Getting Out of the Office

image2Wednesday I decided to stop being such a hermit and took a drive to enjoy the change in the weather.  I grabbed The Pups and we headed out to explore the natural wonder in our backyard, Red Rock Canyon.  I grew up in Las Vegas, and the desert holds no mystery for me, but Red Rock is such a sight, it’s no wonder that some 2 million visitors take the 13 mile drive to enjoy the view each year.

No where else in the city does this red stone exist, or the type rock.  Mountains just a bit to the south have a red band amidst the pale sandstone, but that’s it.  In the picture to the left, the red rocks themselves are to the right.  My camera does not do this landscape any justice. image1

As I stood on one of the precipices that overlooks the valley, I had to wonder about what it must have been like to live on this land thousands of years ago.  There used to be water here, and along one of the dry creek beds, pine trees still remain.  This whole area is just such a random jumble of natural bits.  It is quite beautiful, and found in such an unlikely place, Las Vegas.

I took one of the smaller hikes to look for petroglyphs, but my boy was not having any of that.  He is from L.A. after all.  My girl, on the other hand, was so excited to be out seeing and smelling new things.  Still, we didn’t make it very far.  Perhaps another day.  It was refreshing to get out; I really do spend way too much time indoors.  The desert is intolerable in the summer and the winters aren’t much better, but there are a few weeks between each that make living here bearable, so I better take advantage of it.

As writers, we sometimes find ourselves stuck in a routine, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing, but we have to get out and see new things, in an effort to keep the imagination stirring.  No matter where you live, take a short drive and explore the great outdoors.  Breathe fresh air.  Remove that city landscape from your view.  You never know where inspiration may strike!

Best wishes!

Writing Prompt #71

As many of you are aware, I am fascinated by lost worlds.  I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to abandoned places, many of which make me sad for their neglected state, but there’s something about this one.  It’s almost as if it dropped from out of the sky.

Abandoned Phonebooth

Are you inspired?  Come write with me!

Quote Monday

After last week’s post, I sort of went on a mental holiday.  As a favor, a friend of mine let me borrow his XBox One.  For those of you who know of my love for the Dragon Age series, you can imagine my excitement at finally getting to play the DLCs.  More on that later.  When people let you borrow their things, regardless of their reassurances that you may keep said item(s) for an extended period of time, you don’t want to take advantage, and so I played Dragon Age like a crack-addled crazy person without a care in the world.  Translation: I played a lot, for days on end.

It’s easy to get lost in such an immersive world where your decisions seem to matter.  Whereas in life, you may be struggling and feeling insignificant, in my gamer life I was reunited with old friends, stopped an invasion, slayed two dragons, and even got married. ;)  Not a bad week.

In real life, I still haven’t had a single response to any of the applications I’ve submitted for a new job, I had a few rotten shifts which in turn caused me to have to borrow money to pay rent and buy food, and I mistakenly received a text from my boss, clearly meant for someone else, in which she insulted me.  Real life sucks sometimes.WhereFocusGoes

And that’s why we have to get up, brush ourselves off, and kick reality in the teeth!  This may be the pre-birthday doldrums talking, but I want my life to not be…this.  If I were in a princess movie, the handsome prince (who happens to look like Tom Hiddleston) would be riding up on his white steed to save me The Oddsright about now, but as we all know, life is hardly a fairy tale, and we have to make our own future.

Both of these quotes spoke to me this week because I have been focusing on the wrong things and worrying about the future of my career.  I was doing really well on the new schedule, focused and determined, but something threw me off course and now is the time to correct that.

If you’ve made big changes, I’d love to hear your story; how you did it, and if you found the result you were seeking.

Have a great week!

 

Quote Monday

I’m going to ramble for a moment, so please bear with me while I vent.

In last week’s Writing Prompt post I mentioned how I was struggling with choices. Before the end of the year, I was doing some hard thinking about plans for the future.  The Sis and I moved back to Las Vegas a little over a year ago for a number of reasons, one being that she finish her undergrad and then we move on.  Unfortunately, she has now found a job she truly enjoys, she’s making friends, and getting herself together.  She’s currently taking the semester off.

