2001

Well, I think with this entry we can officially call the New Year’s Eve entry a “tradition.” This is the third year in a row I’ve done a New Year’s rant for you all and well, I don’t see any reason why I’ll stop doing them unless of course the internet ceases to exist or I go broke supporting my crack habit and can’t afford to pay my hosting bills.

So there have been fewer and fewer Choice Words around here this year. “Why you so lazy Chris?” I hear you asking. I’m not. I’m not lazy as a matter of fact. It may not seem like it looking at this website, but I have actually been writing MORE this year than any year prior. This year I finished the first draft of a novel, adapted two of my college-era plays into post-college era screenplays, began work on a third screenplay, polished off countless old short stories, and turned out a plethora of new ones. I released my first full album of music at the beginning of the year and during the last couple of months I’ve been filming videos for that project as well as putting together a whole new batch of songs.

All of which has left me very little time to work on this website.

That is about to change ladies and gentleman. Beginning tommorow and continuing on through the duration of 2002, if not beyond, The Bastad will return to it’s Updated Daily roots. My New Year’s Resolution is to write an entry a day for the next three-hundred and sixty-five days. It’s ambitious I know, but I have to try.

If my writing has suffered at all this year it has been due to my lack of journaling. Journaling is one of the most valuable tools a writer has at his disposal. The phrase goes, “writers write” and journaling is one way to make sure that you are always doing that. If you’re not working on a story, or an article, or a play, or something, at least you have that fifteen to twenty minutes with your journal. At the very least you have strung together a couple hundred words. They may not be great, but they are an accomplishment.

I’m always bitching to Stephanie about how I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything on a given day. I don’t feel comfortable sitting back and relaxing when I know that nothing productive has come out of the day. This resolution will change all that.

So here’s the deal for you folks. Blog del Bastad will be updated every day during the year 2002. This here page, “A Few Choice Words,” I am hoping to update at least once a week, possibly on Sundays or Mondays. We’ll see how that goes, but the important thing is that you check the blog daily to see what’s up. I think I’ll be reserving “Choice Words” for bigger things.

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2001 was a good year. Until September 11th I had things to bitch about… we all did. But in general, it was a good year. I got married this year man… to a wonderful woman that I’m pretty sure I’m gonna be looking at when I’m 80 or 90. I wrote a shitload of stuff, most of it at least mildly good. I got a new apartment, and a new laptop… I went through therapy and came out the other side as a better person…

The year had it’s downs too. Dad was knocked off a ladder while sawing down a tree, but he’s alright. John was going to fly out California at the beginning of September but he didn’t. He drove instead, and thank God. Far too many innocent people lost their lives that horrible Tuesday morning but the tragedy has caused us all, if only for one brief portion of a second, to question the world we live in, the safety, and the sanity of it all.

For me anyway, if for no one else, 2001 was a good year. A tough year, but a good one.

See you on the flipside.

John’s F’ed-Up Computer

You know how sometimes you feel like you’re bad at your job, or your bad at, like, tying your shoes or something?

You ever feel incompetent as a human being?

Today I have managed to completely fuck up John’s computer. Its FUBAR and it is my fault. It was all going so beautifully. I got the OS installed, and all of his hardware and then I was going to get the Video Capture card I bought for him last Christmas to finally work and lo and behold it would not. It simply would not.

It works in my machine. Why not his? We were now running the exact same operating system. Why wouldn’t it work?

Well, in my trying to figure that out I was experiencing intermittent problems where basically the computer would power on but nothing would happen on the monitor. I would turn it off and on a couple of times and then it would work again.

Then it didn’t. Suddenly, no matter what I did the power would come on but I’d get no beeps, nothing on the monitor… there was no power to the keyboard. Nothing.

So, I f*cked up. As I so often do. Why does God (if there is a God) create beings so hopelessly flawed? Shouldn’t natural selection have gotten rid of my useless ass a long time ago?

Maybe I should help natural selection and God out… a scary thought for a thanatophobe, but maybe its the only thought that seems clear right now.

If you’re reading this John, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I failed. But we all know that I’m a failure, so I can’t see how you would be surprised.

Acoustic Cure

It’s late (or early, depending on your perspective) and I am at my computer, listening to the acoustic bonus disc of The Cure’s greatest hits album. I know that going to bed should be in my near future but on the weekends I somehow can’t seem to do it. I revert to a shade of my college self, the one that could stay up till 3 in the morning and get up at six the next day.

Oh, who are we kidding? I never stayed up that fucking late. I guess I’m reverting to the shade of someone else’s former college self.

