Able to Write Again

Today marks the first time in a while I’ve got an open morning to start writing again. It feels weird and makes me anxious, but I’m going to dive in and begin. In the meantime, here’s the video from my academy. My brother and I put it together based on GoPro footage recorded by the other cadets. Enjoy!

  • Thomas M. Watt

Life Update – 8/14/2016

Waddup, waddup.

So I’m 12 weeks into my fire academy with only 2 weeks left to go. I know that I left my last short story on a major cliff hanger, but it has been so long since I last posted on here I felt it was more necessary to update you on all I’ve been up to.

The fire academy has taught me an enormous variety of new skills. I learned how to operate a chainsaw for the first time in my life, and a few days ago I had the opportunity to carve a five-cut hole in a roof over a working fire (a technique referred to as vertical ventilation). I’ve become comfortable using an SCBA (self-containing breathing apparatus), which is what firefighters don in order to breathe inside a burning structure.

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This vertical ventilation picture is from my academy, and the guy with the saw could even be me (even I can’t tell). The fire is in the room directly below us, which is why we are so smokey.

In order to prepare us for the worst, part of our training required us to crawl through confined spaces wearing our turn-outs (firefighter outfits) as well as our SCBAs. One area was known as the confidence course.

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This space was basically a trailer that is pitch black once they shut the door on you. The interior is a maze from hell – one that includes ladders and unexpected drop-offs. In order to pass through it successfully, we had to squeeze through narrow openings, navigate through total and complete darkness, and climb up and down ladders and slides. This is NOT a drill for the claustrophobic.

One confined space drill that was much worse than the confidence trailer was the X-box (no, not like the video game console… not at all).

X-box crawl

It’s called the ‘X-box’ because that’s what a box with criss-crossed wires looks like.

The X-box is rectangular box of wood with wires running through it everywhere. We were required to crawl through this confined space wearing our turnouts and SCBAs with a hood covering our eyes in seven minutes or less. At one point when I was passing through, the wires prevented me from moving forward or backward. I began breathing frantically and felt like a trapped rat. While this was going on, one of our instructors was yelling at me to give him a proper LUNAR (Location, Unit, Name, Air, Resources). A lunar is the distress call a firefighter gives when they are trapped in an environment with an immediate threat to life and health. Here’s an example:

Firefighter: Mayday mayday mayday!

Incident Commander: Clear all traffic for emergency broadcast.

Firefighter: This is firefighter Watt with interior attack. I’m entangled in wires on division 1, alpha side of the building. I’m down to my last quarter of air, and I need a Ric team with wire cutters to extricate me.

In the next few weeks I’ll be able to post the academy video for you all to see some of the footage for yourselves. I’m really happy I’ve had the opportunity to acquire all of this knowledge, as it is not only preparing me for a career in the fire service, but I also have a wealth of personal experience that I can use in future action/adventure stories. I won’t be as busy as I have been, so I should be able to post on here more frequently.

Oh yeah, one more thing – I have a new girlfriend : ). Say hello to Riley!

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  • Thomas M. Watt

The Old Man and the Tree – Part 2

fallen tree

*If you missed part 1, start here!

“You’ve got to be goddamn kidding me,” He said.

Harker was in disbelief that the neighbor’s kid had brought along four others, all around his age. They were all worthless when it came to removing a tree the size of the one on Harker’s lawn.

“What do you kids want? I don’t have any Nintendos.”

The children looked at one another with confusion.

“We want to help you,” said Jhonny, who had returned with his friends. Jhonny wore black rubber boots that ran all the way past his knees. They were adult sized.

“Help me?” Said Harker, with a haughty laugh. “No thanks. I’d rather get rid of this tree on my own.”

“But you can’t,” said Jhonny. “It’s too big for one person.”

Harker’s eye caught hold of Gerri-anne as she walked by with her three dogs. She walked her three dogs every morning and always donned a white tennis jacket.

“Hello Harker, how are you?” she said with a wave.

“Good Gerri-anne, how are you?” said Harker.

She smirked and continued on her way.

He had met Gerri-anne a few years earlier, shortly after her husband had passed away. He was a son-of-a bitch and left her with nothing, spoiled their kids everything. Her kids never visited or called, he had heard. Still, Gerri-anne always kept in shape and managed to smile. Her lawn was a mess though, but that wasn’t really her fault.

Harker shook his head, then returned to Jhonny. “Well you’re too small to do any good,” said Harker. “This job requires men.”

“We’re men,” said Jhonny.

