Quote of the Week

One of the big goals I had for myself this year was to meet with screenwriting coach, Lee Jessup. I wanted to speak with someone who knows and works with writers, is part of the industry, and could offer me insight as to whether or not I was on the right path.

I received wonderful feedback with only one rather sizable problem that needs attention.

I need writer friends. In particular, screenwriter friends.

Gasp! I have to be social? Isn’t that one of the perks of being a writer? To be antisocial? With purpose? ((wink))

I haven’t been part of a writer’s group since I left LA over seven years ago. I enjoyed that group. There were a number of published or soon-to-be published authors, but no other screenwriters surprisingly, given our proximity to Hollywood, so while a supportive, friendly group, I still didn’t have anyone who understood my specific needs.

I’ve known for quite some time that I needed to make at least a few screenwriter friends, it was one of the reasons I attended the Austin Film Festival Writer’s Conference a few years ago. And I did, sort of. I met a number of screenwriters who I now interact with on social, but there were two women who I befriended that I have actual conversations with outside of that, but we live in different parts of the country, so it takes effort sometimes to keep in touch.

I asked one of them to give me some feedback on an early draft of my pilot, and she did not disappoint, but I can only ask that of someone so many times. Especially when we only talk a few times a year.

I need to branch out.

It’s something we all need. Support. Alone with our words for months on end, it’s no wonder why other people consider us “crazy”. Sometimes I can’t look at the thing I’ve been working on anymore because I can’t see the forest for the trees. We need another pair of eyes. We need someone, or a lot of someones, who understand our mindset, our struggles, our craft. We need people to hash out ideas with, people with a wide range of experience and knowledge of our field, and people who share our passion.

I think people in other vocations, non-creative pursuits, have an easier time finding others like them. When I worked in event management, it was easy to become friends with DJs, wedding planners, and photographers. We were in an industry where opportunity allowed for us to repeatedly interact, and that’s why so many writers, I think, congregate to areas where they’re most likely to run in circles with other like-minded individuals.

So we’re moving back to California next year. Yep. Lee helped me to understand that it was an integral part of my journey. It was inevitable. She assured me that I’m ready for the next step, but need to make connections, and the best way to do that is to be in a place where they’re more readily available.

So I’m putting out the call! I’d like to do something like that here, now. Do you have any tips on making (screen)writer friends? Are you part of a writer’s group you’d recommend or are you considering starting one? Please share below, and let’s start building that community!

Happy Writing!

Throwback Thursday #1 : Articles on Screenwriting

Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels.com

Ages ago, I shared this article from Script, a site for screenwriters, called Notes from the Margins: Every Article on Screenwriting You Never Have to Read Again by Danny Manus. I have read and saved a number of articles in my pursuit of becoming a professional screenwriter, and this one, in particular, reiterated how contradictory so many of them are. It will make you think twice before clicking on another.

How is a newbie ever to make heads or tails of it all? Sometimes, it’s just too much.

This year I decided to clean up the folder with said saves because some of them are years old now, and while probably still worth reading, at this point, I’ve most likely come across the information elsewhere. Plus, as the article above makes clear, most of what’s out there is bullsh*t.

Screenwriting is an elusive career path. There is no direct, one-way only entry. It’s not like any other creative pursuit, let alone traditional ones. A novelist can write a book and seek out a publisher or self-publish. A painter can create a work of art and put it on display. If a screenwriter wants their work “out there” we’re often told to make a short.

I don’t want to be director. I don’t think. So that means I have to find a director…?

I barely have any writer friends as it is.

So those already in the know share what they’ve learned, what trends they’re “seeing”, and basically utilize their position to further their own careers via writing guest posts, pushing their screenwriting books, classes, or services, and offering “advice” on how to break in.

Yes, I’m using quotes to reiterate how inconsequential so much of that advice truly is, especially when you keep scrolling and read advice to the contrary, as the above article highlights.

Like any advice, good or bad, take it with a grain of salt.

I’m also learning that the more time I spend reading the “should and should-not” posts is just more time taken away from doing what I actually should be doing – writing.

If you’re interested in researching a particular subject, like screenwriting contests, of course, seek those out, from reputable sources, but maybe be more discerning with the content you subscribe to and how much time you spend on subjects that don’t currently relate to your situation.

How’s that for advice? Some I need to follow myself. I’m off to delete!

So now that you’ve read my post about articles and their potential uselessness, thank you very much, by the way, close this window and go write! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Happy Writing!

First Quote of 2022

2022. We’ve come to the years that sound like those in sci-fi movies. I’m still one of those people who refers to the 90s like they were the last decade, not well over twenty years ago.

Ugh. It’s horrifying. Mostly because of the implications.

