Quote of the Week

PassionIgnore the working out aspect of this quote (unless you’re also into that) and think on what the words mean.  Where do you spend this kind of energy?

Is it on your writing (or other form of art)?

I know I don’t always put such passion into my work, as any artist knows, not all days encourage such intensity of emotion, but most days, we should have it.

As a “yet to be professional” screenwriter, I’m passionate about everything I write because they are the stories I want to tell.  It’s my hope, in time, I will have the opportunity to feel this same intensity on a professional level.  Because if we’re not passionate about our art, then why are we doing it?

It’s a thankless path for the most part, well, at least until we “make it”.  It’s hard and it’s lonely and nobody cares about our struggles – their concern is for the final result, so we have to have passion.

I spoke with a fellow writer once who wanted to give up.  They hadn’t had any success and just didn’t feel the drive to continue.  My advice was to take a break and see if they missed it.  Like a relationship, which is pretty much what it is, a little perspective via distance can help a great deal.  Hopefully, a little time away will reignite the fire, but if not, they won’t waste any more precious time on something that doesn’t spark such emotion.

Because I believe that this is something we all want to find – something that drives us, something that we’re willing to give up sleep for, and let our minds wander off to…

So tell me.  What are you passionate about write now? 😉

GISHWHES Is Coming!

WoosterLast year I participated in something unlike anything I ever had before, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, fondly known as GISHWHES, and it is upon us once again as of August 2nd.  If you’re unfamiliar with this madness, here’s the link to the site, although that probably won’t give you any further insight…it didn’t for me last year.  So here’s a little overview without spoiling the unknown:

It was created by the ingenious mind of Misha Collins, Castiel from Supernatural, who I knew nothing about until this event.  I only watched Supernatural this past year.  Fellow geeks are mocking me.  I can hear it.  As the title reveals, it is a team oriented international scavenger hunt; a list of items with corresponding values to accomplish in one week’s time is the goal.  The quest items are a mix of creative ingenuity, random acts of kindness, and everything in between.  You take pictures or video, depending on what is specified, to prove the tasks have been completed.

Last year my sister and I participated with our friends in Arizona, and as we hadn’t made many friends in LA yet who could offer their support both emotionally and/or physically, we were left to our own devices.  We accomplished 20 items.  Not too shabby.  Here are a few pictures of what we did – Commemorate a fictional location (we chose this location as the Entrance to Hades) by placing a historical landmark plaque, create a teddy bear hostage situation, place a purple GISHWHES sweater on the statue of a famous person (that was the best we could do), and “release the Kraken”.

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Why I am I sharing this with you, you might ask?  As a forewarning. 🙂  Firstly, I may be absent for the week because it takes a lot of time and effort to accomplish the tasks, but it is so worth it.  Secondly, because now that I have a small group of international friends at my fingertips, you could offer your support by aiding with items I would otherwise not have access to, i.e. last year one of the items was a specific task photographed in front of Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.  And finally, if you’re looking for something to jumpstart your creative juices, this will do it.  So if you’re up for the challenge you can join and start your own team, or be added to one randomly.  If you’d like to offer your support, that would be appreciated as well.

And as a bonus, if you are on the winning team, this year’s prize is a trip to King’s Landing (Game of Thrones) in Croatia.  Awesome!!  And I want it!  I better get my passport in order.

*Oh, and that strange creature above was last year’s mascot, the wooster.

Have a great week everyone!

Open to Suggestion

Hi all!

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I am calling on my fellow bloggers – Who or what blogs do you recommend?  Offer up to me some of your favorite writing, screenwriting, geek culture, sci-fi/fantasy, history, something for an Anglophile, or anything that piques your interest blogs…I am open to suggestion.

Feel free to promote yourself! 😉

Thanks!
xx, Rach

A Message for All Creatives

So last night I realized my perspective was off.  While looking for feedback on my last post about finding ideas, a fellow writer suggested I watch this TED Talk from author Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love.  It’s an interesting take on the creative process, and a lesson we should probably all take to heart, at least in some regard.  *I won’t spoil any of it by delving into it further, for the moment, but really, give it a watch.  It’s less than 20 mins.

My thoughts yesterday were only that I needed to find more ideas, that I didn’t have enough in my “stockpile”, or the more accurate term I like, due to its deep, dark imagery, “vault”.  Then last night while at my writer’s group, I listened to the twenty other writers in the room discuss their projects, and realized how different we all are from each other.  Everyone in that room was working on something different; novels, screenplays, short stories, poems, the genres differed, the perspectives were biased from personal experience, and the writing styles were all different.  One of my novelist friends cringed when she heard a few of us talking about screenwriting and moved away to find a conversation more suited to her.  We support each other’s work, but don’t talk about it much when we’re together, in part, because of the differences.  So I laughed as she turned away because it reiterated to me that although we share a common passion, writing, we are not in the same boat.

