The Rob Levin

Hello faithful blog readers. How are you? I know it's been a while.

I've been busy with work and busy with life, and I really didn't have any updates on projects or advice to offer during the past month. I stayed quiet and worked on some things behind the scenes. As of today, they've been put into effect.

You'll notice that if you type in www.AuthenticImpostor.com you're now redirected to www.theroblevin.com, which now houses the most updated version of this blog. I'd been unhappy for some time with blogger and looking to make a change, as well as having a bit of an identity crisis with the AI moniker. It confuses people and doesn't really associate specifically with me unless you're in the know. Down the line AI will become a home for projects and content, but my site and blog will be housed at www.theroblevin.com.

I want to thank all of you for your time and interaction this last year and a half, and I promise more to come on the regular at the new home. Don't forget to bookmark The Rob Levin to stay abreast of everything in the world of me, writing and comics.



Vibing with Rae

I've had my head down this week just running through a to-do list. Hill and I wrapped a draft of Broken Trinity: Pandora's Box #05 and I finished a short project I can't talk about. Other than that it's about getting ahead and lining up work. I've also had a bug planted in my ear (courtesy of Hill) about turning my stagnant (abandoned?) LYP screenplay into a novel. I'm giving it some very serious thought, especially with iBooks on the way.

Anyhow, not much to add right now, so I present this Raekwon video that got my morning started right:


2009's Best Film Posters

I'm a big design and typography guy. I can't design for the life of me, but I know what's great when I see it, and great design speaks to me as much as stunning imagery. Here's one man's list of the Best Film Posters of 2009. Not saying he didn't miss anything, but it's a good list.

Here are a few samples for you to make sure you click:



J-Smoove - That's What He Does

I'm still thinking about the best final play I've seen in basketball since the last time Kobe hit a ridiculous game-winner at the buzzer. But this one happened as my Hawks beat their division rival (and #2 seed in the East) Orlando Magic.

It's nasty. Josh Smith is nasty.


I am a Great Editor

Anyone who has talked to me for more than five minutes knows that I talk about myself incessantly and give myself the mad props I so richly deserve. Then I lament my unemployed (aka freelance) predicament and why there's never enough work coming my way. How can the best writer of 2013 be stuck in the struggle when he's also the most amazing editor working today.

If you need proof of the latter, please check out the following reviews of the Days Missing HC:

"I generally don’t extend congratulations to editors, but Rob Levin deserves a patented Optimous Douche Reach Around™ for the cohesion he brought to this title." - AICN

"The editorial team on this series was clearly tightly knit and ensured that all involved stuck to their notes and had open lines of communication, resulting in a collaborative effort with a focused vision." - CraveOnline.com

Days Missing was by no means an easy project. There are a bevvy of reasons for that, but imagine if you will the launch of a new property. Now imagine that the world is only partially defined so as to leave it open to interpretation by the writer. Now add in four creative teams across five issues and two different companies, and you'll get a wee idea about what it took to make DM what it became.

I'm not claiming to be the G.O.A.T., not by a long shot. But if you give me lemons, I'll make Captain Morgan. And if you give me silk, I'll spin it into gold. That's what I do.


C.B. Cebulski Talks Doing Covers Right

C.B. Cebulski is much smarter and more lovable than me. Let's just get that out of the way. He's also an amazing source of knowledge and insight when it comes to the finer points of making comics. Today he offered a mini lesson about covers and I felt the information merited being preserved here rather than lost in the twitter stream.

C.B. says:
After looking over certain June solicits, I feel like going on a cover rant again, but will instead offer advice on creating cover art.

A cover is the most important piece of art you'll create for your comic. It's what will sell the book. Especially in today's direct market.

This is even more true for indy/self/small press comics as you don't have recognizable characters to grab a reader's attention on the shelf.

You need a simple, bold, striking piece that should immediately standout & distinguish your book from the rest of the comics surrounding it.

Don't get overly-complicated or designy. Don't overthink your cover. Don't get too cerebral. Simply give readers a taste of what's inside.

These are simple, basic cover "rules," I know, but I'm always surprised how often they're forgotten. Especially by the bigger publishers.




Blogging Format/Hosting

If you're reading this on the site (as opposed to an RSS feed), you'll notice that the design of the blog has been tweaked slightly since last week. I was tired of reading things on black backgrounds and wanted to go clean and smooth. Hopefully it is, at the very least, a bit easier on the eyes.

