Thursday, May 31, 2007

Script Frenzy starts tomorrow

I'm screwed.

This isn't about writing

This has been on my mind the past couple of days or so; maybe someone can help me out. Forgiveness is pretty integral to the Christian faith. Sort like, we're commanded to do it. Which sounds sorta tough at first, but, well, when you've been forgiven for so much, it's not so hard. Or it is, you just have a little help. So I was just wondering, how do non spiritual people forgive? I feel like it's got to be so much more self gratifying to keep that victim status and that hurt. Because forgiveness is effort, and it doesn't guarantee that the situation will get better or anything. Is it worth the supposed "feeling better" afterwards for you? How the heck do you get motivated? For the things that have really needed forgiveness in my life, I've had to look outside of myself.

What's outside of yourself that can help?

EDITED: Changed one word after Devon's post to try and show my emphasis on faith, not organized religion. I'm definitely aware of the fact that non spiritual people forgive and are good at it. It impresses me, because I'm not sure I could do it sometimes. Thanks for commenting, Devon!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's that time again

...when I have a crisis of faith in myself. Writing is such a self absorbed activity, if you start to doubt yourself, which we all do at some point, things can get nasty. Right now is a terrible time for this. I'm in the middle of a short, and Script Frenzy is starting Friday. And right now I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to write a genuine, powerful, engaging story. Because those are the only type of stories worth my dedication and exhaustion. And right now as I look back on everything I've written, even back at The 4:05, which I loved, and Daffodil, which is my baby short, I'm not sure any of them are actually really truly good stories.

And I'm not sure if telling good stories is something you can learn.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I *am* in love with his music

Shoelaces untied
You can dry your eyes
Perfect shadows alive
Behind us
This is the day I make you mine

The way your hair lies
Sometimes unrecognized
All the way from these today
On a train
Nothing to say if there's still time

But you are the one
I've been waiting for today
And here comes the sun
That's been baiting on today

Lately I've lost my tongue
Today you found the sun
I know not long has grown
Well I thank God you came along

But you are the one
I've been waiting for today
And here comes the sun
That's been baiting on today

You looked right through me
When there was no one else
I sat beside you and became myself
Today... today

You are the one
I've been waiting for today
And here comes the sun
That's been baiting on today

- "Today" by Joshua Radin
My first day off since I started working again. Mmm.

What I should be doing with all this time, of course, is writing. I have notes to write up for a writing buddy in Script Frenzy, I need to hammer out some of my own plot points so that I don't resort to cliches, and I have a short that I started yesterday that it would be nice if I finished it before Friday. I'm a little frustrated with that one, though, because it's not coming out as brilliantly as it's playing out in my head. Typical.

In the screenwriting community, there's a little bit of a debate between those people who stress the visual aspect of film over the dialog aspect. Only there's not really a debate because people general profess that the visuals of film should trump the dialog. Film is a visual medium, show don't tell, its visual capacities are what set film apart from theatre, blah blah blah. There's no way I can argue with those points (especially the show don't tell axiom), but I feel this presents two problems for screenwriters.

One, we don't really get to write the visuals... Descriptions should be tight and concise, stage directions limited, etc. etc. Of course, in a few lines, a lot of visual information can be communicated. But as a general rule I've noticed that writers are stifled when it comes to writing non-dialog material. And you're not supposed to direct the actor as to what she/he should be expressing. You're supposed to be a good enough writer to make that obviously, I think. Too much direction in your screenplay is generally considered to be amateurish. Prose is for novelists.

Two, everyone likes a good quote. My gosh, I don't remember how many lunches I sat through last year where my guy friends spent the entire time quoting lines from websoides, movies, and video games. My friends at Michigan are quoting Anchor Man all the time. People don't talk about the beautiful lighting (cinematographer's job), the expressive moment that demonstrated the complete irony of the scene (actors and directors), or whatever visual moment you can think up. People are looking for a movie that resonates with them, and it works so much better for them if they can find a line that resonates with them. It's often when a character finally erupts and tells the truth with such passion and commitment and manages to nail what we know and feel on the nose that we burst into tears.

I remember reading The History of Love when I was over in England and thinking, Holy crap, she's managed to describe in words the feelings I've been having my whole life. And while I found the whole book beautiful, it's those couple of passages that made it work for me and they're the ones I always remember. The audience can't take the prose we write with them. They don't know how we described the characters or scenes. It's unlikely that their singular favourite moment of the film will be a visual still. It will be a line of dialog when the audience member thought, Holy crap, that's beautiful. It's our responsibility as writers to create as many of those authentic moments as we can.

Speaking of beautiful, I've been listening to a lot of Joshua Radin lately. Everyone should check him out. Maybe it's just another celebrity crush, but his music makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Monday, May 28, 2007

National Holidays are for Wasting Time

Your Score: Myrna Loy

You scored 14% grit, 33% wit, 28% flair, and 35% class!

Your Score: Myrna Loy
You are class itself, the calm, confident "perfect woman." Men turn and look at you admiringly as you walk down the street, and even your rivals have a grudging respect for you. You always know the right thing to say, do and, of course, wear. You can take charge of a situation when things get out of hand, and you're a great help to your partner even if they don't immediately see or know it. You are one classy dame. Your screen partners include William Powell and Cary Grant, you little simmerpot, you.

Find out what kind of classic leading man you'd make by taking the
Classic Leading Man Test.

Link: The Classic Dames Test written by gidgetgoes on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Friday, May 25, 2007

This is poetry

Listen Carefully

Sooner then I expected

Clocking in at 94 and a half pages, I finally typed FADE OUT for Making It. It's done, that's all. Now I need to find something else to keep myself entertained until June...

the Frenzy

Ever November for the past four years I've participated in National Novel Writing Month. It's just sort of a given now. I'm already entertaining ideas for this year's, whether I'll have fun with a ridiculous concept or try to write a serious novel this year. In June, the same people are sponsoring Script Frenzy, the same concept in script format. I already have an idea, some notes, and even a title (though I had to go with my second choice because my first one's already been used several times) - Whatever You Ask. I'm excited because my three main characters are all guys, and we all know the challenges in point of view and characterization that's going to present.

Someone posted a thread on the Script Frenzy forums called "Writers for Real." Now, that already is a ridiculously pretentious title because it's belittling to the rest of the community, I feel, but I went ahead and posted about my writerly plans. It's a little amusing because of the handful of people who've posted, most of us are just still *training* to be writers for real. But one person posted about how if you Google search Script Frenzy you'll find a lot of people knocking and degrading it. We have to deal with that in NaNo, too, but I went ahead and Googled Script Frenzy to see for myself what people were saying.

I only found one really negative collection of comments, but even then I was surprised by the vindictiveness with which these people attacked SF and the writers participating in it. All these accusations that it's a bad environment, that you'll turn out crap just to meet the deadline, that it's too chaotic and unplanned. One person even said that it harms the creative process. You know what the creative process is? It's sticking your butt in a chair and writing.