“Oh yeah?” said Harker. “Saw that trunk for me.”

Harker dropped the saw on the lawn and laughed.

“Let’s go Jhonny,” said the little boy with the blue cap, named Fred. “This guy’s a dick.”

The children turned around and started walking away as Harker laughed. Jhonny began walking with them, then stopped abrubtly. He returned and grabbed the saw, than began sawing.

“What the hell are you doing!” yelled Harker. He jumped and grabbed the saw away from Jhonny. “Don’t you see the edge on this thing? It’s too sharp and dangerous for you.”

“But you said-”

“Don’t put words in my mouth, son! Why don’t you go on with your friends and play paddleball or something?”

“Jhonny, c’mon!” said Fred. “He doesn’t want our help, he said it himself.”

“I’m staying,” responded Jhonny.

Jeremy, the biggest of the kids, wrapped his hands around his mouth and hollered: “Stop trying to replace your dad, Jhonny! He’s dead, and this guy’s more of a grandpa, anyway!”

The other children erupted with laughter as Jhonny gazed down at his rubber boots. He itched his eye and started walking away.

“Good luck,” he muttered to Harker, without bothering to face him.

Harker scratched the back of his head.

To be continued…

  • Thomas M. Watt

The Old Man and the Tree – Part 1

fallen tree

Harker glared out his window at the fallen tree. It hadn’t moved for the past twenty years, then last night it had just decided to keel over. Now he had to clean it up.

Harker tugged a boot on with one hand on the kitchen chair.

“Stupid goddamn tree,” he muttered. “Why you were planted is beyond me.”

It took him thirty minutes to get his boots on. Harker threw on his fleece, than stared out the window again. He checked the cell phone that cost him an arm and a leg, than sighed and tossed it at his recliner.

Harker took with him a shovel and a wheelbarrel. He smeared the humid moisture from his forehead and groaned. He nudged the dead tree with his shovel.

“How the hell am I supposed to get rid of you… stupid goddamn tree.”

Harker turned around and headed for his backyard.

“Mister!” called someone.

Harker turned around. It was a little boy with a sharp smile and a stick of chalk.

“What?” Harker said.

“Want some help moving your tree?”

“From who?” Harker stuck his hand above his eyes like it were a visor, then squinted as he searched the street from one side to the other.

“Well… Me.”

Harker shook his head and turned around. He carried on toward his backyard muttering to himself. The child had no business trying to look courteous here. This tree was a serious problem, and the last thing Harker needed was some dumb kid making the job even more difficult.

That was how Dotty used to be. She’d always try to help Harker with his do-it-yourself projects, but would only ruin them. If he was toying with his engine, she’d beg him for a peek. The second he let her have a look, she’d break something. He’d turn, find a wrench in her hand, then ask her what the hell she was doing. And for some dumb reason her response would always trick him into laughing and forget all about the trouble she always caused.

But that was Dotty, and Dotty was dead. Now Harker was blessed enough to take on his do-it-yourself projects with nobody to hold him up. That was the biggest difference he’d noticed with his age. Ever since the kids moved out of state and Dotty passed away, Harker finally had time to do the things he wanted to do, uninterrupted.

Harker realized he’d been standing in his backyard with his hands on his hips for an easy five minutes.

“What the hell am I looking for?” He said to himself.

Harker spotted a saw. “You,” he said as he pointed at it. Harker strode over, picked it up in practically no time at all, then started on his return trip to the front yard.

When he reached it, he couldn’t believe his eyes.

“You’ve got to be goddamn kidding me,” he said.

…To be continued

  • Thomas M. Watt

 

 

Pondering…

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That’s me as the ‘Entry Leader’ for our hazmat scenario.

It’s difficult to write when you’re not receiving any feedback. I’ve found this to be one of the greatest challenge for completing my writing projects recently. It wasn’t all that long ago that I had been writing short stories on here daily. They were typically 4 parts, and at times as long as 8. It was really enjoyable to see how people reacted, and when the story was not well received, it forced me to improve.

I think I may start doing this again. My greatest dilemma is how this will impact my ‘big’ projects – stories that I believe could one day be published, or turned into screenplays. There are only so many hours in a day, and unfortunately it would be foolish of me to attempt I posting stories on wordpress while also setting aside time for my personal projects. Set out to catch two rabbits, and you won’t catch either.

This has me wondering whether it would be possible, or even wise, to write a full-length novel on here, at the length of a page per day. My knee-jerk reaction is that this would be foolish, as I would be posting a 1st draft of a story that I’d rather submit as a manuscript with the potential to be published.