But now it's time for the audience participation section of this blog. Ready...?

I've got a couple different ideas about what I want to do with my blog and a couple different domains I have access to. There are also several different formats (tumblr, Posterous, Wordpress, and the current Blogger platform) I can use. Here's where you come in:

1) What do you want to see from me on this blog in terms of content? There will always be a light smattering of promo and a whole lot of process. But what else can I do to make this a more enjoyable experience for you? Would you enjoy more of what amuses me as I surf and twitter (links to articles, videos, quotes, and the like)? Or would you rather I stay focused on this being a work blog and the things that interest me on occasion?

2) If you answered yes to the final question in #1, would you be interested in a microblog of all that other stuff that's more amusing and filed for future research use? I'm hesitant to split things across too many different avenues, but I do see how there are distinct divisions in each effort and that segregating may actually be useful to keep the signal-to-noise ration down.

3) Are you happy with Blogger? It's a little long in the tooth by now, and doesn't offer the ease of use in terms of changing themes and features that some of the newer options do. Is there an alternate blogging platform (some friends also use Squarespace, which I have not messed with) you enjoy using or reading yourself? Sticking with Blogger is the easiest as it means no tech change, but I'm after what's best for the long haul, not what's easiest for me. Tumblr has a bevvy of social features, while Wordpress has tons of gadgets I can use to better display links and images. I've messed around with all of them, so I'm curious to hear what you think.

I don't often ask for outside opinions, but if you take the time to read this blog, know that your opinion both matters and is valid.


The Future of Publishing (video)

Here's a stellar video, and one created out of necessity and brilliant copywriting, about the future of the publishing industry. I had an idea for a new project yesterday, and after watching this I'm going to dive right into it.

New Hot Chip Video is Bananas

I'm a big fan of Hot Chip. It's like weird, non-dancy (yet danceable) electronic music with interesting vocals. They just released a new video and... I'll let it speak for itself.


I am a Junkie

Information. Distraction. Innovation. Hesitation.


I haven't had the output I would like this week. From what I can remember, I don't think last week was any better. Nothing productive other than exercise, eating, and email (also, as always, alliteration) has been accomplished before noon. I'm busy, but not so busy I can't handle my business.

Yesterday should have been an afternoon dedicated to banging out a script after a call with Hill and setting up a few other things. But the afternoon came and... went, just as quickly. Not sure what happened. Even after dinner, rather than trying to work it was television and then messing around with various blogging/formatting stuff. I have a blog that works fine, but I'm always searching for the next/better/improved/scandalous thing that will somehow make me both a better writer and bring in more fans. Or something. I don't even know.

And today, I'm typing this sentence at 1:07 pm and I haven't written a lick. I can focus on the fact that I wrote a short pitch and sent it off to Hill on Wednesday and feel like I've gotten some iota of work done. But knowing I haven't written a single sentence on the script I should have been working on for Monday makes that null and void.

I planned out today. I literally broke up almost everything I wanted to do today into blocks in iCal, leaving a few gaps for inevitable slips. It hasn't helped. Nothing except for the basics (eat, exercise, email) has been touched.

I can't stop procrastinating. My sleep has been bad. Some nights it's because I go to bed with something playing on the laptop. Other times I go to bed in silence and it's just as bed. NB2 suggested I start meditating. Two nights ago I thought I was listening to an beginner's meditation audio track, but I was right and wrong about it. It was an Intro to Meditation thing, not an audio track to help guide me. Last night I listened to a different track that was actually what I was looking for... and fell asleep on it as well. At 9:11 (coincidence?) I woke up, groggy and frustrated after hitting the snooze umpteen times on two different alarms.

I'll do some writing today, that much I'm sure of. But I need to figure out how to stop this information overload. I need to stop being a junkie for all of these things and write more. I still hit deadlines, so that's not what I'm worried about. But I am worried about this being a familiar pattern. Fialkov figured out how to maximize his days, but I haven't figured out my process. My brain isn't constantly working over story problems when I do other stuff. My brain is like an accordion file, and when I'm looking in one tab, nothing is being accessed in any other. Unless I'm brushing my teeth, which is when all my thinking gets done.

Wondering why I'm blogging instead of putting the Internet on lockdown and opening up Final Draft or Pages? Yes, this too is procrastination. Figured you deserved an update just as much as I needed to put words on a blank white space. That's progress. Sort of.