I would say that what these people don't realize is that the one month restraint is for your first draft only, not your prewriting or rewriting, so you have plenty of time to craft characters and structure and rewrite all your mistakes later. I would say that plenty of the participants in Script Frenzy already know script format or use the resources offered to learn it before it starts. I would say that plenty of successful movies had a first draft written in one month or less. I would say that some people don't need a lot of prewriting time. I would say that writing is a craft you learn by doing, so let people practice they way they want. I would say that for as many different writers there are, there are different ways of approaching "the creative process."

But I think that by the fact that people would attack the plot generator on the home page of Script Frenzy just shows that they have no sense of humor. They're taking themselves way too seriously. These are the kinds of pretentious writers that I complained about before - they drive me crazy! Writing is writing is writing. So leave others in peace when they do it.

"Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you're doomed." - Ray Bradbury

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Maybe the reason why is...

Jack finally said it!!

Yay for a good season finale of Lost. : )

I *am* getting sappy...

You’re all smiles and silly conversation
As if this sunny day came just for you
You twist your hair, you smile and you turn your eyes away
C’mon, tell me what’s right with you
Now it dawns on me probably everybody’s talkin’
And there’s something here I’m supposed to realize
‘Cause your secret’s out, and the universe laughs at it’s joke on me
I just caught it in your eyes, it’s a beautiful surprise

When did you fall in love with me?
Was it out of the blue
‘Cause I swear I never knew it
When did you let your heart run free?
Have you been waiting long?
When did you fall in love with me?
When did you fall in love?

Make your way over here, sit down by this fool, and let’s rewind
C’mon, let’s go back and replay all our scenes
You can point out the hints, the clues, the twists and the smiles this time
All the ones that slipped by me
I bet my face is red, and you can hear my heart poundin’
Well I guess it don’t matter now that I realize
‘Cause baby I missed it then, but I can surely see you now
Right there before my eyes
You’re my beautiful surprise

When did you fall in love with me?
Was it out of the blue
‘Cause I swear I never knew it
When did you let your heart run free?
Have you been waiting long?
When did you fall in love with me?
When did you fall in love?

Was it at the coffee shop
Or that morning at the bus stop
When you almost slipped, and I caught your hand
Or the time we built the snowman
The day at the beach, sandy and warm
Or the night with the scary thunderstorm
I never saw the signs
Now we’ve got to make up for lost time
And I can tell now by the way that you’re looking at me
I’d better finish this song so my lips will be free

Have you been waiting long, when did you fall in love
I kept you waiting so long, when did you fall
Have you been waiting long
When did you fall in love with me
When did you fall in love?

- "When Did You Fall" by Chris Rice

I was Engaged to be Married Last Night

To some real Prince Charming too. There was some upset at the end though. I can't remember if we broke off the engagement because I was in love with someone else or I proved how much I was into him to his queen mum. Either way, I think the dream ended up happy. Wish I could remember it.

I didn't write yesterday, but that's ok because I was working on things from my 101 list. Making It is almost done, too, which is a little strange. I'm at 88 pages on a script I'm not even passionate about. Can I talk anymore about the importance of discipline?

When I was at Old School Land, I went to visit my old theatre professor. It's an amazing feeling to be able to sit on the most comfortable couch in the world and hold your own in a conversation with a very intelligent man that you used to ask advice from all the time, sitting on that very same couch. He's teaching a class on playwriting right now, so we discussed the industry and the writing process and ragged on prewriting a little.

Granted, I know prewriting actually works for some people. Maybe if I had done some prewriting for Making It it would be a salvageable story - or at least I would have recognized that I wouldn't like it before I started writing it. I've done some prewriting for my Script Frenzy screenplay, some notes on Acts I and II, but in general, I'm not a big prewriter. There are a couple of reasons why.

"Planning to write is not writing. Outlining...researching ...talking to people about what you're doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing." - E.L. Doctorow

Prewrite all you want, baby. Nothing's actually getting written until you're putting down the real stuff. We have an old joke in the writer's community about people, when they hear that we're writers, say "Oh, I have a fantastic novel idea." Prewriting is a form of not writing.

A lot of times it comes out contrived and irrelevant . When I sit down and try to write a backstory for Eileen Charles of Banesberry, Virginia, usually what I come up with is a lot of irrelevant history. At this point, I'm not really sure what my character needs, or if I do, it's stuff that's inherent in her character to move the plot along. For Grace in The 4:05, I just needed to know that she had been let down and disappointed by people her entire life. As I wrote the story, examples came out. I didn't have to write down the whole saga about how her ex boyfriend had run off with her best friend because I didn't need to make her untrusting and disillusioned. She already was that way when I thought up the story. Maybe I think backstory is a little irrelevant too because what you're writing is a story about now. If you're backstory is too interesting, maybe you're writing the wrong story. But for me, writing backstory just feels like throwing a bunch of random character traits and boring bits of history. Some backstory is good, for character motivations and such, but I think inherently the writer already knows that backstory. I just don't see the point of writing out your character's favourite color and how she gets to work.

Reason number three: it's boooo-ring. For us short attention span writers, the best way to kill a story is to obsess over it before the actual work or writing begins. It kills some of the joy in writing, at least for me, because of the next reason, I think.

"For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I'm surprised where the journey takes me." - Jack Dann

"I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear." - Joan Didion

I mean that's it for me, really. When I write I'm hoping to learn something, to discover a story, to reach an emotional level that prewriting, I find, constrains. I usually don't write around a plot. I write around an idea or a question. The 4:05 was about unconditional love and forgiveness. In Making It I tried to explore the coming of age of five teenagers and how they struggle with immaturity and maturity. In my Script Frenzy screenplay, I'm going to try to answer the question of what happens when people really love unselfishly. When I discover the answers to these questions, I get more invested in the story. And to be honest, I think that's why Making It hasn't worked. Not because I didn't do any prewriting on it, but because the themes were not ones that I could really get emotionally invested in.

Besides, when you write without a set plot/outline, you leave more room for the characters to take over. When I wrote The 4:05, I didn't have the ending nailed yet. Together or not together? And when I got to the last scene, I had a struggle because I didn't want them together but the story did. I tried to balk and say I was going to write two endings to see which I liked best, but when I started writing it, it just came out right. I didn't have to worry about an alternative ending because the journey in the story had been completed, the question had been answered, and the plot had been resolved.

Prewriting really works for some people. If there's one thing I've learned throughout my discussions with other writers, the books I've read, the blogs I've stalked, it's that there are as many different ways of writer as there are writers. And I realize that my lack of prewriting usually means more rewriting. I'd rather have it that way. And I'm not going to feel guilty if the whole of my prewriting notes is just a couple of sheets of paper.

Now, I have to go watch Lost. I came home in the middle of the season finale, and once I watch the tape I can release the whole family to finally discuss their theories. We always have great Lost theories.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Travel Plans

Three things you don't want to hear aboard an airplane:

"Well, folks, you may have noticed that we've shut our engines down..."
"I have just a small electrical glitch on one of my instruments here. I'm going to do a control-alt-delete and basically shut down the entire system for about 30 seconds and see if that doesn't clear it up."
"I'm not lost, folks..."

