8.02.2008

Life is strange and mysterious

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Anybody who's been reading this blog knows I've been wrestling with my Dexter spec for a while now. Recently, it's more so resembled the Three Stooges than an actual physical bout. I didn't get it to a place of my liking in time for the WB, so I submitted my BSG spec instead. Not thrilled about that -- but what can you do?

Something was wrong with my Dexter script. And I couldn't put my finger on it. It was painful to work on it. But I trudged on away. Lots of teeth got pulled in all that trudging. Not good for the soul. What's the opposite of chicken soup?

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Wise Maggie sent me an email about how it all stems from story. If something isn't working, you have to go back to the story. I was sure she was right. But all the missing teeth had left me brow-beaten. Not enjoying what you enjoy doing is awful. So I stepped away for a little while. Here's what I did:

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- cleaned my apartment that was neglected during all the writing

- saw The Dark Knight

- groomed my cats in a Kitty Day Spa Night. (They loved about 50% of it.)

- Watched the entirety of Bones. (That show is addictive. I got Reich's first Brennan novel for the plane ride to Chicago.)

- Became obsessed with Garfield Minus Garfield.

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Have you heard about this? This website takes the Garfield comic strip and for each strip they remove every character but Jon. What's left is this startling funny, depressing, and brilliant piece of work.

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I was never into Garfield. But you take out everything but Jon and it's astounding. I can't believe how many levels these edited strips work on. It's fascinating.

You have this piece of work, and you remove certain elements that otherwise you wouldn't even think of removing or changing, and it can create something radically different. Potentially, something much better than what you started with.

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It sounds obvious, sure -- but look at these new comic strips. I never would have guessed how arresting Garfield could be if you just remove the fat cat.

The depressing strips are my favorite. Who knew that Jon was so insightful, "teeter[ing] between existential crisis and deep despair" (NY Times)? Some are so lean that they resemble little cartoonish dashes of Hopper. So spare, so cutting. Less is more, even in cartoon Suburbia.

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So I'm been reacquainting myself with my Dexter spec. Bringing the joy back into it. Remembering why I love the show. And this has been great food for thought. What does each element bring to the package?

Figure out what you're grasping onto and why it feels so sacred. Then accept that nothing is sacred. Everything is negotiable. As long as it releases your script's full potential.

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Go ahead. Toss the fat cat. See what happens.

ps. Best for last:

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4 comments:

Russell said...

I found the "Garfield minus Garfield" site a few weeks ago and agree that it's brilliant.Just wish I had thought of it!

Jeff said...

Hey Russell, nice to see you around here at the old Man in Los Angeles blog. I'm sure Adam (this blog's author) would agree that the Chicago Cubs minus the Chicago Cubs would be even better than Garfield Minus Garfield.

adam _______________________ said...

Jeff, you're just gloating because the one game of the Cubs/Cards series you attended was a bloodbath in your favor. Cubs still took the series... :p

Jeff said...

Ouch. It hurts because it's true; however, on that day, I (and MY people) ruled Clark. The Cubby Bear was ours...if just for a day.