If you have any thoughts of what I should do, feel free to post them in the comment section. I know this was a rather uninteresting post, but I want to get in the habit of posting regularly on here again.

  • Thomas M. Watt

 

 

6/7/2016 – Life Update and Premise

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Waddup, waddup.

It has been a while since I’ve posted on here. To those who I communicate with regularly, I apologize.

I completed my EMT course and passed the national registry exam. This certification enables me to apply and begin work as an EMT.

Currently I am enrolled in a fire academy. It is arguably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done – we wake up at 5 am daily and perform “PT” (physical training) for 2 straight hours. This includes bear crawls up a mountain, a dangerous amount of sit-ups, push-ups, and jumping jacks, and an exercise called “Sun-Gods” that you DON’T want to do (unless you want your shoulders to explode).

I’m living in a barracks with 19 other guys, who are all pretty cool and friendly. After we finish PT at 8 am, we prepare for class, which last from 9 AM until 5 PM. We have tests daily.

Still, I am finding time to write. Every night, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. I’m currently working on a science fiction script with a strong revenge plot, think Count of Monte Cristo meets Avator (but with an alien race invading earth instead).

A bulk of my writing time is spent trying to improve and learn new techniques. With this script, I am attempting to repeat the premise in different forms as often as possible.

Premise has a different definition in writing circles. In screenwriting, it typically summarizes the plot in one simple sentence. Technically speaking, however, a premise is defined as being an argument. This is the type of premise I’m laboriously infusing into my scenes as often as possible.

I guess you could say my definition of premise is also commonly considered the “moral of the story”.  Doesn’t make a difference. But here’s a brief example of what I’m attempting to do:

Example premise:

Actions speak louder than words.

Illustrated through story:

Two men sat at a bar.

Chad had on a rolex and a fifteen-hundred dollar suit. He ordered drinks for the house, then flicked the bartender his credit card. Javvy wore flip-flops and 3 day old, sun-kissed stubble. Javvy sipped on a Corona.

Chad’s smirk tilted. “Hey buddy, you really think it’s appropriate to dress like that in a place like this?”

The bartender waved for Javvy to lean closer, whispered into his ear, then handed him Chad’s credit card.

Javvy took another sip of his corona, patted his lips with a white napkin, then returned to Chad. “I don’t mean to be rude either, but since you’ve purchased a watch, a suit, and now drinks for the house on my credit card, I’m afraid I’m going to press charges and ask you to get the fuck out of my bar.”

  • Hope you enjoyed!
  • Thomas M. Watt

 

TrackingB Screenplay Contest

 

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I’m determined to finally get some exposure for my work. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve decided to begin looking for representation. According to one article, TrackingB holds a great contest annually that frequently results in representation for it’s winners. The panel of judges is impressive:

THE INDUSTRY PANEL

Berry Welsh – SVP, Production & Development – Tribeca Film
Megan Spanjian – VP, Scripted Television – The Weinstein Company
Peter Dealbert – Lit Manager – Pacific View Management
Melissa Darman – TV Lit Agent – Verve
Dustin Davis – Director, Current Series – ABC Network
Brad Petrigala – Lit Manager – Brillstein Entertainment Partners
Ryan Andolina – Development Executive – Amazon Studios
Amanda Krentzman – Director of Development – The Jackal Group
Jillian Apfelbaum – VP – Imperative Entertainment
Ryan Cunningham – Lit Manager – Madhouse Entertainment
Chris Mills – Lit Manager – Magnet Management
Justin Killion – Producer – Cool Guys & Nerds/1st look deal at ITV
Mike Goldberg – TV Lit Agent – APA
A.B. Fischer – Lit Manager – The Shuman Co.
Josh Goldenberg – Lit Manager – Kaplan/Perrone
Erin Betz – Coordinator, Drama Development – ABC Network                                                           Josh Adler – Lit Manager – Circle of Confusion

They will host a feature length script contest later this year, but currently are accepting entries for their television pilot competition. I’m going to enter Just Leasing and Cheaters Prosper once I feel they are ready. I encourage any of you to enter the contest as well – let me know if you do, that way we can hold one another accountable. The final date for entries is March 26th, and the winners will be announced around July of this year.

*Final Cut Pro is the industry standard for screenwriting, but I use a templateSCRIPT TEMPLATE (with instructions). If you’re new to screenwriting, feel free to download my screenwriting template here.

  • – Thomas M. Watt