Monday, July 15, 2013

Film Writing Failure

So, a year ago I wrote my first script. It was 130 pages! I know, I know. I tried to trim it down but I couldn't part with any more after trimming 20 pages from that. I decided to write a family action film that my son and I had talked about because I figured it would be a throw away first film. When I finished, I immediately began to write another one as I submitted that one to a contest.

To my surprise and delight, I made it through the first round...but most everyone did. They also offered services to critique your film. AHA! They wanted me to pay for some extra services or a fee to resubmit with changes! I wasn't going to fall for that trick. I just let it ride through the next round, and it made it. Now, I was getting giddy with dreams of a big paycheck and stardom. This time, I did cut the pages down and paid an extra fee to resubmit with a rewrite. I made it through the next round too. My dreams exploded. I blazed through pages of Zillow to find my new dream home in Newport Beach.

Then, the final round results came after months of build up. I read the names five times, and mine was missing. Dashed! I had finished two more scripts in this time and a few more contests too. Nothing had gone well. How could I have let myself get carried away? I know it takes TIME to get good at a thing. Did I really think that I could make it big on my first script? YES!!!

Now, I have to bolster my esteem and keep writing. Ahhhh. It's so difficult, and I feel so guilty for licking my wounds and whining too long to myself. The plan: share the pain in my blog, get group feedback on my scripts, and settle for being a bad writer...till the next round.

Friday, July 12, 2013 is better than class warfare!

I did it. I joined a writer's group from, and I love it. We get to hear other people read their projects and I get to read mine. Being that I already think mine is crap, I'm not shy to share. In the past two weeks, I was surprised that some of my poems were well received, and the comments were spectacular! Members gave me spot-on advice for crafting blog posts too. Best of all, I didn't have to pay anyone.

So yesterday, I read the twelve page beginning of a script that I wrote for a contest recently. Twelve pages that I toiled over for weeks and then submitted. To my utter surprise, I did not win and I didn't know why. My writing group said that the action did not happen soon enough (meaning=bored at the beginning). "Where do you think the action begins?" I asked. ALL the members said a point near the end of my twelve page well-crafted, and what I thought was exciting action. Basically, I spent weeks just crafting a back story. Hmmmm. I'm still deciding if I want to start all over. No, I'm just pulling your leg or my leg. I definitely don't want to give this project any more of my time. Why? I don't think that I have the background or knowledge to write about the region and historical period to give the story it's due. I still love the idea; I'm just not the person to research and write it.

I'm still overjoyed with the revelation. Chip, chip away at my ignorance.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Who am I if not a dreamer?

Not a writer or poet
not a teacher or mother
maybe before the age of steam
people worked too hard to dream
Who am I if not a dreamer?
not a sports enthusiast
not an actor or gardener
work is now compartmentalized
our extracurricular is super-sized
Who am I if not a dreamer?
not an adventurer or student
not  game player or changer
my mind is buzzing and blinking
multiplied by facts for thinking
Who am I if not a dreamer?
professor of possibilities
and a strategic schemer
I am not just a survivor
there is magic to fly for

Are there people without dreams? Who are they? What do they do?

Friday, July 5, 2013


I am sitting at my desk looking towards the door because I have family that will sneak up on you and laugh as you clutch your chest, not to mention erase the one great thought that you were nurturing  for just the right moment to BOOM! So, I boot up the laptop and open the project that has been consuming me. I reread what has been written and get back into the story. Thoughts are whirling around so I close my eyes while I type to shut out any visual distractions. I capture the word marquis that moves through my mind with racing strokes and...the door squeaks open.  

I try to keep my eyes shut but the fear of being pranked is too great.  I open my eyes and try to pause the flow while glaring at the intruder. My husband stares until he realizes that I'm focusing the death ray vision at him.  He walks in like he has an invisibility cloak and riffles through the drawers for some papers. All the time I stare at him over the laptop screen. He thinks that by not looking at me that he hasn't actually 'bothered' me or the writing process, but the cinema of words so carefully crafted in brain vision is now gone...forever.  He walks out without looking at me and closes the door. He doesn't actually take anything except my  laser beam focus. He will suffer later, I promise.

I tell myself to let it go and move forward. If after forty-three years of obsessive reading I can't come up with another idea or some visionary phrases, I should call it quits anyway. I tap out another tune, and I'm getting a whole new groove on  in a new direction. Suddenly a tantalizing twist turns through my thoughts, I try to capture it like a bubbling floating upward when my daughter barges through the door.

She twirls around in the middle of the carpet, goes out, comes in, and then stands before me with her hands on her hips. "I'm bored," she says. I keep tap, tap, tapping. She gets closer and waves her hand in front of my face. "Hello?" she demands. My fingers freeze and I try to capture the twisting turning bubble as it slips away from conscientiousness.  "You're not even writing!" she screams.  "Go away," I say. "How rude!" she stomps out. I yell to close the door. I bellow two more times. I try to ignore the open door, drone of music, and incessant TV chatter.

I can't recapture any semblance of pace so I take a break from the aforementioned text and switch to editing a poem that is half begun. I read it through until the thoughts, rhymes, and connections zoom through my mind and my fingers, and SPLAT onto the screen. As I muster up the middling climax, my 'tween son pushes his body through the door and flops on the sofa (okay it's really a bed) with his arm dramatically flung over his face. I look at him...the screen...him. This too shall pass. He has to learn to figure out his own problems. Right?

Growing up among girls, I didn't know how dramatic boys could be until this past year. His storms are not episodic like my sisters or daughters, quick and explosive. His are epic with a beginning that builds to a massive middle and ends as a novella with a possible sequel. He quakes and boils, holding back tears. His voice cracks as he tries to man up and put his tragedy into words and grunts. Can empathy emanate from my pores while I continue to write? What was I writing? Will he notice? He will surge for hours, brew deeper injustices, and plot strategic solutions or revenge. It breaks my heart as he starts to gasp for air and his body trembles.  It's hopeless,  I must batten down the laptop hatches before I throw it through the window and weather the storm  to shelter my musings for calmer conditions , like maybe a class five rapids.

What distractions are disasters that keep you from capturing the fragile flight of ideas and drive you mad?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Chewing and Spewing

I want to spew forth my idea perfectly formed without obsessive life-altering revisions. Projectile verse would save me a lot of time and sanity. I understand how my sixth grade students feel when I tell  them that great writing is in the visions of their revisions. But I can barely bring myself to swallow this binge-purge of truth. The idea, the meal is so settled in my mind that it SHOULD burst forth as a perfectly orchestrated Disney firework display. Sadly, this is not the case. The words, the events, the organization, and the decisions are painstakingly slow processes. I'd rather write about it then actually do it. Ergo...this piece.

How do you structure your revisions so that you don't go bonkers?