July 30, 2011

The Importance of Leaving Your House, Writing 101

In the last year I've transformed from an isolated writer lost in an apocalyptic world, to one who fearlessly shares her work with a group of writers, thankful for feedback, criticism, and even praise. The Bleedening was shared during my workshop last week to rave reviews and thoughtful suggestions to further it's development. The instructor called it a "hilarious and gory hoot - funny as hell." You don't get that kind of affirmation by hiding your writing in the drawer.

So here is my inspiration for the day: Find other people like you and be brave. Share yourself.  I can only relate the joys of working with other writers to the comfort I find with my fellow hypochondriacs on the internet, as we utilize Google to ensure we're not dying of some rare disease.

In the beginning, I was hesitant to fork over cash for any workshop, but I was also desperate to prove to myself that I was serious about being a writer. I was really naive, didn't research the credentials of the instructor, had a lot of expectations of what the experience would give me, and didn't protect my money as well as I should. Yet every experience, if not useful to my development as a writer, has given me immense inspiration to use in my work. Case in Point:

It was the summer of 2010. I paid an astronomical amount of money to a screenwriter from L.A. She was not actually from L.A., but had taken a workshop there. Not actually a screenwriter, but an aspiring one who suffered from doubt and fear and could not finish. Minor false advertisements.

Janice (*name has definitely been changed) was in her 50's, she had a smoked-riddled husky voice and a severe Cleopatra haircut. She dressed head-to-toe in black and wore skinny jeans (not age appropriate). Gothic, beatnik, strange. I instantly picked up on this likable, scatterbrained energy, like her life is just this crazy tornado that she got swept up in. That was probably Red Flag #1. She was instructing the course from her apartment and when I arrived at her door, this little fluffy dog named Mr. Waffles comes out to greet me. It was a "no pets allowed" building. Red Flag #2.

When I walked into her place, I was assaulted by the vision of 1980's Dynasty Decore: white furniture, white pillars, glass, crystal, white doilies, white candles, white fake plants, white carpet! I should also mention that Mr. Waffles was white, as was the cat, Sandra (who had this bizarre stub for a tail and was one of those typically bitchy cats). Can you imagine this? Dark, broody, husky Janice lives in a glorious old lady's vagina. I mean, she literally lives inside Elizabeth Taylor. How could I not stay to see what would happen? 

So Cozy. So Sparkly.
As it turned out, I'm one of two students who bother to show up and take her class. Red Flag # 3. The other student is Ralph, a 60 year old man and the epitome of stubborn, sexist, and ageist. Yet, he was of that age where he can't be changed and he's not really trying being an asshole, it's just how people were in his day, so I tended to be amused by him as well. Particularly as he had all of these secrets from his wife, like the fact he was going to write a play, was taking this class, and he smoked. Oh, and there was the whole fascination with homosexuality as all of his characters secretly wanted gay sex (riiiiiggght...).

Everyday I went to the class, I felt this pain in my chest that I had been ripped off. What the fuck am I doing here? Seriously? But then something unexpected would happen. Once, Mr. Waffles pooped a mouse (honest to God). Then I noticed Janice smoked in her bathroom and collected paintings of Parisian landscapes. Ralph got attacked by the bitchy cat and Janice spent the entire session lecturing him about consent and meeting the emotional needs of her pets. Ralph would reveal secrets to us and I realized I was witnessing the unfolding of a man. I realized that I saw the real him, as none of his closest friends did.

I eventually received the information of why Janice couldn't write anymore, this horrific event that sidetracked her and prompted her to teach, so she felt safe enough to write for herself again.

Legit Mouse Pooper.
I wasn't ripped off at all. I had front row seats to incredible characters in action and I fell in love with them. I watched them, saw the quirks that build over time, how the intricacies of pain, secrets, and self-denial manifest differently in people.  It was an experience that money should not be able to buy, this should be worth more.

And it made me realize that this is what writer's do. We witness, observe, understand, record, and make meaning through the madness. I realized that I achieved what I wanted. I am a writer, because I wanted to share what I saw.

I encourage everyone to make living a priority in their writing practice. It's good to leave the house, to leave your own mind, and connect with other writers. Just for the simple fact that they may be very strange people who will show up in your writing.

No matter what is presented at your table, grab a spoon and eat it. It's going to enrich you somehow.

July 8, 2011

Suddenly Silenced, Scene 231

Add some stars to my nerd credibility. STAR WARS, to be exact. I can now claim my 15 seconds of fame as a poorly dressed Luke Skywalker who comforts Obi Wan while he experiences a great disturbance in the force.  Star Wars Uncut is the brilliant idea of Vimeo developer Casey Pugh, who had novice and professional nerds from around the world take 15 second clips from Episode IV and recreate them in their own style. The result is a slightly choppy, hypnotic rendition using actors, animation, and Lego to tell the epic tale. Women play men, men play women, chewy is played by a few dogs... it's absolutely amazing to watch and I'm so honored to be a part of it! To see me as Luke Skywalker, hit 58.54.

The face of film-making is changing dramatically thanks to the internet. The possibilities of this crowd-sourcing style are endless... it gives me a few ideas...

July 1, 2011


It's the album I forced my girlfriends to listen to on a constant 5-hour loop, while vodka followed through my veins and I rolled around on the floor in my underwear. But really, it's the incidents that I cannot dismiss as sheer coincidence. Something is happening. Synchronicity.

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