It seems unfair to uproot yet again, but I don’t want to stay here.  I don’t like Vegas.  Never have.  I’m tired of moving…we’ve moved so. many. times, but I want to find a place to call “home”.  I’ve only felt that sense of home once, when I traveled to England for the first time.  I felt it before we even landed.  That’s when the obsession began.  And, that’s what I’m looking for.  As much as I’d like to do a final move across the sea, there’s just no way that’s even remotely possible in my current state.

So here’s “the thing”, the thing that’s been lingering at the back of my mind, the thing I never want to say out loud.  I want to be a screenwriter, but all screenwriters know it takes at least 5 years to make any headway (once you legitimately hit the pavement – so I still have about 4 years), and I don’t want to flounder in this state, without purpose, without direction, for upwards of 5 or more years.  I don’t want to hold down a menial job that I loathe until things work out.  Yes, I’m still trying to remain positive, hence the lack of the dangerous “if”.

I want a job I enjoy.  I want to buy a house.  I want to plan for the future but I feel as if I’m destined to remain in this perpetual state of limbo.  It all comes back around to choices.  I’ve made choices that have led me to where I am, but I’m finding it difficult to make choices that will encourage change…in part because I don’t know where to begin.

Do I suck it up and make it work where I am, or do I continue to seek out that thing that I know is out there?  How does one move forward when they’re kind of stuck due to obligation and circumstance?  How do people get their act together?

NewEnding

Any advice from fellow creatives would be greatly appreciated.  How do you make it work, find balance, and stay sane?

Writing Prompt #70

Happy Wednesday!

I’ve been struggling with choices recently; those that I’ve made, and those that need to be made.  So imagine my delight (?) at finding an image that rings so true.  As a gamer, you’d think I’d be better equipped.

Are you inspired?

Choices

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

I’ve heard people say they are afraid of accomplishing their goals, of getting what they’ve worked so hard for.  It seems an odd thing to fear, but sometimes we struggle for so long that the struggle, in itself, becomes comforting.  Like anything, good or bad, we grow accustomed to what we’re used to and anything else, such as change, is cause for fear.

We all tell ourselves something – something that makes us feel better, something that lessens the regret, something that keeps us stationary – it’s a habit we need to break.

TheOnlyThingStandingBetweenYou&YourGoals

Reach for those goals and embrace the good that will come!

Wishing you all the best in your endeavors!

 

Writing Prompt Challenge Accepted #15

As I reflected on last year, I realized I wrote very little (in addition to not doing much of anything else.  Seriously, what happened last year?).  It’s embarrassing because what’s the point in saying you’re a writer when you have very little to show for it.  I wrote some flash fiction pieces, but not many, wrote a bit of fan fiction, and did one rewrite, in addition to the blog.  I am ashamed.

As I stated, I don’t care for New Year’s resolutions, but it was a good jumping off point to make some changes.  I have altered my schedule entirely in order to make some real progress, and I can report, “so far so good”.  I finished the next chapter in the Dragon Age fan fiction which I really enjoy writing.  It’s a nice escape.  You can read it here, but forewarning, this is the chapter with the “mature” content and you have to agree to proceed on the website.  The somewhat edited version can be found on my blog, here.   I am also proud to report that I wrote the first draft of my TV pilot, The Demeter.  Now the real work begins.

So while I let the pilot percolate on the back burner, I decided to write some flash fiction to keep up that momentum.  Remember that quote about discipline…I’m all over it!

VictorianRipper

The crescent moon’s pale light only added to the already ominous feel of the evening.  The fog rolling in from the harbor wound its tendrils along the deserted streets and through the empty alleyways, creating the perfect landscape for a horror story, and a crime.  The recent rains made the cobblestones shine, and also helped to wash away the remains of the many foul deeds to be found in this part of town.  The pronounced click of the Inspector’s heels on those same stones echoed in the surrounding silence.  He was on the hunt.