Edited: The always helpful Positivity Blog is going to be my inspiration today - How to Stop Procrastinating: 7 Timeless Tips


Start Your Week Off with a Little Sexism

Okay, not exactly. But I do weigh in with a quick hitter editorial for GeekWeek that I think will have people calling me a sexist. I promise my message is exactly the opposite.

And I just realized I forgot to include an about me section. Wonder if people will assume that's on purpose...


I'm Not Against SFX...

...but I will claim to having a major boner for practical effects versus computer generated ones. Even during my eleventeenth viewing of Groundhog Day last night, I commented on how I missed real explosions. Practical effects, for all their limitations (since you must be able to actually DO whatever it is you're trying to convey), are generally more aesthetically pleasing to this author's eye.

I can still picture certain truly bad FX work in movies and TV shows years after I've seen them, and if it's something I've seen more than once (a few shots in Spider-Man, for example), they're just a giant black mark of deja vu. They hold things back for the simple reason that they take me out of the process by making me suddenly aware of the filmmaking. Bad practical effects can have the same effect, but in general they camouflage a bit better because they still happen within the diegesis of the film.

Imagine my surprise when I watched this video of television green screen FX and found myself inspired by how deftly the work was hidden in most cases. It actually got me excited about the progress of computer generated imagery and where it can allow me to take my budget (non-comics) work in the future.

Thanks to all the twitter folks who linked this. Can't remember who posted it first.


Reviews - Who Reads 'Em?

I don't put a lot of stock in reviews. Part of that has to do with the fact that I'm fairly confident in my abilities and I already known when something I've done doesn't live up to my own standards, and part of it has to do with the lack of standards for most comics journalism. I'm not putting down any bloggers, but I've seen some very bad reviews when it comes to the level of critiques they're capable of, not to mention sub-par English and grammar.

Wanted to put up a couple of reviews of BT:PB #01 since I don't think I've linked too many of them:

Newsarama's Best Shots (we're the last book reviewed)

And I've embedded Blair Butler's Fresh Ink (BT talk starts around the 6:44 mark):


Talking Influences on CBR

Bryan Edward Hill and I discuss some of our influences over on Comic Book Resources. If you ever wanted to know what makes us tick (other than booze and hummus), now's your chance.


Bad Tropes - Characters Not Making Their Own Decisions

I don't know if that's even the right title for this, so I'll just jump right into it. Watching last night's episode of Chuck (spoiler alert) filled me with a bit of rage at some lazy writing. Here's what happened.

Chuck's feelings about a girl (4-episode guest star Kristin Kreuk) were called into question when he realized that Shaw and Sarah were going to hook up. He was lost and confused, so he went to his sister for help. She TOLD HIM that he felt like he was moving too fast with the girl and that he still had feelings for Sarah. Then he breaks up with the girl.

The writers did insert an 11th hour save and showed Chuck questioning things about his new relationship (though in my opinion the shift from super lovey dovey early on was not properly negated by this). But here's the real problem... They didn't let Chuck make his own decision. He didn't get his aha! moment where he realizes, "I'm still in love with someone else." It was stolen from him by a supporting character and he accepts it without question. She made his decision for him. As the scenes earlier played out, I didn't buy this. I would have been more on board if Kreuk had to leave town inexplicably or didn't like that Chuck was always keeping secrets (which presents its own set of problems). But in this case, we just getting a slightly castrated (not literally) hero.

I've edited and experienced enough stories to see this missing decisive moment is a common problem. Too often the same thing happens when the protagonist of a story is a lay person called upon to do something extraordinary. They just jump right into hero role because it's quicker to just get them acting heroic rather than taking the time to let them make a decision. But decisions are the heart of character, and when your rob someone of decision, you also rob them of character. Mentor figures (the ultimate supporting character archetype) often spur young heroes to take up their quest, but here's where I want to make my point very clear... They do NOT simply tell the hero to become a hero and then he says, "I'm in!" They plant a seed and the thought, the decision, is the hero's to make. At least in terms of good stories. I'm sure there are some exceptions, but the Hero's Journey works for a reason.

I also read a comic recently that irked me to no end. One character told another what was happening to him. The easy fix was to say, "It feels like X" or "I can't remember X," but the moment was ruined by exposition passed off as storytelling. It was the Mini-Me version of this greater bad trope.