Why do airline pilots call us "folks" so much? It's infinitely better to have a window seat than an aisle seat; it changes the trip drastically. And flying behind the wing may be safer (nobody from the front of the plane survived the crash on Lost, huh?), flying in front makes it seem more like a carnival ride. And don't get up before the pilot turns off the seat belt sign or the whole crew will come after you over the PA system with public humiliation on their minds (that poor woman...).

For the best view of the New York skyline, fly into La Guardia. It's even better if there's someone there waiting for you.
Ever have a moment in your life when all you can think is that your friends and family are the most important thing in the world?

That's me right now.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Amy's Song

You asked me to write a tune
All about the things that go wrong
And then you asked me to come home soon
To the place where I belong

But you stand on the other side
Of the line in this place
And you can't see me, you are blind
And this you can fake
No, this you can fake.

And sometimes, sometimes I wanna be
I scream that I wanna be
Anyone but me.

And I don't know if I can write about
Chosen walls and the things you feel
And I don't know if I can sing aloud
Closing doors showing you what's real

But I know when I close my eyes,
Late at night, there's only one thing
The night's shown that she can lie
Its your face, show me something
Can you show me something

And sometimes, sometimes I wanna be
I scream that I wanna be
Anyone but me.

What do you want me to say
All I know is love - it's ok
I'll write what I know
And you do the same
Tell me I'm sane.

And sometimes, sometimes I wanna be
I scream that I wanna be
Anyone but me.

- Joshua Radin

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Comeback Tours

Today my roommate from sophomore year is getting married. I luckily am getting to go to her wedding, which is halfway across the country, and visit Old School Land for the first time in a year.

I don't know how many people get to revisit their pasts a lot. It sorta happens a lot for me. Ever since I came back from England, every single place I have lived/visited has been an important place for me in my past. Sometimes it's hard because I don't feel like I'm making any progress forward. Sometimes it's hard because I realize that I have. It was a little ironic, because I flew back to campus on the same day that I got into England exactly a year ago.

I was on the plane Thursday, and I almost started crying a couple times. I was so excited to finally be going back to what had been my home for two years to see some of my closest friends, but I was also a little sad. I have no regrets in the way I've lived my life the past year. But at the same time, I thought of everything I had missed at my old school for the past year, what my life could have been like if I stayed. Now that I'm here, it doesn't feel like I've been gone for a year. Except when I'm hanging out with people.

One of my writing buddies for Script Frenzy has a plot that involves someone coming back to a place after being gone for a while. And as soon as I get home, I'm going to start typing out a whole bunch of notes for him about what that's like. Because, when you stop to think about it, it's crazy the cyclical nature my life has taken. But if that's really what my life is like, if I'm going around in circles, it's more like a spiral that's expanding outwards. We're at the same place again, only we're enjoying those memories as we pass by. I'm here again, but I'm not the same person I was then.

And sometimes moving forward is going back.

But for now I have a ridiculously cute dress that I have been patiently waiting to wear and lunch with one of my best friends in Old School Land ahead of me. Can life get any better? I submit that it cannot!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Insert Cute Title Here

Note to self (and all others listening): even in case of extreme and sweltering heat, beware opening a window sans screen to catch that cool summer breeze. Not only will the breeze come in, but all the other crap that's floating in around the air. I may wake up in a blanket of leaves.

I'm happy to see that the number of posts labeled "real life" exceeds the number labeled "song lyrics." Though I have yet to finish labeling.

My excessive need to organize things is so fickle. Where was this in the middle of the school year when I had two notebooks and four legal pads for five classes?

I've been spending some time on the Script Frenzy forums (let's just be honest. The past three weeks I have been spending waaaay too much time online), and someone started a thread about people who write more than just SF and NaNo. I am so far the only person who's responded. The thread is titled "Writers for Real." Aren't we presumptuous? And it gets better - both of us are only students. We're too cocky, too confident for our own good (more on this later). It may all end in tears.


I've been dialogging with another Frenzier about plots. Remarkably, I've come up with a whole slew of ideas for character development/interaction from examples from my own life. I'm very excited about the potential for his script. I just hope now that mine doesn't turn into a dud.

Poor people who have only been coming to my blog for the past month or so. You must think that all I really ever talk about or think about is writing. If only it were so.

Tomorrow I am flying back to Old School Land for a wedding of my old roomie. This will be the first time I've been back on campus since I left a year ago to go to England and then the cold, strange land of Michigan. The last day I was there was a huge rush of activity, and then there was a few quiet moments in the Valley with my friend Jeremiah while we waited for my mom and aunt. And it was when he started chasing a squirrel that I finally started crying. I blame the beautiful day and the absurdity of the squirrel. I don't regret leaving Old School Land, but I miss it. I am super excited, practically bouncing. And yes, Ben Titter, you can quote me on that, like you have before.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Some Covers Should not be Made

Like a country version of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy." What? I know, right.

I did something terrible this weekend. I went to Connecticut to visit a Red Sox fan. But no, that's not the terrible thing. I broke my habit. My '5 page a day' habit. It was only for Saturday and Sunday. But I found Monday... I didn't really want to write. So I didn't. And today, the first thing I did when I got up? Played Zelda on the Wii. Well, it *is* on my 101 list.

This just goes to show how important discipline is. Writing is tough, especially something you're not too enthusiastic about writing (ahem, Current Draft). But really, Current Draft is all about practice and discipline. That's why I don't really care if it's crap. It's reinforcing important aspects of being a writer - most importantly sitting your butt in a chair and writing.

When David Koepp told me that the best thing to do was make time to write, every day, I believed him. But I don't think I really believed the every day thing. Just, most every day. Five days a week. Twenty minutes on a regular basis. Not anymore. A daily page count. It's the only way I've made it to 70 pages on Current Draft.

Since Current Draft has hit 70 pages and will soon no longer be the Current Draft (it's going to be done before Script Frenzy), I thought maybe I should start referring to is by its title. I called it "Making It," and it's a story about a teenage garage band that goes on a road trip to Nashville. It's a terrible, underdeveloped idea, and I'm a little embarrassed by the lack of enthusiasm, dedication, and professionalism I show it. And I've complained about it a lot, it's true, but I was writing today and I noticed something. I really liked the sequence I was working on.

In fact, there are a couple of sequences where I really think I'm hitting some good dialog, some worthy plot points, and some of the intended themes. It's horribly awkward and everyone sounds the same and the lack of research is appalling, but there are some things I'm getting right. And that makes me happy, even if my justification for all the things gone wrong is that Making It really is about teaching me discipline. Now it's more than just an exercise. It's a bit of fun, too.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I may live in a cardboard box... but that's ok

There was a discussion over at the Wordplay forums about screenwriting jobs and careers, how to best prepare for it and how stable it is. It's funny, there's not much support for a formal education in film, especially screenwriting. I think it's because some programs are just lame and won't really help you and because sometimes it doesn't matter how much training you have in the end, it's about you and your ability to tell a good story. A college education is usually closely related to a career, and that sort of correlation just doesn't happen with screenwriting. So before I go into my rant and rave, I want to acknowledge the fact that I will, for the first several years, make no money off of screenwriting and I will need another job doing something else. I have no illusions of grandeur. But I'm still going to school for screenwriting. And in my post on Wordplay, as copied below, I explained why.

