Saturday, June 27, 2015

Dry Run: Update 12

I just came to a realization: I enjoy doing these little blogged writing updates more than I enjoy writing the book.

Is that weird?  Is that yet another sign that I am pathological?*

At this point, I just want to be done with my book.  And whoa, I'm no longer calling it a story, short or otherwise.  Creepy.

But I just want to be finished with it.  Maybe all lengthy tasks are that way.  I certainly feel it when I'm recording (and especially editing) an audiobook.  Heck, I feel that way when I'm listening to an audiobook and I feel the narrative has gone on too long.  I just want the thing to be over with, and if it isn't immediately so . . . it starts to feel like a drudgery.  Like a chore to be completed, instead of a pleasurable passtime.

Anyway, I wrote these words a while ago, and just wrote Dry Run Update 13, then came on here to see what I'd written in number 12.  Turns out I wrote the same thing in both, just on different days.  Whoops.

So instead, what I'll talk about here today is Rish Outfield's final rewrite.  Should that be capitalized?  Anyhow, back when I was an extra in L.A., I carried my backpack around (both the one that was stolen when I went to see JURASSIC PARK 3, and the later one) with a notebook in it to write in, and with a print-out of an older story.  I would usually write my stories in longhand, eventually type up what I had written, and then print it out.  I'd wait anywhere from a month to a year, then grab that printout and read through it, making notes and changes as I saw fit.  I'd incorporate those changes, and that would be my final draft.

You see, being an extra, besides paying so little it almost comes close to how little I make at my job in 2015, is all about sitting around, or standing around, or riding a shuttle, or waiting for a shuttle, or waiting to change into your wardrobe, or waiting for Makeup or Hair, or waiting for a vacant trailer to change out of your wardrobe in, or waiting to get signed in, or waiting to eat, or waiting to see if you're even needed that day, or waiting to get signed out.  In other words, it's hardly any downtime at all.

I used to get through a ton of book reading, and quite a bit of writing done while being a "background player," and I always dug that about the job.  But now, I have less sitting around time, and the internet is a constant attention harlot (which I realize is demeaning, but if it didn't want my attention, it wouldn't dress that way).  So my writing process in the twenty-teens is this: I write the first draft in longhand in the notebook, then I eventually (or never) get the notebook out and transcribe the story onto the computer (usually adding and changing little things there), and then comes the final draft: reading it aloud.

I find SOOOOOOOO many things wrong with my stories when I read them aloud.  And lately, I've tried to record the readings, so I'll have them for my podcast, or to put up for sale.  This process is unbelievably slow, and in my recent final draft of "Popcorn Movies," it probably resulted in, oh, about a thousand or so changes.  Only when I read it aloud do I realize I've used the same word too many times, or phrased things awkwardly, or repeated the same information in two different sections, or changed a character's name from Joanne to Glynis.  And, as I've said, beyond it helping my story suck a little less, it creates an audio file I can actually do something with.

It works for me ("Popcorn Movies," for good or ill, is a heck of a lot better after all those changes).  And that's how I'm going to play it from now on.

Until I don't.  You know me.

So, looking at my word count machine, I'm at:

My math puts that at eighty-two percent finished.  I'd say, I'll be done by about Dry Run Update 15.  Or, if I decide to REALLY work, I could be done sooner.  Except I don't want it to be a drudgery, so I won't.  Sorry.

Rish Outfield, Nearly Done

*You think that's effed-up, I actually named my pillow when I was a boy.  And talked to it.  And asked it to the prom.  It had other plans that night, though.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Rish's Story "Miss Fortune" in the Masters of the Macabre Contest

This is five years in a row I've entered the Masters of the Macabre contest over at  I find it hard to believe I've been doing it that long (and that I've lost every one), but the second you win, the contest is closed to you, and this may be my year.


This year was something a little different (although for me, not at all).  They wanted us to write an audio drama for the 2015 contest, and to have at least two different voices participating.  I have a bit of experience, when it comes to putting together audio with more than one voice in it, if not in writing audio drama, but I worked hard on it anyway.  Ultimately, I thought I was doing alright to make it to the final round of the contest, since this year, only the four stories that got the most votes would actually be played on the show, but the host/webmaster told me there were only four entries this time, so . . . *

I like this writing contest.  As I say every year, they give you certain elements you have to use in your story, so it produces a tale I would never have told without their help.

