What I Learned

It was fast.  It was dirty.  And it is nothing like what professional, or those seeking to break into the industry, go through to perfect their pilots and scripts for submission.  Much like writing a novel, it doesn’t happen in a couple weeks.  There are revisions.  Edits.  Re-writes and you haven’t even gotten to the pitch, the query, or design work.  To expect a sell-worthy pilot script in only a few weeks is, frankly, crazy.  And impossible.

BUT.

I do have a working draft that I am proud of, even if I know there is so much more I’d like to add, play with, and explore.

It was intense, writing scenes, brief scenes as the idea was to keep each act of the pilot episode within 11 pages for a simple 30 minute pilot.  While I’d never wish to script a 30 minute show (I prefer hour formats even as a viewer), it does teach you a lot about editing, and getting down to the important moments in storytelling.  There is no waxing poetic when you have 11 pages.  There is no lingering to ink out all the emotions possible.  There is no showing off.  It’s dirty, and it’s in your face.  It is a lesson I hope to translate into novel format.

Now… what to do with this little creation?  I don’t know.  I certainly don’t expect to try and put it out there as a pilot to sell.  It’s an interesting story, sure, one that is at the heart of my geeky love, but even I don’t see it as a good episodic show.  Or even a film.  So perhaps I’ll end up posting it.  Perhaps I’ll end up adapting it into a traditional novel.  It’ll live on somehow, I know that, and will certainly be one of the more interesting learning experiences.

So, in short, while I will be returning to working on my novels (I really ought to get going on those again), but I’ll say this: every writer should work in a different medium.  If you write scripts, while in the traditional format.  If you write poetry, try script writing.  If you write novels, try poetry.  Do something else, even if you know you’ll never do it again.  You’ll be surprised how it will inform your work.

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Writer’s Block. Again. It Happens.

I rambled about failing last week, how it is inevitable, and how it shouldn’t be feared.  I hold firmly to that while saying: that doesn’t mean giving up.  I am not.  But I did, and still am, working through writer’s block.  It happens.  It cannot be ignored or assumed that it will never happen to you.  It does.  It’s ok.  But it is hard to find what helps to work through it.

For me, I work on random writing projects.  Sometimes just a page or two of an idea.  Or something rather silly.  Currently, I’m writing a vampire/werewolf piece.  It’s not my genre (I’m a full blown fantasy/dystopian girl).  So why?  It’s cheating for me.  The folklore and common knowledge of vampires and werewolves means I don’t have to build an insane new world to throw my characters in (not that I don’t love it, but I reserve that work for the projects I’m serious with).  There are already excepted parameters to work within.  In fact, I’d go so far as to recommend doing that if you are just starting out.

That’s what fanfiction offers.  I started writing in fanfiction.  The world is built, so you can focus on your style of storytelling, throwing in a new character to mingle with established.  It’s a playground to grow.  I will also support fanfiction for that purpose.  It is a spring-board to creating your own world.

Now, I work with these silly stories, completely my own, and yes, there is a touch of world building I’ve thrown in there since I can’t help myself.  In writer’s block, I have to get the muses going again, a jump-start if you will.  Something less-serious (though I quite like these characters I’ve built for this project) helps tap into what was being blocked.    It gets the fingers going, the characters talking (they tend to get jealous when you focus on something else), and suddenly you are back in the groove.

Granted, I’m not there yet.  I think I still need to play in this weird writer’s block sandbox for a little while longer before I jump back into my epic fantasy (Turned/Red’s sequel is still figuring its voice out, but I’m almost there).

So, writer’s block, like failure, is inevitable, but doesn’t have to consume you.  Experiment.  Fiddle around with different techniques.  Does it mean walking away from writing completely?  Like crafting?  Or painting?  Or reading a book?  Does it mean, like for myself, writing something completely different?  Don’t give in to it.  It will pass.  Sometimes the writer’s block is longer than others.  This one, for me, has been a long one, but I know it is almost over.  And then I won’t be able to type fast enough.

