It's My Birthday!Complications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
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Friday, January 26, 2007

Hey, readers: Today, January 26, is my birthday. And if you're feeling charitable, here's what I'd like for my birthday: your story.

a. Who are you and what keeps you busy?
b. Are you writing professionally, are you aspiring, or are you just interested in the whole process?
c. What keeps you reading this blog?
d. What keeps you writing?
e. What are you reading?

You can put it in the comments, or you can drop me an email at



a. I'm Ryan, and my day job (actually, night job) is working third shift at a group home for at-risk boys. I have a girlfriend (currently in England) and two cats. They and my friends keep me busy.

b. As one might suppose from a.), I am not a professional writer. I aspire. A lot. Although saying it that way seems to imply that I aspire to write. This is untrue. I already write. I aspire to get paid.

c. The advice, particularly responses to reader questions, is what keeps me reading this. It's good stuff.

d. What keeps me writing? Partly the fact that I quit a good job to take this crappy job so that I would have time to write, which serves as a constant reminder that if I don't write I will have dead-ended my own life for no reason. But otherwise, it's a very firm conviction that creating movies is what I was meant to do.

e. Reading? Dammit. Not as much as I'd like. Not as much as I should be. But when I am: Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl and soon, Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:48 AM  

Happy birthday, sir!

a. Who are you and what keeps you busy?
I'm Peter. I program computers here in Austin. Other that, playing guitar & swing dancing keep me busy.

b. Are you writing professionally, are you aspiring, or are you just interested in the whole process?
I'm just interested in the process. I don't currently aspire to anything beyond amateurish nonsense with actor friends, camcorders, & youtube -- but I do want to write the best amateurish nonsense I can.

c. What keeps you reading this blog?
1. A vaguely Aspergers-ish fascination with TV & film production.
2. The bits of advice about screenwriting.
3. Ever since discovering Slings & Arrows I've resolved to keep an eye on Canadian TV. (Who knows what else I'm missing.)

d. What keeps you writing?
With fiction... hmm. There are several reasons, but the biggest one is knowing that nobody *else* will write whatever groovy ideas I come up with. ("I would *love* to see that story! It would be *so cool*! Crap. Guess I've got to write it, then.") Perhaps when my revolution comes, I will have minions to execute my concepts, while I lie around being fed peeled grapes or something. Y'know, by a different set of minions. The revolution will be minion-heavy.

e. What are you reading?
Wizard of the Crow, by Ngugi Wa'Thiong'O (whose previous novel got him thrown in a Kenyan prison). A massive satire set in an African dictatorship -- ridiculous in a sort of majestic way, like Life of Brian. Also, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (a bit of a pop-psychology kick lately).

By Blogger hujhax, at 10:40 AM  

a. Who are you and what keeps you busy?

I'm David and studying to improve my craft as a writer is keeping me pretty busy. I'm studying part-time for an MA in screenwriting. I'm also being mentored for nine months by a professional TV scribe. Did a two-day TV script-editing course last month, and a six-day radio drama writer's lab the month before.

b. Are you writing professionally, are you aspiring, or are you just interested in the whole process?

I write professionally - novels, comics, audio dramas, journalism, media reference books, computer games - you name it, I've probably written it. Had my first radio broadcast last summer by the BBC. Next target: a TV drama credit.

c. What keeps you reading this blog?

All of it, frankly - the opinion, the tips, the commentary and the advice. Some of the stuff about Canadian TV isn't that relevant to me [I live in Scotland], but that's by the by. Fresh content almost every day, that's the big draw.

d. What keeps you writing?

No choice in the matter, writing is a compulsion. Bills keep me writing stuff for money, but that's another matter.

e. What are you reading?

Just finished Writing the TV Drama Series by Pamela Douglas. Dipping in and out of Brian Sibley's biography of Peter Jackson. The Zombie Survival Guide for a TV idea I'm developing. Next up Get Dead by Jamie Oliver, a humorous and fascinating guide book to death and what happens next. Groovy.

By Blogger DAVID BISHOP, at 11:43 AM  

Hey Alex, Happy Birthday!

Who are you and what keeps you busy?

