I’m coming to realize another bonus of writing while standing up, having a setup dedicated to writing. When I don’t have the desire to write or when I’m having a problem putting the words down I’m given the opportunity to work through it. I started working on an outline for a piece the other night and I was having a hell of a time slugging through it. Even though I already had the basic outline for the scene that I was working on it just wasn’t coming out well. Swimming through mud.
My old setup, where all my co, would have offered me a great opportunity to get in to click spiral on some random website or just some shiny videos to watch. I am not afforded that luxury at my standing work space. I can work through it or walk away.
The time is already allocated to being at a computer so even if I walk away it’s mostly just to turn things over in my head. Rather than moving on to some distraction, I continued on through. By the time I was done it was flowing. It just came right out. I charged through several other scenes, many of which were little more than rough concepts in my head, on my way to finishing up for the night.
david shute - 22.02.11 @ 22:59 - permalink
I’ve added reading to my regular day lately. It’s not that I haven’t been reading it’s just been more of an in between activity. I have several books loaded up on my BlackBerry and I read when I’m in between things. Waiting in an office for a dental appointment, for example. It’s a very broken pace. I rip through one book only to spend months on another.
I’ve taken some of my “random Internet click spiral” and put it toward actually getting some proper reading done. I’ve got books on my shelf that have been there for years waiting for me to get to them. So I’ve started doing so. It’s a fairly bizarre collection and there’s no rational way to approach it so I’ve started at one end and I’ll be working my way through.
The first to fall recently was Stephen King’s On Writing. I’m not a King fan. I stopped reading his books before I properly hit my teens. The writing style just didn’t grab me anymore. On Writing is proof of something I’ve known despite stepping away; the man is a hell of a story teller. It’s funny, endearing, and insightful.
The second was one my mother lent to me a couple Christmases back, Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker. Interesting if you’re not squeamish or prone to superstition. The main character speaks directly to you and threatens to kill you, repeatedly. I’m neither squeamish nor superstitious and still felt slightly unnerved at times.
Moving on to a drama anthology. Sophocles up to David Ives. A lot of very familiar material but something worth experiencing the things I know again and reading those that I’m not.
david shute - 21.02.11 @ 12:56 - permalink
I’ve instituted a new working rule. The desktop computer in on when the desktop computer is being used. If the desktop computer is on then it is fulfilling a specific purpose. When I am done so is the computer. It’s too much of a distraction to have in the background.
david shute - 19.02.11 @ 20:55 - permalink
So, as I expected, I didn’t win. Doesn’t mean a small part of me wasn’t hopeful despite knowing it wasn’t going to go my way. It’s a pain trying to suppress that instinct to thrive against an arbitrary expectation. Make it by audience vote and that’s twice as pointless.
Out of eight scripts six were comedies. That made it hard enough to program the script in to the night. It was dense and heavy. It was also very visual. Died on the floor…
And I’m okay with that.
All the more reason to keep writing.
david shute - 18.02.11 @ 21:08 - permalink
[script reading this thursday]
Hell of a weekend. I’m not used to writing with that much focus. It’s a nice change to dive right in and just be about something specific intensely.
The script I ended up with, The Short Path And Everything But, was a very big departure for me. The easiest way I can describe it is as a postmodern surrealist fairy tale. None of that is part of my regular bag but that’s okay. Any excuse to experiment is a good one.
The reading for all the submitted scripts is this Thursday at Ed Video in Guelph. Here’s the link. It’s 7 PM and a $2 suggested donation. Looking over the site right now it appears that there are only eight scripts. There were slots for ten individuals/teams and the slots were full. Looks like it’ll be a little lighter than I thought. Given the ten page limit of the contest the night should run less than two hours.
I don’t know how it’s going to go. Trying to judge a competition by reading each entries synopsis is pointless. It’s a combination audience and jury vote so it could all depend on the mood of the people that night and whether they’re there to laugh or not. If they are I am sunk.
But… that’d be okay. If my expectations were to win I wouldn’t have written what I did. I like the script (for now) but that doesn’t mean it’s a crowd pleaser. It’s pointed and critical and, like most fairy tales, pretty on the nose about a lot of what it’s trying to say.
I was able to release a lot of thoughts and ideas in to one little piece. I was able to bend and subvert rules like there was no tomorrow. I was asked to fulfill some basic criteria and I did. Repeatedly. There’s value in the exercise alone.
david shute - 15.02.11 @ 23:44 - permalink
I really can’t possibly explain how much I love writing. I’m currently competing in Ed Video’s screenwriting challenge. It’s a single weekend, started at 6 PM today and will end Monday morning, much like limited time film challenges. We have a theme and three criteria that we need to meet.
Here’s the thing…. Two hours ago I was shitting my pants.