With the start of a new year and all the potential and possibility that comes with it, let’s start it off with a big ol’ dose of inspiration. If the last two years have shown us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t waste our lives being unhappy, going through the motions, and not following our dreams.

There is rarely ever going to be a “perfect” time to start a new journey, we just have to choose to be brave, and find any small measure toward making it happen.

Perhaps you’ve been considering your New Year’s resolutions and what you’d like to accomplish this year. While you do that, think on the times when you’ve felt most “alive”, at peace, or just generally happy and find a way of integrating more of that into your day-to-day.

It doesn’t just have to be about writing.

During yoga on New Year’s Day, I had to keep brushing aside three thoughts that repeatedly wanted to be known, all related to writing. But that’s me. There are other things I want to accomplish, things I know that would bring me joy, so I’m considering how to pursue those as well. But that’s a post for another day.

What is your heart trying to tell you? Where does your true passion lie?

Think about the people who inspire you – their passion. How can we emulate them?

I wish for us all the courage to follow our dreams and finding opportunities to make them a reality this year!

Best of luck! xx, Rach

Happy Birthday, Jane!

Since I first discovered the works of Jane Austen, I have felt a kinship with her, as all Janeites do. I had just returned from a trip abroad, where I had felt that sensation of going home when I saw England for the first time, and the film Sense and Sensibility was coming to theaters. I am not being dramatic when I say it changed my life.

I empathized most with Eleanor, the elder sister, who like me, had to keep the family together after a dramatic event. The Dashwood girls lose their father, leaving them, and their mother, fairly destitute. Our family returned home from the trip to learn my stepfather had been having an affair, and when things fell apart, I took care of my younger siblings.

While I have great love for Pride and Prejudice, it is Sense and Sensibility that still resonates with me most. I, of course, have lost count of how many times I’ve watched it at this point. I used to watch it whenever I felt the least bit sad, or was hormonal, or just needed my Austen fix. Goodness. That could mean it’s upwards of a few hundred viewings. ((insert surprised face emoji))

From that point on, I watched every film based on her work I could get my hands on. I bought her books. I researched the time period, which in turn began to filter into my own writing. I have a screenplay set in her time period in Bath, where she spent a great deal of time.

While writing that screenplay I made an intriguing discovery. The time periods I am most fascinated by are all separated by 200 years, roughly – the Victorian era, the time of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, Medieval times – and Jane and I were born 200 years apart. I was born in 1975, she in 1775. It was a strange sort of mind bending feeling when I realized this, so the protagonist in that script has a connection to a certain number, which I explore.

When people jokingly ask, “Who is your spirit animal?”, my answer is Jane Austen. I just get her. I mean read some of her quotes:

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.

The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it.

I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them.

Jane Austen

It’s like she’s reading my mind.

So Happy Birthday, Jane! Your life may have been short, but you made a big impact. Not only have you given me something to strive for, delighting and entertaining readers/viewers for centuries, you also remind us to take advantage of the time given to us, to not settle, and to follow our dreams.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Some time ago, around the cusp of the new year, I thought I would write “thank you” messages to all those who have inspired me in some way – an author whose book affected me, an artist whose work moves me, a yoga instructor who is the reason I enjoy the practice. It became one of the yearly goals I set for myself because who wouldn’t appreciate a shout out in appreciation of their hard work? Sometime throughout the year, the thought that I should write them in November came to me because that is when people are “thankful”.

Then November came, and I thought, maybe like the 12 Days of Christmas, I could do the 12 Days of Thanksgiving.

Then that window also closed.

I struggle to find enough time to work on my screenplays at any length, so the grand plan of writing some 30 thank you notes became a rather daunting prospect. Shortening it to 12 seemed more manageable, and yet… This is in no way meant to diminish the importance of any of those I was considering. In fact, as I write this, I’m thinking, “I have 37 days until the end of the year to accomplish this task, and I do thrive under pressure.” ((insert eye roll here))

So let’s strike one off the list: I am thankful for all of You!

You keep me coming back to this space, to stay positive, and to continue striving towards my goals, which in turn I send back to you. It’s a wonderful symbiotic thing we have happening here. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You support my geeky obsessions, you share words of encouragement, and are an amazing circle of creatives to be a part of, so…

Thank you!

For helping me be the best version of myself.

Happy Thanksgiving! xx, Rach

Need a Laugh?

Or just want to nod your head in agreement?

I’ve come across these ecards before. In fact, I’ve saved a number of them on Pinterest, but this one was new and made me chuckle, for how many times did I believe I would remember an idea later?

I now keep paper and pens all over the house, in my purse, and car. I use the note app on my phone for the middle of the night or when I’m at work. If I’m in the car and can’t write something down, I repeat it over and over in my head until I come to a stop. I’ve learned my lesson by letting too many thoughts get away.