Action is character, and vice versa. I've probably written that a dozen times on this blog. If you don't let your characters act, react and make decisions for themselves, you're just realizing an outline. And an outline is just the basis for a story, not the story itself. Not to mention the fact that when characters come alive in your head, they can take the story all sorts of interesting and unexpected directions.

Another Bad Trope exposed. Time to eat the hummus.

P.S. If anyone can come up with a better label for this trope, I'll update the title and give you some credit here on the blog. I am literally at a loss for a better description.


TGIM - Amusement Parks

Yesterday marked my first trip to Knott's Berry Farm. I'll be perfectly honest, for most of mylife I didn't even know there was another park out here other than the Disney's and Magic Mountain. It was October of 2003 when my roommate told me he was going to Knott's Scary Farm, and I punnily replied, "If it's not scary, why are you going?" My mother just informed me that she went there when she was 5, and thought it was Knottsberry Farm, nor does she remember them having coasters. The Levins apparently have a long, confused relationship with Knott's.

The Farm ran a 2-for-1 special in February so my special lady and I decided to take advantage of the final of February's 28 days. Say what you want about Knott's - it's small, the rides are no good, Snoopy is no Mickey, etc. - I had a hell of a time. There's something special about amusement parks. I've been to Six Flags Over Georgia a few dozen times, but I've only been once (to Disneyland for Xmas a couple years back) since a week-long run during spring break of senior year when my back was summarily destroyed by the end of it.

Knott's is tiny, but I don't see that as a bad thing. It meant we could leave one ride and be in line for another in under five minutes. Every time. Ghost Rider is a very solid entry in the classic wooden coasters category, and the Silver Bullet is a really slick suspended coaster that we were able to go on at least 3 times. And the Sierra Sidewinder is the world's first 360-degree coaster, which means that the cars are round and spin. Kind of interesting, and very dizzying.

I liked forgetting about work for a day (because let's face it, 30 minute of video games always feel like a pause) and just going thrill-seeking in a safe environment. Amusement parks allow you to just forget everything else and plan your adventure. It's too bad crowds are more annoying these days - people are louder and more annoying, douchebags are a prevalent subculture, and kids have the power to destroy my brain with their squeals. If not for these problems, I'd happily get a season pass to a couple of them. Coasters make speeding in your car seem like child's play.

As always, the food is somewhere between horrendous and fantabulous (a word you should never use). But sometimes you have to indulge.

This morning was a wake up call that I can't forget about work too long, no matter how much I'd rather be spinning and pretending I'm a carney. But this weekend's fun will propel me through this week's trials.

Oh yeah, and next weekend we're going to Disneyland...


Get Thee to the Comic Shoppe!

It's that day again, New Comic Day. But this day, much like Passover, different than every other. And that's because of one very special book. I've typed it before and I'll type it again, but this is the day that BROKEN TRINITY: PANDORA'S BOX #1 hits stores.

This has been a very long journey for me. I could say it begins last May/June when Filip approached me about pitching the series. Or more than two years ago when I edited the initial event helmed by the incomparable Ron Marz and friends. But as this is my first series (to actually see print, which is a longer story for a different time), it's the culmination of a dream I've had since my cousins first introduced me to comics in a Florida time share and the purchase of my first comic, Marvel Comics Presents #85 by Peter David and Sam Keith.

My short-form work (backups, one-shots) have been a fantastic experience for me, but this is the first shot I've had to tell a full story with space for characters and real moments. We're all doing our best to make sure each one delivers. I am both honored and humbled by anyone who chooses to plunk down their hard-earned cash and buy the book today (or at any point in the future).

For those in the LA area, just a reminder that I'll be signing this and anything else you'd like (preferably babies) from 2-5pm at Dream World Comics in West LA (details here). Bryan Edward Hill will be signing in St. Louis at Star Clipper (details here).

In case you need more convincing, here are a few choice tidbits for you:

Also, I'd like to give a shout-out and a hearty thanks to everyone who worked on this book: Alessandro Vitti, Sunny Gho, Troy Peteri, Tommy Lee Edwards, Phil Smith, Filip Sablik, Ron Marz, and of course, the man that needs no introduction... Bryan Edward Hill, without whom this book wouldn't sing.


iFanboy says BT:PB is Not to be Missed

iFanboy had us on the podcast last week to talk all things Broken Trinity: Pandora's Box (which I'm sure you're tired of seeing all the way spelled out). They really dug the book and named it a Don't Miss pick for this week.