I had zero clue what I was going to do. The theme just wasn’t working for me. No matter which way I turned it I was just coming up with the same things over and over again. Recycling from other, very likely superior, material.
I jotted those ideas down, of course. I’ve got them. Better to get them down on the page (figuratively) than to keep obsessing about the bad ideas.
And then it happens.
I don’t know what triggers it. I wish I could manufacture it so I can pull it forward whenever I wanted to but I push past those commons ideas. I start mashing ideas together. Finding incongruencies and folding them over on to each other. Trying to find ways to make them fit. And out of all that comes something bold and unique but simple.
And it fucking sings.
I can’t help but smile as my fingers go to work on the keyboard. Trying to keep up as one idea leads to another and those then collapse in on each other and give up even more thoughts. Until the idea is there, text on the screen, and I know that’s the one. All the steps before can be safely tucked aside because this is how I’m going to make it work. This is how it’s going to become more than just a theme. This is how it becomes mine.
To stretch out in to it. To explore it. It’s a little uncomfortable but it’s new and uncharted and a little discomfort is okay. A first kiss.
david shute - 10.02.11 @ 22:49 - permalink
One of the new tools I’ve been working with lately is called FocusWriter (http://gottcode.org/focuswriter/). I actually wrote this post in it. Part of working on netbooks has been the constrained screen size. I’m used to working on two high resolution wide screen monitors at home. At work I have three. FocusWriter has been useful in just being able to full screen and write. That’s it. Some useful stats tools and some built in timers. Otherwise, it just lets you work. And the “always write from the middle of the screen” is a nice feature as well.
If you’re looking for a new tool when you’re just writing plain text give it a shot. It’s been exceptionally useful for me lately.
david shute - 09.02.11 @ 22:25 - permalink
I’m trying to maintain some sense of momentum. One of the sorest lacking qualities in my private work has always been consistency. I work in fits and go through points of absolute apathy. It’s been detrimental in a lot of ways.
With my recent storage woes it’s a perfect opportunity to put my head down, ignore creative projects, and just get the job done. Or ignore it all and play Xbox.
Just as my hard drive crashed I was starting to ease in to a good routine. A little bit of regular reading, some time put toward specific projects, and dedicated time to writing every day. It was a good and maintainable plan. I was trying to start a progress of awesome. Doing something awesome everyday… Or as close to every day as I can… and as close to awesome.
Even if it’s just an idea or a character or a plot twist or editing video or writing a cool riff on the guitar. Something where I can know that I have something I need to do. Something to work on. Something to work toward. Even if it’s just making small pieces, small headway toward a larger work.
It would be very easy for me to put data recovery first. “Nothing else matters until that is done.” Kill any traction with creating before it can gain any momentum. As much as it’s awful to have to put long over due projects on hold even further while I play the data recovery game I’m quite happy to do it. I also plan to keep writing and working in the mean time. I can’t edit the film I should be working on. Doesn’t mean I have to stop doing creative works all together.
david shute - 08.02.11 @ 22:20 - permalink
[feels like i’m crawling]
Hard drive recovery continues very slowly. I’m trying not to let it take up my life but manually sorting through recovered files is a very time consuming and tedious process. In some cases I can jam through very quickly. Images are a good example since I can view thumbnails directly in my file manager. It’s pretty easy to identify what’s broken and what’s good and what needs to be put in to what folders. Audio, on the other hand, is an awful process. A lot of the MP3 files are just chunks of the audio rather than complete files. Add to that having Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 installed means I have a whole lot of game audio mixed in with the good audio.
I’m still working on the first pass. The program I’m using, PhotoRec, was left with the default settings and returned 6.1 million files for me to sort through. Even with cleaning out some files using scripts I still have close to 500,000 to go through.
One of the files the current release version of PhotoRec doesn’t support is .TOD files, AVCHD camcorder files. This is what all the missing footage of my daughter is in. Luckily, the current beta version of PhotoRec does support it. My plan is to run the beta version once I’ve had a chance to sort and safely back up all the files the release version recovered.
If I’m not able to get the .TOD files I want then I’ll look in to some more file recovery tools. Once I’ve got a suitable number of the .TOD files back I’m going to try and undo the partitioning. See if the file table still exists for the old setup. Perhaps I may not even need these files I’ve recovered but I’d rather get them first, before I start changing anything.
Based off a bit of research it sounds like the external drive that died may be fully recoverable. It sounds like possibly a logic board issue or a motor issue. Either means the data is still good and I’m hoping that’s the case. I don’t want to have to put forth the cash to have a professional data recovery house retrieve my data it’s nice to know that the option is still there.
david shute - 07.02.11 @ 22:28 - permalink
This is going to be a long one so either buckle in or bail. I’m good either way.
