Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Do you have a flute man in your life?

Okay, let me explain. Years and years ago when I was having one of those "OMG I shouldn't be writing!" moments in my life, I was in Bali, because aren't all writers? Okay, maybe not. But I was traveling around the world for a year, and I almost considered not traveling because I was so afraid any time away from writing meant my career would take that much longer. Now I'm so glad I went and didn't miss out on that trip. Because I've learned since that every life experience can only help our writing. But that's another post! So back to the flute man. So I'm in Bali and my travel friend isn't feeling good so she stays back at our hotel. So I go out clubbing with two nice guys I met at the beach that day.

So we hit this happening club where everyone was no older than 30, most probably closer to 20. And I see this older man, maybe in his 60's, with a long gray ponytail, and he's in tye-die like a lot of the travelers and he's dancing all by himself having the time of his life. Most of the people were avoiding him, kind of chuckling at this older dude at this club. And I say to my friends, that guy is so happy, I'm going to dance with him. Because when I see anyone living their life the way that's true to their own purpose and is full of joy, I want to know them.

So I start dancing with him. And he looks at me and goes, "You're going through something." That went right through me! Because just that day on the Bali beaches I was telling my friends, "I don't know, maybe this writing thing won't happen, maybe I need to quit." And I was really doubting if this path was right for me. Because all us writers doubt if we should be writing at some point, maybe many points! And I'm dancing with this older dude and he tells me just what I was thinking that day! OMG! It was a sign! And he continues, "You need to believe in yourself. You're going to succeed. Follow your dreams." Wow! The universe sent me a sign! Okay, maybe you don't believe in that stuff, maybe you do. But guess what, I do. And that day, I definitely did. Becuase no way could this man have known what I was saying to my friends on the beach that day. And no one at the club wanted anything to do with this man, but I did, I was drawn to his energy. And because I trusted my instincts about him, he told me the message I needed to hear. And every time over the years I've doubted myself, I remember the flute man. He keeps me going on my path to follow my dreams and believe in myself when I don't know if I can any longer.

So maybe you don't have a flute man. But maybe yours is a teacher who believes in you, or a spouse, or a best friend, or a contest you advance in or a wind that blows a certain way. Whatever it is, find the thing that keeps you on your path. Because it's your dream! And only you know why you were meant to be a writer. And you have to tell your story. And now here I am and my first movie got made and is coming out in the theaters this year and is premiering at Cannes! If I stopped believing in myself all those years ago, that wouldn't be happening! I would have stopped before the thing I wanted ever happened! So keep at it!

If you haven't found your flute man, then I'm hoping this post can be that for you. Believe in yourself and your dream! And keep writing.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The show went on

So this past week I put myself out of my comfort zone. I didn't realize I was in that position until I almost panicked for a full 24 hours! See, my writing group and I all cast actors for 8 pages of sample scripts and put on a showcase where we invited industry people. I think in the past when I had to bring pages to an event like an end of class type of thing, I'd just chicken out and not bring pages. But this was a premeditated event with programs printed and emails and postcards sent out. So there was no backing out for me!

The first night it was raining and I did get laughs for my comedy piece, but not as many as I would have liked. A comedic actor friend told me that rain can affect whether people want to laugh or not. Who knew! Then the second night, no rain in LA, and the laughs were huge and guttural. It was amazing to hear and I get why comedy writers love that feeling. And the best news out of everything? One of the producers I invited now wants to produce that script! Wow! I couldn't have asked for a better result. It just goes to show that sometimes we writers have to put our work out there and just see what happens.

So I learned a few things from getting out of my comfort zone:
1. You won't die if things don't go as well as you hoped
2. Sometimes you have even better results when you're least expecting it
3. Sometimes you have written something good and the right people appreciate it!
4. Keeping your work on your computer and not sharing it is not why we're doing this in the first place

So I've survived sharing my work with some of the public. And now, I'll keep doing it from here on out. I hope you do the same!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

It's casting time!

So my all women's writers group is putting on an all-female writers showcase. There's nothing better than seeing real actors read the words you've put on the page. So last Sunday, in the pouring rain, we writers ventured out to a casting studio in Hollywood to await the actors that would audition to be in our showcase.

