I am notoriously bad about finishing things. I taught in Ukraine in 1997-8 and visited again in 1999 and 2001 for a long distance relationship that didn’t work out. I had written notes for a longish Ukraine essay in 2000 which I never got around to finishing. I’ll probably spend the next month working on that essay. That’s what happens when you have a 9-to-5 job. Everything you write is extraordinarily late.
Ok, one more thing about Ukraine. I hope that one positive result of this crisis will be better knowledge of this wonderful country. The western city, Lviv, is just the most beautiful place I have been to, and the people are justly proud of that city (here’s a photogallery). I actually hope to post my own photos soon. I have already decided to have at least one of my stories take place in Lvov.
Now that I have bought an ebook reader (arriving by next week!), I have decided to publish my first ebook next year (hopefully by the summer). More writing news: this point may not be obvious to readers, but I have fallen in love with the American TV sitcom genre. I have spent the last 6 years watching nothing but, and recently I started watching the BBC’s “As Time Goes By” which I just love. I have set a goal to write a sitcom. Actually, I will write a series of 10 or so scripts which I’ll first produce as radio/audio plays, and then if the money/time/interest exists, I’ll try to get them produced on video.
But film/TV scripts? Conventional wisdom used to be that “scripts by committee” resulted in mediocre stories. But TV sitcoms (if you can fast-forward through the commercials), are among the tightest scripts ever written. That’s a case where group writing actually succeeds and gives the finished product more polish and bang for the buck. When an individual writes the script, the results can be more iffy; characterization is shallow, or the story fails to adopt the multiperspective common to most plays.
Watching sitcoms makes one things clear. The scripts themselves are not as important as the story frame or the characters or backstory. Many mediocre scripts have been rescued by the momentum of a compelling backstory. Just look at Cheers. Sam, a former athlete, former alchoholic known as a ladies’ man. There’s so much that can be done with all that. The writer’s challenge is to start with a storyframe that permits enough character interactions to continue to be interesting and allow new characters and situations to arise. One doesn’t need to plan everything in advance. With Happy Days, for example, I doubt that the script writers expected that the show would revolve around Fonzie, but that’s what happened, and then they just took it from there.
Finally, a point about my output. I have written a fair amount, and a lot of old stuff awaits revising. But for the sake of separating my online identity of Robert Nagle separate from my “writer identity,” I have decided to use pseudonyms for all my writing projects. At the moment, I have only one pseudonym with a lot of content, but over the years that will change. However, I generally make an effort to inform this blog about my original creative content by linking to it. Also, my litcommunity site will probably showcase writings by all of my pseudonyms.