Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bliss for the Next Two Years

With a lot of time to walk around the La Mesa campus as a substitute campus supervisor, there's a lot of time to think.

I did a lot of that today, and you should forget what I said before about the next book I was working on ( That won't be my next book, because even those I was excited about it at that moment, I never acted much on the research. One week, then two, then three passed, and still I was reading what I wanted to read and not what I had to read for that project. I may still write it one day, but I need this one to determine where I go as a writer, what else I want to do, and to reacquaint myself with detailed research, which will happen often.

When I did research for What If They Lived?, I couldn't read any books about Brad Renfro, Aaliyah and Heath Ledger because there were none. Every fact in those essays came from newspaper and magazine articles I found online. I loved putting the puzzle pieces together, which today is just like sweeping up garbage on the campus grounds after brunch and lunch (One of the things the La Mesa campus supervisors are required to do), and organizing my DVD collection into a binder, which I did all day and most of the evening Monday and still ran out of room in that binder. I have to get another 400-slot binder the next time we go to Fry's.

I want to put more puzzle pieces together. With this project, I've found the opportunity because very little is likely to come from books. Maybe for background, such as with some actors who died in the early '90s after very long lives, but mostly, my research has to come from interviews, and these interviews will be bigger than what I did before. It's going to require a lot more finesse, and hope that the people I want to contact are willing to be interviewed about this particular point in their lives. There'll be nothing untoward about this and I'm not seeking anything controversial to juice up my book. I'm planning a straightforward history of the making of a series of movies I was obsessed with when I was a teenager.

Over the years, there are bits and pieces I've learned about this particular series that I filed away, and a memoir by an actor who was in all of those movies revealed yet another tidbit that was the impetus for this project. It stuck in my mind until today when it spread faster and faster through my mind, showing me that if I want to be published again by the time I'm 30, I have to be happy with what I'm writing. There is no greater motivation than that. This is that book. I know I'm being very vague about it, but I can't be more specific until I'm well into research and interviews. And even then I can give only little tidbits because I want to keep this close to myself. I have no publisher. It's just me now. But I know that I can write a pitch letter for this one. I can see many of the thoughts in that letter already about why a publisher should bring my book into the world. I'm really excited about this, and that helps the most in telling people what I set out to do with this book, for them to want to know more, to want to see the manuscript.

The next two years are going to be a lot of fun, and to kick off the research for this project, I get to watch that movie series again, taking notes this time to determine what questions I want to ask the actors, directors (One died in 2003, but his son is a director), screenwriters, production designers, composers (The music in the opening scene of one of the movies is an ominous, metallic throb that I love and I want to know how this composer did that), special effects people, and others who participated in the production of these movies. There's a story in all of it. I know it and I can feel it stronger than anything else I recently considered writing. I'm ready.


  1. Excellent. Can't wait to see it come to pass. Good luck.

  2. Thanks. The biggest coup for me would be getting an interview with an aging actor who was in all of these movies, the one who wrote the memoir, whose role inspired me to consider a career in the field his character was in. I want to tell him what that role meant to me in my teenage years, to see that someone loved what they did in that career, and was passionate about doing the right thing in it, no matter who tried to block him.

  3. I loved Heath Ledger. He loved me, too. But then, who doesn't? Happy research! I love research.


  4. I only wrote that essay about Heath Ledger for my sister, who's a huge fan. I liked his work, but wasn't that interested in him. And it was while putting those puzzle pieces together that I discovered how much I liked doing it like that, and that's what makes me excited about this research, especially all the possibilities embedded within that could come true, such as the interviews I hope to snag.

    Research is even better when you're fascinated with the subject matter, as I am with this.