NeverForgetWhyYouStartedI was looking at the work of others and comparing myself to them.  This is where I went wrong.  My life is not the same as a writer at the turn of the last century.  I’m not spending my time in an opium den, allowing lucid hallucinations to dictate my work.  My life isn’t even similar to the majority of the people I was in the room with last night, so why would I ever consider to compare my work with theirs?  Foolish notion…and hence, the perspective change.  As a screenwriter, hearing that someone has written twenty-five scripts should not make me rise to the challenge, because in all honesty, how many of those stories were worth telling?  I don’t want to be a writer that just spews out scripts for the sake of quantity.  I write a story because I have a passion for it, not just to bolster my numbers.

We each do what we can with what we’re given, or hopefully try to.  We all hope to achieve some part of the greatness that others have, but comparing ourselves to them is not only counterproductive, but unnecessary.  We each have our own stories to tell, we each have lived a different life, and it is this variety that makes us unique and incomparable.

I wish you all the best!

What It Means To Network

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Depending on where you are on your career path, networking may be something you have yet to encounter, and may need a little help in understanding.  Networking is a social device that serves a business purpose.  Regardless of your anxiety at putting yourself into large (or small) social gatherings, mingling with strangers, and having to “talk shop”, networking is something all creatives will have to undertake at some point, if they want their careers to progress forward.  The goal of any networking opportunity is to build a contact list of potential/hopeful business associates, people who can help you advance your career, perhaps become a mentor, someone you might be able to work on a project with, and in turn, those you might be able to help with your portfolio of work, or when you move up your ladder.

Hiddles(serioussuit)And depending on where you live, like L.A., every new relationship could be a potential networking opportunity.  If you’ve ever heard the phrase “six degrees of separation” (there’s a game involving Kevin Bacon), it’s the idea that all people in the world can be connected through just six people, and this has never proven more true than in Los Angeles.  Let me give you a little example of one of my “six degrees”.  Let’s say I want to connect with dreamy Tom Hiddleston.  (You know what that means…picture time!)  My sister knows an attorney who represents a man who’s father worked on The Avengers.  Only four people stand between us.  Then Hiddles to the lovely Benedict Cumberbatch – five.  Actually three, if I take another route.  And back to Hiddles would still be four. You get the idea.  So let’s put this into a business perspective.  Any executive, producer, publisher, what-have-you is only a few people away, if you can figure out the path.  So every time I meet someone new, I put on my best face, pull out the best conversation skills I have (both speaking and listening), talk about my work and theirs, and then give them my card (and hopefully receive one in return).  This is how you start building your rolodex (yes, that’s an old school term) or contact list.Benedict(B&W)

It is after this initial meeting that you must take the next important step, the “follow up”.  Depending on how your conversation advanced, you may need to send a sample of your work, you may just want to say “it was nice meeting you”, if other information was exchanged, a “thank you” might be in order.  The point of the follow up is to keep you fresh in their mind.  Now this is something to bear in mind – don’t abuse the connection.  This new contact you made could be in a wonderful position to help your career, but you don’t want to turn them off by bombarding them with calls or emails.  Tread lightly.  Allow them ample time to reply, taking into consideration their busy daily lives.  It’s easy to become overeager when faced with the prospects of advancement, when those six degrees have been narrowed down to two or one, but business is business.  Treat each new contact with respect, honesty, and professionalism, so that your reputation grows as someone people want to know and work with.

My previous post was on positivity, and I believe that works in conjunction with networking.  Even if you don’t feel it when you’re surrounded by strangers in a new environment, staying positive and being friendly is infectious.  People are drawn to good vibes, and even if it’s a temporary façade, do your best to maintain it in public and who knows who you’ll meet.  I try to keep this in mind every time I leave the house, in particular, because I recently met one of my neighbors who is also a director and we’re meeting for coffee next week.  Who knows where the connection will lead, but if I want my career to go to the next level, I have to be open to the possibilities.

I hope this was helpful, and as always, I wish you all the best of luck!

Staying Positive

HappyEmoticonThere’s a reason life is referred to as a roller coaster, or a merry-go-round, because the uncertainty, the highs and lows, and the sometimes nauseating experiences we encounter on a daily basis leave us either winded or reveling in those moments.  And sometimes it’s hard to maintain a positive outlook when everything you encounter is telling you to expect the opposite.  Most of the battle is uphill, with numerous peaks and valleys, and so many twists and turns that you have to wait quite some time to be certain that you’ve made the right choices along the way.  This is also the life of a writer.  And people wonder why we go a little crazy sometimes; between deadlines and submissions and the waiting, our own tendencies to sabotage either ourselves or our work, and the years of hard work we have to put in before we can even be taken seriously…yea, staying positive is definitely a trick that needs mastering.  Here’s an article that may help a bit, 15 Things that Emotionally Strong People Don’t Do.