And don't forget to pick up your copy this Wednesday in finer comic shops everywhere.

Bad Tropes - Enhance That Image

Bad Tropes is going to be a new recurring feature on here where I point out things in fiction that piss me off, and things you should avoid in your work if you're an aspiring (or working) creator.

I'm watching last week's Human Target, and perhaps my least favorite trope ever was just used. The Bad Guys are trying to see how the Hero was able to kidnap the Scientist, only the Hero knows where all the cameras are so they can't see his face on the security video. Except he goes to the window, so there's a hint of his reflection in it when they zoom in on the tape. And then the Big Bad says, "Clean up that image."

Okay, in theory there's nothing wrong with it. If you don't mind cliches and fake technology.

We've seen this particular bad trope some 1,200 times since 1990 (I've been counting). There's no reason to resort to this in 2010. And we still don't have the technology to take a shit image (especially now that we're talking pixels, not blowing up from a negative) and make it pristine and perfect. We can enhance images, sure, but in most cases they don't lead to much but a blurry, pixelated something that you infer meaning from.

This is bad writing. Why not just show the damn thing and not have technology save the day. Yes, people mess up, and we don't become less interested in our heroes because they have a flaw or a make a mistake.

If you ever find yourself needing to "enhance an image" either as a key plot point or something throwaway...


Edited 5:31 pm - Thanks to Matthew Waite, we also have this video, proving that despite warnings from others, people just love this damn trope.


ComiXology Podcast - Hill/Levin talking BT:PB

I think between the two of us Bryan and I did at least 5 podcasts last week. The Meltcast I did solo is already up, and here's the first of many joint podcasts with the fine folks at ComiXology (who have my favorite mobile comics app).


Upcoming Appearances

Saturday - 2/20

I'll be hanging out and signing at the Long Beach Comic Expo (1 Day Only!) tomorrow. I'll be signing at Top Cow's booth from 1 - 2:30 pm. We'll have some copies of BT:PB #1 for you guys to check out, but I'm not sure if they'll be on sale.

Wednesday - 2/24

Join me along with Top Cow marketing wiz Christine Dinh for the release of Broken Trinity: Pandora's Box #1 from 2 - 5 pm at Dream World Comics. Please stop by, grab the book and let me know how we did.

Dream World Comics
12400 W Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 390-7860


BT: PANDORA'S BOX #1 Preview

The first lettered preview of my much beloved mini with Bryan Hill, Alessandro Vitti, Sunny Gho and Tommy Lee Edwards (still can't believe how good the art is from cover to cover) is live. Get your fix at CBR.

Don't forget to get your purchase on next Wednesday, 2/24.

Meltcast w/Rob Levin

The fine folks at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood were nice enough to invite me down to discuss Broken Trinity: Pandora's Box and a few other things on their latest Meltcast (which you can also subscribe to via iTunes).

It was a fun show to do, great guys, and they sent me home with a cupcake, so I can't wait to return for another go. Of the four or so podcasts I'm recording this week, this is the only one I did solo, so there's that. The others are not live just yet, but they'll be getting posts here as well.

I'm there for the whole thing, but the BT segment begins around the 46:30 mark if you're pressed for time. I also talk (very quickly and with lots of "umms" and "uhhs" about my collaborative process with Bryan at about 37 minutes).


#MakeComics Wednesdays

Since I hadn't posted anything about it here, I wanted to make it known that for the time being, every Wednesday (aka New Comic Day), I'll be doing a twitter-based Q&A as well as posting any random advice I can squeeze into 140 characters.

There are a lot of folks that want to break into this industry, and quite frankly many of them are going about it the wrong way. While there are some excellent comic pros on twitter giving advice, it's sporadic at best and there's no guarantee your question is going to get answered. And as someone who has worked on both sides of the desk, I know a thing or two. I'm like the less-prolific and more xenophobic C.B. Cebulski...

Every Wednesday I'll announce when I'll be doing the Q&A, which will run about an hour, and I'll take questions of all kinds from pitching to script format to whatever comes into your head.

Here's a transcript of the first Q&A from two weeks back.

You can follow me on twitter @roblevin or search for the #makecomics hash tag for advice from some of the best and most helpful pros around. Keep in mind, no bit of advice is 100%, and this is the Internet so keep your thinking caps on before you charge blindly into battle.


