is two guys collaborating to write on writing and collaboration.

Fastball! for May 2009

May 31, 2009

Where I Write: Fantasy & Science Fiction Authors In Their Creative Spaces — Martin Ball

Neat project by photographer Kyle Cassidy looking at writing spaces.

(via @rands)

May 26, 2009

John Sayles, novelist, seeks a binding agreement — Martin Ball

So even the great John Sayles has trouble selling books. And man, this one sounds fantastic:

Some 10 years ago he began to write a movie about America’s 1898 war with Spain over the Philippines, viewing it as an eerie precursor of U.S. military exploits in Vietnam. He was also fascinated by the last gasp of Reconstruction — the era of virulent, post-Civil War racism. These two story lines fused and the script became unwieldy.

“There was no way in hell we were ever going to raise the money to make the film,” Sayles says. “I felt like I was pushing way too much stuff into a two-hour-and-20-minute format, and it would work better as a miniseries. But who gets to come in and say, ‘Oh, I want to make a 50-part miniseries about America at the turn of the century’?”

He finally decided the story should be a novel, which led to years of research and writing. “Some Time in the Sun” — like his films — blends vivid human portraits with historical events and brilliantly captures individual voices. In addition to his raucous newsboys, it spotlights African American and white soldiers fighting in the Philippines, fast-buck artists who help create the motion picture industry, and features cameos by Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, William Randolph Hearst, Damon Runyon and other historical figures.

Sayles is a tremendously good writer. He’s a goddamned MacArthur fellow, for god’s sake (granted, he won for directing…). I hope some publisher comes to its senses and soon, or he goes the way of modern media and self-publishes. I’d buy my copy either way.

May 26, 2009

William Gibson on "Atemporality" — Martin Ball

William Gibson is, unsurprisingly, one of the most interesting people on Twitter. Yesterday, he went on a tear about “atemporality.” I put the quotes together to read them in order as one thought, so please allow me to offer it here. The pound sign after each statement links back to the original toot.

Very creative people get atemporal early on. Are relatively unimpressed by the “now” factor, by latest things. Access the whole continuum. #

Less creative people believe in “originality” and “innovation”, two basically misleading but culturally very powerful concepts. #

When I look for collaborators I look for atemporality, whatever relevant kinds of historical literacy, and fluency in recombinance. #

Otherwise, result will be “now-bound”. Or, actually, for me, a non-starter. #

Your bleeding-edge Now is always someone else’s past. Someone else’s ’70s bellbottoms. Grasp that and start to attain atemporality. #

The most intelligent 21st-century fashion strives for a radical atemporality. Probably because the digital is radically atemporal. #

That week’s new Mac obsoleting as you drove it home from the dealer. Like melting ice cream. Like any imagined future. #

Tom Waits says he was never very interested in people his own age. Fascinated by his parents’ generation. #

Not that there’s no now, but that it’s someone else’s future and someone else’s past. And on that, I lapse back into Exercise Dog territory. #

The last comment was in reference to this video, which he posted earlier yesterday.

May 25, 2009

A Long Time Ago.. — kza Ball

Mystery Man on Film takes a brief look at George Lucas’ first draft of Star Wars:

Let it be said, my friends, that the early drafts of Star Wars should be a rich source of encouragement to every aspiring screenwriter the world over - because they royally sucked.

What goes unsaid is the first draft sounds an awful lot like The Phantom Menace, with a bitter dash of Return of the Jedi.

May 17, 2009

Character archetypes — Martin Ball

Over at (“Enabling your OCD. One post at a time.”) user diaskeaus has compiled an incredible list of character archetypes from, what seems, a huge list of resources. Well worth a read and bookmark.

(via @listology. Full disclosure: I gave a hand with the recent re-design of the site).

May 11, 2009

Poetry: The art of words is alive in fair Tacoma — Martin Ball

Friend of Spitball! and Tacoma local Tammy Robacker has been hard at work in the burgeoning poetry scene in Seattle’s southern neighbor. This article talks about some of those projects, and even name checks her upcoming book “The Vicissitudes,” which we personally can’t wait to read.

May 11, 2009

Edgar Allen Poe and the economy of horror — Martin Ball

Jill Lepore in The New Yorker on Poe. She starts with his essay “The Philosophy of Composition” which claims he wrote “The Raven” backward.

“The Philosophy of Composition” is a lovely little essay, but, as Poe himself admitted, it’s a bit of jiggery-pokery, too. Poe didn’t actually write “The Raven” backward. The essay is as much a contrivance as the poem itself. Here is a beautiful poem; it does everything a poem should do, is everything a poem should be. And here is a clever essay about the writing of a beautiful poem. Top that. Nearly everything Poe wrote, including the spooky stories for which he is best remembered, has this virtuosic, showy, lilting, and slightly wilting quality, like a peony just past bloom.

May 08, 2009

Literary Tweets: 100+ of the Best Authors on Twitter — Martin Ball

My modest listing of writers on twitter has been handily bested by this authoritative list, that even includes avatars.

Fastball! Archives

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What is Spitball!?

Spitball! is two guys collaborating to write about writing and collaboration. We're writing partners who have worked together since 2000, and placed in the top 100 in the last Project Greenlight for our script YELLOW.

Currently, we are both working on multiple screenplay, short story, and novel ideas independently and together, and collaborate on this blog.

What Spitball! used to be

Spitball! started as an attempt to collaborate on a screenplay online in real time. From January 2006 to July 2007 we worked on an interactive process to decide the story we were going to make. A full postmortem is coming, but you can find the find all the posts by looking in the category Original Version.

During this period, we affected the personalities of two of the most famous spitball pitchers from the early 20th Century. Look at our brief bios for more info about this, and so as not to be confused as to who is talking when.

We rebooted the franchise in early 2009 in its current form.

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Our Twitter account, where we note when longer articles are posted. While we're at it, here's Kent and Martin's Twitter accounts.

Kent M. Beeson

Urban Shockah pic

Kent M. Beeson (aka Urban Shockah) is a stay-at-home dad and stay-at-home writer, living in Seattle, WA with his wife, 2 year old daughter and an insane cat. In 2007, he was a contributor to the film blog ScreenGrab, where he presciently suggested Jackie Earle Haley to play Rorschach in the Watchmen movie, and in 2008, he wrote a film column for the comic-book site ComiXology called The Watchman. (He's a big fan of the book, if you couldn't tell.) In 2009, he gave up the thrill of freelance writing to focus on screenplays and novels, although he sometimes posts to his blog This Can't End Well, which a continuation of his first blog, he loved him some movies. He's a Pisces, and his favorite movie of all time is Jaws. Coincidence? I think not.

Martin McClellan

Burleigh Grimes pic

Martin (aka Burley Grymz) is a designer and writer. He occasionally blogs at his beloved Hellbox, and keeps a longer ostensibly more interesting bio over here at his eponymous website. You can also find him on Twitter.