It was an all-day event with actors coming and going. The room was small and hot. I even had to leave at one point because couldn't take the sweltering room. But I have to give these actors kudos because as you can see from the picture below, there were a lot of us! So any actor that came into the room was surely surprised to see so many women staring back. Luckily we're friendly and I don't think we scared anyone! At least not too much! haha There were some no-shows. Because well, it's LA and most people don't leave their homes in drizzle let alone a real rainy day. But in the end, we got all our pieces cast.

Next, rehearsals and then the actual showcase that we have invited industry directors, producers, managers and agents. It's really exciting that we're making this happen. And I must give out kudos and thanks to Lily Mercer, the head of the Bechdel Babes writing group because she's done this before and has spearheaded the whole thing. Looking forward to the real event next!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

It's a pretty important day

It's International Women's Day. And that's pretty cool. So what better time to take a moment out to be thankful for all the strong women in my life. 

I'm thankful to have an amazing all-female writing group that not only inspires me to write better but to keep wanting to see more women's stories told. 

I'm thankful to all the strong women in my life that inspire me to go after I want, because if it's my dream to be a writer, then why shouldn't I be? 

I'm thankful to the women in the film industry that are paving the way for other writers like me, today, to tell my stories and know that I too can do it if I want. 

I'm thankful to people like my mom, who even though she was afraid to go after her own dreams, she's always proud of me when I go after mine. 

I'm thankful to all my strong friends who even if they aren't writers or have no interest in the industry, they are going after their own dreams, no matter what they are. 

I'm even thankful for all the strong men in my life who aren't afraid to let strong women go after their dreams and don't feel threatened when they do. We need strong men too, that's for sure. 

So no matter what International Women's Day means to you, I hope you've found a way to honor yourself or the women in your life too. And if not today, it's never too late. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Keep in touch with those contacts

So you know how you meet people that work in the industry?  Maybe through a friend. Maybe at a networking event. Maybe you email them and hear from then once, or meet them again and then not much happens except an email back. So you think, well, this really isn't going anywhere. Well, guess what? Keep in touch with them! Let them know every little thing you're doing. Because you never know what will come of it. Here's why:

So I met this really big producer through my step-dad years ago. They played golf together, as big producers do. I asked my step-dad to ask him if someone in his office could read a script of mine. A guy this big, I'd never ask to read it. But he insisted he'd read it. OMG! Okay,  if you insist. So he read it, liked it, but nothing came of it. So that started a friendship/mentorship. We'd keep in touch, me doing the reaching out. Him always responding and happy to read stuff. He even offered to meet for breakfast one time when I was visiting my parents. He was super nice and we talked about our love of movies. But I thought okay, this guy is just a mentor of sorts and that's cool. But I always let him know new scripts I was working on, always let him know new producers I was working with. He pretty much always wrote back, but not even always.

So fast forward to a book I wanted to option. I wasn't sure if the price would be too steep for me. So a friend at ICM said, email producers and tell them what you want to do with the story and you want to partner with them to produce it. Okay sounds easy enough. So I reached out to this producer and told him that. He said yeah, send me the book. Hmmm...okay, still didn't think much about it since nothing really came of it over the years. But lo and behold, he starts emailing me several times a week saying how much he loves it! I couldn't believe it! And then he asks, can I bring in my Academy Award winning producer friend. Uh...gee, let me think about it! You know what my answer was! Uh, yes! So next thing I know, his producer friend is in town and he suggests we meet for lunch to discuss the project. Wow, is this really happening? So we set up a date and place to meet, and we do! It really happens! They ask me my take on this story and next thing I know, we've decided to produce this thing, together! I still can't believe it.

Of course there are many steps before this becomes a movie. But it just goes to show, keep in touch with your contacts! You just never know where it will lead. You just never know!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

It's just a distraction

So as writers, writing is our focus. But as we know, things in life will get in the way to see if we're serious about our craft. I realized this in the morning today, as my dog, adorable dog, crawled into my lap for endless cuddles, just as I was about to workout. Cuddling him was so much more enticing than the thought of working out. But in the end, I know that this wouldn't get me the results I was looking for. As much as I'd like for cuddling a dog to burn calories and build muscles, it's just not going to have that effect. Same goes for writing.

We know that we need to get pages written, dialogue down, characters in good shape, all to move forward on the stories we wish to tell. But for some reason there are so many distractions to get in the way! So in order not to let something "unimportant" take over our lives, I think it's important to limit how many and how often we let these distractions take precedence. So here are some suggestions:

1. Social media like Facebook and Twitter - give yourself a set amount of time that you let yourself search or post on a given day. Or only let yourself browse and post ONCE you've finished your goal pages for the day.

