Saturday, January 30, 2010

I've been poking at my rom com idea. It's difficult to start it in earnest. Because I'm lazy.

Anyway, I've been trying to outline it and such, but I quickly get lost in the second act because I haven't done any research yet (seriously. Who wants to do research after college? No one. Wish I had an assistant already) and without a second act I have no clue what will happen in the third act. The third act of the rom com is usually the point where the two meant to be lovers get together, but not having plotted a second act I'm not sure which candidate it will be, if any.

And I haven't solidified the theme yet. The third act is going to play the theme out to its fullest. Since I don't know the theme, who my protag is going to end up with. Or I could play the theme very realistic and not have her end up with anyone. (I'd love to say I'm writing the next (500) Days of Summer here, but I'm not. Hello, commercialism, goodbye, realistic endings.) My favorite possible theme was just because one guy is a sleaze doesn't mean they all are.

But really, I think it makes for a more enjoyable writing process if the theme is a question, not a statement. It's more fun to have your character grapple with questions like are all guys sleazebags or just the ones she's dated so far? Do all men have dysfuntional relationships or is it really her? Sometimes it's more fun to explore a question than pontificate a theme. (And just so we're clear, those are my character's questions. Definitely not... mine) Then your characters are more than just pawns in your story's soapbox. They are the story.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lipstick Jungle


I had a rough day at work yesterday. And the weird thing is, it didn't really happen until after 3:00.

Let's just say there's a hot button issue at work right now. On the two sides of the issue, I happen to be in the minority group. And everyone knows because at a meeting one day I very publicly and very articulately expressed my concerns with the majority. Well, apparently I've become the occasionally leisure topic. Kinda weird, finding out people are talking about you and not to you. Kinda weird, not being able to ask questions and investigate (which could, you know, change my mind) because of the simple fact that I'm already suspicious to the majority. I was so perturbed that I ate a bowl of ice cream, not even because I wanted it, but because I desperately hoped that the influx of chocolate would work its emotional magic.

Anyway, today wasn't so bad, and people don't really worry me because the people I work closely with understand where I'm coming from, I think. But it's given me a lot to think about, the juxtaposition being standing up for yourself against keeping your head down and going with the flow. Is the likelihood of change alter the worth of the risk? Do you stand up for yourself on principle, or do you only risk it when it might actually make a difference? What does that say about your character?

I've been bold in a couple situations over the past week or so, and none have turned out exactly rosy. But the same reason that convinced me to stand up at the meeting in the first place still convinces me that I've been making the right choices. I'm setting precedents for myself. If I hadn't of stood up in front of a hundred or so people and publicly branded myself as unpopular, maybe I wouldn't of had the guts to demand more respect in my relationships this past week. It was terrifying, and my legs were actually shaking and I talked too fast, but I think it made me different than the girl who could have just sat back and let all her frustrations and questions go unanswered as the few bold minority got pounded. So talk away, people.

Just make sure I have some Scrubs reruns and a pint of ice cream.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Confessions (Part 2, apparently)

Readers, I have to tell you something. I've already come clean with friends and family. You are my next confessor.

I watch the Bachelor.

First of all, I'd like to apologize to you, scripted television. Besides from my fling with America's Next Top Model, I've stayed pretty faithful to you. I understand how threatened you are by reality. And also, I want to have a job some day. So I fully support you.

Second of all, give me a break --

Yeah, I see you all running for Hulu now.

I've been thinking about why I've allowed myself to get sucked into this show, especially since people take you a little bit less seriously when you pick the Bachelor over 24 on a Monday night. The show is way too long, you know the editing is "creative," and the dates are completely annoying (first of all, I didn't know people could giggle that much and not hyperventilate. Also, all they ever seem to talk about is how much fun they're having. Do they ever have real conversations and actually get to know each other?).

Here's my hook on the Bachelor. I love trying to catch them in the lie. My favourite scenes are when Jake runs off to ask Chris if he can send more girls home and the crew gets caught in the camera's lens like Bambi. And all the questions, trying to puzzle out reality. Is Vienna really a psycho prima dona or was it in the contract for all the girls to gang up on her? Will Jake ever stick to the contracted number of girls he's supposed to eliminate each week or will he slash them like Black Friday prices? Is Michelle diagnosable or was she just edited that way?

