The Last Quote of 2020

35 Best Inspirational Quotes About The New Year That Prove 2019 Is Going To Be Your Best Year Yet | YourTango

I always say that I don’t like to make resolutions; that a goal can be set at any time. This is probably because I was like most people who fell off the wagon a couple of months into whatever resolution they had set for themselves. The keyword in that sentence is “was”. I was like that, and yes, I still have my moments, but I’m getting better…well, I try.

A few years ago I realized I hadn’t read a single book all year. Not one. I also realized I hadn’t watched a movie besides those in the MCU or Star Wars that were in theaters that year. What’s that then, maybe three movies? And I want to be a writer – of movies. Sheesh.

Upon this discovery I set two goals/resolutions for the following year: read more and watch more. I started my “one-movie-a-week challenge” which means 52 new movies a year and I use Goodreads to set a reading goal and track my progress. I usually have a few other things I want to do – I still want to learn to sew – and that’s where I tend to fall short. I need to find or create a goal tracker for these other things I’d like to accomplish.

With the longest year ever nearly behind us, there’s a big shining light at the end of the tunnel. If this year has taught us anything it’s that we’re resilient, that time truly is precious, and that we should find and do what makes us happy. I did a lot of soul searching this year and have an idea of the life I’d like to build, and now look to the horizon to make that possible.

So next week I’m going to share my resolutions for 2021 (yep, I’m calling them by their name). And it is my hope that by putting them out into the world, I’ll hold myself accountable. I’ve been thinking that it might be a good idea to create an “accountability team”. If you’d like to be a part of it, I’m going to put out the call, and we’ll work together to follow through on those goals. I hope you’ll join me.

And here’s to 2021. May you bring with you good things.

Flashback Friday #1: Routine

500 followers uploaded by Inès on We Heart It

My post on “writing a TV pilot” was my 500th; a milestone I should have reached some time ago. I sort of feel like Bob from the Bob’s Burgers episode “Sacred Cow” (S1E3) in which they celebrate the sale of the 100,000th burger, which should have happened long before, as evident by the dot matrix banner used to commemorate the occasion.

Having reached such a marker, I thought it might be nice to reflect on the posts that have come before, not only as a reflection for myself but also as a learning tool, because as the title of my blog suggests, I have a terrible memory and it would be nice to remember what I’ve come across and shared in the past.

Writing tips are always helpful, and if forgotten, necessary to revisit.

So starting back in the earliest days of my blog, I wrote about routines. As I stated just a few posts ago, I’m working on a new one. How things do come full circle.

September 6, 2013:

In 1932, Henry Miller, the famous writer and painter created a work schedule that listed his “Commandments” for him to follow as part of his daily routine. This list was published in the book, Henry Miller On Writing.

  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create you can work.
  6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

This is what worked for Henry Miller, so keep this in mind when creating a schedule for yourself. You know what parameters you need to work efficiently, so build a plan with those in mind.

I cannot write first thing in the morning. I’m not alert until after my second cup of tea, and then some. I used to write at night, after the world was asleep, but now I’m realizing that my home world is quiet earlier in the day so I need to rethink my plan so that I can be more effective.

Try a new schedule. Tweak where necessary. Try again.

Keep at it and Happy Writing!

How to Write a TV Pilot

Writing a teleplay is quite a bit different from writing a feature…or so I’m learning. With the ever expanding television market in need of fresh content, a screenwriter looking to break in must have a well rounded portfolio.

I hadn’t really given writing for TV much attention prior to the new “golden age” because none of the story ideas I had felt like they could be sustained for multiple episodes over multiple seasons. That was until The Demeter, my sci-fi/space/family drama. As I dug in and got to know my characters and the new world(s) I was creating, the more I realized it could not be contained to a single film, or even two.

I suppose that’s a good measuring stick for a story’s place and purpose.

So I gave my idea a go and wrote a pilot.

After what I was hoping would be my last rewrite, I asked one of my AFF friends to give it a read and offer some feedback*, and goodness, did she deliver. The most useful note I received was that my protagonist had become passive halfway through the script.

I did not see this. And this is why it’s useful to get an outside perspective.

There are a lot of points to hit in any screenplay but in a pilot, it needs to happen quickly. You not only need to introduce your characters, the world, the plot, your voice, where the story is going to go, and your characters’ desires but you also need to do all this in anywhere from 30 to 60 pages. Roughly.

And all while making it unique and interesting and coherent.

When you write a feature you still have all the same boxes to tick but without the need to sustain the story long term, the information given is precisely chosen, and therefore the story is streamlined.

Among the feedback, my friend also sent me this graphic from writer, David Steinberg which is both helpful and maddening.

According to the graphic, there are 10 things your pilot must do or set up in addition to some of what I listed above. Take one of your favorite tv shows and compare the pilot to these necessary elements. Does it hold up? Is anything missing? In light of these elements, or lack thereof, are any of these the reason you tuned in each week?