Regardless, I should be in bed, but my relentless pursuit of “making the most of each day” won’t allow me to curl up under the covers next to my wife. No, I’m driven, somehow, to sit in front of this machine and try to think of things to do, even if they are inconsequential.

Oh well.

It Just Takes Time

“You’re a good writer. It just takes time.”

Those were the words my wife had for me this morning when I woke in a foul depression for the third day in a row. Without even having to ask she knew what was bothering me. There is the fact that we were talking about it right before we went to bed last night too. Regardless, I’m happy that I at least have her to comfort me in the maelstrom of crap I’m putting myself through this week.

Maybe I am a good writer. Maybe I have a keen sense of dialogue, as quite a few people told me back in my workshops in college. Maybe I come up with great concepts, and the occasional great character. And maybe I have been really damn prolific of late. I may be all of these things but the one thing I am not, is patient.

As the rejection letters continue to pour in I consider my place in this business we call writing. If there isn’t a single magazine out there that will consider wasting their ink on my words what should make me think that there will be any readers, outside of the devoted few who visit this webpage? If, two, almost three years out of college I still haven’t found any success, should I not consider hanging up my gloves and giving up the fight?

“Why do you write? For others? That’s stupid.”

The wife didn’t say that but I think a lot of other artists I talk to have that question racing through their head when they hear me bitching about this crap. To answer them, I don’t think it’s stupid to write with an audience in mind. I love writing but when I set out to do this creating art was not my only goal. It was my most important goal, yes, but I have always had the desire to make some money, or at least get some recognition. I never thought I would get much of either, but I thought I might at least get some.

I’ve read countless books and articles about keeping on keeping on. They tell me to persevere. “P is for perseverance,” they tell me. “They’re not saying you’re story sucks, they’re just saying they don’t want to publish it.”

But why don’t they want to publish it? Is it that unrealistic to think they don’t want to publish it because it does in fact, suck?

A writer friend of mine wrote to me the other day after I told her about all the things I was working on and she said she wished I could pass some of my prolific nature on to her. I wanted to write back that I wished she could pass on some of her talent but I figured I’d get told to stop being ridiculous, that I’ve got enough talent on my own.

This all started when I finished watching an episode of “Project Greenlight” on HBO Sunday night. For those of you who don’t know, Project Greenlight was this screenwriting contest that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon put together with the fine folks at Miramax Films to find and produce a film written and directed by a total unknown. The show really depressed me because here you have this group of people all pursuing their dream, and ten of them, and then three of them, getting pretty damn far. Scripts were getting optioned even before the winner was announced. There were a couple of people younger than me in the running. The only comforting thing about the whole program was that the winner was an older guy.

Back when they were still taking submissions for Greenlight I was about halfway through my screenplay adaptation of my play, The People Vs. Jesus Christ. The deadline was fast approaching and I was trying to convince myself that I could finish the second half of my screenplay in forty-eight hours. I was delusional. I knew I was delusional, but somehow, I still thought I might be able to do it.

I didn’t do it though and I tried quickly to forget my inadequacy. I followed the contest as it progressed and every once in a while, usually when they were announcing the latest narrowing down of contestants, I got depressed. But soon I was writing enough that I didn’t feel too bad anymore. I wouldn’t win that contest but I might win myself publication somewhere else.

Well I pretty much forgot about Greenlight and the depression it brought me until Sunday night. When I was done with the program, after being excited for a minute or two that such programming was out there, I felt lower than I had in months. Earlier in the weekend I had finished the first draft of my second screenplay. I had no idea what I was going to write on the train the next day, and I sure as hell knew it was going to be anything impressive enough to warrant a one million dollar contract from Miramax.

Monday night offered another chance to win a Greenlight contest. They were sponsoring a contest to conceive and film a commercial for one of their sponsors, Sam Adams. I’d heard of this contest months before but decided not to try for it because I don’t drink beer and I would have no idea what to do with a commercial for Sam Adams. But after watching that show on Sunday I decided to spend all of Monday trying to come up with an idea for their second silly contest. I couldn’t come up with anything and so I spent all of Monday night and some of Tuesday, beating myself up.

It’s Wednesday now and the only thing I am sure of is that if I don’t have something to write every morning I’m fucked. Writing is the core of me. I can’t live without it. I feel like my dream has turned into a crack habit. Somewhere deep inside I know that it isn’t worth it anymore, that it isn’t going to fill that void. I’m never going to be published, so why bother…

The problem is, like any good drug this fucking thing we call writing keeps pulling me back.

What’s a boy to do?