Sunday, April 20, 2014

April Book Review

By: Hermann Hesse

Quickly before I dash off to St. Louis for the robotics world championships, I thought I’d put together a book review. For a thin book. 

I read it some time ago and planned to do a book review of it all along, but I didn't feel ready to write it until now. There is something about the book, that simple story which at its heart explains Buddhism, that stays with you. Regardless of your own spiritual persuasions. 

We can all identify with the seeking the main character goes through. First pursuing fortune and pleasure only to learn that those offer little fulfillment or peace. Then struggling to quiet the ego in a simple life and finally, hardest of all, learning to let go of the struggle we all face of letting go of expectations for others. This is particularly poignant when you have kids because you want to guide them and show them the right way, but only they can find the path that’s right for them. 

Where the book truly excels is in the simple telling of a universal story. In some ways it is the story of the Buddha, but in other ways it is the story of each and every one of us as we traverse this shiny blue bauble out in the middle of a vast universe. 

The book also shows the intense seeking the author, Herman Hesse, went through in his life. A writer whose life was not without struggle and pain. He started writing at a time when romanticism was very much in vogue in Germany and Austria, he at first embraced that style and direction of thinking, wanting to find the harmony with nature and the balance in the natural world. World War II changed all that and he retreated deep within himself and away from the world for a long time. 

Siddhartha is a book that lets you step back, for a moment joining the author in his quest, and reflect.  At least that is what it did for me. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Screenwriting Week 14

I had this wonderful blog post almost all written about my progress on the screenwriting project; how we had worked together, talked almost daily on the phone, researched, reworked, added new characters and deleted other characters, and then I got a phone call from my client … Let’s change it! he said. 

So close. 
The old post is now crumpled up in a ball in the virtual laptop trashcan. I can still see it in there, and I wonder if there’s anything I can salvage from it, along with what I might be able to salvage from the screenplay I had almost completed. 

To change direction I spent a good portion of the day researching and watching old movies. Not a bad way to spend the day, especially not since I really enjoy those old movies. The ones with Cary Grant & Rosalind Russell, or Spencer Tracy & Kathryn Hepburn. 

Surprisingly, I’m not bothered by the change or the fact that I will basically have to start from scratch again. This is part of the collaborative process and will - hopefully - yield a better product. It also means we keep the story fresh and sharp, instead of slipping into an already set pattern, which is very easy. You start writing something and it seems ok, so you keep going only to realize you’re not stellar. Sometimes - often - a total rewrite is what’s required to produce a truly outstanding story. 

While I’m working on this I’m also continuing translation work which remains interesting. And then there are those robotics competitions to attend. Lots of travel, lots of excitement, but at least at the bigger competitions they set up mentor lounges so I can work there between matches. It’s a nice, quiet place with lots of tired looking adults with laptops. I’m in good company. 

Back to work, I’ve watched my movies, downloaded the scripts to read through, and fired up the laptop. I have a few days before we fly off again for the world championships in St. Louis, and I intend to get a lot of writing done. Oh, and I need to pack boxes since we’ll be moving soon too.