Briefly, let's look at the five entries I've done for the show.

2011.  "Friends In Paradise."  This was a fairly awful little story, due mostly to me having to fit "luau" and "hang-gliding" in the same damned story.  It didn't end up being at all scary or amusing, though I still like the part where the dad was talking about his daughter's beautiful legs.  I enlisted my niece to voice the main character, which was probably unusual for the contest judges, at least back then.

2012.  "The Scottish Scene."  This story I'm much, much happier with.  I had to write about the Curse of MacBeth, so I wrote about three teenage girls who plan to read the Three Witches scene in the play.  I got Renee Chambliss to voice all three girls, which again, elevated the story, and though she initially voiced the witch for me as well, I ended up using my own voice there, because her voice always sounds too young and lovely to pull that off.  Ironic, considering she's a Level Three Mistress of the Dark Arts.

2013.  "White House Tour."  I had to do the most research on this piece, since they wanted me to write a ghost story set in the White House.  I believe I got my niece to voice the ghost in this one, but this turned out even less scary than the first story, which is probably not what a website called "Horror Addicts" looks forward to.  This isn't a great story, but it's pretty harmless.  If there was a podcast out there that did genre stories intended for children, I'd certainly send this their way.

2014.  "Lighthouse View/Creature Feature."  Last year's story had to be about a monster and take place at a lighthouse.  It's pretty alright, I think, but also had the disadvantage of being not at all scary.  I didn't like the title, so I changed it to "Creature Feature" when the rights reverted to me.  I once again got Renee Chambliss to voice the main character, so that sounds good, at least.

2015.  "Miss Fortune."  So, this is an audio drama, which turned out to be EXTRAORDINARILY easy to write, more so than any story . . . ever?  Seriously, it took about as much effort as writing "Sleepless Afternoon" or one of the annual barbecue sketches I do on the Dunesteef.  Of course, the editing took a little longer, and I layered the hell out of this thing, with sound effects, homemade foley, music, and both Renee Chambliss' AND my niece's voices.

The theme this year was . . . hmmm, I can't remember exactly.  I know we were all given a tarot card from the Major Arcana that had to be worked into the story, and we were all given a monster the story would feature/be about.  I got a double-whammy in that I know nothing about the Tarot (including "The Hermit," which was the card I got) and just as much about "The Rawhead," which was my monster.

The Rawhead can be one of two things: in British folklore, he was a kind of bogeyman, who would snatch up disobedient children if they, say, forgot to curtsy to the upper class, or made eye contact with an unmarried member of the opposite sex without a proper chaperon, or ended a sentence with a preposition.  In America (particularly the Deep South), the Raw Head and Bloody Bones, as they call it, is a legendary monster made up of pig remains that stalks the night, or perhaps vegetarian restaurants.

Of the five stories I've done for this contest, this was both the most fun to produce, and the one I'm happiest with.  Sure, it may not be up to Horror Addicts's standards, but it's up to mine.  Plus, it was only allowed to be ten minutes long, and the first draft clocked in at 10:14.  So that's pretty darn successful, in my book.

Here be yon link:

You can go to their website and listen to the entries, and if you like mine best, feel free to vote for it.  If not, there's always next year.  It'll be fun to see how long I can pretend my now-teenaged niece can pass for a ten year old girl (or boy, in the case of "White House Tour").

Rish Outfield, Bator of the Macabre

P.S. I didn't know what to call this year's story.  I made a list of potential titles, as I am wont to do, and some of those included "Wrong Turn," "After the Festival," "Raw Deal" and "Raw Head Festival," none of which worked.  I did try, "Raw Head and the Misfortune," which I believe is the name of the band that sings that song that goes "Don't listen to a word I say, Because the truth may vary, This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore," which was played into the ground recently, and is still heard at least once a day at my work.

"Raw Deal" is the best of those, but it was also a Schwarzenegger film, so . . . no.  Finally, I thought of a little tale Big Anklevich wrote once called "Unfortunate," and thought that would be an appropriate title for mine.  I tried, briefly, calling it "Misfortune Teller," which is maybe the worst title ever conceived, but then thought I'd split "Misfortune" into two words, and you know, I'm pleased as a pig in slop with that.  Good day, sir.

