Boynton linked to the Gender Genie the other day and I have been trying to trick it ever since. However, it would seem that everything I write is distinctively female. I tried out a couple of other people's text as well- the only ones that stumped the Gender Genie were Eeksy-Peeksy (the Gender Genie is convinced he's a woman) and some..... but not all... of Beth's posts the GG believes to be masculine of voice.
He was a waiter in one of those dodgy Bourke St Cafes. One of us ordered a hot chocolate "with no syrup or marshmallows" and the other ordered a whiskey, no ice. The waiter looked slightly panicked. He stared at his notepad. "How would I write that, do you think?" "Just write neat next to it." we said. "Neat? he said, clearly not believing us. We assured him it was true. "I've only been here four days" he said. Later, I asked where the toilets were and he said "I'll get the keys and show you" and took me half way down the street to where the bathroom was hidden. When I returned the drinks had arrived- the whiskey with no ice and the hot chocolate, with no marshmallows or syrup, as requested.
Well, the screenplay writing session was disappointing. This morning I looked over the list of topics we were supposed to cover and many of them simply didn't get a mention at all (unless that was the point at which I'd settled down to have a snooze on my chair.)
It basically turned out to be an examination of the Matrix script- and not a particular thorough or interesting one at that. I had imagined that there would be some comparison of drafts- from the earliest rough scratchings through to the polished final product. I also thought that a variety of script models would be looked at, but no, it was just The Matrix. If you are only going to use one script, you would think you would choose one that at least had some interesting dialogue.
Dr Dethridge started off by giving us a rundown of her dazzling career, presumably to show us that there were jobs to be had. She started off with an arts degree and then did an MA in political science, then became interested in satellite technology (I'm not quite sure how this happened). Then the story became bizarre. Dr Dethridge told us that she went to the States and started working for NASA as a kind of junior rocket scientist. However, she realised that her boss was basically working for the CIA and she became nervous.
At this point Petite leaned across and said "Do you think she's making this up to show how easily you can create an interesting story for a screenplay?" I thought that this was a reasonable suggestion, especially as she then went on to say how she moved from NASA to Hollywood. "My work with NASA had given me a mechanical approach" she told us "I had an ear that could listen to the sound of the screenplay's engine."
My own ear listened to the sound of La Spin, snorting beside me.
Dr Dethridge had, as Petite said, a rather joyless approach to the whole thing. And a conservative one. She believes that there is no room for tragedy in film for the most part (broadly criticising The Boys, for instance, as a "bleak portrayal of Australian masculinity". She seems to believe ugly things don't exist or shouldn't, at least, be made into films.) The protagonist has to be redeemed, she said, or no one would want to watch your film. "This has historical precedence, it's not just a modern take" she insisted, "It dates back to the plays written by the Ancient Greeks." Petite, La Spin and I looked at each other. How many Greek comedies do you know of, compared to tragedies?
So, it was largely a big waste of time, except that I now feel confident that I don't need to buy her screenwriting book. The one useful thing she did say (although, like most of what she said, it was fairly obvious) is that the most important thing is to stop talking about it and start actually writing it.
Ecotone is discussing weblogs as place, not just as something that locates the writer within a particular geography, but weblog as a physical realm. It has an address, afterall. People come and visit it, leave notes. You visit other people's weblogs, and maybe even link to them. When I left the grumpy girl URL last year I did feel oddly sad about it. I suppose it had become an actual place in some respects. I suppose I had invested a reasonable amount of time and thought into the site and I felt like I was moving on. You tell yourself that you can always come and visit, but you know it won't be the same, although I'm not sure why.
I remember also when my parents kept their blog when they were in Kuching last year I logged into it and uploaded images on a couple of occasions. I remember thinking it felt like I'd let myself into their house and was wondering around.
Thinking of the weblog as a physical place is not surprising- it's very common with computers and software (think of all the metaphors for the computer desktop with its trash bins and folders and files. All the scissors and paintbrushes and hands for picking things up, for smudging, for blending.) I am also curious to see, as time passes, how I increasingly locate my blog in geographical terms- writing about festivals or seminars or events that would only be of interest to Melbourne people, reading more Melbourne blogs than those of any other nation, when there are millions of blogs from other countries to read, millions of other persepctives to be examine. And I can't really explain why this is happening, it seems to defy the opportunities given by the weblogging experience. Perhaps, in a sea of thousands of weblogs, there is some urge to connect to those who in some ways share your experiences of the physical world.
Popcorn Taxi are presenting a session on writing your screenplay, presented by Dr. Lisa Dethridge at ACMI this evening. The blurb says that the session will cover various writing techniques as well as insights into the screenwriting process, including
· outline cohesive plots
· create multidimensional characters
· draft credible dialogue
· envisage and describe compelling action
· conceptualize an entire visual ‘world’
· engage international audiences
· troubleshoot script structure
· identify first draft pitfalls
So, Grumpy Girl, you haven't written one of these chat sessions up for a while.
It started to feel like a bit of a chore- I wasn't enjoying it like I used to.
Well, having a break is often a good thing. What have you been doing instead?
I've been doing a bit of writing, recently, trying to get some short stories done.
Do you think that keeping a blog has helped your writing?
Well, in some ways it has. It's helped in that I've now developed a habit of writing most days, and that I often receive feedback on what I write.
And in what ways hasn't it helped?
I think I was hoping that keeping a blog would mean I had all these partial stories that I could then stick together and make into finished pieces.
And that hasn't happened?
Well, I do have all these fragments, but it's hard to make them sit naturally together in longer stories. I feel like it's really obvious when I work blog pieces into other stories. They seem to really stand out.
But blogging has got you into the habit of writing.
Yes, which is great. And I think it's teaching me about how to write for the Web, which is why I initially started this project anyway. And it's enjoyable- more so than sitting down to write longer pieces of fiction, I find.
You don't enjoy writing?
I just find it really difficult. I enjoy writing the first draft- getting all the ideas down. But then I always read it over a day or two later and just hate it. Then it's a real struggle to persevere with it.
Redrafting stuff is hard work.
Hard and somewhat demoralising. I suppose with blogging it's all about the first, fun draft, not about the polishing and ammending.
So why not just write in your blog and forget about the other writing?
Because I want to get better at writing. I don't want to let it defeat me.