2. Socializing - If you're an extroverted/introverted writer, like me, seeing friends can easily eat into your writing. I tend to lean on the introverted side a lot. But sometimes when I'm missing friends, they can seem to add up all on the same weekend. So limit how many per week you let interrupt your writing days. Or make time for other writers that you need to catch up with, so you can be doing some writing time and see friends at the same time. Or again, if you've had a productive week of writing, then maybe you can let it slide a little more than usual.

3. TV shows - We all know it's the era of TV and so it's easy to binge watch, constantly! This is an easy time-suck, especially if you're writing in the TV genre. So for me, I only try to watch shows that are in my genre and I also only watch TV when I'm falling asleep. That way it doesn't interrupt my writing time. It does mean I'm behind on most shows. But I think writing needs to come before watching shows. Maybe you disagree. But if you're not reaching your writing goals, then perhaps you need to revisit how you watch your TV shows too.

4. Family. This can be immediate family like spouses and kids, or extended family like siblings and in-laws. No matter what you consider family, it's important not to ignore them, but it's also important to make time for your writing. It can be a tricky balancing game. For me, this one takes precedence over all the others. But I'm also sure to try and balance my family and writing to be sure I give each one adequate time. At least I try! No one in the family's complained yet!

5. Writing goals - If you don't have them, then perhaps it's time to get some. I personally have very limited time to write, so instead of having a page count I write every day, mine is a time amount. Every night it can change, so I really don't stick to a set time, but when I know I have the time, then that's my writing time. I make time to write every night of the week. I used to have more free time on the weekend, but alas, that's not as consistent any more. But stick to what works for you. If page count gets your butt in the chair, so be it. If an amount of hours works for you, great. If getting up at 5 a.m. every day works, great. The important thing is to be sure you're writing on a consistent basis. If not, then it's time you reevaluate your life and distractions.

6. Working out - This is an important one that I almost forgot about. I workout every day. But I don't spend my life at the gym like many of my gym friends. When I used to workout at the gym, I'd go an hour, max. Now I even workout with intense video workouts every morning at 6 am and walk every day at lunch for an hour. But when friends want to hike for several hours on the weekends, that's precious writing time. An hour, sure, but more than that, all I can think about is how much writing I could be doing instead!

7. Etc There can be a lot of other distractions of course, and only you know what's sucking up your writing time. The important thing is there shouldn't be any excuses for not writing. So find out what's really important and try to limit time for the things that aren't as important. Happy writing! And now, done with this distraction for the day!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

All women's writer group? Worth it or not?

Okay, first of all, this isn't for men who want to be in an all women's group! That's another post I think. So, we got that out of the way! But what if a woman wants to be in an all women's group. Is it really worth it? 

See, I've been in a few writing groups. I've learned something in all of them. Some I've outgrown and then had to find new ones, and others just fell apart. Well, lately I found myself in need of another writing group. So through an online social media writing group I was in, I found out about a new female writing group. I never really felt the need to be in an only female writing group. I've been in an all women's TV writer's group, but it never really felt different than any other writing group I was in. 

But this new one, something was different. Once I started talking to the founders of the group, I really got excited about it. They mentioned that in previous groups it had been men that had talked down to them, shut them up before they got to say what they wanted, and made them feel not listened to. I'd never realized it until we spoke, but in two separate writing groups, the only problems I'd ever had were both men that also treated me that way! These instances were years apart so it never even crossed my mind there was a connection. Of course, not all men are like that. In fact, I've had many amazing male writing group friends, male mentors, and many of my writing partners in TV and feature writing have been men. But it did start to seem that certain men, have lashed out at females in ways women don't. 

There have also been online writing groups where I've been verbally attacked, and when that's happened, it's been men. During the same time, it was a man that stood up for me and made me feel better about the whole negative situation. So by all means, I'm not suggesting men suck! Not in the least. But maybe in order for a woman to feel supported, it's okay to have other women who tend to be more nurturing, anyway. I can't say all women are like this and I'm sure there are some people who might have stories to share about not feeling supported by women. But maybe at least for me, and the women I've met in this group, maybe an all women's writing group just might be what we need. 

I made it to the first group and I really enjoyed all the women in the group. They all seem like very talented writers and I'm very excited to be a part of this new group. Will they always be my writing group? Who knows. But for now, I feel happy to call this my writing home.