His long coat kept the chill from the outside at bay, but all he had seen in the past months had induced a permanent chill to be lodged in his spine.  He had started to walk differently, more determined.  The people were looking to him, but he was finding it increasingly more difficult to look at himself.  He needed a clue.  He needed answers.  He needed resolution.  Or he would forever be haunted by his inabilities.

The Dark QueenQueen of the Night

She loved the moments just before night fell.  Those moments when the world seemed black and white.  She escaped into the night, feeling the cool air upon her skin, opening her arms to it, inviting it in.  Death followed in her wake, floating behind her like mist.  The earth dried up and the trees shrunk back to allow her passage, which pleased her.  Despite her absence, they had not forgotten her.  All around her was devoid of life, and she reveled in the silence.  She was Death’s bride, and if she could, she would scratch her long black nails against the world to sharpen them in the anticipation of her kill.  She had slumbered too long, but looked forward to reacquainting herself to the world.

EveVentrue-AssassinThe Guild

When she had escaped her jailers, she swore to herself that she would never again fall victim to the whims of man.  She cut her hair, changed her name, and did what she could to distance herself from her old life.  She did not seek out those she once knew, she did not let anyone know of her fate, but instead chose to protect herself.  Everyone knew of the Guild, and what they represented, but what their ignorance could not understand was what it meant for those who were a part of it; it was indeed a brotherhood.  She would first have to prove herself, and then they would find her.  They only sought out those who were truly worthy.  She moved to a new town and began her training.  She took whatever work she could find, each a learning tool, a lesson towards her goal.  It took some time, but she finally received her invitation, and then her real training began.

Shrouded in shadow, swathed in the garb that held both reverence and fear, she slid down the embankment with arms outstretched enjoying the thrill of the freedom in those moments just before she found her mark.  With her face masked, they never knew that the girl they once thought a traitor was now their executioner.

~

Honestly, looking over these, I’m not in a dark place or anything, despite the running theme.  Remember, you can join in the Writing Prompt fun any time!  If you’re ever inspired, please share!

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

We live in an age of immediate gratification.  The world is at our fingertips and we can have (almost) whatever we want thanks to Prime shipping.  In the words of Veruca Salt, “I want it now!”  And do you remember, we didn’t like her.  This makes waiting for positive feedback, a step forward, or any progress on a long term goal for creatives all the more painful.

We seek out a modicum of pleasure in the quick response to a post via any one of the social media time-sucks (those little thumbs-up and likes can really do a number on the ego, can’t they?!), and we can check our inbox a hundred times a day (because very little actually arrives in physical mailboxes any more), because we can’t seem to wait.  We want satisfaction, and we want it now.  It’s makes the “patience is a virtue” phrase all the more relevant.

The creative path is not the way for those who desire a “quick fix”.  Creatives need to find a balance in this fast paced world and remember that we need to put in the time and effort to reap the reward, and it starts with this:

Discipline

I want this as a poster on my wall.  In fact, I may do just that.  It’s easy to get sidetracked, and I know this from experience, but no more.

Stay strong, my friends!  Wishing you all the best with your goals!

Finding Your Writing Voice

TypewriterFontWriterI hate, that as screenwriters, we are often told that our first screenplay is rubbish.  No one ever says that about a first time novelist. (Although, obviously, there are exceptions to that rule in either case.)  It’s an infuriating statement.  I’ve been writing something since I was eight, of course, that was all rubbish and I had no idea what I was doing, but when I wrote my first screenplay in college, I was in love.  That’s when everything changed.

Now, the premise of that screenplay has sort of remained through subsequent drafts, but it has seen a major overhaul of story and characters a number of times.  So yes, that first screenplay was terrible in comparison, and I would never have considered sending it out, but I don’t believe that’s what “they’re” talking about.

Regardless of how many revisions a screenplay has seen, I think “they”, the elusive industry people, believe that a first screenplay is just a starting point.  They don’t believe we have found our voice, learned enough about structure and pacing, and all the other technical screenwriting terms we’re supposed to know because writing a screenplay is nothing like writing a novel*.

