Monthly Archives: June 2014

Endings (and the Beginnings They Spur)

As I wrote in a post earlier this evening, I finished watching the ninth and final season of The Office tonight. Alongside this, I also finished writing the first “Arc” of my series, The Chronicles of Troy.

I don’t want to elaborate too much, but Troy is something I’ve been working on since September 2012. Before that, the idea was for it to be a graphic novel series, and I even wrote a few scripts. I then decided to make it a short story series divided into “Arcs.” and each Arc would be comprised of fifteen episodes or short stories. The later stories proved to be longer and were novellas in their last few stories. The series is science-fictional, with a bunch of adventure, some mystery, and even a bit of romance. It follows an alien named Troy who travels the multiverse with two humans.

The series was inspired, obviously, by Doctor Who, but has grown into its own original work, in my opinion. The first half needs a lot more work, since my writing has matured greatly, but I’m proud of Troy‘s ability to differentiate itself and come into its own as a story and series. I’m so hopeful about what the series could become in the future, and want nothing but to make it a real, bona fide series people read. That’s my dream.

Anyway, I finished the finale last week. I haven’t had much of a chance to write a blog post about it till tonight, and now that I’ve calmed down about The Office, I guess I can talk about it.

There’s something so emotional about really finishing something. After working on this Arc for a year and a half, it’s incredible to me that I’ve reached this point. I almost thought I never would. I’ve got enormous plans for the future of the series and for what I’ve already worked on (lots of rewrites). I’ve come to love and admire these characters unlike any others I’ve written, and perhaps most importantly, I’m PROUD of those characters. They’ve developed at an unimaginable rate and to an unbelievable extent. I can’t wait to begin the second Arc, but for now, that’s just ruminating in my brain. Big plans.

With the end of Troy‘s first Arc and the end of The Office hot on its heels, I’m forced to become a little introspective and think about my life for a while. That’s what creative douche-bags do, isn’t it? In all seriousness, it’s rather odd to come to these endings in my life. I was so dependent on the characters in Troy for so long, and though I’ll return to many of them, there are multiple differences that I have to cope with and adjust to in the future. And the same goes for The Office. That show gave me such a flood of unexpected emotions, by the final season, that it hurt a lot when it ended. I haven’t depended on a damn television so much since I started Doctor Who, and not even Who has made me cry as much as The Office did.

There was just a lovable quality about all the characters in that show. You were devoted to them even if you hated them, and even if you were unhappy with an episode’s writing (season 8 was rough for me, and yet…). And Who hasn’t given me such major emotions, perhaps because it lives on. The finality of The Office‘s last episode, “Finale,” was so well written, and the characters were given such beautiful (if odd) conclusions that I was bawling for the last twenty minutes. That has never happened to me because of a story, and for that I’m ever more vulnerable about this show.

So, the introspection continues. How do I cope, now, with these endings? When my seven year-old brother passed away in 2010, I really struggled. Of course I did. And I will never say I’m “over” that event, because that’s impossible. But I had to learn to cope, to move onward while coping. Writing was my outlet, so now that writing is affecting me so much, I have to keep using it as an outlet. And as far as The Office goes, I’m going to have to start a new show. A good one. A really good one. I think I’ll watch 30 Rock next, and then maybe It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, or Modern Family. I need something to fill the hole The Office left. I need that.

Life goes on. I’m going to rewrite the premiere episode of Arc I, and then I’ll start revisions. While I do that, I’ll be getting serious about starting to write Arc II. For now I’m giving myself a break, though. I don’t follow the “read every day, write every day” rule as much as I should, but I’ll live. I think I’ve earned a brief break. Soon enough it’ll be back to the grindstone, though.

I’m reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Love that book, and though I’m only a third of the way through, I highly recommend it. I’m sure I’ll write a post about it when I’m done.

That’s all for now. I’m starting to feel better. Blah.

Goodnight.

-J

Finishing The Office

My life has been something of an emotional roller coaster these past few weeks, and it is largely due to The Office.

This show follows the lives of several employees in a paper company. That’s the basic premise, but the viewer quickly realizes that it is so much more than that. This show has true heart and amazing humor, and some very memorable characters. I can’t get into it right now, but I just wanted to say a few words about the show itself.

I finished The Office tonight, watching the season 9 finale and the entire series finale. There were some beautiful callbacks to the show’s history, and the writing in the finale and the penultimate episodes was phenomenal. I can’t say enough about this show, but after the somewhat rocky previous season (due to writing and shifting plots), my faith was restored in the final season. The show got back to its roots, began examining its characters again, but also delved into new characters and stories with incredible finesse.

Yes, every show has its flaws, but what The Office had in flaws, it made up for in its brilliant plot progression and witty, dry, often going-too-far humor. The character development of Michael Scott in season 7, building to his departure at the end, displayed not only Steve Carell’s great acting, but also a truly touching end to a character’s tale. And the development of the relationships between Jim, Dwight, and Pam (John Krasinski, Rain Willson, Jenna Fischer) during season 9 made for a compelling season and an extremely touching one. I cried throughout the final two episodes, and while I won’t spoil anything, I will say that the show fully delivered in the quality it had lost in season 8. They went all out in giving the show a swan song, and for that I am so grateful.

This was a beautiful show for so many reasons, and has had a massive influence on me as a writer and overall person. That sounds crazy, but no other form of entertainment, be it a book, movie, or show, has made me cry like The Office, nor has anything made me laugh nearly as much. I’m so emotional because of it, and that, to me, is the biggest achievement: garnering emotion from the audience.