*I'm reminded of a conversation the other day at work.  One of my supervisors was talking about how many hours I was scheduled this upcoming week, and I said, "Guess I'm one of the reliable ones, huh?"  To which she said, "Well, unlike the others, you aren't able to find anything better, so . . ."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dry Run: Update 11

Damnation, why am I not through with this yet?

One of my problems--yeah, yeah, one of many--is that I cannot focus on one single thing and exclude all else until that one task is done.  I am so easily distracted that, believe it or not, this is the second paragraph of this post and already the third time I've worked on it.*

Before this post ever sees the light of day, I will have posted a Rish Outcast called "Chasing Pavements."  It is a really good example of this, as I recorded it not too long ago, to be a quick and easy story-free episode of my solo podcast, and finished the episode, only to remember later what the whole point of the episode was supposed to be.  So, I picked up my recorder again, and recorded the second half, telling myself I would post it the next day, so it wasn't too outdated, or something.

A month and a half later, it still isn't posted.

This story--"Into the Furnace"--got interrupted by another story I got it into my head to tell, also inspired by my solo podcast.  I was recording during my Monday night drive to meet Big, and came up with--what I considered to be--a hilariously stupid idea for a story.  There was a holiday and I had to work, and since there was little to do, I sat down and started that story, thinking I could have it finished during that one shift and I could keep working on my Dry Run tale.

But I didn't finish it, and because it was so close, I spent my writing time working on that, and then, forgetting about that, went on to other projects (like That Gets My Goat episodes we recorded weeks ago).  But the whole point of that story was to run it on my podcast, so I had to sit down and record it, despite being in the middle of TWO audiobook projects, one of them closing in on a year overdue.

Now that story is recorded, and I got it in my head to self-publish it, maybe for free (which is a post all on its own, and maybe I've already posted about it), since it's done and just sitting there.  Which means I need episode art for it.  So I requested some.  But it looked like it was gonna be a while, so I made some myself.  And now THAT sits.

So, why did I interrupt "Into the Furnace" for that, if nobody ever even saw it?


Anyway, I'm happy to post the following:

The number jumped up because I was able to incorporate the writing I did on my laptop (and meant to do so in my last post), which suddenly makes me 75% finished with my tale.  My tale of woe.

And that's pretty durn good.

Rish Outfield, Real Estate Novelist Who Never Had Time For A Wife

*I ended up cutting part of it out and making it its own post, then bumped this one to number eleven.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Dry Run: Update 10

The other day--wait, did I write about this already?  I honestly can't remember.

They hired a new second-in-command at my work not long ago, and the other day, he saw me with my notebook, and asked me what I was doing.  Luckily, I was on my break, so I didn't have to lie that I was, uh, making a list of people I needed to kill or something.  I told him it was a story, and he asked me what it was about.

Now, if you're a writer, you'll get that question from time to time, right?  And you never really know if they are actually interested, or if they are just saying that in the same way that you say, "Oh, that's good," when someone tells you they're fine, or you say, "Oh, that's too bad," when they tell you they passed a kidney stone the size of one of the Stones of Shankara in INDIANA JONES.  But this guy seems alright, and has tried to befriend his employees rather than intimidate them, and mentioned he loved Stephen King, so I told him.

"A Western, huh?" he said, shaking his head.  "That seems pretty intimidating."

I didn't get that.  Writing about a teenaged underwear model turned terminal cancer patient seems intimidating.  So I asked him why.

He said, "Well, I imagine you'd have to do a lot of research, to make sure you got everything right, you know?"

That gave me pause.  I've never been one for research*, and in "Birth of a Sidekick," the only research I believe I ever did was to look up a list of famous kid sidekicks from the 1940's.  And that was for my frickin' Author's Note.

Should I be doing research?  Should I try to come up with facts to back up my fiction?  On a story like this, I'd be hard-pressed to find anything that could make things easier rather than harder, and the one thing I did look up (a story at least thematically similar to my own) ended up being much less cool than I thought it would be.