BROKEN TRINITY on Ain't It Cool News & Newsarama

The press onslaught continues! I'm sure I've missed some stuff in my haze of apartment flooding, work, and trying to make a living. But I'm back with the two latest (and perhaps greatest) press updates OF ALL TIME!

First, Bryan Hill and I talk about everything we've ever learned about anything. And one of us is more learned than the other. And Ain't It Cool News was nice enough to post it.

Next, Bryan and I take you behind the scenes of the players of the BT: Pandora's Box universe. We're introducing a lot of new faces, and you should know who's who. So we wrote a lil' somethin' somethin' for you.

Been behind with the updates but the twitter is going strong. Follow @roblevin for the up-to-the-minute low down on the down low. More blog soon.


Too Much Tuesday

I woke up to bad news.

An artist had missed a final deadline. It was time to make other plans. But we were so far behind that meant a whole lot of scrambling, favors asked, and logistics managed. I think I made the smart call, but it put me way behind to start the day. I didn't even go for my run until about 12:30 in the afternoon. But the timing led to an impromptu chat with friend and writer Rick Loverd on Westwood Blvd., so no complaints there.

Hill and I traded scripts back and forth the rest of the day. The latest on Broken Trinity and a project I can't talk about yet, but will make some very big noise very soon. Lots of little tweaks and formatting. I must have read each of them 4-6 times in the last 18 hours. But seriously, co-writing has so many perks. I definitely like the challenge of going it solo, but so far we're getting some great stuff out of this pairing, so I hope it lasts a good long time.

Speaking of, Bryan's twitter rambling got a Books section greenlit over at GeekWeek. It's almost 3:30am and I've just finished a scathing editorial about my trip to the book store and the death of fiction. Maybe that's a bit more extreme, but both of those things are discussed. I'm not sure it's coherent so I'm holding off until tomorrow to post, but hopefully you'll get a chuckle or two out of it.

Conan is going to come out of this late night debacle smelling like roses. Good for him. He's been the funniest of all the hosts in addressing the situation, even though he's the one getting jobbed. I guess misery is the other side of comedy. Remember what Mel Brooks said:

"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die."

Also watched the Chuck premiere. I like the show, despite the fact that it gets stuck in a rut at times. They did some nice work at the end of last season, but they seem to be playing it a little too safe right now. And the action sequences are getting worse, but I don't expect Cameron with my dramedy.

I think that's it. Writing goes well in the new year. Ron Marz has been posting some good insights on twitter, as he always does. If you're interested in his take on the comics industry, writing, or new ideas, definitely give him a follow. I need to remember to post something about Gamechangers here. Bug me if I don't.


TGIM - Hawks 3-0 Against Celtics

I know, I know. I said I would mainly stick to the sports talk over on Geekweek, but I couldn't resist.

Today was generally a crappy day what with Mark McGwire admitting to PED use, Pete Carroll officially resigning from USC, and Sony scrapping the plans for Spider-Man 4 and going forward with a re-boot (yes, an origin story) of the franchise sans Raimi and Maguire. Plus, there was that whole "working" thing. Had some not fun experiences, and didn't start writing until around 10:30 tonight.

I could talk about how great the previous draft of what I'm working on is (and my plans to ruin it), or the Hawks. I choose the Hawks.

They've beaten Boston (yes, a wee bit short-handed tonight) 3 times this year, and twice in Boston. That's huge, regardless of who's on the court. Even bigger was Joe Johnson all game long and Jamal Crawford in crunch time. Hell of a game.

My boys don't make it easy, but I sure am happy when they win. I'll be ecstatic if we sweep the season series against the Celtics at the end of this month.

P.S. No more Monday blogs that start at 2:30am on Tuesdays. This is some very weak writing. Feels like I'm just filling a quota. Which I am.



10 points to anyone that can decode the acronym in the title.

Didn't get a blog out yesterday, but I wrote a column this morning for GW and an interview about BT is up, so I'm linking. Damn, all these abbreviations make it seem like I'm practically speaking in text.



The interview was CBR's top story at the time of this posting, so I figured I would take a moment to memorialize it in a screen grab.


Breaking the Seal

I don't know what happened last year.

The last two months were incredibly unproductive for me in terms of writing. Sure I was finish up some editorial projects and they were giving their last gasp hassles, and yes there were the holidays (and me being gone in Ohio for a bit). But that's no excuse. I just flat out wasn't writing.

