Monday, April 21, 2008

Creative Spikes

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

My alone time has come to an end with mixed blessings. I definitely missed Nicky, but I must admit that I loved being in a place all by myself.

Insomnia affects every day of my life. When I string together several days of insomnia, I suffer dearly. However, my insomnia definitely affects and alters the sleeping patterns of people that I stay with, travel with, and in Nicky's instance... someone I share a bed with. When I'm completely alone, I can allow my schedule to run its natural course since my body is programmed for a 30+ hour day. I'd do very well on Jupiter where days are 12 times as long. Mars? Their days are like 25 hours long.

I felt well rested over the last week mainly because I slept when I wanted and took lots or random naps when I felt sleepy. I had several cat naps or power naps that lasted less than 30 minutes. Those were beneficial when working on the script.

And yes, the script has been 95% re-written. I have one final section left and then I will have a second draft complete. I cut about 15-20% of the material and I still need another merciless edit where I can trim some more fat. There are some fantastic sections and there are several blah sections where I was either too lazy to rewrite on this attempt or I just don't have the ability to make every fuckin' scene shine like the best ones. Consistency is my biggest obstacle.

I also didn't like the fact that I forced myself to finish the draft before Nicky came home. As much as I tried not to rush the work and I wrote at my own pace, I could not help but think about that looming deadline. If I really want to finish this project correctly, I need to escape for an unlimited amount of time. I might do that once the WSOP is over.

The bottom line... I almost have a completed second draft it's leaner and better than the first draft but it still has a lot of work to do. I dunno if I'll be able to seriously work on it between now and the time I move to Las Vegas.

The good news is that something happened over the past week and a lot of things clicked for me. It's hard to explain, but I kept plugging away the last few weeks and months hoping to tap into that inner pool of creativity. I kept getting close, but I finally hit the motherload over the last week. I couldn't turn off the tap. I was bombarded by millions of ideas and rushed to write all of those down. I had not had a monster brainstorming session in several months.

I finally had a firm grasp of my abilities and gained the confidence to carry out those ideas that I had festering inside the hallways of my mind. They finally presented themselves in clear and concise manner.

The result?

I started painting again, something I had not done in five or six years. After the initial painting, I realized that I had to reteach myself how to paint which was a little difficult. The result was a series of very simple paintings where I explored shading and color. I originally was going to paint over those practice paintings, but I liked them so much that I held onto them and waited to see Nicky's reaction.

Upon her return on Friday evening, Nicky was blown away especially since I whipped up seven paintings during her trip to Monte Carlo. She had no idea that I was going to do that. Plus, when Showcase moved out, he also took random items that they used to decorate the apartment. A few walls were sparse and they were in need of something... anything. There's a Pearl paint store only two blocks away. When I went for a walk one morning, I passed the store and my creative juices were begging and pleading for me to stop to buy some canvas, paint, and brushes.

I completed seven paintings and I absolutely adore two of them. I told Nicky that she could have all of them except one that I wanted to keep. I can look at old paintings of mine and instantly flash back to that moment in time. I can recall the music I was listening to and the thoughts that ruled my world as I painted every single stroke.

Painting ended up being a beneficial exercise for writing. It's hard to explain, but when you make your mind do something different, yet creative, it makes you look at things differently. In painting you have to make a lot more decisions and really think them out before you act upon them. In that sense, painting is a lot like chess because you have to anticipate three and four moves into the future before you make a current decision. There were little things that I knew and forgot like making sure you prime the painting with lighter colors first and paint over those with darker colors instead of vice versa.

Compare that to writing and I can easily erase and delete anything that I thought sucked. Or I can save words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and scenes and use them at some other time. Writing reminded me that there's less room for error so I should take more chances. When you make a mistake in painting, it's very obvious.