I’m very worried as I’m writing this post but I’m doing my best to avoid panic. If you are an artist in any format that uses digital storage you should be backing up your materials. No excuse, end of story. All of my writing and quite a few other pieces are stored on dropbox. I have it configured to sync to five different systems. I have, including the dropbox storage itself, six copies of all my writing.
My video editing and my audio recording? That’s a different story. That’s a lot of space and a lot of files. Dropbox is great because I can do everything I need for free. I don’t have an appropriate service for all these other files. It’s not a major issue though. I’ve got an external hard drive I back everything up to. Once a week sync software runs to ensure the backup is up to date.
My system has been acting incredibly weird as of late. It got to the point where I needed simply to reinstall Windows. It was a solid choice. It needed to be done. Along the way I could fix some of the problems I’ve had in the past. Instead of chunking through a massive 1 TB partition I could break things out; have an operating and programs partition, a swap partition, and a user data partition. It’d be great. That way if I ever needed to reinstall I would have to worry about user data. The operating partition would be separate.
This is where I started to get a little concerned. There was really only space to back up all my data on to the hard drive I was already using for back up. What’s the real worry though? Disconnect the drive after back up, repartition and install Windows, run Windows updates, and reconnect. It’s simple. It’s two hours at most. What could possibly happen to this drive in two hours?
I should have listened to the voice screaming at me to find another solution first.
I reinstalled, went through Windows update hell, and then connected my USB drives again. One of them connected just fine. The other, my backup drive, would not. I disconnected it and reconnected, turned off the power and turned it back on. It simply wasn’t finding it. At the same time it sounded like my system was making a strange, subtle beeping noise at me. Not wanting to tempt fate I shut down my computer for a bit.
I couldn’t shake it. It was bothering me that the drive wasn’t connecting. I brought it over to my laptop and connected it. There was that beep I thought was coming from my computer. Actually, it wasn’t a beep. It sounded like something scraping, grinding inside the drive. The enclosure plus distance made it sound somewhat like a beep.
Two sources for my data. The internal hard drive I run Windows on, that I just repartitioned and formatted, and the external hard drive, that just fucking died.
I don’t know what’s going to happen yet. I’m still in the process of trying to resolve this as I type. I guess this is my way of not freaking the fuck out. After all, I just lost the all the video and audio I recorded from the last two years and a bit.
The hard drive that was in the USB enclosure seems to be dead. I took it out of the enclosure and plugged it directly in to my system. A whole lot of nothing. The BIOS isn’t recognizing and forensic imaging software isn’t recognizing it. I have some people willing to look at it but I don’t know if that will come together or not. My guess is no.
My alternative then is to see if commercial recovery will work. Perhaps, but at what price? If I had money to spend I would have just bought a new computer instead of running mad trying to get my existing system up and running appropriately. Even then, it’s entirely possible that the data is not available to be recovered.
Looking back at my old Windows drive I can try recovering the files off of it. I have a process running right now and it’s finding all kinds of stuff but I’m not very convinced as to how well it’s doing the job. There are a lot of 1.02 GB AVI files showing up that can’t actually play back. There seems to be a lot of garbage TXT files floating around as well. Perhaps I’ll recover some of it but will I get enough? What about those AVCHD files I got from the one camera? I haven’t seen one of those pop up yet.
Then there’s the last ditch play, can I undo the repartitioning and reinstall of Windows on that old drive? I know the software is there to do it but how reliable is it? I took a single partition, deleted it, and added three new partitions. Two of those I performed a full format on the space.
Like I said, I don’t know what’s going to happen yet.
There are a lot of ramifications to this. If I can’t get this back I’m losing a lot.
All the audio recorded for anything I shot on DV. I may still have to master tapes for those but I don’t have the audio, that was all recorded to SD on a Zoom H2.
All the video for everything that’s been shot digital. Most notably all the footage for The New Face of Security, a short film I’ve been trying to get out for two years now. This footage is from the reshoot. Also, all the audio for everything I’ve shot digital as it was all recorded to SD on a Zoom H4n.
Oh, and just a silly little thing like 95% of the footage that exists of my daughter’s first year.
The films and plays that I’ve shot? Most of that can be replaced/reshot and what can’t doesn’t really matter. The first year of my daughter’s life? I can’t replace that.
Minus the footage of my daughter, if I can’t get it back it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It certainly sucks. There was material I was still working on and there was The New Face of Security. That’s not a project I can just walk away on. There’s too much invested in it. That would mean reshoots. Again. The third time for the third year in a row that I do this short.
A fresh start wouldn’t be the worst thing to ever happen.
david shute - 06.02.11 @ 13:54 - permalink