Name's Paul. Recently, producing DVDs for pharmaceutical companies as well as briefing materials for MPs in Westminster. Plus ploughing away with my own projects.

Are you writing professionally, are you aspiring, or are you just interested in the whole process?

First work published back when I was 21 in [loud cough]. Since then short stories, magazine feature articles, news items and articles for websites, plus what's mentioned above. Working on getting first TV commission.

What keeps you reading this blog?

For the advice, points of view, and entertainment.

What keeps you writing?

If I'm not writing it feels like something is missing, you know? it's what I've always done.

What are you reading?

Currently, Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom. Writing partner has some books called... Crafty something. He's going to force on me when he's done.

Have a good day.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:58 AM  

I am a guy in Toronto who works full time and writes in the evenings.

I am aspiring but have made some money from writing.

I read your blog to keep my mind in the game.

I keep writing because I haven't given up yet so know not what else to do.

I'm reading the second book in the Dexter series.

Happy birthday, sir.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:19 PM  

a. Who are you and what keeps you busy? I’m Abigail in Tulsa. I have a degree in theatre (Directing emphasis) and no professional experience whatsoever. I worked as a ballet company administrator for four years before I “retired” to stay at home with my son. Between mothering, wife-ing, volunteering and occasional consulting, it’s usually 10 PM before I can sit down to do much writing.

b. Are you writing professionally, are you aspiring, or are you just interested in the whole process? Two years ago, I read Thoreau’s quote about putting foundations under our “castles in the air.” I’ve been trying to transition from a professional Aspirant to an aspiring Professional ever since.

c. What keeps you reading this blog? The very practical -- as opposed to theoretical -- advice about screenwriting. Many other blogs/books are long on theory and short on application and practical wisdom. (Not to mention the voice and humor that makes your work entertaining.)

d. What keeps you writing? Every time I tried to quit, I relapsed. (Do they make a patch?) I’ll keep writing because I love stories, even without publication, production or pay. I plan to keep writing screenplays because a) I love film, and b) the discipline of a screenplay appeals to me. If I degenerated into another self-indulgent novelist or self-important poet, I’d have to shoot myself.

e. What are you reading? I’m trying to wade through the stack of Christmas books I received from well-meaning relatives who bought every half-baked rag with “screenwriter” in the title. Also, Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady and The Hills of Tuscany by Ferenc Mate.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:24 PM  

a. Emily. I teach high school in the inner city and I kickbox.

b. Aspiring. Ever aspiring.

c. The political discussions. Just kidding. The great words of wisdom about how to approach writing.

d. What keeps me breathing?

e. Days of Grace which is the autobiography of Arthur Ashe, High Fidelity, and In This Corner... which is a collection of stories as told by some of the greatest boxers in the history of the sport.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:39 PM  

Happy Birthday and thanks for the blog

a. Who are you and what keeps you busy?
My name is Paul, I got a BA in English Lit and I'm a part-time Stand-Up comic/full-time aspiring writer (screenplays) living in Vancouver.
b. Are you writing professionally, are you aspiring, or are you just interested in the whole process?
I am aspiring and very interested in the whole process.
c. What keeps you reading this blog?
New content every day. I enjoy the attitude, the information, and the inside scoop.
d. What keeps you writing? Addiction, I suppose. Love. Hate. The need to be loved, oh wait, that's stand-up...
e. What are you reading? I'm working my way through Roddy Doyle's oeuvre - I just finished Crafty Screenwriting and got a lot from it as well as really enjoying it. Cheers.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:50 PM  

Well, well. You, me and Paul Newman have something in common. Mine is shaping up to be a memorable one, hope yours is to! Happy Birthday!

(this is one of those rare days that people want to pay for every one of my meals, so I'm going to take advantage of that right now instead of answering the survey)

By Blogger Unknown, at 1:00 PM  

Happy Birthday!

a. Who are you and what keeps you busy?

I'm a Canadian actor that is also kept busy by the myriad of things I do to earn money and entertain myself.

b. Are you writing professionally, are you aspiring, or are you just interested in the whole process?

Aspiring to write professionally.

c. What keeps you reading this blog?