Anyway, painting really juiced up my brain and how I perceived things. I'm very fortunate that all of this came to fruition while Nicky was gone. I was worried that all I would do is sit around smoke pot, listen to bootlegs, and watch non-stop sports. Well, I did that. A lot. But I also jumped head first into a slew of creative things.

In addition to the paintings, I also started a digital novel. I had been tinkering with the idea for five years. I finally said, "Fuck it." Chapter 1 is up. I admit... I was so jacked up on pharmies that night when I wrote it. I'm kinda shocked that it turned out pretty decent. I only had a few minor changes when I woke up the next morning and sobered up and realized that I created a monster overnight and that I really shouldn't have embarked on this journey especially with the lack of free time over the next few months.

Alas, I was feeling invincible like Superman and felt up to the challenge. I've already got some positive feedback and will continue forward with the project. I began it knowing that I might not finish it. Or rather, that it might go on forever, like I really need another blog to worry about. Then again, life is short and what's going on inside of me doesn't happen very too often. I'm old enough and wise enough now to realize when I'm having one of these manic-moments of boundless energy and creativity.

I also think that it took me a couple of months to break free from that dark cloud of negative energy (the devilish trinity of poker, gambling, and Las Vegas) that poisoned me over the last few years. I finally broke free of that shitstorm. It took longer than I desired, but I'm finally at a healthy place and I can see things more clearly. I still have to work in the poker industry, but for now, I'm doing things on my terms and have more control. I gave up some of the money, power, and responsibility to find a healthier balance. And right now, I couldn't be happier.

I'm looking forward to spending this summer in Las Vegas. That was something that didn't happen the last two summers. I was loathing and dreading my assignments the last two summers. However, this year, I can't wait to start. My focus is on the people. There are some solid people that I met through poker and I really want to focus on that aspect of the industry instead of the ugly corrupt nature of poker and Las Vegas. I'm even saying a lot of things like, "I can't wait to see (insert name here) this summer in Las Vegas." I have my priorities re-arranged. It's about the people and the stories this year, and not about the work, money, fame, and power.

It took me a while to understand that. All those mushrooms trips in Amsterdam finally paid off. I'm finally back on track and the creative person inside of me is driving the rest of me to new heights instead of the businessman in me pushing the artist into unhealthy directions.

Moving on...

Nicky returned from a tough assignment in Monte Carlo. I turned down the option to work this year. I did it last year and knew that it was a bitch of an assignment. Alas, Nicky needed the money and she has been getting offered all the jobs that I used to get offered, so it ends up working out OK. Again, the one big thing I missed about Monte Carlo was seeing some good friends that I know through poker, particularly the European based media that I only see in Europe and rarely get to cross paths with in Las Vegas.

Of course, I didn't miss the rude French waiters or the ever-sinking US dollar. It was bad a year ago when I was in Monte Carlo and I can only imagine it being worse today.

With Nicky gone, I made slight adjustments to the apartment. Like the toilet seat. It was up the entire week and I got to pee at will and there were several instances where I forgot to flush and I didn't get scorned about it. Nicky is a Southern California girl which means she freaks out at the slightest hint of cool air. I love opening up all the windows in the apartment first thing in the morning and letting the apartment air out. It gets chilly but I love writing with a cool breeze filling the place, especially after a night of heavy smoking.

I rigged up her speakers so we could hear music in the living room. It definitely beats the karaoke machine which is still set up so Nicky has the best of both worlds. She remarked that she loved hearing music in the common areas which was something that didn't happen much before. Nicky also let me have free reign of Showcase's old room. For now, it became my painting studio and it also is my putting green. I set up the putting machine that Nicky had bought me for Valentine's Day. It's kinda weird, but the room is empty aside from the putting green and art supplies.

I wanted to pick up flowers for Nicky. I didn't like the selection at Whole Foods an went to the intertubes. I had a coupon for 1800Flowers and picked up a batch of Ecuadorian sunflowers which they flew up to LA for me. She was pleasantly surprised with the flowers and even happier to come home to a clean apartment.

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