Current Events Podcast 46: Mandalorian 1×7

The Reckoning! The penultimate episode of The Mandalorian’s excellent first season. Join us as we… talk about it.

I’ve done the math and this is what’s coming:

Current Events Ep 45: Picard 4, Absolute Candor

Let me be completely straightforward with you: This was a fun episode. Join Mike & Me (I guess I’m the Bots now) as we discuss the elusive Kwisatz Haderach — I’m sorry, I mean the Kuwat Milat which is completely different.

Openings

Four of the greatest openings ever:

  1. Streets of Fire. The cold open of this Rock n Roll fable may be the best music video ever made.
  2. Rollerball (1975). Seeing the game set up — the referees and coaches coming out to start the festivities and check the goals makes this gruesome, ultraviolent game seem like another day at the ballpark. (And no movie makes a more poignant comment about the corporate takeover of America)
  3. The Shining. The interview with the hotel Overlook manager sets an insanely creepy vibe for the rest of the movie.
  4. Saving Private Ryan. Never have people had a better chance to understand the randomness and chaos of combat.

Current Events Ep 44: Mandalorian Eps 5&6

Mike and I discuss a couple of superior Mandalorian episodes. In one, Mando helps a rookie bounty hunter who’s so grateful he doesn’t even betray Mando! Then Mando and bunch of upstanding citizens break an wrongly accused guy out of a prison ship and he’s so grateful he doesn’t betray Mando, either!

The Reason? Mace Windy.

Hi, my name is Jake MacMillan and I’m a rewrite-aholic. And apparently I’m also a hack comic who just puts “aholic” on the end of everything as a punchline. Whatever you want to call it, I’m addicted to rewriting my novels well past the point where any sane person would have simply given up on them and I think there are two reasons for that.

One is my brain is half engineer and half creator. The creative side loves to dream up stories and the engineer loves to build them. Constructing a narrative is a little like writing software. You set an end point, begin writing, and then have to come up with logical solutions to the problems that arise.

But another part of the engineering brain is the iterative response to a feedback loop. If I send out a story to 25 agents and all 25 pass without comment, my engineering brain tells me there’s a problem with the story, not the 25 agents.

Yes, writing is art and publishing is subjective, but one also must admit there’s a reason 100% of agents aren’t even interested in reading more about the story.

Whether it’s market conditions, they’re saturated by similar takes on similar veins, or just the subject in general there is a reason the query and the sample chapters aren’t igniting interest.

And that’s when the creative brain spins up in the background while I’m spitting out defensive tweets about how being rejected doesn’t mean there’s a problem and gets to work grinding its gears until it comes up with a new way to tell the story.

Now, I know a LOT of writers suffer from the “hate writing, love having written” syndrome, but I do not. When an idea presents itself to me for a viable story, whether for a new novel or a new take on a failing one, I leap.

Here’s where my engineer brain fails in this process: when I start writing the new take, I stop marketing the old one. To be fair to the older version, I should keep sending it out because, yes, it may be the 30th agent who falls in love with it.

If it still doesn’t get picked up, the process at least expands the sample size as just more proof it was an inferior product to begin with which further supports creating the new version.

The above sounds like a pretty cold blooded approach for someone who considers writing to be an art form, but I have never been the “create in a vacuum” type. For me to complete the circuit of the creative process I have to connect with readers and I can’t do that until I convince a whole phalanx of gatekeepers to let me through.

But also, I never write anything I’m not in love with. My only nod to selling out to push back from the publishing industry is basically, “Oh? You didn’t like that take? Here’s a whole new take on the same story that I love even more.”

The other reason I’m an over-rewriter is hinted at in the title. Funny names aside, George Lucas’ first draft of what would become the Star Wars epic leaves a lot to be desired. Most of it is utterly ridiculous and so overly complicated there would have been no way to distill it into a movie. But he kept coming back to it with new revisions and, like polishing a rock, he ended up with a gem.*

Every new idea for a different take on a story innervates me with the possibility this one is the one that cannot be improved. So, as I dive into the sixth page one rewrite of my SF novel, I’m not depressed about the trip I’m going to take. My hopes are buoyed by the promise of achieving writing the version that will get me through the gates and into the readers’ minds.

* One can also surmise his unending need to tinker with his stories led to the regrettable “fixed” versions of the movies we loved, but that’s another argument to be saved for some rainy day.

Current Events Pod EP43

Picard Episode 3. We get to know more about Raffi and meet Captain Rios. Our hero team is coming together and every one of them is broken in some way, not the least of which is Picard. Join as we talk about it.

The Beta Bounce

I just go the comments back from a beta reader for my upcoming dark fantasy. As usual, the results were a mixed bag which is exactly what you hope for. All positive remarks are not the goal here, but some positive remarks nestled within valid criticisms help soften the blow of realizing you’re not perfect.

And, to make things even better, the negatives are clearly delineated and easily fixed while the positives speak to the insecurities common to anyone swimming against a river of careless rejection.

It’s easy, especially if you spend too much time on Twitter or stumble upon a particularly cruel site where agents make fun of query letters, to doubt yourself even though you feel what you’re doing is right. Positive feedback from a beta reader can give your soul the gorp to make it that last ten miles of a very steep incline.

So many inexperienced, uncommitted “writers” now submit their work literally everywhere that agents and editors have become calloused and derisive. Their blind items on Twitter always feel like subtweets against anyone who reads them and that negativity has a way of shutting down the machine.

So I’m unfollowing all agents and industry professionals on Twitter. I know where to find their #MSWL and how to suss out who’s looking for what. The last thing I need is a flow of snide dismissals and caustic blind jabs to distract me from the emotional death march that is manuscript submittal.

Wish me luck.

Current Events Podcast: Ep 42

Bonus episode covering two episodes of The Mandalorian — 3: The Sin and 4: Sanctuary. Join us was talk about it! SPOILERS, okay? Watch the episodes first.

Current Events Podcast Ep 41

Picard episode 2 deepens the richness of the ongoing story and introduces some new treacheries. Listen to us talk about it. It’s almost as good as watching theā€¦ no, it’s really not, but we had fun.