Could this really work? Do these people really expect to find love while they're being followed around by USC grads in torn jeans and jaunty knit caps? How can Jake have feelings for that many people at once? What will the relationship last post fairy tale finale? Malarky, is this what culture really accepts as love these days? Is it really love?

So many questions that we will never really know the answers to. Unless, maybe if we watch closely...

Monday, January 25, 2010

You know...

...things are taking a downward turn when "Bad Romance" actually makes you think of someone.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So Saturday is my birthday. That's, you know, fun. My birthday hasn't always had the best of luck. One year when I was a kid our car was stolen on my birthday. And last year, well.

This year Firefighter Friend, High School Friend L, her husband, and I are all going down to visit other High School Friend S and her husband. Yay, the beach in winter! But seriously, I'm always excited for a good roadtrip and good times with friends.

When I was younger I thought 23 was a clutch year. If you weren't on your way to making it by the time you were 23, you weren't going to make it at all. My opinion has changed slightly, as I am now turning 24 (gracious, mid-20s!). On the flip side, though, I was at an interview the other day where I was asked about my five year plan.

"Well," I said, "I'm turning 24 this weekend. I hope to start my film career by the time I'm 26."

Two more years to pull myself together, right? All well and good, except - I spent 5 years getting this diploma. How many years does it do nothing more than hang on my wall?

Questions for another day. This birthday, it's going to be roadtrips and friends and fun.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


For the last month my wireless has been nonresponsive. It hasn't picked up any networks anywhere. I had a fifteen foot range from the Ethernet cable jack in our living room. Wires?! Seriously? More than mildly frustrating, and no, it didn't help me be more productive. Well, maybe I read more.

I just got my computer back from the Apple Store (go figure, when we brought it in, it worked perfectly for them. Stupid genuises. Genuisi.). In addition to magically fixing my internet, they replaced the plastic around my keyboard which was cracked and my keyboard itself since I had started to wear the letters off again. It's like a brand new computer. I love it. I love the Apple Store. I think they release some sort of airborne drug through the ventilation that makes you happy as soon as you walk in.

I'm writing this from under the covers on my bed. It's so delicious. I can watch tv in my room again (which is especially nice during football weekends)! I can do "research" (aka access Facebook) while writing at Barnes and Noble again. Ah, freedom, freedom to waste time anywhere in a plethora of ways.

I'm glad I have a terrible memory and the days before wireless are a murky haze. They must have been horrible.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

(Shawty) Fire Burning on the Dance Floor

Tonight I'm going to a fireman's dinner. Dinner, cute little dress, coworker J's doing my hair and makeup because she just doesn't trust me, apparently. All very exciting until I realized...

For half the night, at least two thirds of a volunteer firefighting force is going to be fifteen minutes away from their town. Everyone be really careful out there tonight. Nothing spoils a party like a hundred plectron's going off.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Always Learning

I hate prewriting. Though teaching second graders how to write has shown me that some people actually find it effective.

Fine, little second graders, fine.

I'm been ruminating on this rom com idea. I would sort of jot down notes here and there, like when I should be asleep. I've got a great premise, but I was having major plot problems. For one, my protagonist was being proactive only in a reactionary way (oh, the female rom com lead. How troublesome you are). I needed her to create more story.

The frustrating thing was that I felt like no matter what I doodled and how I outlined it, I couldn't think of a new way to create her more story. I felt like all I could do was rerun through tired plots. In fact, the more I tried to expand my idea the more clearly I saw that it just wasn't going to work.

And then while I was sitting there, being annoyed and hating prewriting and thinking about Katherine Heigl as a tortured victim in a horror film, the answer came to me. Just like that. I don't even remember the thought that preceded the revelation. I was sitting there, thinking about nothing, and then I had the answer. Or at least, an answer. Maybe not the end all cemented in stone answer to my plot problems, but I finally had a character-driven plot, not just a bizarre circumstance.