Not one thing in particular. The writing advice, the commentary on issues in the Canadian film industry, the occasional interviews with writers, the career updates...I like it all.

d. What keeps you writing?

My enjoyment of the work and a desire to get better at it.

e. What are you reading?

The Overachievers, by Alexandra Robbins.

By Blogger Author Unknown, at 1:20 PM  

a. Who are you and what keeps you busy?

I'm Lee. Work and my four sons.

b. Are you writing professionally, are you aspiring, or are you just interested in the whole process?

Mostly interested in the process. Aspiring just a tiny bit, I've got ideas, but not really the drive to write.

c. What keeps you reading this blog?

It's interesting, and other blog-friends link to it a lot.

d. What keeps you writing?

Work. Emails, status reports, etc. Also, negative issues in my life tend to make me write.

e. What are you reading?

L.E.Modesitt's Archform:Beauty at the moment.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:11 PM  

Happy bithday, old dude! This is a great idea for a post.

I'm Lee as well, account manager for a telecoms company, which sounds much better paid than it actually is.

I am an aspiring writer, in that I aspire to write, but frequently fall short.

I originally came here from John Rogers' blog, which I discovered during the great Global Frequency torrent grab. I stayed after reading the TV FAQ and checking out Charlie Jade. You know your stuff. I only started my own blog because I had to create a profile to post a comment on CJ, so it's all your fault.

What keeps me writing? I dunno. What gets me writing? It's hard work, most of the time.

And what am I reading? Just starting Walter Mosley's Fortunate Son. Just finished Mosley's Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned. Socrates Fortlow is an even greater creation than Easy Rawlins, and that's saying something. Had no idea it was a movie - anyone seen it?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:22 PM  

Happy Birthday! Hope there's cake later - mmmmm, cake . . .

a. I'm Rosemary and I'm busy being a playwright and freelance marketing/web copy writer in Vancouver and Toronto.

b. I get paid to write the marketing stuff, I get occasional grants to write the plays and I know naught of screenplays except that I like t.v. and films a lot. I aspire to do less marketing writing and more theatre/radio/t.v. writing and am thus very interested in the whole process.

c. I love the tone of your writing, the interviews are great and I find the Q&A's fun and helpful.

d. Voyeurism. I write because no one else is writing the stories I want to see/hear/read.

e. I'm reading Jane Eyre and Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair simultaneously. HOT.

By Blogger Roro, at 2:48 PM  

a) Diane in Vancouver. I work in the health care system as a web and publications editor, and keep busy obsessing over House.

b) I write boring stuff professionally, corporate publication kind of stuff. As a hobby I write about interesting (to me) things for Blogcritics, including TV. So I’m just interested in the behind the scenes process.

c) I started reading out of curiosity about the TV writing process, and keep reading because the continued insight and your take on various shows gives me a different perspective as a viewer. And writers tend to write entertaining blogs.

d) Fame. Fortune. OK, maybe not. Non-fiction, it’s a way to sort out my thoughts and put them out into the world. Fiction, which I never want to put out into the world, I guess is a way of living more than one life at a time, and putting some kind of sense and order onto those other lives that never seems to exist in reality.

e) Sun After Dark: Flights into the Foreign by Pico Iyer and The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:18 PM  

Oh, but most importantly ... happy birthday.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:20 PM  

Happy Birthday Alex.

You share your birthday with Australia Day, just a little bit of trivia for you.

Hope you had a good one.


By Blogger Grubber, at 4:04 PM  

happy b'day sir...

By Blogger wcdixon, at 4:05 PM  

a. Who are you and what keeps you
- My name is Chelley (pronounced Shelley) and what keeps busy is the not so wonderful world of tech support agent which I curse on a daily basis. (I work for that fruit company)
b. Are you writing professionally, are you aspiring, or are you just interested in the whole process?
- I'm an aspiring writer who has an active imagination and very bad potty mouth. They both get me in trouble on a regular basis.
c. What keeps you reading this blog?
- The help hints and tips and craft keep me reading. Reading your blog is part of my dail routine.
d. What keeps you writing?
- The desire to affect the world. Sound cheesy, huh? But it's true.
e. What are you reading?
- The Graphic novel "Y, the last man." I highly recommend it.