I *avoided* screenwriting for a long time. When I first started school, I knew I wanted to write. But I also knew that writing wasn't going to support me for a while, if ever, so I tried to pick majors that would give me a day job. I put down nursing for "intended major" but changed my mind about that halfway through my senior year. Then it was English so I could go into publishing and editing. And then I tried English education, but I couldn't stand the psychology aspect of the department. I ended my second year doubling in English and Theatre with my career path veering more toward theatre. But by that time I already knew I was going to switch to film.

The thing is, I spent the first half of my collegiate career trying to find a day job. In the end I decided that I needed to study what I love, because really, your job is pretty much your life. If I had stuck with nursing, that would have been 40+ hours a week that I wouldn't be writing or working on film, and I would be so drained from my real job that writing would seem even more exhausting. Someone above said you need to feel "compelled" to write. I don't necessarily agree with that. Writing isn't like breathing to me. But I love it, and I think it's powerful, and I want to spend the rest of my life doing it. Not being a nurse. I finally asked myself why I was wasting my time.

Now, I'm not stupid. I know I'm not going to get a "job" in screenwriting when I graduate, because like someone else said, "this is not a career of jobs." However, I *do* plan on getting a job in the industry. In addition to screenwriting, I'm going to try to get on the production staff of as many shorts as possible. It's very likely that I will come out of college with a short that I've written and directed. I want to learn and become skilled in as many aspects of the trade as possible.

And even then, I'm still doubling in English. And education still interests me, so if all else fails, I might take a page out of Emily's book and do Teach for America.

So do I think that my degree in screenwriting is going to get me a job? No. But the way you get better at writing, any kind of writing, is practice and interaction. You can read as many books on screenwriting as you want and learn a lot of stuff. I've read a couple, and I've learned a lot. But now they're starting to bore me. Because they all say the same thing in slightly different ways. And truth be told, there are as many different ways of writing as there are writers. By reading those books, I feel more prepared for my classes than my peers, but I know that books cannot replace the learning you get from being in a classroom and writing a script under the guidance of a teacher and the feedback of your peers. Becoming a great writer requires practice, and that's what my degree will give me. When I graduate college, I should have at least six completed feature length scripts. And don't they say your first sale comes around your seventh?

Honestly, going to school for screenwriting scares the crap out of me, and that's why I'll argue so much for it. Is it for everyone? Of course not. Everyone's got their own method to their own peculiar madness. It's just, going to school for screenwriting - or any aspect of film - is a perfectly good method, all on its own.

Here's to living life as you really want to, instead of how everyone else thinks it should be lived.

Another Cool Band I Discovered First

I have (I have) you breathing down my neck (breathing down my neck)
I don't (don't know) what you could possibly expect under this condition so
I'll wait (I'll wait) for the ambulance to come (ambulance to come)
Pick us up off the floor
What did you possibly expect under this condition so

Slow down.. this night's a perfect shade of
Dark blue (dark blue)
Have you ever been alone in a crowded room when I'm here with you
I said the world could be burning down
Dark blue (dark blue)
Have you ever been alone in a crowded room well I'm here with you
I said the world could be burning 'til there's nothing but dark blue..
Just dark blue

This flood (this flood) is slowly rising up swallowing the ground
Beneath my feet, Tell me how anybody thinks under this condition so
I'll swim (I'll swim) as the water rises up, the sun is sinking down
And now all I can see are the planets in a row
Suggesting it's best that I slow down

This night's a perfect shade of
Dark blue (dark blue)
Have you ever been alone in a crowded room when I'm here with you
I said the world could be burning (burning) down
Dark blue (dark blue)
Have you ever been alone in a crowded room well I'm here with you
I said the world could be burning dark blue

We were boxing
We were boxing the stars
We were boxing (we were boxing)
You were swinging for Mars
And then the water reached the West Coast
And took the power lines (the power lines)
And it was me and you (this could last forever)
And the whole town under water
There was nothing we could do
It was dark blue

Dark blue (dark blue)
Have you ever been alone in a crowded room well I'm here with you
I said the world could be burning (burning) down
Dark blue
Have you ever been alone in a crowded room well I'm here with you
I said the room could be burning now there's nothing but dark blue

If you've ever been alone in the dark blue
If you've ever been alone you'll know (you'll know)

- "Dark Blue" Jack's Mannequin

Friday, May 11, 2007

We Never Change

I wanna live life, never be cruel,
I wanna live life, be good to you.
I wanna fly, never come down,
And live my life,
And have friends around.

We never change, do we?
We never learned to leave,
So I wanna live in a wooden house,
I wanna live life, always be true,
I wanna live life, and be good to you,
I wanna fly, and never come down,
And I live my life, and have friends around.

We never change do we? No, no,
We never learned to bleed,
So I wanna live in a wooden house,
Making more friends would be easy.

O I don't have a show to say,
Yes, and I sing of a single day,
We never change do we?
We never learned to leave.

So, I wanna live life in a wooden house,
Making more friends would be easy,
I wanna live where the sun comes out

- Coldplay

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tonight I'm taking drugs to make sure I sleep through the night.

I went to the eye doctor today because I'm finally getting contacts, yay! I go to a lot of doctors when I come home. Like a health pit stop. And I was sitting in the chair, waiting for my eye doctor to come check my eyes, and I was looking at the walls for good reading material and low and behold, there's a whole poster of eye disorders. This is not just an eye doctor trend. Why is it that doctors like to freak their patients out by plastering all the things that can go wrong all over the walls? Scare tactics, I think.

My 11-year-old brother read The 4:05. I had to explain to him what "o-d-e-d" meant, but he said he liked it, even though they ended up "like in love and stuff." I ate lunch while he sat at the table and read the last twenty pages. Usually I don't like watching people read my stuff but seeing him so focused on it made me sorta proud.

Artists are generally very proud people. We're enlightened, you know? We have truth and wisdom and revelations on life to pass out, and boy are we misunderstood. Tortured artists, starving artists, underpaid, living in cardboard boxes artists. Suffering so that truth can reach the masses. Yes, we are pretty pompous sometimes. Usually, though, it's a subliminal thing. And if it manifests itself, it usually is an us-them complex of artist-normal people who have real jobs and friends and families that we're jealous of. I mean...

I don't have a lot of established pet peeves in life. One of them is when cars pull into the crosswalks at stop signs even if they can't go yet just so that you won't bother them by walking in front of them. Laaaa-ame. But even more than that, I hate writers who get pompous with other writers. Ok, there's obviously a hierarchy when it comes to writing. There are those who have been writing longer than you have and those who have been writing less. There are those who are better than you and those who are worse. And secretly, it's true, I think I'm better than most of my peers and I pander to those who I know are better than me. But at the same time, there's this sense of we're all in it together. Except for those people who like to step on the little new guy.