Given that I'm a writer, and a professional one since I've been paid more than once to do that thing I claim to do, I wasn't cutting it. But I couldn't do it. I would agonize over easy stuff (taking my polish/revision stab at the latest draft in the Hill/Levin saga), and flat out freeze when it came to other things (like that damnable screenplay). I just couldn't get anything going. Sure, I could blame certain projects for not moving fast enough. I'd expel creative energy in one direction, get hyped, and then wait weeks (or longer) to hear what the next step was, or even if there would be one. But excuses are like assholes. No one needs 'em even if they come in handy once in a while.

When I made the resolution (on this very site), I was very clear not to set unobtainable goals. It wasn't that I was going to write X amount every day. It was just that I was going to sit here and write every day. Chances are, between the 30 or so projects gestating at any given time, I'd be able to get something out there, even if it's just notes for something I haven't really thought out yet.

So last night I got a late start after dinner and did just that. I spent a few hours working and made actual progress on something that was already 3 weeks overdue. Tonight I worked on it again. A later start, and now it's almost 3am, but I got more written than yesterday and that thing is inching closer to completion.

Is it good? Probably not. There are parts I'm not happy with in the slightest, but it's just a draft. And as I've come to realize, the first step is getting something on paper. You can have the best idea ever, and in your head it may be genius, but a) it's not real yet, and b) it's much easier to fix something when it's in some kind of form, rather than nebulous headspace. So I push on, trying to get this scene done, and then the next one, and then the next. And when it's finished, it doesn't have to be perfect. I can take a look and make it better. I can pass it off to a co-writer or a trusted reader. I can make it better on the next pass, but I have to get this one done first.

Aspiring writers, never forget that bit. You can always make it better, but you have to get it written first. Write, then edit, then write some more.

Writing is not a young man's game. Most of what is written is crap. But the more you write, the more likely you are to get that crap out of your system. If I were a pessimist I would say all I've done the last two days is "get more crap out of my system."

I'm constantly amazed at how consistent my co-writer Bryan Hill is. There's a very high level to everything he does, and that could be the idea he just typed up after a phone call, or a screenplay he's toiled over. It's always there. And I believe his secret is that he's written out his bad stuff. Sure, some stuff is better than others; that's always going to happen. Not every idea can be a winner. But the overall quality is astounding.

I don't like most of what I write. I'm overly self-critical, but I've learned to put that aside. Malcom Gladwell talks about talent in his book Outliers. He calls talent the result of several factors, the largest of which is 10,000 hours of practice. I don't need the process of writing to get easier, and I don't need to think that everything will make me feel happier once it's on the page. But knowing that I'm getting more and more of my bad writing out of my system and getting ever closer to 10,000 hours/talent... that's what keeps me going when I feel like I'm writing crappy pap and should put down the keyboard.

So what was this post about? Oh yeah, I've written a decent amount (and been very productive, despite watching three movies today) the last two days. I feel like whatever excuse hex I was putting on myself is gone, and committing to "something" is really paying off. I broke the seal, so to speak.

Again with the 2010... Totally feeling it.


TGIM - 2010

For a lot of people, myself included, 2010 didn't really start until today.

Everyone was still "on vacation" until work was back in full swing. There's some wisdom to that, too, given that work takes up the majority of most people's lives. Why start doing something when you have more time only to wind up with no time once work is back in your system. You'll only end up feeling like a failure if you can't maintain. If you suddenly find yourself back at work and taking care of your goals/resolutions... that's quite a feeling.

And as for me, Mr. My Work Is My Resolution... things are good. I dove into dealing with all of the editorial craziness first thing, then nearly killed myself trying to do the Fit Test for Beachbody Insanity. Followed that up by passing out for a minute and then had a good meeting about an upcoming writing opportunity with someone I've been not writing with for years. If I've ever mentioned the Hawaiian thing to you, same guy here. The rest of the day making notes and discussing a long-dormant project that is very much alive again. I knew 2010 was going to be awesome, but it's really starting off well and there are a lot of things that have yet to even get close to falling into place.

It's a new year. And that means it's a new opportunity to fix past mistakes and make the most of tomorrow's opportunities. I'm not taking that for granted. I still haven't done my "writing for the day" yet, so I'll get to that in a bit.

So far, so good, 2010. I like you already.