On the word: Failure, why it isn’t bad, but it is real

We run away from this word.  We refuse to say it out loud, though it plagues us, quietly, in our minds.  We bury it.  We burn it.  We have a huge social problem admitting it.

It is real, however.  No matter where we hide, we cannot escape it.  This little, forbidden “F” word: failure, will always be there, and if we are not careful, it will devour you.

So why am I talking about this?  Seems like an odd topic.  Sure.  But I’m going to share a little secret, empower myself to say it out loud, and then tear it down.

failed.

25 Of the Most Inspiring Quotes Ever SpokenIf you’re following me, you may be aware (or perhaps not) that I self published my first novel in November 2016.  I worked hard.  I spent countless hours formatting, creating a cover, working with a professional editor (who is amazing and I am honored to call her friend through this process), and setting up all the publishing details.  To say I was nervous and excited was an understatement.  I wasn’t looking for fame, but I was looking to succeed, otherwise why would any of us do anything?

The book came out, and a handful of family and friends humored me and bought my book.  Some even read it, and told me about it, and I love them immensely for it.  Being a complete novice, I tried to boost sales, create a presence.  BUT…  I failed.  Yes, I failed.  Other than a couple dozen copies, I haven’t sold any more than that.  I had hoped more friends and family would snag a copy.  That didn’t happen.  Books are not as hip as LuLa Roe (not to rag on the leggings) or nail things (I really am not very girly).  It happens.  I cannot blame the market or atmosphere.  This rests solely on me.

And, as much as it hurts (and it does), it is ok.

It is okay to let the Failure Monster slither and curl up to you.  You don’t have to let it bite you, or at the very least, you don’t have to let its venom win.  There’s never any instant success, or instant gratification despite how our society wants to operate.  Just because this first one failed doesn’t mean the next one will, unless I chose to let it devour me.  And I could chose that; I could chose to never write another book again.  I won’t.  It might not even be my last self-publishing attempt.

A great many great people said the dreaded “F” word.  They left us with gems that sound like cliches, but as someone who is slowly learning to accept the Failure Monster’s presence, those cliches are true.  You just have to keep swimming.

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston Churchill

“Think like a queen.  A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” – C.S. Lewis

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case, you have failed by default.” – J.K. Rowling

We Need “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Believe it or not, until now, I hadn’t read “The Handmaid’s Tale.”  It was always on my lift, but I could never find a hard copy, and I couldn’t afford to buy a new copy, so, alas, it sat on my list.  Then, one Saturday, I found a copy at my local library’s book sale.  It was the only book I walked away with that time, but I was more than happy to have found it.

When HULU announced that they were making a show of the book, I marked my calendar, and got the book ready.  I had started it prior, but stopped when I heard the announcement.  For whatever reason that I can’t articulate, I decided I wanted to read and watch the show side-by-side.  It was the first time I had ever done something like this, and I wasn’t sorry.  In fact, I kinda wish I could go back and do the same for the Game of Thrones series.

Reading alongside the action on screen kept me guessing, in both situations.  What little changes did they make to the show?  Let alone, what was going to happen next?

Google Image Result for http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1294702760l/38447.jpg: The show is different.  It always has to be because the mediums are so different.  HOWEVER, the way this show as done, translating the beautiful, poetic prose into a compelling and equally poetic monologue, and dialogue, is stunning.  A labour of love, and you can see it in every, stunning shot.  Very few adaptations have even compared to how well this one is translated.

And this one isn’t easy.

Ms. Atwood’s prose is stunning.  It’s heartbreaking and beautiful and symbolic and poetic.  It is poetry into prose, and narrative form.  I gobbled it up.  But I’ve always been a poet at my core.  Regardless, Offred is the core of the book; the narrator that we must believe, and love.  And it isn’t easy.  You want to will her into more action, hold her, cry for her, laugh, you want to actively do something for her.  And the end will grab you by the heart and squeeze (however you interrupt that is up to her, I’d say the same for a happy or sad ending).