But you know, the more I thought of it, the more I thought I didn't have to rely on research, not for a Western like this one.  You see, the Wild West as you and I (and especially my dad) know it, didn't exist.  It was created for entertainment in the early Twentieth Century, and that entertainment influenced other entertainment, and that inspired knock-offs and imitators and lazy and brilliant Western movies, and what we know in the 21st Century is pretty much what my father's generation gave us: a Old West of gunfighters, saloons, piano players, horse rustlers, dancing girls, stagecoaches, telegraphs, Autobots and Decepticons, bartenders, old prospectors, hookers with hearts of gold, sheriffs' deputies, and drunks sleeping off the night in jail.

I know filmmakers have made fairly accurate Westerns, and Larry McMurtry would often put real-life people from the period in his books, but the response is usually that of boredom or apathy when compared with the fairly light, fairly fun Hollywood version of the Untamed West.

So the pressure, in my opinion, is off.  Especially when you (if you) read my tale and discover what it is about (shoot, did the Decepticon mention give it away?).  It seems to me that writing a Western isn't that much different than writing a Slasher movie, or a Fantasy or Sci-Fi tale set in a far-off world.

Or am I wrong?

Rish Ou--

Oh, shoot, I'm supposed to include this meter thing, aren't I?  Okay, here:

Yes, this is a shameful display that shows I did absolutely no work in the several days since my last posting, but it's not accurate.  The other day, I wrote and wrote and wrote, like a real writer would write and write and write.  And today, I tried doing the same thing, taking my laptop to the park and writing until its battery died.  And before I went to work, I plugged the laptop in just long enough to email myself the document I created, knowing it would be wildly impressive when I incorporated it into my master document.

Unfortunately, when I checked my email tonight, I had nothing but spam in my inbox, and nothing from a younger version of myself.  I turned on the laptop, and there was no email in the Sent folder either.  So, I guess I have to appear to have done nothing, the way Bruce Wayne appears to be a drunken, selfish loudmouth in BATMAN BEGINS, which isn't such a bad thing to compare myself to, when I think about it.

Rish Outfield, Novel Writer

*In college, I wrote a story that I prided myself in doing the most research I ever had before, speaking to a nurse about drugs and infection and medical treatments.  But that pride faded away when somebody in my class said, "I'm pre-med, and it's obvious you didn't do any research here."  He pretty much accused me of never opening a book in my life.  I wish I had been man enough to either a) vow to never do research again on any writing project, or b) stand up and say, "I did a hell of a lot of research, actually.  On your mother."

Friday, June 12, 2015

Rish Performs "Time To Say Goodnight" on the Drabblecast

You know the Drabblecast, right?  Strange stories for strange listeners, like yourself?  It's been either a pleasure or an honor to lend my voice to their episodes for more than five years now, and this week, I'm in the driver's seat, narrating "Time To Say Goodnight" by Caroline Yoachim.

It wouldn't be Drabblecast if the story wasn't odd, but this one, about a little girl who learns about death from her (sentient?) mechanical pets, is odder than my usual.  Despite the outlandish premise, the story is told 100% straight, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was intended to produce a tear or two.

I don't know why I was chosen to narrate it, since the two main characters (and the author) are all female, but I felt honored Norm Sherman chose me to do a story on my own, and I got to do a number of voices, including talking toys.  Feel free to check it out at THIS LINK.

Check out this ridiculously high-quality episode art, while you're at it:

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dry Run: Update 9

I believe I have previously mentioned that this project, my dry run leading up to actually writing a novel could BE a novel, if I could just develop it a little bit more.  So far, there are four major(ish) characters, and I keep intending to introduce one more before the end, but I could easily explore these characters further, find out what they do all day, what they think about, where they came from.

And that's a problem, wouldn't you say?  Have you ever read one of the big, sprawling Stephen King books where he introduces a character, tells you all about him (or her), gives you their backstory and their wants and desires . . . and then kills them right then and there?  It probably didn't bother me the first couple of times he did it,* but once I noticed it, it stood out a little more every time he did it again.

