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  • Jason Haskins

Getting back to the fundamentals

Updated: Jun 10

View of an urban city, with beige buildings and a rows of vehicles below

In setting a goal for myself at the start of the year to provide, at the very least, monthly updates, I let one thing escape my mind. Writing these updates may happen much quicker than actual projects, acceptances, and shows might occur.

And here we are again.

Submitting plays, screenplays, and emails to agents is a waiting game, often with a lot of down time from submission to rejection. (Or, in some cases, the ever-coveted acceptance).

The time spent in the interim is focused on creating new works, polishing the old ones, writing sports articles, scouring the internet, and watching (then subsequently writing about) episodes of Roseanne. (Lately the focus has been on ER, of which I'll write about this weekend.)

Over the past month, I found myself getting back to the fundamentals of writing. And that starts with observation of the life moving around you. I think everyone has a story to tell. Now, whether I'm digging deeper by going into discussion with a person or simply observing a stranger and giving them a backstory, this is where the bits of a character are revealed.

From there, a story is fashioned. Or if a story is already in progress, bit of dialogue from life may or may not find their way into a play or a film. (Less often in a fantasy novel, but more prevalent in other stories I've written.)

Of course, that's just a peek into my process. Outlines, 3X5 notecards, notebooks filled with scribbles, and reading lines out loud in my kitchen are other pieces of this puzzle called a "writing process". Let's spare the details and jump to the updates, shall we?

The journey to finish the first draft of my second fantasy novel, The Blue Gem, is nearly complete. It is currently sitting on the top of the priority list; a list that never seems to get shorter, but that's okay. From there, a re-write (or two) will be in order, then hopes of packaging the two novels (The Dragon Princess being the other) to agents.

Part of my time over the past few months has been spent at the JUMP building in Boise, working with a group of excellent filmmakers. Spearheaded by Brandon Freeman and Matt Melton, it is the goal of the group to write, film, and edit a short film (3-4 pages) over a three-month, rolling basis. What does that mean, exactly?

To begin with, sign-ups are open to the public for each month. A person has the option to write, act, or be part of the production team. My role in this? Currently, I am tasked with acting as a writing mentor, along with Shelby Bay, in helping to develop a script with a group of writers by (hopefully) providing insight and sharing with them my experiences.

photo credit: Brandon Freeman- Flying Fedora Film

Looking at the process deeper, Shelby and I co-wrote a script in March. That script was subsequently shot in April while we got to work on May's script. In May, the April film will be edited, while writers are working on a script for June and the production crew shoot's the script we wrote in April. Got it? Come check it out for yourself (sign-ups for June are going fast. Learn more by visiting the JUMP website.

Finally, but certainly not least, I was blessed enough to travel to Florida to see a production of my one-act play One Night Stand. It was performed at Flagler College in St. Augustine, spearheaded by a wonderful director (who was nice enough to let me spend time with her and her parents on the afternoon before the show). The cast was exceptional and it was a joy to see words of mine performed on stage by people I didn't know. And I got to travel to a part of the country I'd never been to. My only regret is I didn't schedule more time to see more of St. Augustine.

This was because I had to be moving on. My sister and her family were beckoning, only a day's drive away. And, as it turned out, a vacation was exactly what I needed to re-charge these old bones.

Until next time, my friends. Be bold. Be kind. Resist.

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