That Damn Blank Piece of Paper: A May Writing Update

That Dante Thang

I’ve really loved re-discovering the world of The Dante Experience (You can hear the original production of the first part and the first scripts for the unproduced sequel, Time Out Of Mind, here). Maybe I am the only one reading the scripts for its sequel Time Out Of Mind, or listening to the original radio episodes; but, hey, it makes me happy, so there (Try to be nice Scott, the post has just started).

And because of this, I’ve started really thinking about how this comedy series can come back to life again; because, I truly think with the right cast and production it can have a following like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That is a thought that is always at the back of mind.

Well, I have an idea to bring it back to life finally, but the idea of how to move forward with it is the sticky point. See, I know who I want as my entire cast.

Have you heard of Team Starkid? I’ve been a fan of this incredibly talented theater company/internet sensation for quite some time. I’ve watched each of their youtube productions.  They became popular with a Harry Potter musical parody, which I highly recommend (you can find all of their shows on their Web site here). My favorite of their shows is Starship which is a sci-fi musical about bugs; I won’t ruin it here by saying anything more. They just did a parody of Batman and comic books which was a lot of fun.

The troupe is built out of University of Michigan graduates, making me wish I choose a different college to go to for writing. Seriously, if this is the talent coming from that program, what was I thinking going to the University of Southern California for my MFA in writing? I didn’t even have to leave Michigan in the first place! It’s like that twist at the end of The Wizard of Oz about home.

See, the more I read my original scripts and think of changes to the original first part, I hear their voices in the characters now.  Yes, they are taking over my characters in my mind… I’m not sure exactly how healthy that is, so let’s move on.

In my dream, I would love to have a meeting with the crew and discuss the possibility of starting the series over from scrape with them taking part. I would love to rewrite the work with the writers of Starkid; in my dream I also have us creating original songs for each episode. (Did I mention that the original series was compared in reviews to Monty Python and the Marx Brothers? Yeah, I know I love to mention this, but it just makes me so happy that someone said that and they weren’t related to me. Not to say my mom didn’t like it.)

See, thanks to technology, radio drama likes this is a lot easier to do now, and it is definitely easier as well to get solid vocal recordings, even if cast members are around the country. And the Starkids could easily do all of the characters. They are that amazing.

Just imagine financially how this could turn out- on iTunes each week a new episode is available for purchase, and mp3s for the songs for each episode as well.  With a CD box set of the episodes to follow, and musical soundtrack CDs or full digital album. Maybe even the scripts could be published?

I need to take a breath now. I’m getting really into this idea, but the problem is I don’t know how to move forward with presenting the idea to them. And there is the idea of the upfront costs for making it, while there is the possibility of sales and the like afterwards, there is the initial costs intertwined with it (Of course, since we are talking radio show they can be pretty small). Also, this assumes that the Starkids are even interested in working on a radio  comedy series with heaven, hell, angels, devils, time travel, dragons, Benjamin Franklin, Sir Lancelot, Dead Celebrity Tic-Tac-Toe, The Sigmund Freud Talk Show, etc… and, frankly, they don’t need my idea or scripts, they are doing just fine without me.

But just imagine if Starkid were interested! The series would be totally awesome. (That is a Harry Potter musical reference for those that don’t know… And if you don’t know, why???) So this idea has been haunting me like a ghost in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland for the last few months; and like that ride it is not just one ghost idea, but 999 ghost ideas…

Okay, I stretched that metaphor too far.

Austen Update

So the exciting (well, exhausting) task of finding an agent for A Jane Austen Daydream continues.  This has been a project for about the last four months for me. I first created the query letter in January (which I discussed the writing process around here).  After I was happy with it, I began to use agentquery.com to send an e-mail or mail package to each agent that feels like a possible match. For each, I update the letter focusing on what they are asking for and what their interests are. So how is it going?

Well, I’ve contacted 77 agents in that time.

It feels exhausting just saying that. I need to rest my head on my desk, just a minute…

Okay, I feel better now.

That is 77 agency Web site reviews, rewriting of letters, preparing, and sending. Jeepers.

I got quite a few generic negative e-mails back, which could mean that the agency just wasn’t looking at that time, or that they really honestly weren’t interested in the project. Which is fine, I already had the experience of being with a big New York City agency that wasn’t particular inspired by my writing for five years; I don’t want that again.

What I found though disturbing is how many agents don’t bother to respond to an e-mail at all these days. Granted, the writing market is congested and there is a limited number of respectable agencies (and publishers), so I am sure agents are overwhelmed, but it just feels cold.

Right now I have an agency I am very interested in reading the entire work. So my fingers are very crossed.

Yet, it is wiser to always expect a negative response over a positive. It keeps you moving forward, and if you do get a negative you have already emotionally moved on… and it if is a positive, what a nice surprise.  So, as a realist if this whole agency thing doesn’t work out I might have to think of Stage 2.

Stage 2 means reaching out to small and independent publisher; which means, I’m starting to research how to find a good publisher like that for the work, but I won’t consider moving forward like that until I have drained the possibility of a big agency leading to a nicely-sized publisher and then a review in Entertainment Weekly where it is called revolutionary and a “must read.”

Anyway, I’ve yet to find a find a general Web site listing indie publishers, and many times when I do searches, the responses become overwhelmed by self-publishing sites and I am not there yet.  It will be a year to two before I even consider going down that road and it would be a very last resort. You will see me going through all of the stages of grief on this site first before that depressing conclusion is researched.

Other Stuff

I’m still hoping to lock down a good draft of a young adult fantasy trilogy I want to create. I wrote the first draft of the first book, but it is about 80 pages shorter than I want it to be (right now at 140 pages). A lot of this is just because it is a first draft and I was focused more on getting the dialogue and pacing down, as compared to finalizing the voice and descriptions I want. I think I may have finally found the voice I want to use for the narrator/main character so maybe I will feel inspired to work on this more in the future.

The problem is it is hard to think about a new book when a lot of my focus is on finding an agent/publisher for A Jane Austen Daydream.

Personally, right now, I really want to work on something fun. Does that mean comedy? Possibly. The radio series and that whole idea definitely feels inspiring. Whatever the case, working on this blog has been a very positive experience for my own writing voice. At least I like to think so, and you just read this entire post, right?

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One response

  1. Pingback: Five Things I Am Into Right Now, May 2012 « The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

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