Quite a few peeps have emailed and messaged me directly about being unable to comment. I’m aware the comment fuction is wobbly and will probably get some renovation work done on it in the next few weeks, depending on cost. But I’m also looking at a site overhaul and don’t want to burn money on work which I then throw away in a month or so.
I've always had an outsider's curiousity about writers rooms. They've become the standard way of beating out stories for TV, and particular rooms—The Simpsons, SNL—have become legendary beyond the industry. But most writers are solitary creatures, preferring to sit in the dark and pick at their wounds. So how does that play out?
I got to work in something like a writers room yesterday, and will be back there most of today. I can't give up the deets but the process was fascinating. It was similar in a way to what I do in the week or two before starting a new novel. Interrogating characters, pushing storylines out to their logical or more often illogical conclusions, looking for plotholes, asking why this story at this time. But it was half a dozen people in the room, not just me wandering around talking to myself (and the dog, if I can convince to her to stay with a tasty bone.)
It was mentally exhausting, but only because I was being forced to press a week or two's thinking into one day. By the end of that, we'd filled a whole wall with notes on characters, story arcs, themes, antagonists, sub plots and more.
This is TV of course, so as with movies the chances of this story ever being told aren't great; not compared with a book I decide to write. With books its relatively simple because its just me. If there's a trade publisher they dont really get involved until after the first draft is done. If the title is gonna go indie, there's a budget for cover design and editing, but that's the only outside complication. With television and movies, budgets are just one complicating factor. A huge complication, to be sure, but not the only one.
Anyway, interesting day. I'm looking forward to going back today.
12 Responses to ‘The writers’ room’
I have a shameful secret. Well, it's shameful to me. I go to restaurants and I order the same things over and over again. The chicken and pork ragu at Vine. The Roman carbonara at Enoteca. The lamb kebabs at The Lamb Shop. Seriously, I eat a lot of fucking lamb kebabs. Sometimes with chips.
But it's that fucking fettuccine carbonara at Enoteca that's gonna kill me. Not by clamping my heart in a deliciously creamy stranglehold and squeezing until it explodes – although there is a fair chance of that – but more likely through frustration.
When I lived in Sydney I used to have fettuccine carbonara three or four times a week at a cheap trattoria in King's Cross. It wasn't silver service dining, but it was pretty good, and reasonably priced at a time when I couldn't afford much more than cheap pasta. Fast forward a couple of decades and the Roman variation served up at Enoteca in the Woolloongabba dining precinct is a revelation. About three times more expensive for starters, but so good I can't get past it, and they can't take it off the menu. Motherfuckers got cut last time they tried.
But because I can't afford to eat there every night, and because it's supposed to be a simple dish, I've tried recreating it at home. The restaurant guys have even talked me through how to do it. It should be ridiculously easy. You boil up some fettuccine, natch. Choose your porkalicious protein, I usually go for smoked speck, which I gently fry in a pan while the fettuccine is cooking. The pasta comes off the boil and get strained. A couple of eggs, sometimes more depending on the size of the meal, are gently folded through, say, a minute after the pasta has come out of the water – otherwise you're a fair chance of scrambling the eggs in the heat. Toss through the chopped up smoky pigmeat. grind over some fresh parmesan. Plate that bad boy up.
It's delish, honestly, even when I do it at home. But I'll be damned if I can get my carbonara to the same thick, heart stopping consistency as the restaurant’s. Seriously. Theirs is not even a sauce. It's more like a gravy. I normally program a couple of hours high-intensity interval training before I eat there and then, like a bear in winter, I don't eat again for months afterwards.
I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. There is just… something… missing. And I cannot rest until I find out what it is.
10 Responses to ‘This pasta will end me’
Sometimes publishers send you things. Usually books. But my publishers sent me this cool 'challenge' coin for Christmas. As the text explains, challenge coins have been given as tokens of 'valor, service and camaraderie' since Roman times. Legionaires who'd proved themsevles particularly stabby on the battlefield got an exta coin in their pay pouch at the end of the week.
Apparently some military units still gift their members with special one-off coins, and the soldier who cannot produce their coin when challenged is up for an expensive round of drinks.
Del Rey's heavy coin of solid black Adamantium was minted solely for Del Rey's authors and the letter professes that it is given as emblem of the comradeship of the house and in appreciation for our work.
But just quietly, to get one you have to straight up murder at least two authors from Baen Books first.
12 Responses to ‘Del Rey Challenge Coin’
The post below is an extract from The Seven Stages of Drinking Martinis, the anthology I collected over two years of writing Alien Side Boob. But specifically the non ranty, non political bits. Looking back, they're my favourites.
Because I've grown so weary and sick in my soul of social media, I'm making a real effort to pour the energy I would've spent composing tweets or drooling thru Facebook (not a typo) into slowly renovating the ol' blog here.
I like the idea of a quiet clubhouse where I can retreat from the madness of the online world. And I gotta feeling I might not be alone. So although I've published Martinis as a book—Kindle exclusive for now, so its free for KU readers—I'll be running a piece here every now and then. Partly to pimp the book, but mostly to warm up the joint.
I get so little joy from Twitter anymore. And I've pretty much always hated Facebook. Opening those sites and apps feels like compuslive self abuse, and not the good kind.
So pull up a chair, pour yourself a drink and get cozy. But observe the one and only house rule. Be awesome to each other.
11 Responses to ‘Free martinis’
"Conan, what is best in life?"
To make the yellow light at the intersection with but a fraction of a second to spare, then to savour expressions of your enemies, the other, lesser drivers as they are bathed in the loathsome flash of the red light camera.
Conan, please, what is best in life?
To see a close friend stumble in public, to almost fall, and to regain his footing but only at the cost of great embarrassment. This. This is best. Most especially the embarrassment, but also the clumsiness.
Come now, Conan.
It is also best to find twenty dollars folded into your pocket. Not less, for there is little one can do with less. Not more, for with great riches, or fifty dollars, comes great responsibility. To accidentally find and wantonly spend twenty dollars is indeed best.
Conan, what is best in life?
Not the Celebrity Retweet, but the envy of your closest friends at your Celebrity Retweet.
Conan, is that really what’s best in life?
For Conan there is also pleasure to be had in the awkward, slightly uncomfortable moment when another must hold the door open longer than usual so that I might pass through.
If the door is the entrance to a crowded restaurant or bar, and your long and awkward approach is long enough that a table opens up directly in front of you as you enter? This, this too is best in life. For some reason, greater pleasure is to be had in subterranean venues.
But what is truly best in life, Conan?
I speak true when I say that to freeze frame the TV just as your enemy is blinking so as to appear in the throes of a stroke, perhaps brought on by an explosive and unexpected end to a prolonged bout of constipation, this is best.
Conan, what is truly-ruly best?
To have a water balloon fight with small children in which your superior reach, speed and throw weight allows you to utterly drench them while you yourself remain dry.
Any more, Conan?
To drive one’s wagon to market, and pull into a parking space at the exact moment the wagon immediately in front of you pulls out, allowing you to claim the pull through slot and ultimately to drive away without the inconvenience of reversing, that is best in life.
Conan, is that seriously what is best in life?
The crusty edge on a muffin top also pleases Conan.
You’ve changed, Conan.
Conan does not change, not for mere pleasure, unless it is into a fleecy track suit, fresh from the warm cycle of the clothes dryer. This too Conan finds best.
Conan, there must be more than this.
Only the look on someone’s face as the elevator door closes with them still outside and Conan within, smiling, victorious.