ask? Well, docs usually don’t have panels of judges and fancy chateaus as backdrop for forlorn lovers. There are much bigger differences, naturally, but that, as they say, is another story…

Why I blog in English

I’ve been asked several times why I blog in English, instead of Hebrew. Well, that’s a damn good question, so I’ll try and answer it the best way I can.

It all started with Myspace. I opened a page there, and a blog. But I didn’t like the fact that the blog was practically hidden inside the page. A lot of people didn’t even see it was there. So after a short while I decided to move to a place where the blog is the main thing, in contrary to your friends list or what music you like.

And then I thought: Why not keep blogging in English?

There are several Israely blogging sites, some of them aren’t bad at all, and I did consider that for a while, but the thought of keep blogging in English, even outside of Myspace, was very tempting. As mentioned in a previous post, I may be an Israely, but as far as the Internet is concerned, and as far as my writing is concerned, I see my self as a citizen of the world, and would like my writing to reach as many people as possible, without any language barriers. Almost all of my Hebrew speaking friends  have no trouble reading in English, while on the other hand, most people in the world can’t read Hebrew, but most of them (especially those who surf the web regularly), do read in English. So for me, the logical thing was to write in English.

And if there is anyone out there who find it difficult or annoying or just troublesome, I apologize. Hey, maybe it’ll change one day and I’ll start blogging in Hebrew, but for now I’m doing my baby steps in the blogging business, so we’ll see. 

This blog is supposed to have an international appeal, so I’m not going to talk about things only Israely people will understand. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to ever mention things on the news that concern Israel, but for the most part, This is not a political blog. I truly believe that the things which interest me are universal.

One other thing is that I fell in love with the WordPress blog layouts. Most of them are quite beautiful, and because I see my blog not only as a place to write my thoughts, but also as my little personal corner on cyberspace, that was important for me. (despite some maddening technical issues. I tell you, it took a LOT of time to figure out all the features and gyzmos, and I’m not through with it yet…)

So there you have it. I want to write a blog with an international appeal (and also, I admit, practise my English at the same time. It takes me much more time to write in English, but I think it’s worth it), and I liked this layout enought so stay here. (it wasn’t really planned).

So the blog in Myspace won’t be updated anytime soon. I’m here at WordPress for now, blogging in english.