If you’ve been considering writing a pilot, and you find yourself overwhelmed by all of this information, don’t be put off, like I was initially. Discovering my protagonist had stopped being proactive makes a major rewrite the inevitable next step, and while a crushing blow, a necessity. This is why rewrites are considered the actual writing. They fine tune and make us aware of what’s needed to create a well rounded, compelling story.

I’ll have more tips on this topic in the coming weeks, but if you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to ask!

Happy Writing!

*With any feedback, it’s important to note that you should take it with a grain of salt, at least until people are paying you for your work. And then you may have to pick your battles. Your story is yours, and while feedback is helpful, pick and choose what best serves your story.

Quote Monday

I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself this year. Having quit my job a year ago, I had grand plans for how I was going to handle the few months I was giving myself before The Sis and I moved and we started our lives in a new town. Fast forward to nearly a year in a pandemic, and the pressure has only grown more intense.

If I was not going to go back to work, as we were teetering on the constant see-saw of should we/shouldn’t we move, then I better have something to show for all the time I had been given. After a number of false starts, blindly staring at a computer screen job and house hunting, writing easy-out blog posts, finding busy work to distract, and using a number of other excuses, the months passed and I was no closer to accomplishing any of the goals I had set for myself.

It’s not as if my goals were so lofty that they were unattainable, but not using my time better, because I was trying to do too many things each day, consistently left me feeling bad about myself and perpetuated the unmotivated side that used excuses for the lack of progress rather than confronting the fact that what I was doing everyday was the definition of insanity.

It has taken some time, but I have come to the conclusion that I need to format my time differently. The old writer’s adage “Write Every Day” has stressed me out, so much so that I’m lucky if I’m able to write even once a week.

A sad state of affairs.

I have chosen to create a weekly schedule that allows me to write on certain days and utilize the other days to accomplish the other tasks I want or that I defer to to distract me. It sounds so simple and yet it has taken me all this time to discover it. Instead of trying to do everything everyday, I’ll do at least one thing each day and make incremental progress on each. This way I don’t feel guilty on Tuesday for not writing because I’m supposed to be working on my Etsy shop. I will have written on Monday and will again on Wednesday.

Is this the right course of action? I don’t know yet. But I’m looking forward to finding out.

How do you schedule your time to ensure you accomplish all that you want to do?

Quote of the Week

Be proud of your journey!  #skinnyms #transformation #enewsletter

After reading my post about reflecting on the Austin Film Festival a year later, some of my friends said I was being too hard on myself.

It’s easy to be hard on ourselves. We’re usually our own harshest critic. I’ve long had an on-again off-again relationship with my feelings of self worth. Bad decisions are a part of life, no matter their size, and I often wonder if a certain decision here or there altered my path because I have a bad habit of comparing my current situation to where, ideally, I think I should be by now.

As positive as I try to be, I stumble occasionally. It’s hard not to see the goal in sight and maintain the momentum and positivity, but the creative path is a challenging one – one I embraced long ago, as many of you have as well – and so while we may suffer in our pursuit, we know why we do.

When I shared with a friend that I was reworking an entire act of one of my screenplays, he was in awe of my ability to do something like that. I was surprised by the reaction because I didn’t think it was awe inspiring. I am a writer. It’s what I do. It’s how I identify no matter what else I may be doing. And in that moment, I found a twinkle of pride.

I am a writer.

I may struggle with my writing from time to time but it is my calling, and I have to get out of the mindset that it doesn’t have value until others think it does, and that any small step towards accomplishing my goal is not worth being proud of.

So let’s take a moment to celebrate our hard work. No matter where we are on our journey, we’ve come a long way from where we started, and we should be proud of that.

A writer’s group I’m a part of does weekly check-ins of progress, and I’d like to try that here. I’d be delighted if you’d share a proud moment in your writing. Was there something you accomplished this week that you’d like to share? Let’s support one another!

Happy Writing!

Reflecting on AFF One Year Later

Austin Film Festival - FilmFreeway

Last year at this time I was preparing to head off to the Austin Film Festival Screenwriter’s Conference. My first (and only) time at any such event. I had finally chosen to invest in myself, and I was so excited at the prospect.

I had no real idea of what to expect.

It was more than I imagined. A year later and I’m still beyond delighted I chose to go. I was surrounded by like-minded individuals. I was listening to professionals offer sage advice and found the common thread that united us all. We were creatives. I was invigorated and inspired, and made the decision to quit my exhausting-body wrecking-causing-me-to-drink job on the second night. I did my best to get out of my comfort zone and walk up to strangers to start conversations knowing the purpose of my attendance was to meet other writers. And I did.

And one year later, many of them are doing amazing things.

And I…am envious.