And mayhaps that comes from writing without an outline, writing from the seat of your pants, not really knowing where the characters are going to end up, and even who's gonna be significant and who isn't.  But "Into the Furnace" isn't really like that.  True, my outline consists of a single page, where I write the characters' names, and the beginning and middle of the story.  But I'd be a little more comfortable if I knew where it's all heading.  Just HOW the good guy is going to defeat the bad guy, and if I can somehow organically have the first attempt fail without getting our hero killed as reprisal.

I still don't know.  And that's kind of exciting, really.  Except that I feel like I'm dragging my feet at this point, going slowly on "Into the Furnace"--or worse, setting it down to work on other stuff--so that I don't have to write my novel and potentially fail.  I think my subconscious might think it's doing me a favor, keeping me from stumbling, but I really wish it wouldn't.

There's a girl at work that I mentioned several months ago, who went away and then came back again.  She's a perfectly cromulent girl, if a little weird (yes, kettle calling the pot African-American and all), and I was told by another coworker that she's fond of me (which is what two or three readers of my blog** said was surely the case.  So yesterday, I approached her, and then walked away.  And approached her again, not meaning to sweep her off her feet or anything, but say something nice to her, a compliment, I dunno.  But I couldn't make myself do it.  I'd crashed and burned so many times, I was like Mark Hamill's face sewed together with Gary Busey's or something.***

So, my subconscious told me, "Dude, don't be an asshole.  If you flirt with her, it's gonna either lead her on, and she's obviously mentally unstable anyway.  Or worse, she's gonna think you're some kind of freakazoid, which you obviously are but keep blocking out of your mind, and then things are gonna be weird between you, which is fine for you, but think about her.  This is a girl the world has been cruel to, and the last thing she needs is you making it cruel and unattractive."  This is, of course, a translation of what went through my mind, in the blink of an eye, and I went ahead and did my job rather than dork around while getting paid almost nothing an hour.

Do I sound like I'm complaining?  I'm sorry, I don't.  I used to be quite bitter and quite angry, and I don't think that's the case anymore.  I'm mostly just numb, and I rarely feel sorry for myself anymore, which I think is healthy.  My therapist says th--

Oh yeah, my therapist was institutionalized and got so much electroshock therapy that he no longer remembers my name.  Or his own.  Or how to use toilet facilities.  But I digress.

Current progress:

I forced myself to transcribe today until I reached ten thousand words.  That's about when the bad guy finally shows his face, which is long in coming, as I've said, but feels about right to me.

I'm well past the middle point on the actual writing, even if I can't count it on here, so that's good.  Not great (as the calendar tells me), but good.


*In his expansion of "The Stand," be probably does it into the double digits.

**Holy Guido Sarducci, I have more than one reader of my blog!  I just realized that.  And . . .  There, I've forgotten it already.

***I purposely didn't mention actors who DIED in car accidents.  It seemed a little tasteless.  Which, I know, hasn't stopped me before, but . . .

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Christopher Lee R.I.P.

When I was a boy, Channel 20 would have their "Thriller Theater" show at three o'clock on Saturdays.  This was the first time I saw the Godzilla movies, the Roger Corman Poe films, and the Hammer Horror movies.  My first Dracula was not Bela Lugosi (though I was aware of him, but of course), but was Christopher Lee.

Those Hammer Dracula films are pretty uneven today (including the unofficial one Jess Franco did in the Seventies), but as a kid, THAT was Dracula.  I remember being particularly fascinated by the one called DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, but that's just me.

I don't know if my buddy Jeff loved those movies as a kid or not, but he sure does now.  In fact, the most expensive present I ever got him was a twelve inch Christopher Lee Dracula figure with soft goods clothing and a cadleabra.  He keeps it above his work computer.

Well, Christopher Lee is gone (June 8th).  But he had an insanely good run.

Gosh, he had a cool voice.  My cousin once made me listen to a couple of those weird Heavy Metal tracks he did a couple of years back.  The man's voice was commanding

Of course, that's not all.  THE WICKER MAN.  He was one of the bright points in 1941.  THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN.  Saruman in those wonderful "Lord of the Rings" movies (including the third one, if you got the extended cut).  SLEEPY HOLLOW (as well as other recent Tim Burton flicks).  Heck, he even lent a bit of class and gravitas to the two Star Wars Prequels he was in.