I was checking out the Wordplay forums the other day, and a very basic question was asked. So basic, even I sniggered at it a little. But some of the responses surprised me. Recently too, I've been looking for good resources on querying (if I'm ever going to cross off "pitch The 4:05 to Adam Brody" off my 101 list, I'd better do it right), and some of the attitude in posts and comments surprises me. There is a strata of elitists in the writer's community, and they just add bad blood all around. I think my main problem with elitists is not the derisive tone, they way they sniff at new writers who haven't mastered the craft yet, their cynicism and aloofness. I think it's the way that the make writing out to be more than just hard work. Because truly, there are two types of elitists. There are those who are elitists because they think they've put in the work and the younger generation thinks it won't need to, and there are the elitists who think they're better because they're "compelled" to write, their lives are over if they don't write, and if you don't feel that way then who are you to dare dream of yourself as a writer.

Relax, guys.

Writing is hard work. That's all. The more you work at it, the better you are. You'd *better* like it because you're going to be spending a lot of time doing it. And I hope you feel like either you or other people are becoming better people because of your writing (nobody gets into writing for the money). But all this stuff about being "thrown into the darkest depression if I don't write"? Get off your high horse. Don't make the poor excite new kids feel bad because they don't have a disciplined writing habit yet. These people try to make writing something more magical and mystical than it really is. And the really bad thing? They use their *emotions* about writing to turn people away. They say that if you *don't* feel overjoyed whenever you sit down to write or if you don't feel like writing is as important as breathing, then you aren't meant to be a writer.

Some of the best quotes about writing by some of the most talented authors is about how hard they find it to write - sometimes down right unenjoyable.

Writing is a craft. It takes time and it takes work, and in that aspect, I can almost respect the people who are experience elitists. Sometimes I think they disregard people too quickly just because they're new to the game, but I can agree with them that I will get better the more I write, the more work I put into it, the more I practice. But these people who make writing an obsession? They just need to get a life. These people take it to seriously. Hitchcock was famous for reminding his cast and crew, when things go a little tense, "it's only a movie."

One of my favourite quotes about writing is from Zach Helm, who wrote Stranger than Fiction, basically slamming "pompous artists" because they will sacrifice life too much for art. If you really feel that way, fine. But don't go around telling other writers that they aren't really artists because they aren't obsessed like you. All writing is is sitting down and working. Anyone can do it. I don't know why you would if you didn't love it, but anyone can.

My allergies are causing me much pain. Please pass the Bendryl. I want to pass out.

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." - Jack London

"People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it." - Harlan Ellison

101 Things in 1001 Days

Here's my list, in no particular order:

1. Paint a self portrait.
2. Obtain a new iPod (hmm, Christmas)
3. Ride in a Mustang
4. Give a Slice of Life at church
5. Give someone flowers for no reason
6. Break into the Big House
7. Sing karaoke
8. Write a short story for an anthology, something fun
9. Start a "scrap book" collection of my writings, rejection letters, correspondences, etc.
10. Defeat Zelda on the Wii
11. Learn to knit (and knit something)
12. Read at least one book a month and feel badly if I don't read two
13. Get a credit card
14. Attend a movie premiere
15. Hang out at the MET all by myself
16. Start keeping better track of my finances
17. Tell that secret
18. Finish reading the Narnia series
19. Send everyone in my extended family birthday cards for a year
20. Go back to AU, if only for next year's graduation
21. Buy a book of the Onion's Best Of
22. Paint at least once a month
23. Go to a Michigan basketball game
24. Visit three new cities
25. Take Lindsay out when she graduates Cederville and she has no more "rules"
26. Go sledding
27. Go to Canada with friends from Ann Arbor
28. Start the novel on our family history
29. Die my hair an unnatural color (definitely something wash out)
30. Go to the top of the Empire State Building
31. Take an art workshop/class
32. Convince at least one new person to participate in the Dance Marathon
33. Win a game of bowling for once
34. Visit a national park
35. Go to the northern peninsula of Michigan
36. Restore Classic on my computer so I can play Scarab of Ra
37. Find Dino Park Tycoon
38. Pick a list of 100 greatest movies and watch the ones I haven't seen
39. Fill up one of my prayer/spiritual journals
40. Go kite-flying at night, preferably in the snow
41. Memorize a Bible verse a month
42. Buy a plant and manage to keep it alive for the whole school year
43. Go back to HCA or alumni night at least once
44. Every time I'm with friends and see those overpriced photo booths, take pictures
43. Go to at least three balls every year
44. Send an anonymous valentine
45. Buy the second book of the Firebird series to complete my trilogy
46. See a meteor shower
47. Go to a food festival/state fair/renaissance fair (or something similar)
48. Give up something for Lent
49. Go to the top of the Bell Tower when the bells are ringing
50. Throw a surprise party
51. Take a spring break trip with friends
52. Play scratch lotto
53. Finish a novel independent of National Novel Writing Month
54. Adopt a Soldier
55. Write 2 letters a week as a habit
56. Take swing dancing lessons for at least a semester and then find a nice place to go swing dancing so I can wear that super cute dress Aunt Pat bought for me yesterday
57. Drink water with one meal a day as a habit
58. Enter the Nicholl every year
59. Write my own song, music and lyrics
60. Go to a concert
61. Paint my face for a Michigan Football game
62. Write and shoot my own short
63. Get an internship
64. Graduate
65. Send Adam Brody a query about The 4:05
66. Go to L.A.
67. Organize my photos on Snapfish
68. Back up my computer
69. Smash pennies on the train tracks
70. Go to an outdoor film
71. Attend at least one showing at the Ann Arbor Film Festival
72. Find the Times Square kiss purse and buy it
73. Finish reading the books of the New Testament
74. Throw an Oscar party
75. Throw another pirate party
76. See the Wilsons again
77. Have 7 completed feature length screenplays by the end of the 1001 days (including ones already written)
78. Go star gazing
79. Watch the sunrise over the ocean
80. See the Northern Lights
81. Buy a fish as a pet
82. Kiss in the rain
83. Go sailing
84. Have a girls-only picnic
85. Get on a bus/train not knowing where I'm going until I buy the ticket
86. Read the Purpose Driven Life
87. Help out with youth group for a school year
88. Start tithing again
89. Grow out my hair to cut it for Locks of Love again
90. Go Christmas caroling
91. Write another Star Wars story
92. Write fan mail to get at least one celebrity autograph
93. Get my driver's license
94. Visit at least 2 new countries
95. Visit at least 5 new states
96. Visit Sarah at PBA and Lindsay at Cederville
97. Once a season, take a day just to walk around with my camera and take pictures
98. Act in a short film again
99. Write a story on my typewriter (make sure I have tape for it)
100. Get a professional massage
101. Make it to Florida for Holly's wedding

Here is the link to 101 Things in 1001 Days, if anyone is interested. My start date is May 10, 2007 and my end date is February 4, 2010.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

101 Things I Won't Do

So, as I said, my list is a little difficult. You'd think 101 things would be easy to think up. Uh huh. The thing is, I've been looking at other people's lists for inspiration, and a lot of them spend 20-30 things on stuff I just don't want to do. I don't care about losing weight or getting into shape. Tattoos on myself scare me because they'll never come off, and I only mildly joke about getting another piercing. I don't need to make sure the garden in the backyard stays deweeded or that the shrubberies don't get out of hand. I don't really have the facilities for baking or cooking. No house, ergo I have no things that need fixing around the house. There is no money in my bank to go travelling, and there's definitely no way I'm going to be able to get myself out of debt in three years.