I had big plans after the conference. I did indeed quit my job. Upon my return home, I gave notice and it was like a weight was immediately lifted. The Sis and I began talking about a move because Las Vegas was only meant to be temporary and it had been 5 years. I started to formulate a plan for, not only my writing goals, but also my life goals. Things were looking up.

We visited Washington state in March as a research trip for the move just as the first cases of the virus made their appearance. And it went downhill from there.

I was suddenly frozen. The uncertainty of it all…I was at a loss of how to proceed. In those early months, thinking about writing, of being creative was nearly impossible. I couldn’t even bring myself to write a blog post to commiserate.

I was in awe of those people who were going about their “business as usual”. That mentality escaped me, for a long time. I could barely find comfort or escape in a film, and have found myself way behind in my “One Movie a Week Challenge”. I never expected to be so affected by anxiety. Thankfully, in all this, I discovered yoga.

Then there’s the political stage.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to see the news and feel a sense of relief instead of all this?!

So here I am. A year after one of the most inspiring, motivating weekends in my life, and am no better for it. One friend is waiting to hear back on a directing fellowship for her short. One is meeting with a producer for her unique script. One is winning competitions and shooting a script. One is currently directing her project, pitching other ideas while on set, and winning awards.

I am absolutely thrilled for them all! It is inspiring to know these women as they make their way in the industry. And these are also the people I am in awe of. While I found myself almost paralyzed by indecision and the external constraints, they endured.

When it became clear that there was no immediate relief in sight, and after reading a poorly written published novel, I got off my ass and started to write. It’s been slow, but the spark is there. I realized, finally, that no matter what was happening outside, I am miserable and without purpose when I’m not pursuing my dream. I have had too many gaps in my life of not writing and focusing on irrelevant things, and I always regret those times. Time wasted.

Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com

The older I get, the more I understand how precious time truly is. Should I fail to succeed in the pursuit of my dream of becoming a professional writer, I’m not sure how that will feel in the end. I don’t like the way it feels now.

So, it’s taken nearly a year to come back to the realization, but here I am. I’m grateful to those at AFF who gave me so many opportunities to meet the fearless women I now call my friends. I wish them every success, and hope to count my own among theirs soon.

My Dragon Age 4 Wish List

Dragon Age 4 “behind-the-scenes” snippet shows off concept art and  works-in-progress - VideoGamer.com

For those of you who have been with me for a while now, you know of my long love affair with the series Dragon Age. I have taken part in nearly every aspect of the fandom – the love runs deep. Very few details have been released in the last couple of years in regards to the next installment since it was teased at the 2018 Game Awards. And when any little hint does come to light, fans analyze every minute detail for clues and concoct wild theories based on the scarce evidence.

The Art Of Dragon Age 4 - Concept Art and Making Of

December tends to be DA news month but Christmas came early this year when a number of images of concept art were recently released. You can imagine the subsequent frenzy that ensued. With the release of the latest novel, Tevinter Nights, characters both new and familiar were revealed along with story details that we could weave together in the hopes of understanding where the next game would lead us.

Dragon Age 4' Gamescom reveal highlights wild new landscapes and characters

In the FB group I’m a part of, people regularly prompt the members by asking what they want to see in the next game. Besides better hairstyles, which is a major pet peeve among us (I even wrote about it a while back), there are a lot of ideas floating around. With all this in mind, I’ve decided to share my own take on what I’d like to see in the next game. Here are my top 7. I tried to stop at 5 but that was difficult, so I’ll do my best to be concise.

*This will include spoilers if you have not read the comics and books, and with the understanding that the reader has played the games.

