Recently I saw Agnès Varda's delightful, and subversive, documentary THE GLEANERS AND I (Les glaneurs et la glaneuse).
For those who aren't familiar with the concept of gleaning, it is the tradition of collecting left over crops from a farmer's field once the harvest was finished.
This is a pattern that mimics nature. The lion makes the kill and takes the most desirable parts while the scavengers get what is left over. Gleaners are everywhere in our society, but we tend to marginalize and ignore them.
For example, on my way to the screening, I saw a homeless man going through recycling bins looking for liquor and wine bottles.
In her documentary, Varda shows the traditional gleaners working the fields and vineyards of France, and then takes us to Paris where the urban gleaners are hard at work gathering leftover food from restaurant garbage bins.
While no one would confess to willfully creating waste, we still live in a wasteful society. As consumers we have been hard-wired to desire only the latest fashion and technology. Companies such as Apple release a constant stream of newer and flashier devices to make us cast off our older, but perfectly reliable, technology.
In a nutshell, it is neither fashionable or desirable to want the old.
Varda was 72 when she made the film, and was obviously worried about the effect of encroaching old age. In the film she shows her wrinkled hands and greying hair. It's as if she is saying, "Am I relevant? Do I still have value?"
Our perception of value has been skewed by marketing and advertising; perverted so that we only lust for the newest, while throwing away everything else.
There is a sequence in the film that really resonated with me. It is the dance of the lens cap. Varda accidentally left her camera running and filmed a few minutes of footage of the lens cap dangling on the end of its string. Normally, this footage would have been relegated to the cutting bin, but Varda whimsically gives it a jazz score and creates one of the most memorable moments in the film.
This 'accident' in the hands of an artist becomes real art, and demonstrates that anything can have value.
I began to look at the film in those terms, and it became clear that as a writer I am basically a gleaner - I work through a field that has been harvested many times and try to find something of value to take away.
Yesterday I wrote the two most beautiful words that any writer can use, "The End".
Writing STOLEN SUNSET was everything that I expected, and more. It was a joy from the first word to the last. And even with a detailed outline the story continued to go in its own direction, and delight and surprise me.
I will begin my revisions in about a week, and it should go for its first reading by the end of September.
Next on my agenda--SNUBNOSE EXPRESS--the new Rip and Wilma adventure, which I already busy plotting. I should begin writing it early in November if all goes according to plan.
And in the meantime, Amy and I are hard at work editing the final copy on DOUBLE TAP the next Rip and Wilma book, which will be published in the fall.
Today, to celebrate finishing the book, I am joining my good buddy Che on the links at Glen Eagle...
I've added a couple of new features to the site today.
You'll notice a Contact Us tab. There are email addresses here where you can contact me or my publisher Cliff House Publishing. I can't promise I will answer every email but I'll certainly try.
We are also in the process of building a mailing list. In the very near future I plan to send out some cool stuff including exclusive short stories and updates. I promise to keep your information confidential no matter how hard the spammers torture me to get it.
Back at the word farm I just crossed the halfway point in the first draft of STOLEN SUNSET. That's over 40,000 words so far.
Amy has already started editing Rip and Wilma's latest adventure - DOUBLE TAP - which will be coming in the fall. After reading the manuscript for the first time, she now refuses to turn her back on me.
I should be posting artwork for the cover concepts around Labor Day.
I think I finally have a title for the next Rip and Wilma book now that the story elements are starting to jell in my mind. I'm thinking of calling it THE SNUBNOSE EXPRESS.
Sorry, it's been a while since I posted.
I've been wrapped up in STOLEN SUNSET and have already reached the 32,000 word mark. To say this book is all-consuming would be an understatement.
At the same time it has been a genuine joy to write. Everyday when I sit down at my laptop I feel energized. Thank god for a full outline though, it gives me somewhere to come back to if I go too far off the page.
So, to summarize, working hard, and enjoying it immensely.
See you soon-
I look so sinister here... Kind of like my killer in STOLEN SUNSET.
This picture of me was taken on the set of A GUNFIGHT which was a student film we made back sometime just after the Bronze Age when I was a production major in the film program at York University.
I remember that day vividly, it was freezing cold and my trigger finger kept turning blue. I had to wear fairly light clothing so I was a Petersickle by the day's shooting wrapped.
They dyed my hair and beard black and assured me that it would shampoo right out. They were wrong and I spent the next couple of weeks with an interesting mixture of black and blond hair.
But, hey, in film school I fit right in.
Anyhow, I am happy to report that I have been writing the first draft of the new book this week and am already 10,000 words into it.
So far, it has been a joy to write. I was excited about this book going in and my enthusiasm was not misplaced.
In my humble opinion (if I'm allowed to have one) it is my best book so far. I love the challenge of taking the series in a different direction. And it even allows me to reintroduce some characters from earlier books.
IN OTHER NEWS...
Amy is hard at work editing Rip and Wilma's new adventure DOUBLE TAP which will be coming out this fall. She keeps sending me long lists of people who she thinks Rip and Wilma should visit. I certainly agree with most of her suggestions, especially the one that included the entire cast of the DUCK DYNASTY.
The outline for Stolen Sunset is finished.
Now the real work begins. Two thousand to three thousand words a day for the next few months.
At last I know where I am heading. Even if it's a dark, but thrilling place.
I can hardly wait until the book is finished and I can share it with you.
For now, I hope that you will join me for all the ups and downs of the writing process.
Almost done the outline. I am trying to finish up either today (Saturday) or tomorrow so that I can begin the first draft on Monday morning. What a great way to begin the week.
I still have the September 8th deadline out there on the horizon but I am feeling comfortable that I can make it. The outline is really detailed this time but I still have enough space to play.
MEANWHILE WE ARE preparing a press release for BLOODY SUNSET so that it can be sent to the reviewers. I saw the draft of the release yesterday and it is really great. I tweaked it a bit and added a headline I liked and now it is nearly ready to go.
Well that's all for now, I have to get back to plotting...