However, the List is practically finished and will be up soon (because I know everyone's been waiting. Anxiously.).

I can hear every plane that flies over my room.

Sometimes this is fun. I was sitting in Dunkin Donuts the other day, and it was cloudless, and all of a sudden this huge shadow quickly swept over us. It was a plane, and it was pretty cool. I forgot about the air traffic over Jersey.

I also forgot that I have trouble sleeping in my own room. I think it's because I get too much sleep at home.

My 101 Things to do in 1001 Days list is almost done. It's hard coming up with that many things.

I was looking for a quote on painting by Renoir, the artist not the filmmaker, the other day - well, that was really just a cover for me looking for quotes on writing - and I came across some really good quotes. I will sprinkle my posts with them to make myself look learned and witty.

"Writing is a fairly lonely business unless you invite people in to watch you do it, which is often distracting and then [you] have to ask them to leave." - Marc Lawrence

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." - Red Smith

I've been living at home for the past couple of weeks. This has been a great experience for me creatively. Not only have I had the opportunity to sit around and do nothing all day except take long walks and write (note to self: it's 11:15 and you still have not written 5 pages for Current Draft. Darn.), but I have come to acknowledge something. Every writer should take advantage of the inspiration around them to write a family drama.

I most of my ideas are dramatic. I'm not really good at comedy, and though I'd like to take a couple of stabs at action, I'm not as interested because I don't think it has the potential for revelation and exploration that drama has. In drama, you *expect* people to have life-revealing monologues dripping from their lips. Yeah, so, anyway, I had this idea for a family drama. I was thinking of writing it after I finished The 4:05, so I did a little prewriting on it (which for me is saying something) and promptly moved on to something else and forgot about it. Now it's in my notebook with a whole bunch of other ideas that are in no hurry to be written but are waiting for a time when I'm just looking for something to play around with. Should have picked that story instead of Current Draft.

The point is, I was hanging out the other day with my Aunt. We had gone out to lunch, just the two of us, because we have nothing to do. It's fabulous, we're living this life of ridiculous luxury (until I go to work next week), and her new favourite line at restaurants is to tell the waiter, "Don't worry. We're not in a hurry." Because we're not. She's living us (and other various relatives) while her house is being built, and I'm just doing... nothing. My aunt is a great talker. I have a problem coming up with interesting things to talk about with people I see on a regular basis, but not this woman. One thing we talk about, because she has spent so much time travelling around different family members, is our family, especially the stories that my grandparents tell her. In fact, we've decided that our family history, as colorful as it is, would make an interesting book.

So I already have it in the back of my head the vague idea for this novel, when I really start to pay attention to how my family relationships are *right now.* I mean, sure, the fact that my great-grandfather rode off with my great grandmother when she was 15 and they got married at a crossroads before her father could find her is definitely interesting. But at the same time I have all these ideas in my head spinning. About how siblings interact. The ways that you can learn new things all the time about people you've known you're entire life. How to so many people who've lived independent lives can come back to one place and coexist together. How just taking the time to go to lunch with someone two times a week and listening to them can strengthen your relationship with them. And all this time, I realize that the time I should be writing my family drama script is right now. Because you never understand family dynamics so much as when you are actually in the midst of them.

And besides. If you're looking for inspiration, well, your family will give you an infinite amount of drama.

"I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear." - Joan Didion

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

This *is* productive, I promise...

There are a lot of fun things to be found on the internet. Here are a couple I've found recently:

101 Things in 1001 Days: Basically you make a list of 101 things you want to do and spend the next 1001 days working on them. I think it's a fun idea, maybe because I like deadlines and lists and things. 100 movies to watch, 50 States to visit, 1001 places to see before you die, etc. etc. At the very least, there's no harm in it. I mean, it will take me like an hour to think up 101 things I want to do. And if there's a chance that participating in a silly list/deadline/online challenge will help me get them done, then I'm all for it. The other two things are activities I'll probably try to incorporate into my 101 list --

The Letter Project: I found this via Post Secret. Someone said that they prayed for a letter in the mail and never got one, so someone emailed in this website. Basically you ask this guy to mail you a letter and he will. How cool is that?! I'm a big fan of letters. And part of me wanted to email this guy right away and say, "Hey, I love writing letters, even to random people. Do you need any help?" But then I started thinking that before I do something that drastic, I can test drive how well I would actually be able to keep up with writing letters all that time. So I'm going to start writing letters to people, friends, family, people from Anderson I haven't heard from in forever, maybe even my grandparents, finally. I have some addresses from my LifeGroup and I know Anderson automatically forwards mail the whole summer, but if you'd like to receive a letter and I don't have your address, feel free to pass is along (um, I used to know how to put my email address up on my blog. must work on that...). And I'm definitely going to email that guy and ask him to write me a letter.

Adopt a Soldier: Ok, let's be honest. It's really all about writing letters for me. I wrote letters for a couple of my friends when they went to Field Training last summer. I guess they're nice little distractions (except for my friend Joseph, who is currently stationed in Hawaii).

Letter writing is one of the best kinds of writing. For now, though, I'm off to work on Current Draft some more... or maybe distract myself by making my list of 101 things.

The Remedy

I saw fireworks from the freeway
And behind closed eyes I cannot make them go away
'Cause you were born on the fourth of july, freedom ring
Now something on the surface it stings
I said something on the surface
Well it kind of makes me nervous
Who says that you deserve this
And what kind of god would serve this?
We will cure this dirty old disease
If you've got the poison I've got the remedy

The remedy is the experience.
This is a dangerous liaison
I say the comedy is that it's serious.
This is a strange enough new play on words
I say the tragedy is how you're gonna spend
The rest of your nights with the light on
So shine the light on all of your friends
When it all amounts to nothing in the end.

I won't worry my life away.
I won't worry my life away.

I heard two men talking on the radio
In a cross fire kind of reality show
Uncovering the ways to plan the next big attack
They were counting down the ways to stab
The brother in the be right back after this
The unavoidable kiss, where the minty fresh
Death breath is sure to outlast this catastrophy
Dance with me, because if you've got the poison,
I've got the remedy

The remedy is the experience.
This is a dangerous liaison
I say the comedy is that it's serious.
This is a strange enough new play on words
I say the tragedy is how you're gonna spend
The rest of your nights with the light on
So shine the light on all of your friends
When it all amounts to nothing in the end.

I won't worry my life away.
I won't worry my life away.

When I fall in love I take my time
There's no need to hurry when I'm making up my mind
You can turn off the sun but I'm still gonna shine and I'll tell you why

The remedy is the experience.
This is a dangerous liaison
I say the comedy is that it's serious.
This is a strange enough new play on words
I say the tragedy is how you're gonna spend
The rest of your nights with the light on
So shine the light on all of your friends
When it all amounts to nothing in the end.