Is that how it really happens? You're just sitting there and suddenly the Muses smack you with a lightning bolt or an arrow or whatever they're packing these days? Is that how prewriting is really supposed to work? Cause it's awfully slow and bloody annoying but in the end it got a result.

This time at least.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Illogical. I would never run a race.

Last night I dreamt that I missed running in a race with my best friend because I had spent 8 consecutive hours reading 700 pages of a mammoth version of Lolita. There was also a charter bus involved somehow.

If someone can explain...

I've started to think about this summer and all after. Actually, I've moved beyond thinking about it to being practical about it. I'm moving by the end of the summer. At least moving out of my parents' house. My philosophy towards moving is that it's better to move some place where I already have relationships. Not because I have a problem with making new friends but because now I am too popular and don't feel like adding anymore Mike's or Jessica's to my phone book (I have at least 6 Mike's already). Really, though, I think our relationships are pretty much the most important thing in our lives and maybe we should stop making career driven moves and instead make friend driven moves. Don't get me wrong - I plan to uproot and spend several years pingponging across the country and maybe the world. I just feel that people are a more important factor than typically given credit as being. With that philosophy, there are now only two real places for me to be next year, here in Jersey or back in Michigan.

Michigan is cold.

I'm not ruling a return out of the picture, but as it happens, I have two job leads here in New Jersey. And one of my defining qualities is that I hate job searching. Really, I've been thinking about a list of things I hate, and I had about three, and now I have four. Well, actually, I can only remember two of the original three, so I guess I'm... still at three.

I put my resume in with one of these jobs tonight. I should have the other one in by the end of the week. It's weird, because it's only January, and the plan is not to be unemployed again until classes end in June (teacher aide jobs are not guaranteed year to year, though I believe it's the sort of hierarchy where seniority is a bonus). If I have to make a decision now, there are still a lot of months left until that decision will be implemented. And if I make a decision to pursue a certain job now, what about the opportunities that will open themselves up in between?

Still, it's nice to already have leads. And both leads are jobs I'd be interested in. And it would be nice if I had to do no more than follow these two through to June.

Also, job searching takes time away from the last two seasons of Alias. I can't imagine what sort of withdrawal I'm going to go through when I finish.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Say Wha?

The LA Times has a fun article on famous movie lines and those that wrote them.

There's a common debate about which should be given more weight when writing a screenplay - images or words. It's true that films are a visual medium. If it's words that are really important to you, be a novelist. On the flip side, people don't often go around saying, "Remember that smash cut in Planet of the Apes when the apes saw Taylor shaving? I really felt the significance of that moment." But think of how many times a day we quote movies, tv shows, stand up comics, even video games (some of my dearest memories of my first university were those lunches I went to and spent the entire time listening to my guy friends quote Red v. Blue to each other. "I'm from Iowa." Nobody cares!).

I was reading an interview, I think with Kevin Smith, where he said he wanted to write a movie that teenage boys everywhere would quote alongside their regular vernacular. Is there any other real pinnacle of success besides hanging out at a grocery store, the beach, Starbucks, and overhearing some stranger quote lines you wrote?

Really, you should be making all aspects of your story the best they can be. I think the crux of the debate is the question of which has the greatest power to communicate. Knowing which will serve your story best at every given moment, page, and line is a mark of a skilled writer.

Introducing Ellen DeGeneres

Tonight at dinner, I became this one woman comedy show. Not Ellen, because Ellen rarely cracks up at her own jokes, and I occasionally bring myself to tears. That's usually a combination of stress and bad jokes though. I know some of my more lovely friends might disagree with me and, look, I'm not saying I'm going to start selling tickets. I don't have enough childhood trauma and substance abuse history for more than one show's material. But I was never really a funny child. Now I get laughs - and not just pity laughs! I know the difference.

Here is why I bring this up. I'm trying, for the first time, to write some semblance of comedy. I toyed with a half hour comedy pilot a couple months ago but left it percolating. Maybe it would be better as a novel. I can write a snarky novel better than a slapstick laugh gag pilot. Half the time, I don't even know what I'm going to say is funny. So I decided to not take a risk and not work on the pilot.