*I’m currently reading Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.  Gracious.  If a screenwriter wrote like that, we’d be blacklisted.  For those who have read it, you know what I mean, for those who haven’t, eek, it’s a tough read.

As a screenwriter, I have not focused on any other writing styles as part of my portfolio or tried my hand at being a freelancer.  I wouldn’t even know where to begin.  Whenever I tell someone I’m a screenwriter, the next words out of their mouth are almost always in regards to having anything published.  Nope.  I don’t write the kind of stuff that can easily be published, anywhere.  And then I feel like a failure.  Although, in all fairness, I’m not going to hone my screenwriting skills writing an article on cats, or what-have-you.

Reading Stephen King’s On Writing didn’t help morale either. (Now, I learned years ago not to compare myself to others, not in writing or in success, but, and this is a BIG “but”, he currently has 50 titles to his credit, in addition to so many other things while I’m sitting proudly behind my 4 1/2 full length features, which I round up to 5 to sound better and the immense TV show floating around in my head.  Ugh.)  He started writing when he was a kid too, influenced in a completely different way than I was.  Where he enjoyed the horror movies of the 50s, I was drawn to princess stories and the fantasy films of the 80s.  He was encouraged to create his own stories, but honestly, I don’t remember having that same sort of support.  Here’s that discrepant part of my memory.  I don’t remember really sharing anything I had written until my senior year in high school when I took a creative writing class.  That was the first time I had ever read my words aloud, and although the feedback was positive, I didn’t feel compelled to send my work out.  Again, I didn’t even know where to begin.

I continued to write in the privacy of my room, taking a variety of English classes, playwriting, and creative classes along the way, but nothing satisfied the way screenwriting did, and I wouldn’t find that for many years.  I remember I wrote this one-act play that my teacher loved.  She said I should have it put on by this theater group that performed at a coffee bar across from the university.  I never pursued it.

It was these early mistakes that I think stunted my growth as a writer.  Without proper encouragement, I was left flailing – never to develop my voice, never to see my work in print or on stage, never to pursue a career with any fervor.  Now here I am, all these years later, finally getting it together.

So, here’s the point.

If you truly want to be a writer, you have to work at it.  That’s how we develop our voice.  We have to read.  We have to write.  Everyday.  This has been reiterated by every writer throughout history.  And it is absolutely true.  I am not the same writer I was when I was 8, at least I hope not.  I’m not even the same writer I was in my 20s, and that is due to exposure.  When we are exposed to other voices and styles, we see what we like, what we don’t, what works, what doesn’t (at least for us), and that makes us better writers by adding to our toolbox.  Another lesson from On Writing.

It is through trial and error that we develop our writer’s voice.  We have to practice everyday.  Find new ways to explore our voice.  That’s why I started writing the flash fiction pieces, and the fan fiction, for that matter.  This blog has helped me tremendously as well.  I thought that if it wasn’t screenwriting, it didn’t matter.  How wrong I was.

Don’t make my mistakes.  Let my errors be a lesson or a cautionary tale.  Find avenues to get your work out there.  Attain feedback.  Find a writers group.  Find a beta reader.  You can be your own cheerleader, most of the time we have to be anyway, but find someone who will encourage you.  You may already have this person in your life, or maybe they’re a friend waiting to be made in a writers group.  They don’t have to be a writer, but only other writers understand the life.  It’s tough, it’s lonely, and often thankless, but we do it for the love.

We love to tell stories, and hopefully one day, others will love reading them.  As for that first screenplay, I’m still going to send it out.  I love it…now.  It doesn’t remotely resemble the first version all those years ago in Screenwriting 102, and that is in part because I have written and rewritten and written some more, not nearly as much as I should have by now, but I like my current voice and style, and that is reflected in it’s most recent rewrite.

Although in the real world, by which I mean Hollywood, I would not be allowed to keep rewriting my script 10+ years later.  Oh my gods, if someone doesn’t buy it soon, I’ll be known as the George Lucas of rewrites. ;)

If you ever need an encouraging word, you know where to find me.  Wishing you all the very best!