Men Darkly Rule Over Women In Photos From The Handmaid's Tale #refinery29  http://www.refinery29.com/2016/12/131854/the-handmaids-tale-first-photos-hulu#slide-3  Joseph Fiennes as the Commander, the mild-mannered head of the house, prepares himself for a night with a maiden. Likely Offred, who he develops a special relationship with....:
Elizabeth Moss in Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

The show does the same.  Everyone attached to this project is giving performances of a lifetime for this work.  Every. Single. One.  And yes, it is different, and expands the world beyond the pages of Atwood’s work.  It has to, in some way, to build upon what might be several more seasons of television.  That said, none of it feels like it was added.  Every scene is carefully built with Atwood’s stunning prose in mind, the characters, and the world.  The likes of which I have never seen, even in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films (we all know that man took great pains to bring that faithfully alive).

I’ve been singing its praises from the beginning, and using to caution the world.  How quickly our minds can be altered to believe the despicable.  We get inside the head of someone who experienced this, and it should terrify you, and spur you into action.  As a woman, it is a cautionary tale, but one with hope: we don’t have to go this way.  We can stand up and say: no! to categorizing people in such a harmful way.  We can fight back.  If Offred’s voice, so tender, can be heard, so can our shouts.

Everyone needs to watch, and read this story.  We need it more than ever.

Wonder Woman: Waited My Whole Life

I just waxed poetical about Rey and her importance… and then I saw Wonder Woman.  And I cried.  I’m an almost *shhhh* 30 year old woman, and I cried because a movie was made about a woman superhero, helmed by a woman director.

Don’t worry.  I won’t spoil the movie at all.  I won’t mention a word of the plot.  Promise.

What I will say is that, and personal friends on Facebook got this quick post, I have waited all my life for this movie.  Not necessarily for Wonder Woman.  Anyone who has spoken to me knows that I’ve yo-yoed about my opinion on her, which coincides with how people were writing her in comics, but they are giving her what she deserves now.  The beauty, strength, compassion, passion, that a woman deserves.  I have waited all my life to see myself on the screen in a position that men never even think twice about.

She’s not just a warrior, but she’s soft too.  That’s the face of a woman, not a comic book character.

I needed her more than I needed Furiosa (and I needed her).  I saw Diana and I saw myself.  And I cried because I wished I could have seen this when I was a little girl.  It would have saved me so much struggle, and heartache, and doubt.

I was raised well.  I was raised to believe there was nothing different between myself and my brother, but the world didn’t get that.  They still don’t… I hope little girls will see this movie and know, deep down, know that they are equal.  Everything they are makes them warriors, whether they deflect bullets or wrap themselves up in silk.

More. Always More Female Leads

I’m always going on about the importance of a strong female lead.  There are people in my life that are probably sick and tired of hearing about it for me.  I’m not all that sorry about it, though, and I’ll tell you why.

Image may contain: 1 person, textI attended the big comic con for my state: Motor City Comic Con.  I had two outfits prepared: Wonder Woman (I had worked on this outfit for months) and my Rey (which I’m pretty proud of).  Now, Wonder Woman, being that the film is coming out (so excited), was a hit.  Little kids waved, parents pointed me out to them, people wanted pics.  I’m always obliging, after all, as long as they are respectful.  Especially to the little girls (and surprising amounts of little Captain Americas).

BUT…

Image may contain: 1 personAs the day wore on, I decided to change (Rey being more comfortable and closer to my personality).  You know what I noticed?  People loved Wonder Woman; she’s iconic, however, the little girls who saw my Rey (there were surprising few, only one other adult Rey whose staff was enviable), were bold, enthusiastic, and excited.  And I know why.

She’s the character I wanted when I was growing up.  Not to discredit Leia, because she was incredibly important for girls, but I wasn’t much like Leia.  I wanted to fly the Falcon.  I wanted to play in the dirt on the playground.  I was always searching, much like Rey is, for a place that fit.  Rey is feminine (in a way that’s very different from Leia) but she’s also a “tomboy” (I hate the term, but it’s useful here).  And right now, she’s this tentative, yearning heroine we need, and it struck me, looking at the little Reys who asked for pictures, just how much we need her.