I’ve always thought of myself as a positive person.  Obviously, as any artist does, I’ve had my low points and questioned if I would ever feel happy again (well that sounded a little dark), because it’s easy to be waylaid by negative outside (and inside) influences and voices that would eagerly delight in our giving up, because it’s easy, and this is why we should be more determined to prove all those voices wrong.  This is why staying positive is such a necessity.  In order to continue down a thankless path, there has to be something that propels us forward.  A reason, a hope, a glimmer of something beyond the darkness, and in order to see it, we have to be willing to stick it out.  How would we ever accomplish any of our goals in the face of such adversity if we weren’t positive (at least in some regard)?

I’ve been (mentally) all over the place the last week.  There’s been a lot going on.  Last week I attended a lecture by a producer whose message was all about “being positive” and creating positive stories, and I left in a great state of mind with a few tools to improve my writing.  The entire time I listened to her speak, I was thinking of my own stories and how they might be altered according to these ideas (and my life, as we are the heroes of our own stories).  I’ll share a few things I learned, in regards to writing:

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.  Stories don’t have to be complicated to be interesting.  She used the example of the Disney film, Tangled.  Every character’s want is clear and obvious.

We love to watch a character who is really good at something, or learning how to be good at something.

Audiences don’t care about a character’s accomplishment, but the moment after between the hero and their loved one (and knowing which relationship is the most important is key to the whole story).  We also love a character’s resilience to overcome great adversity or loss.

Learn to end your story where it is satisfying, not necessarily happy.

Since taking this new outlook on my career; trying to make industry connections, joining writer’s groups, trying to be more social in general, and taking chances, I’ve discovered that the dark cloud has lifted.  The knowledge that I’ve taken control of my life is empowering.  A lot is still left out of my control, as a screenwriter I can not achieve my goals alone, but doing what I can to achieve some forward momentum has helped reiterate this positive mind set.  Then a friend called, inviting me to be a part of a new animated series he’s working on.  I’m so excited by the prospects of a “real” writing job that I had to share.  Hopefully, this is the first step at that turn in the road that I will look back on one day and remember “this is where my new journey began”…Let the uphill battle continue!

I wish you all the best of luck in your endeavors!  And remember, stay positive! 🙂

A(nother) New Year

Welcome to 2014!

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I can’t believe it’s a new year.  I’m sure many of you are thinking the same thing.  Just two hours into the new year and I remembered something I once heard — how you spend your time in those “early moments” of the new year is a great way to determine how you will (want to) spend your year.  I wanted it to be about writing, so here I am, 2 a.m., writing.

I wish you all a Happy New Year!  Hopefully, everyone was safe, had a wonderful time, and is looking forward to the prospects that a new year can bring.  I plan on making some personal resolutions…later.  I’m also planning on reorganizing my professional to do list, creating new goals, and laying a course of action for my career.  My hope for you all is that you will do the same for yourselves.  Let’s make 2014 wonderful; filled with passion, creativity, imagination, fantasy, romance, fun, and productivity.  Let’s have no regrets!

Thank you all for helping me make the last few months (since I started this blog) of 2013 memorable by supporting me and my work.  It really helps the mental well being of this lonely writer to see the likes, comments, and follows as you all lend your time to my ramblings.  I truly appreciate it!

Best of luck to you all and continued success!  xx, Rach

Network: American Zoetrope

When I set out to maintain a blog, it was part of a professional to do list I had created for myself (1 of 25 items, of which approaching my career more professionally was also on the list, hence the list).  Another item was to find and research useful sites that offered either information, sound advice, networking opportunities, or all of the above.  So yesterday I shared Stage 32.  Today, American Zoetrope.  The site was developed by Francis Ford Coppola and is open not just to screenwriters, but all writers, artists, musicians, actors, directors, etc.

The site offers you the opportunity to have your work read by a wide audience and receive feedback, in return you must do the same for others, but a little heads up, there are deadlines and rules.  In the screenwriting “room” you must read 3 scripts and offer feedback before being allowed to submit your own work, and there is a time limit for how long your work will be available (30 days) on the site and how long you have to read and review others (you receive an additional 10 days to write the review).  I think this is a great service as it allows you to be more objective which in turn might help you in your own writing.  Plus, it’s free!  Also, there’s an annual contest (deadline was in September, I missed it by 2 days…).

I hope you find this useful!

Happy Sunday!