Then a couple nights ago I was lying in bed awake, unable to sleep, which only happens three times a year, and I started thinking about a rom com feature. A few minutes daydreaming, and suddenly I experienced one of those fabled sit up, turn the light on, and grab your bedside notebook moments. It was good stuff. I've been looking for some good stuff to work on.

BUT it brought up the problem of comedy again. Aaahhhh.

Alright, look. I pride myself on being a person unafraid to take risks. I need to grow as a writer. It's a great marketable idea. I need to work on something. Anything. Even something that's supposed to be funny.

Hey, I'm not married to the idea. There's a lot of work that still needs to be done on it. I only take the risks that I want. But if I don't write this script, it's won't be because the laughs intimidate me.


Maybe I should go rent some Charlie Chaplins.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Too Cool for School

My first thought upon receiving the 2010 Jan/Feb issue of Script was that they had made a terrible mistake. They are a writer's magazine, and the guy on the cover was clearly not a writer. Look at this guy --

No writer looks like that. But he is a writer. A writer/director. Ooh. I see. Wait. A fashion designer turned writer/director.

I knew he had too much "style" to be just a writer.

But I can top off that trendy. Today while being my own chic writerly self with my frappacino and my MacBook, I verily did witness a middle aged knitting club sitting in the Starbucks cafe in a Barnes and Noble. Can you get anymore hip than that? Maybe by not using the word hip? But wait, what is that on the table?

Oh, Fitzgerald, Austen, and Wells, she's got a Kindle.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Go after inspiration with a club and a plane ticket

I've been whining a lot about not writing. Hey, I'll call it what it is. I'll blame anything, too, from a gaggle of seven year olds to the felicitous and all consuming holiday season. But I was secretly hoping that if I'm meant to be a writer, if I will enjoy working in "the Industry," I'd have an enlightening experience at the silver screen Mecca.

We didn't do the Hollywood thing until our last day in LA. I was psyched. The only thing we had done remotely movie-like was drive Mulholland Drive. Which I found a little disturbing at first. Thanks, David Lynch.

Let me tell you, "Hollywood" isn't actually the nicest part of LA. But it is awesome. I could have walked up and down the star studded Walk of Fame again and again. I tiptoed through Grauman's Chinese Theatre forecourt as is on hallowed ground. From Cary Grant to Johnny Depp to Rita Hayworth. The Industry's greatest and most mythical. Waltzing through the Kodak Theatre's odd shopping mall area, the pillars decked out with each year and the film that won Best Picture.

It. Was. Awesome.

And it got me excited about writing again. I don't know. Maybe that's kind of kitschy because the likelihood of me getting anywhere near Kodak again is if I pay for the guided tour (which I so will at some point). I'm not a starry-eyed screenwriting starlet. But it wasn't so much about the fame of Hollywood as it was about the realization of the stories. I mean, you pound on your keyboard and daydream about stories and movies and slave jobs I will have in LA. It's nice to have something to remind you that all that isolation can translate into something tangible. Especially cool when I saw "Out of Africa" up there on the Kodak's pillar. Know who wrote that? Kurt Luedtke, Michigan grad.

A few days prior to this we had visited a cemetery where stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Farrah Fawcett are buried. Billy Wilder's grave was there also, with his infamous epitaph, "I'm a writer but then nobody's perfect."

Imperfection, here I come.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Coast to Coast and Back Again

Tonight, I walked into my house after 3.5 hours of sleep on a couch, 5 hours on a plane, and 2500 miles. I devoured dinner and collapsed on the couch until my family's excitement for the Jets roused me. After that, apparently there's nothing to do but blog.

On Monday I locked up my house and took my overpacked suitcase and traipsed by bus and subway and train to Connecticut where my friend D lives. On Tuesday we got up in the wee hours of the morning to drive to the airport where fifteen hours of travel and one surprisingly snowy layover in Salt Lake City later we arrived in Las Vegas. This was the farthest west I've ever been. The terrain was absolutely gorgeous, and Vegas itself was just so... sparkly.