So as a writer (and actress), I know that I’m not even close to being done about more female leads in the world.  I’m seeing the impact, and it is a good one.  A great one.  There shouldn’t be a cap on it.  I hear that too often: don’t we have enough?  No one says that to a man/boy.

Now we have women leading the new Star Trek series.  Rey is helming Star Wars.  Wonder Woman is opening soon.  Supergirl is on TV.  But this is just a handful.

No.  There’s never enough.  If these little Reys are any indication?  We need more.

Ying-Yang. Tip that Balance.

As a writer, I’m always analyzing my characters.  I’m evaluating them: how they work together; are they innovative; are they nothing more than stereotypes; are they effective.  So many questions, and important questions, to be asked of your characters, and important to answer.  If we want to continue to grow as a literary community, and we do, then we have to do our part to contribute.  What is beautiful is that we are doing that more and more.  We are adding more complex female and POC characters and the world is better for it.

So when I look over my characters, I have to find my voice in them, and find my particular trend… and I can safely say that I know what I like to do.  I’m a Ying-Yang writer.  I like balance in my characters.  If I have a wild-card, then I need to have a cool-headed character next to them.  Often this manifests in a female-male pairing.  No, I’m not just talking romantically (because I happen to subscribe to the fact that women and men can just be friends with nothing more attached).  I like balance.  I want a female character on the same ground as a male character.  Maybe that comes from my own experiences with friendships.  Or maybe that comes from my desire for equal friendships like that.  I’m not sure.  But I find myself doing it all the time.

In Turned/Red, I have Red alongside Hunt (though I throw Mal in the mix).  In my current novel, (working title Ghost Crown), Katja is beside her brother Emil (I also love writing brother-sister relationships that are functional and not confrontational.  Blame Joss Whedon and Firefly).  I like balance.  But I like to show that women and men can work alongside each other, or even in opposition to each other, and that their gender doesn’t play a part.  They happen to be a woman or a man, but that doesn’t define them.  So I pit them together or against each other.  I make them equal and I balance out the leads.

Or make them non-binary.  Spin that balanced top.

But I do it with women characters too.  Red is balanced by Mal.  Katja is balanced by Milanka.  Even the men are balanced:  Hunt by Byar and Emil by Goran.  Hot/cold.  Passion/Pragmatism.  But then I like to take those balance points and flip them.  Suddenly the passionate one is logical, and the logical one has done something spontaneous.

And then I like to tear that balance apart.  It’s an emotional moment, but also a plot moment.  I’m a character driven writer, so this makes sense.  I need an emotional trauma to turn the tide of the story.  Sometimes, that mixes into the plot based story-telling some writers favor, but it’s more about sharing the world through a character, and these moments define us as human beings, so why not a fictional character?

PHOTOS: 8 Found Hearts For Valentine's Day                                                                                                                                                     More
image found on Pinterest; if yours please let me know so I can credit

By now, you’re probably thinking that this traps me.  I’m stuck finding the balance between my characters instead of letting them be insanely complex or difficult people.  Not so.  A character isn’t always the level-headed one.  Sometimes they switch.  That’s human nature.  If you look at your own friend base, you’ll find the strange balance.  For many of us, that’s a group of people.  We all play a little part in balancing us out as a whole.  For me, that makes a well-rounded and multi-dimensional story.  Balance.  It swings one way or another, but the way it swings, the direction, and how you find that balance is the fun and intensely difficult part of story telling.  It’s also how to create a multi-colored world.  It rounds it out, fills it up, and creates humans.

For each writer, it is different.  Some will balance with physical descriptions.  Some do it with emotions.  Some with alignment (good vs evil).  Some do all of these.  They’re all good.  But we have to make sure to expand upon that starting balance point, and tip it over.  I think that’s why I start with my female-male duo or passion-pragmatic duo.  Then I tip them over the edge and see where that takes us.

Whether you start with a duo or a trio or a group of nine beginning a journey to destroy the ring (I could write a whole post on how that group balanced each other.  Just look at an elf and a dwarf), tip that balance.  Spin it.  Drop a rock on one side, and see how they slide and fall.