I won't worry my life away.
I won't worry my life away.
I won't and I won't and I won't

- Jason Mraz

"This Song's for You"

My sister is a crazy knitter. She's made some pretty remarkable things over the years, including a pair of pants. She often employs her talents to make cute, unique, and very personal gifts. All her bridesmaids' gifts were things she had knitted. For my birthday she knit (or, um, crocheted, I don't really know) a really cute pink headband for me.

I don't really have a crafty skill like that. I remember trying - and failing, around the third or fourth row every time - knitting. We used to make quilt squares when we were kids, but what do you with a square? I made a dress once. It was beautiful, but our choice of fabric was not so right and it happened to rip in the middle of the event I wore it to (hehe, how to make an already memorable event *more* memorable). So in general, I don't make things for people. I think during high school I managed to pass off some of my art projects as presents for my mom, but she seemed to like them, anyway.

The thing is, novels and screenplays don't make good gifts. One year I thought about it, taking my NaNo novel and getting a couple more copies from LuLu and mailing them to some members of my extended family, and while I'm sure they would have enjoyed it, it just seems a little... pompous. Only once did I actually give a story as a birthday present. It was my friend Lindsay B.'s birthday and I had been writing a goofy little story about her or something, and I finally finished it and wrapped it up in newspaper comics and gave it to her (I think I got her a real gift too). She didn't like the ending. I wrote another story about an inside joke during high school, but that one wasn't *for* anyone.

The thing is, I do write for people. I have stories I've actually written with someone in mind. And I would do it a whole lot more. I try to ask people what *they* would want to see or in which ways movies move them. I've even thought of getting in touch with the pastor at New Life to see what sort of themes and stories he think people need to see from the movies. I only have so many good ideas; I need some from other people. But really, I don't think I've gotten a real answer from anyone yet. I would love to write you a story. I would love to write about the issues you are dealing with, give you hope, make you cry, renew your faith. It's the only thing I know how to do. I know it doesn't sound like much, but maybe when you read it, you'll be surprised.

I don't know. Maybe everything I write is really just for me.

Just Can't Get Enough

There's something about you
Tears me inside out whenever you're around
There's something about you
Speeding thru my veins until we hit the ground
And there's something about this rush
Take it away
It made me feel so good
I get a feeling you get a feeling we got a feeling
Like we could die

And guess what Mother
We just can't get enough
We just gotta get it up
We just gotta get it up
There's something about you
That tears me inside out whenever you're around
And there's something about you
That makes me fly
You're a heart attack, just the kind i like

Haunting and strange
That makes me feel so good
I get a feeling you get a feeling we got a feeling
Like we're alive
And Mother
We just can't get enough
We just can't get enough
We just gotta get it up
We just gotta get it up
This world may not have too much time
But baby i'm fine because maybe you're mine
We just can't get enough
You better give up
Come on and give up
Get ready to give up your life
Give up your life

It's you for me and me for you
You make my dreams come true
Off the wall coming from me
But I wanna see this through, my baby
You're on my mind all the time
I found a billion dimes
You rolled the dice, and lost them all
And baby i just don't mind

And incidentally mother
We just can't get enough
We just can't get enough
We just gotta get it up
We just gotta get it up
This world may not have too much time
But baby i'm fine because maybe you're mine
We just can't get enough
We just can't get enough
And i don't want no one
If i can't have you

A world of illusion
But baby you're true
I know i deceived you
I once told you lies
If you don't believe me
Just look in my eyes

Social Security Number please
Credit card number please
Money please
Money please
Money please
Please deposit eighty five dollars
For the next three minutes please
Or your call will be disconnected immediately
Aw yeah all right feel good tonight
Aw yeah all right feel good tonight

- New Radicals

Waking up from a nightmare to nobody.

You don't think I'll be able to do it. Just watch.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Current Draft v. Old Love

I am now 43 pages into Current Draft. I had a miserable time writing today. Perhaps it was because I went to the library this time, where there's internet but no eating or drinking. Perhaps it's because I started writing a scene that pretty much mirrored an earlier scene and yet I could not delete. Perhaps it's just because I really don't like this story. Only yesterday it was starting to grow on me when I made one of my angry but trying teenagers beat the crap out of a jukebox with his drum sticks.

That was fun.

I've started adding all these cool features to my blog, besides its recent face lift. I'm quite fond of them. I like how writerly my picture makes me look, though in reality I think that night I was trying to read an article for Film History on the French New Wave or something after three nights of getting an average of 5 hours of sleep. I'm going to try to figure out how to do progress bars for my stories like Emily does over on her blog, because I'm sure that's what you all are *really* here for.

My aunt has been reading The 4:05, which thrills me. The last time we talked about it she had just stopped right before the Climax. She only started reading it yesterday, and I'm sure she's done by now, so I said to her at dinner, "Don't you think it's easier to read scripts than novels?"

And to my surprise, she said "no."

The thing is, sure, she reads it faster, but she was telling me how much she misses the description of novels. "Purple prose," I once heard it called, and screenwriters are told to stay away from it like the plague. Which, I feel, causes a dilemma because film is also a *visual* medium, they tell us over and over again, trying to make us screenwriters feel bad about our words, it's a *visual* story that's where the art comes from not from your snappy dialog and I just want to say, oh yeah? then what about all those college guys who spend their lunch periods quoting movies? Yeah, I never had to endure forty five minutes of them trying to recreate the angles and proportions of the puzzle scene from Citizen Kane!

I digress.

And then she got me thinking... a novel would be nice. I know I'm scripting in June, but what if I worked on a novel, over the summer (this summer is turning into quite the writer's treat, as I shall expound later... oh, expound, what a fun word.). Because, see, I don't know if you've noticed, but I've gotten a lot more... verbose lately. Verbage everywhere! I'm pouring out by the paragraphs, frivolous, superfluous dialog that would be strictly forbidden in the scripting world.

And I remember, how I started as a *fiction* writer. All this nonsense about movies came later. I can practically already feel the salt wind coming off the ocean in my setting. There's even an indistinct character walking along the beach and a woman who's watching him. It's so tempting...

Here is the problem. I have written three novels and another novel-length piece, but I've never written a real novel without NaNo. And it's terribly difficult, or at least daunting, to switch from the style of screenwriting to the style of novel writing. I was terrified to do it for NaNo this past year, but somehow I pulled through. A writer is a writer is a writer. I'm confident that I could even be a halfway decent poet if I tried long enough and practiced hard enough. And I've already novelled. Maybe I'll start in secret and type away furiously until I think I have a sustainable effort that can be proudly touted in front of everyone (what am I saying, a secret? I have a blog for crying out loud). Maybe I won't attempt anything at all until November, when I was planning, I confess, to write something silly and completely unsellable as it would not even be under my copyright.

Someone actually called me a serious writer on the Script Frenzy board (much love to you, sir!). Perhaps I could be a serious novelist for once.

Because, you see, Old Loves never really leave. And mine is tempting me back right now.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Paranoid Writer Syndrome

I have very recently realized what a nervous writer I am. The thing is, writers are all a little bit mental. We all have our varied neurosises, which are, of course, endearing, and the one I will focus on today is our disinclination towards the Current Draft.