By Blogger Chelley, at 5:48 PM  

Have a really happy day, Alex! We won't ask how old you are :-)

a. Who are you and what keeps you busy?
I am a career tv person, more a suit than a creative, though a paradigm shift may be happening. What keeps me busy is grad school, my dog and trying to pay the mortgage as a consultant.

b. Are you writing professionally, are you aspiring, or are you just interested in the whole process?
Doing more writing and story editing in the non-fiction world right now, but I do write scripted.

c. What keeps you reading this blog?
Your sparkling personality, of course. And they very useful info. I should also thank you for introducing me to Denis and Will, I found them both through you.

d. What keeps you writing?
A better question is what prevents me from writing ... I am having butt to chair issues.

e. What are you reading?
The War of Art (recommended by Denis, am finding it quite useful) and Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vita.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:41 PM  

Bonne fête, Alex, et bonne année 2007!

By Blogger Martine, at 11:12 PM  

Hi! I am Kate. I am a Trend Analyst. I love blogging. Its my hobby. Found your blog and stopped to read the interesting posts. Am reading your blog at present and writing down a comment for you. I think this is a really unique way to interact with people. Keep it up.
Drop into my blog for some unique birthday gift and party ideas.
Happy Birthday and enjoy.

By Blogger Kate, at 2:24 AM  

Happy birthday and bonus Australia Day. (Tell people the fireworks off Sydney Harbour were just for you.)

a. Who are you and what keeps you busy?

G'day I be Phil. I (used to)work in the international marketing dept of a uni in Asia. Currently enjoying summer back home.

b. Are you writing professionally, are you aspiring, or are you just interested in the whole process?

Aspiring but the process is fascinating.

c. What keeps you reading this blog?

How you construct a story with your ancedotes. Also the Oz tv industry is very similar to Canada and I find your critques applicable down here.

d. What keeps you writing?

It's the most fun you can have by yourself.

e. What are you reading?
Peter Temple and James Lee Burke. I do have a copy of Crafty which gets pulled out every few months.

By Blogger Phil, at 4:40 AM  

Happy birthday!

a. I'm 'drew, a 33-year-old English teacher living in the Detroit area with my partner, Steve. I'm also a Zen Buddhist minister. Currently I'm teaching online classes for the University of Michigan-Dearborn, while also working on a book about the Lotus Sutra, a Buddhist text that I happen to find pretty awesome. I've been neglecting my own blog,

b. I tried my hand at a screenplay a while back, but mostly, prose is my thang. I have an MFA in fiction writing, and I sometimes teach creative writing classes at UMD. I like knowing about the process of screenwriting, so when students ask me, I can give them some basic advice.

c. I've gotten more and more into watching TV, and I like analyzing how and why it works. I keep reading to figure out what goes into TV shows.

d. On this particular project, I keep writing because I feel the story of the Lotus Sutra is important to people who want to practice Buddhism or to understand how Buddhism fits with other religions. I'm writing to dig deep into this teaching.

e. For book research, stuff by Thich Nhat Hanh, Seung Sahn and Sheng-Yen. For teaching research, stuff by Peter Elbow and Paulo Freire. For fun, I'm chipping away at a book of short stories by Haruki Murakami.

By Blogger Andrew, at 10:08 AM  

Happy birthday, Alex!

a. I go by The_Lex on the 'net (try to keep as much anonymity as possible) and hail from Chicago.

b. Aspiring fiction novelist and short story writer.

c. Got sucked in because of a 'Charlie Jade' search but now find the topics inspiring and also challenge my narrative assumptions. Also, you got a great personality.

d. What keeps me writing? I've wanted to do it since I was a teenager. Otherwise, what would happen to my characters?

e. Right now, reading a book on 19th-century American utopias, a book with 75 tips on freelance writing for money, an issue of Asimov's and a book about having conversations. Too much at once. . ..

