Here’s the slightly revised, and now final (probably) title agreed with Continuum / Bloomsbury for the new book. My deadline is August 2014, so a long way off. Hopefully I can get it done before then, but at least it should be safe. My contract is being finalized at the moment, but we should be good to go!
Dear interested reader(s), I just had some very welcome news from my publisher, Continuum Books in New York. After a successful peer review process they have accepted my proposal for a sequel volume to Write What You Don’t Know. We are in discussion over the title, but right now it is: Structure is Pleasure, learning screenwriting through case studies. I have a number of other writing projects on my plate at the moment, including a spec screenplay and a big chapter on screenwriting history for a forthcoming book from Rutgers UP, so the new book won’t appear for a while yet. I’ll keep you posted on this site of course.
[Note: This is an extract from my book Write What You Don't Know: an Accessible Manual for Screenwriters, published this month by Continuum Books]
Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only at night. Edgar Allen Poe
We are caught between two lies in our culture. The first is the vapid self-help book assertion that inside everybody is a perfectible little nugget of genius just waiting to be smelted out of all our impurities. We can all make it to the stars as long as we have the guts to reach for them (and the money to buy the food or the book or the course that will open the magical doorway to get us there).
The second and more dangerous lie is that talent and creativity are what the other, strange people have and we should be content to sit back on the couch in our farting pants, with our pork rinds and beer cans readily to hand and just watch our stories and be thankful the strange people were there to tell them to us.
In fact the reality is that we are all at least minimally creative most of the time, and yet surprisingly people tend to discount, suppress and ignore their own creativity. Some of us are too far gone to care, but for many of us, even if we are too smart completely to buy into the fantasy of perfectibility, there is the will to try to learn and improve.
Unusually for me, I agree with the psychologist Abraham Maslow on this: ‘The key question isn’t “What fosters creativity?” But it is why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything.’
If you will forgive a brief medieval analogy (and with deep apologies to the eminent historian Caroline Walker Bynum), too often we have a tendency to take a lesson as if from the writers of hagiographies who encouraged their readers and audiences to wonder at, not imitate the miraculous deeds of the saints. In a more modern idiom: you can’t be as good as [insert name of your favorite creative genius here], so don’t bother trying:
Professional writer. Closed train of thought. Do not attempt.
Personally I put a lot of the blame onto the culture of reticent mediocrity our various structures of formal education and informal socialization tend to foster in too many young people, but that’s a story for another time.
Much of what we do on a day-to-day level we don’t think of in terms of creativity. In fact we spend a great deal of time automatically suppressing our creative impulses through established routines of thought and behavior. It is easier to do and to think what we always do or think in a given situation than it is to open ourselves up to allowing the possibility that other choices are available and that they might lead to … who knows where?
If that simple observation is more exciting than scary to you, then there’s hope for you as a creative individual!
OK the book now has a back cover!