You see, the Current Draft proves what absolutely inadequate writers we are. Any previous successes can be admired and future ideas can be refined into idols, but the Current Draft, well, that's what matters. And if you can feel that with each key you press on your keyboard, your story becomes less inspired, more cliched, and flatter than the paper it will be printed on - well, that sort of dread doesn't just go away. The problem with the Current Draft is that it proves we are Talentless Hacks.

I wrote a screenplay last summer. I even sent it off to the Nicholl competition last week. And as I was working on it, I was happy to notice one thing. I Liked It. I really, truly enjoy the story of The 4:05. I would be happy to work on it for years, rewriting it incessently, grinding my teeth against unnecassry but enforced changes, watching it on the big screen. It's a story I am proud of. And even one of the shorts I've written since. It's been through two drafts and received some criticism from a screenwriting student more advanced than I, and I can see myself working on it until it's perfect and pursuing its production by All Means Necessary (there's a scene with an outdoor wedding that might be a little tricky). So past scripts, ok, I Like Them and future ideas, well, I'm all geared up and excited for Script Frenzy. I spend waaay too much time gabbing on the message boards and dreaming up ideas for my poster, because I'm afraid if I do any really planning, I'll get bored with my idea before we start (another neurosis, Pre-Writing Burn Out). So past and future scripts, I Feel Good about.

It's this crappy thing I'm working on right now that's killing me.

I needed something to write in between the Nicholl competition and Script Frenzy, and I was bored with shorts, so I just picked one of my three feature ideas and just determinedly plugged away at it. Since this week, I've gotten it up to 28 pages. Not bad at all. I'm done with Act I, I think. The Thing That Is Bad, though, is the fact that I pretty much feel nothing for this story at all. Maybe I'll get attached to Act II. I have some good ideas. But that's like the Idolization of Future Ideas syndrome. Of course they're Good Ideas! I haven't written them yet!

What if The 4:05... what if it was - a Fluke? Writers don't get very many indications of Talent. All we have are those people who we force our manuscripts upon, and if they aren't legally bound to give us the thumbs up, they probably don't want to hurt our feelings anyway. Even if they genuinely, truly liked it, a writer will go crazy from the words "It was good" because what does that indicate, really? "It was good" gives no idea about Talent. And that is what matters in this business. You have to be talented enough to craft a story that enough people connect with that a script reader will give a Pass on it, a development producer will meet with you for lunch, someone will sign you, executives won't sign another writer to replace you, stars will connect with the characters, a director won't mangle it (too much), an editor won't splice it, distributors will buy it, theatres will show it, and thousands of people will spend their hard earned 8 dollars on it, just to ensure that you will get another shot at conjuring the magic that worked once. I know I've missed a whole bunch of people along the way, forgive me.

The point is, with the Current Draft, you can't be too sure you have that Talent. It's like training to be an economist without being sure if your supply and demand theories are right, training for desert fighting when you could be at war in the mountains, practicing the harp without hearing other harpists, building airplanes without knowing if the fact that you put in square windows is a bad idea (it is, by the way). Cameron Crowe once said that making a movie is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. Screenwriting is no different.

And I'm just praying that it will rain.

Green Eyes

Honey you are a rock
Upon which I stand
And I come here to talk
I hope you understand

That green eyes
Yeah the spotlight shines upon you
And how could
Anybody deny you

I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter now I’ve met you
And honey you should know that I could never go on without you

Green eyes
Honey you are the sea
Upon which I float
And I came here to talk
I think you should know

That green eyes
You’re the one that I wanted to find
And anyone who
Tried to deny you must be out of their mind

Cause I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter since I met you
Honey you should know that I could never go on without you

Green eyes
Green eyes



Honey you are a rock
Upon which I stand

- Coldplay

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Maybe if I write about screenwriting, I'll become a screenwriter.

This week I mailed off a script to the Nicholl Fellowship competition, run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The guys who do the Oscars. This contest is *the* contest for amateur screenwriters. The $30,000 prize is nothing to sneeze at, but I think the thing that everyone really covets is the week-long trip to Hollywood where they introduce you to a lot of important people and let you go to lots of fancy dinners with your fellow star-struck and still dirt poor screenwriting winners.

Unfortunately, getting my script out in the mail was kind of a big hassle. I've decided I don't function well unless there's an abnormal amount of stress in my life. The night before I needed to mail out the screenplay I decided that Celtx formatting wasn't going to cut it for the Nicholl competition. Mind you, these people have accepted *handwritten* submissions before, and Celtx is only off by about half an inch with its dialogue margins and its type is a little too large, but I become a perfectionist in the worst of times. So that night I spent four hours reformatting into Word - and I didn't even finish. Transferring my script into Word also showed just how many typos my screenplay suffered from, though, so it wasn't a complete loss.

The next was May 1, the day it had to be post marked. I thought I would have enough time to perfect it and print it out to send it from our local post office by 5:00 pm. Imagine me, 3:30 on the bus back from New York City, stuck in traffic and frantically working on my laptop deleting superfluous returns, praying that my battery didn't die. Luckily, my aunt had tipped me off to a 24-hour post office back in New York in case I didn't make it in time for the Jersey post office. So when I had finally printed off my 78-page screenplay and squeezed it into the envelope at 7:30, it was back to the bus stop to go back into New York. A bus came pretty quickly, though I was almost denied entry because I had an open soda (I managed to hand it off to some nice man exiting the bus. Who says Jersey people aren't sweet?) but can you imagine letting something like that stop me? I wish it had, in retrospect, as I apparently boarded the local bus and was treated to an hour long scenic route into New York. On the plus side, now I know all the romantic spots to take my dates to impress them with the beauty of the New York skyline.

The 24-hour post office is only about ten blocks from the Port Authority. I must not walk downtown a lot at night (does 9:00 really count as night in the city that never sleeps?), but though I don't consider myself a girl who is easily unnerved, I'm not sure what I would have done if I had needed to take a side street off 8th Avenue. Creepy. Apparently, lots of people need the 24-hour service, because when I got there, the line almost stretched half the length of the building. I was in line for 45 minutes. On the plus side, I managed to engage the people around me in conversation. The guy behind me was about to graduate in film from the only other college I applied to along with Michigan. Crazy, I don't know big Hunter is or if we would have run into each other, but we could have been friends instead of random strangers in line at the post office.

Eventually, I managed to mail off my script. I think, though, that I could have just used the self service machines in the lobby to get the May 1st postmark. It's ok. I'd rather have my peace of mind.

My chances in this competition are slim. Around 5,000 people competed last year for 5 fellowships. But I still feel that even entering the competition was a big step. And it helped me finish The 4:05. I can completely put it aside now and start work on something new. I have a couple of features I'm tinkering with, but I'm most looking forward to June's Script Frenzy by the same people who do National Novel Writing Month. That's the month I leave for my summer job, though, so I'll only have 20 days to write a script instead of 30.

Like I said, I think stress is just a necessary part of my life...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"There are but two boons in life: The love of art, and the art of love."

- Michael Whelan