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:08 PM  

Happy birthday. Sorry your present's late.

a) I'm Piers, and I'm kept busy by temping (for the cash) and writing (for... uh... never mind)
b) Occasionally I get paid for writing, mostly I write in order to get better at it so that I'll get paid both more and more often.
c) It's regularly updated with crunchy nuggets of goodness. Neither one of those is sufficient by themselves, but both in one blog gets my attention.
d) Sheer bloody-mindedness.
e) Just finished The God Delusion and Swords of Lankhmar.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:30 AM  

Alex, I'm so sorry I missed your birthday, sweetie. I just got a new job/client and have been so swamped with work I haven't visited your blog since mid last week.

OK, your questions...

a. My name is Kelly and I'm an alco -- Oh, wait, that's not right...OK, here we go. My name is Kelly and I'm an artist (painter/sculptor), interior decorating consultant, screenwriter, TV producer, celebrity publicist and talent manager.

b. I write professionally, but scripts are not my specialty (I trained & mentored under some of the best in the biz but I really don't like screenwriting. I do it because I have to). I write/update celebrity bios, resumes & website content, award acceptance speeches, press releases etc.

c. I read this blog because it's highly informative. Plus, you're a really nice guy, Alex, and keeping in touch with you this way is way cheaper than calling you long distance 2 to 3 times a week to see how you're doing. :-)

d. What keeps me writing? Hell if I know. Honestly, on an emotional level, I hate it -- but I'm also really, really good at it (typos notwithstanding).

e. What am I reading? Playback, Hollywood Reporter, Cynopsis, TMZ and other showbiz/celebrity news websites, also the latest issues of Canadian House & Home, and Architectural Digest. I don't have the time or the patience to read an actual book from, like, Stephen King or Anne Rice or whatever. I lead a very small life that almost completely revolves around showbiz.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:38 PM  

a. I am Addie, and I'm an associate producer on a new Food Network show. That keeps me incredibly busy.

b. I producing reality tv professionally but aspiring instead to write narrative television. I have been practicing for many years, but the tides have not turned in that direction yet, so at the moment I am crafting stories via phone calls and lots of yelling.

c. I read this blog because I read a series of blogs in the scribosphere and I like to keep tabs on the writing world even though I am not currently participating. Also, it somehow emotionally makes me feel like I'm still writing even though I'm not.

d. What has urged me to write before were spots of unemployment and creative dissatisfaction. The daily grind is currently sucking all my energy.

e. I am reading "The Abduction of Edith Martin," a budget travel guide to Greece, and "The Thin Man."

By Blogger AdicaRoy, at 11:20 PM  

Happy (belated) Birthday! Sorry for the late present.

a. Who are you and what keeps you busy?
I'm Rebecca, and I'm a grad student in archaeology, which pretty much takes up all of my time.

b. Are you writing professionally, are you aspiring, or are you just interested in the whole process?
I write for a living in a way, but it's a completely different kind of writing--academic papers, dissertations, explicitly and necessarily non-creative stuff. Because of that restriction, I've become fascinated by the processes people who DO write creatively use.
c. What keeps you reading this blog?
It's an interesting window into a different way to write, into Canadian TV- and filmmaking, and into someone else's life.

d. What keeps you writing?
The need to share what I know? I don't know that I can even answer, I just have to. If I'm not working on something specific, I'm playing around with ideas.

e. What are you reading?
Most recently, for work I read Clothing as Material Culture and the Gift, and for pleasure I've been re-reading the Dresden Files books to compare them to the new series on SciFi.

By Blogger redaly, at 2:04 PM  

Hello Alex. My family and I will pray for your family situation with your daughter. Belated happy birthday. My name is Al. I am a salesman for a cast-stone and natural-stone company in south Florida. I enjoy the motivational aspect of sales. I have done writing for several church and business newsletters. My writing career was birthed when I felt called to spend the last ten years researching and writing a story from American history for the purpose of retelling it for TV. I am currently working on a 12-hour mini series treatment of the idea. The advice I have received from your blog has been helpful at times. I continue to write due to my fascination with the creative process. In much the same way that I enjoy crafting and playing music each weekend, I am drawn to the writing of story. At the time I am reading a recent biography of the protagonist of the story I've been working on. Although most of my reading consists of historical non-fiction, I occassionally enjoy historical fiction. I am currently reading THE PIONEERS, by James Fenimore Cooper. Ciao.

By Blogger Al d, at 1:43 PM  

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