D and I have traveled together before. We went to England and Edinburgh spring break last year. Sometimes we forget to add in time for jetlag and travel recovery. No matter we had been up since 4:30 am eastern time, we endure! We persevere! We oogled all the casinos. We walked up and down the strip in insensible shoes. We collectively lost $8, though I was winning money back on the quarter slots for a little while. We checked out a couple wedding chapels, but unfortunately no elopement is complete without a groom. And that would have been such a good story. We only made it until about 12:30, so I feel like we missed half of Vegas' night life, but by that time we had been up almost 24 hours.

Oh, Vegas. I will return. If only to see the MGM lions that apparently have a very early bedtime.

Some guy laughed as we snapped this. I bet he laughed more when I couldn't figure out how to play.

The next morning we woke up and jumped on the bed as I tend to do in hotels (oops), left the glamorous side of Vegas, and taxied down to the sketchy side of town where the Greyhound bus station is always located. We were not riding the Greyhound. We took an Amtrak bus. After almost being stranded in the Detroit bus station overnight because of Greyhound's sloppy management, I swore never to take them again, but apparently I can't evade them completely. After a delayed start and an exciting rest stop where two passengers had to chase the bus to get back on, we arrived in Los Angeles around 6 pm on what our friend A said was only the third rainy day since he'd moved there. Dude, all I have to say is that I have a new found respect for the covered wagon pioneers.

Oregon Trail was never so real.

So I mentioned earlier that this trip to LA would be like a little dry run. Would I like it enough to want to move there eventually? Would the rumored death-trap traffic daunt me? How would I restrain myself from getting into physical fights with the OSU fans in town for the Rose Bowl? (This I did not realize until we had gotten there and we saw lots of old people milling around with OSU gear. Why were the majority of the fans old? I don't know, but it was especially difficult not to mock the woman wearing the knitted OSU sweater vest. However, in the end we were all silenced because we weren't sure how we'd be able to answer their return mockery. Hey, we're proud, not in denial.) So what sort of impression did LA make on me?

I really liked it. It didn't exactly match my expectations, but mostly in good ways. Even during the holidays and non peak hours, the roads seemed manageable (people don't believe this, but Jersey driving prepares you for anything.), and the geography was more beautiful than I expected. I got to stick my feet in the Pacific Ocean. I took a stupid amount of pictures in Grauman's Chinese Theatre forecourt. We brought in the New Year with pancakes and mimosas and the news reruns of the New York ball drop (apparently LA doesn't have a news worthy New Year's Eve celebration?). I found out that Crumbs' cupcakes are beyond delicious and warrant a trip into the city to find the original bakery. D and A spotted Joshua Jackson, and I spotted the back of his head.

Sunset at Santa Monica. Also, my new camera is brilliant.

And then last night D and I packed up, showered, dressed in our travel clothes, and crashed on the couch to fall asleep to Pride and Prejudice. Because we were leaving for the airport at 3:30 in the morning, and there's absolutely no reason to let yourself get snuggled up and comfortable in bed if you won't be able to leave it when the time comes. I slept for a couple hours here and there, and then we left A's lovely apartment and drove through LA in the early hours to arrive at the airport and queue up before check in had even opened. Our 6:10 flight left before the sun had risen, which is mind boggling when you hadn't really gone to sleep the night before. The LA-NYC flight was rather speedy. I finally watched the Time Traveler's Wife, which I knew was a dangerous move in public since I tend to turn into a waterworks during movies. We touched down in JFK's only crappy terminal, we collected our luggage, and D and I parted ways.

A pretty good trip. It's nice to have finally traveled coast to coast. For all the traveling I've done in Europe, it seemed a bit sad to me that the farthest I remember traveling west was St. Louis (my sister told me we went to Montana or Colorado when I was little, but I don't remember). My pseudo-nap on the couch has me feeling better, despite having less than a quarter night's sleep last night, but I know better. I am grateful to have a job where I still have Christmas break, but school does start again tomorrow, and after Vegas and LA and two planes and a bus and 5000 miles I still have to find enough energy to match 23 second graders returning from their own breaks.

You say you can now get caffeine in pills? What about straight up IVs?

George Lucas has smaller feet than I imagined. Not that I imagined his feet at all.