In short, I love The Office. To the actors, writers, producers, directors, and everyone else in that show, thank you for nine amazing seasons.

 

-J

Five Posts to Write Right Now

Good stuff.

The Daily Post

Whether you’ve been blogging for a decade or for a week, sometimes it can feel like inspiration has taken a day off. Next time that happens, give these post ideas a try.

1. The quote-first post.

It’s sometimes easier to put your own thoughts into words when someone else’s words are already there on the screen. Have you come across a powerful quote in the news, or read a great opening sentence in a novel? Is there a line in a song you’ve recently heard that you keep thinking about?

Start a post by quoting it. The quote can be as simple as a line of dialog from Game of Thrones, or as thought-provoking as a short passage form Plato in this fascinating essay on crime and free will. You could write about how the quote affects you, why you think it’s interesting, or how it relates to something you’d written about before. Or just use…

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My First Week As A Summer Camp Counselor

The title itself should explain the basic concept of this blog post, but if I need to elaborate, I suppose I can do that.

On Monday, I began work at Camp Laughing Turtle, here in good ol’ Vermont. We’re in the first lap of summer, and all the kids are getting done with elementary and middle school finally, so they need somewhere to go–whether their parents dislike them or have jobs, I’m not really sure. I landed a job at the camp as a Junior Counselor, which means I’m not eighteen yet so I have to be “Junior” everything. I love that I’m making money, though, so that’s great.

Without a doubt, the most eventful element of this job, thus far, has been meeting all these kids. The camp had a small percentage of its total applicants this first week, since a few schools had to go over their time because of all the snow days from March. I’m not joking, but God I wish I was. So, we had a relatively tiny group to work with most of this week, and I gravitated to the youngest of them, the five and six year-olds. They’re a great bunch, for the most part. I love kids this age because they have such wild, bright, exciting personalities, but they’re rarely intent on pushing your buttons and pissing everyone off. They really just want to have a good time and learn and experience as much as they can. Of course there are always the troublemakers, but it’s nothing compared to the older kids–but more on that later.

The thing about five and six year-olds is that they are the most honest age-group. They will tell you exactly how they feel, exactly what they think, and everything in between. There’s no sugar coating or insecurity, just pure bona fide genuine humanity. The only real barrier is the language barrier, but they usually can overcome it with some help.

And boy, do they have personalities. One boy is the brightest, happiest kid you’ve ever met. He’s helpful, kind, and considerate, and really quite intelligent. But something weird happens sometimes: often, when he doesn’t like the answer to a question, or when he doesn’t really get what he wants, he sort of just loses all the happiness in his face. Actually, he loses all emotion. His face becomes stone and his eyes just fix on whatever denied him his pleasures, and if you’re the subject of that stare, you actually wonder if you should watch your own back. Seriously, it’s frightening. He doesn’t cry or scream or even say anything, he just stands there and stares. It’s a pure “Bitch, I will fuck your existence” expression.

Another girl is similar in this way, but it’s sort of creepy because you don’t understand why. There’s never rhyme or reason. She’s often very happy and sociable, but sometimes she just closes up and doesn’t seem to hear you. I’ve found her playing with sunscreen way too often, and she drained an entire bottle in under two days, applying it during meals and rubbing it all over herself in quite an excessive amount. But that isn’t the worst of it: I really think she’s possessed sometimes. Like, by a demon. Or the spirit of a mildly-annoyed teenager. I dunno. I’ve caught her just staring at me and at other people with this blank look, as if she’s totally figuring out your entire being without any issues. She’s like Robert California from The Office, but cuter and without the raspy voice or mild depression.

There are so many other kids that I can’t sum up in a few paragraphs. A beautifully happy little boy with way too much ambition, a little girl who probably has narcolepsy and likes to hit people when they don’t stop talking, a boy who went and hid under a bush and went unfound for fifteen minutes–and so on. In just a week, I’ve already learned a lot about myself alone. I sound like a broken record, telling kids to slow down and not hurt themselves, to stay with the group, to take one more bite of their snack, to quiet down because it’s fucking quiet time, for Christ’s sake–but it all feels worth it, somehow. Of course, a week has felt like a month, but I think I’ll adjust with time.

There are still so many frustrations for me, being a seventeen year-old in his second real job. I struggle to remain patient and level-headed, and I have to remind myself that the kids who cause problems and push buttons may have it the hardest when they go home. There’s an extremely important element of compassion, sympathy, and understanding when working with all of these kids, and for an anti-social, individualistic teenager like myself, these can be difficult things to understand. But I think it’ll all pay off, one way or another. Yes, I’ll get money, but there’s something else here, some sort of spiritual or emotional healing involved.

Maybe it helps that so many of these kids remind me of myself, at that age.

And maybe it helps that so many of these kids remind me of my brother, wherever he is now.

 

-J

First Post

So, what I’ve done is established a blog like this on Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress. I just want to see which one works best, and right now I like the format of WordPress the most, I think. I’ll probably end up deleting the other two.

A bit about me: my name is Jay. I live in Vermont, and I’m trying to become a published author. I write science-fiction. I love sci-fi of all kinds, including Doctor Who and Star Wars. I read a lot of King and Vonnegut and a whole variety of stuff.

 

So, yeah.