Every Dragon Age 4 Screenshot or Piece of Concept Art Revealed So Far
  1. The return of the Hero of Ferelden. The protagonist of Origins, the tainted hero who saves the world from The Blight we learn, years later in Inquisition, is in search of a cure for what will eventually kill them. My hope is that we are given closure to this storyline and the character that brought us into the series in the first place.
  2. The trouble with the Grey Wardens and the return of griffons. In the closing credits of Inquisition we learn that something is happening within Warden ranks and Weisshaupt has gone quiet. In the novel, Last Flight, we learn the fate of the griffons during the 4th Blight and the possibility of their return. I’m a fan of the Wardens, one of their symbols is part of my tattoo (I told you, the love runs deep, skin deep 😉 ), so I’d like to revisit the order and learn what’s going on.
  3. The return of beloved characters. Dragon Age needs to follow Mass Effect’s format of reintroducing characters and bringing us closure, especially in light of the position many of our favorite companions have or may have found themselves in since we last saw them.
    • Sten is now Arishok, as revealed in the comic series, The Silent Grove, and with the Qunari threat revealed in Inquisition and the war in Tevinter, he should make an appearance as the commander of the military.
    • Zevran and the Antivan Crows. There is a chapter in Tevinter Nights that deals with the leaders of the houses of the assassin’s guild, one of them being the house of Aranai. Zevran has made an appearance, in some form, in all three games so with this history, and the disarray that the Crows may find themselves in since the enlightening chapter, he should reappear. There is concept art that shows a Crow, and he’s also an elf. ((wink wink))
    • Fenris received his own comic recently, Blue Wraith, although there wasn’t enough of him in it for my liking. The story involves the Qunari and Tevinter so he should make an appearance. And fans would be thrilled. We love Broody!
    • Merrill, I think, is a shoe-in for a reappearance. In DA2 she was working at restoring an eluvian, and after Inquisition, we’re all aware of their importance. As an elf with strong ideas of keeping elven traditions alive, she’d make a great recruit for the Dread Wolf’s army.
    • Dorian & Isabela also appear in the concept art, and given Tevinter as a most likely location for the bulk of DA4, it’s only natural to presume Dorian would be a major player. Isabela has also made an appearance in all three games, in some way, and with her history with the Qunari I think it’s time to get reacquainted with the admiral.
  4. The return of “The One” sacrificed to be left in the Fade. Depending on the world state you imported into Inquisition, you will be faced with a potentially difficult decision at the end of Here Lies the Abyss, a mission in which you choose between leaving Hawke, the much loved protagonist from DA2 or a Grey Warden, one of whom could be the adorkable Alistair, behind. If Solas succeeds in his mission to tear down the veil, it is my hope this character will be revealed escaping or strutting out of the Fade, given who it might be.
  5. The Architect and the strange experiments with the darkspawn. The Architect was an intelligent darkspawn introduced to us in the Origin’s DLC, Awakening. He was attempting to free the darkspawn from their compulsion to awaken the Old Gods hence starting another Blight and actually started the 5th. He can just disappear at the end of the DLC and then we learned in Tevinter Nights that the darkspawn are experimenting on each other creating even more terrifying abominations. There’s something weird going on there, and I’m not sure I truly want to know why. But I do.
  6. Learning the true purpose of the ancient Elven Artifacts that we turn on as we run about in Inquisition. Solas tells us that these globe-like items will help to strengthen the veil, but since it’s his intention to tear it down, what purpose do they really serve?
  7. I hope we return to being able to use the Ability Wheel from Origins and DA2; the option to open the wheel of all those abilities you have acquired so you can actually use everything in your arsenal instead of having to pick and choose.
I Rank the Dragon Age 4 Concept Art on How Much I Want to Date Everyone -  Gayming Magazine

With all I have to say on this subject, I couldn’t share all the artwork too, so here is a link to see all the beautiful designs.

Dragon Age 4' Gamescom reveal highlights wild new landscapes and characters

Are you as excited as I am for the next installment? What are your hopes for Dragon Age 4? It’s still a ways off but hopefully there will be another book, or comic, or more hopeful news, like a release date in December (or all of the above) to tide us over. ((sob)) Want to commiserate with me? Let’s talk Dragon Age!

Writing Prompt Challenge Accepted #24

It’s been over two years since my last WPC?! Eek! That’s not good.

I’ve been inspired by a number of the images I’ve shared, so I really have to take responsibility for my inaction. A resounding theme in my life lately. Well, some of that can be blamed on “things outside of my control”.

When I started the prompt series, it was in an effort to build a community, so I’d be thrilled if you’d like to take part. Should you find a writing prompt here – there are a few off to the side or you can use the search bar – that inspires you, tag me and please allow me to share your work. Let’s build a positive writing community together!

I use the prompts as an opportunity to create a space for free writing, something I rarely find myself capable of in my professional writing. These are short, usually around 200 words, with little forethought or editing. Here is my submission for this week’s challenge:

The hallway was dark. Hannah, barefooted, tip toed toward the daylight that awaited her at the other end. She ran one hand along the wall to feel the old, rough stone bricks while her gown swished at her feet as pace hastened.

Without knowing why, her heart swelled at the thought of what lay beyond.

The hallway had brought her to the rear of an English manor nestled in the country. Stairs led down to a well-kept garden and a sweet surprise she dared not believe. Cautious that the leaves would be sure to give away her presence, she took careful steps until she could nearly reach out and touch him.

Evan turned simultaneously and captured her in his warm embrace. His exhale of relief at holding her in his arms caused his arms to tighten.

Hannah couldn’t recall how she had come to arrive here, or why her heart recognized the man who held her when her mind didn’t, but at the moment, it didn’t matter. She felt like she had just found home.

~ * ~

As I mentioned in the prompt’s post, this image reminded me of my screenplay, 217. It’s a story about how Hannah finds Evan in the in-between moments of a near death experience. And now I’m going to go write! Or should I say, rewrite.

I look forward to reading your creations! Happy Writing!