He lived to be insanely old (ninety-three.  Dude, I'm not gonna live to be seventy-three), and thrilled three generations of movie fans (at least).  Not bad for a vampire/wizard.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Dry Run: Update 8

So, I have now introduced my antagonist, and it's nice to have finally reached this point.  As I previously mentioned, there's a pretty good chunk of the story dedicated to asking the question: Who (or what) is the bad guy in this tale?  And I worried (and still do, just a lil bit) that the answer to that question is too long in coming.

But now that it's here, it's fun to write my bad guy, and though I intended to have the character speak in a very unusual way,* I discovered that it slows me down quite a bit, every time I get to a line of dialogue.  I always want it to sound absolutely perfect, and that's gonna be a real chore.  It reminds me of the times I've written for Darth Vader or The Emperor.  They have such distinctive voices and cadences that you can't just give them normal dialogue (there was a bit of that at the beginning of STAR WARS, but by the time you get to "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed..." it's already the pseudo-poetic way of talking Vader would have in both EMPIRE and JEDI ("Perhaps you feel you are being treated unfairly?  Good, it would be unfortunately if I had to leave a garrison here." "You may dispense with the pleasantries, Commander.  I'm here to put you back on schedule.  The Emperor does not share your optimistic appraisal of the situation.").

One other interesting quandary about my bad guy is: how bad do I have to make him before the reader wishes him dead?  Many times in movies, they'll have the bad guy slap a woman, or be cruel to a character we like, or use the one F-word in your PG-13, and that stuff, sorry kiddies, is horseshit.  We're big boys and girls, we don't need to be manipulated in such an obvious manner.  The worst, though, and I'm beginning to think that it really is the absolute worst, is when the villain is about to meet their/fall to their death and the hero tries to help them, only to have the villain try one last time to kill them, thus making it okay that they are allowed to die.  We've seen it time and time and time and time again (I almost wanna say I saw it in AVENGERS 2), and it absolutely has to stop.

No, what I want is the hero to realize he has to kill the bad guy, not because of some dastardly thing he does (or threatens to do), but simply because he is evil, and evil needs to be snuffed out.  After all, it's the Old West, and movies have taught me that an Old West sheriff can pretty much do whatever he likes, in order to keep his town safe.

You probably know what solution I came up with, since asking myself the above question: just write the dang thing the way I feel it should be written, knowing I can go back in and have a bit more mustache-twirling from my bad guy (who I named after my one-time best friend, not because I now despise him or consider him villainous, but because the name is a cool one) if he's not evil enough.  Hopefully, my gut is right on this.  It's no fun to second-guess yourself.

Well, it's no fun for me, anyway.

So, here's our progress today:

8119 of 25000.  That's not bad, really.  I mean, it's not GOOD, considering I was supposed to be finished by now, but it's not a terrible number.  A third.  And way more than half if I was better at typing up my progress.

I need to buckle down hard and do what I said I was going to do.  I need to become a man before all this is through.  Sorry that rhymed.


*Big suggested I have the bad guy speak in iambic pentameter.  A brilliant suggestion, except that it would guarantee my story would be finished about three weeks after the Apocalypse.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Rish Outcast 24: Chasing Pavements

No story here either, folks.  Just Rish ruminating on the Adele song "Chasing Pavements," and just what that means regarding his dreams of being a writer.  Also, he gets sidetracked by FSC in there somewhere.

As always, you may download the file HERE, if that's your thing.

Monday, June 01, 2015

First of June

It's the first of June, first of June, Rish's novel's starting soon . . .

Actually, it's a long way off, which means I'm gonna have to write all the harder when that day comes.  Creepily, this was the fortune I got when I went out for Chinese this week:

That seemed like quite a coincidence, what with this being the "Write a Novel in 90 Days" challenge between Big and me.  He already has a story in mind, and a title ("The Gauntlet"), and as I am not going to be able to focus on my book for a while, he's got a head start on me.

But it would be neat to glance three months into the future, and see where I got, what my plotline was, and how long before I was able to actually begin.  "Good things are in store for you."  To paraphrase something Big has said a time or three: Fortune cookies don't come true . . . they are made true.

Rish Outfield, Future Novelist