How many times have you told yourself this lie? ๐Ÿ˜‰ And do you have any tips on how to avoid this to share?

Happy Writing!

Another Year Already?!

About nine years ago, I had been out of work for a year, had applied for probably 75 jobs or more (I used to remember the exact number) to which I only received two responses, and found myself terribly depressed (and not writing).

Finally The Sis encouraged me to just focus on my writing and build up my career, she would take care of the rest. It was a hard pill to swallow, letting my much younger sister carry the burden of our expenses, but I was no closer to getting a job, and at least I could write.

I had been reading articles for years, knew what I needed to have in my portfolio, and so basically, I started from square one. I wanted to create a pseudonym, create a new identity for the writer side of me, and actually started creating social media handles and a blog under the name Caedan Marek. I liked the name (and spelling of) Aedan, but so did everyone else, and cadence is the flow of sounds, and I’m a writer, hence the combination and eventual conclusion to the first name.

After some time, I realized it didn’t work. At least not for me at that moment. I didn’t want to be in meetings or what-have-you and not hear my given name. My real name is Rachael. Hi! But I would keep the last name. It held special meaning to me and I had decided upon it pretty quickly. I took it from a character in Michael Crichton’s book, Timeline. When I read it, I sort of fell in love with him, Andre Marek. I identified with him. And then stole his name.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you know how I’ve struggled from time to time with my writing here and for the career I desire. Life often gets in the way of the pursuit of a dream only we can see.

So it’s now been 8 years. 8 years?! ((sigh)) I’m not sure if I should be proud or you know, not.

Reflecting on all these years of blogging, my first full year, 2014 was my most productive and most interacted with year. 2015 and 2016 were also pretty good, but then I took a sharp decline in 2017. That’s when I started working at the country club, and I was generally exhausted all the time. 2018 was worse, and then got slightly better in 2019. All while still at the club. Ugh. That place was like an energy sucking vampire. We all know what 2020 was like, and I’m already doing better this year, so there’s that.

Pinterest is my biggest referrer. Ah, thanks Pinterest! You know I love you too! And the writing prompts are my most often viewed posts. I’m glad they’re making themselves useful.

There have been a lot of things I’ve learned and discovered since I started blogging, and I have to thank The Sis for her encouragement and support all these years. We all need someone in our corner, and it is because of her that I will succeed. I felt this shift in my mentality recently. I must be more dedicated to my career goal, as it would basically be an insult to her belief in me otherwise.

So, Happy Anniversary to A Writer’s Discrepant Memoirs & Other Tales! And a big ‘Thank You’ to all of you for your continued support! This has been a place of refuge, where I can geek out, and keep track of my progress, and hopefully, in the very near future, it will be a place I will share the highs and lows on the actual journey to reaching my big dream. Wish me luck! ๐Ÿ˜‰

xx, Rach

A Reason to Celebrate

I feel like I’m in mourning.

Honestly. I feel this sense of sadness at the completion of the first draft of the story I’ve been working on. While I continued to make comments that I was excited to be nearing the end, so I could work on other projects, when I finished writing a few days ago, I didn’t feel that moment of bliss at its conclusion – you know the one – instead, I felt sad.

I’ve been lethargic and had this sort of blah feeling ever since.

I could feel myself dragging my feet a bit a couple of weeks ago, my pace slowing as I knew the end was nigh. It meant I would have to leave the comfort of that world I was so thoroughly enjoying, and I would have to dive into something different and acclimate to the change.

Yes, there are still a few scenes to be fleshed out, and of course, a rewrite or two, but that first draft is you telling yourself the story. You use your heart and feel the emotions, you let the characters be who they want to be. It’s play time. The subsequent work is much different. You use your head and logic, and have to be merciless in cutting away the fluff.

Art in any form is a strange endeavor. We get emotionally tied to our work and then have to look at it as though it’s some sort of creature to be wary of. It’s taken on a life of its own and it’s up to us to rear it. We have to split our creative personality to achieve a better end result. It’s like tough love.

So I’m a mixture of emotion at the moment. I do feel the pride that comes with finishing something, it truly is a reason to celebrate, and I will, in maybe another day or two. This was advice I came upon years ago. When you complete a goal, do something to mark the occasion. Have a celebratory drink, splurge a little, give yourself a pat on the back in whatever form that may take.

And if you’re sad about its end, feel that too.

Writing is one of those outlets that so many people think they can do. How many of us have heard people say that they “have a great story idea” or that they “want to try their hand at it”? As if it were so easy because they can string two words together. Now how many people actually do it?

Be proud of your accomplishments. We’re doing something that makes us happy, often times at the expense of sleep or some other enjoyable thing, and while sometimes maddening, I know that most writers wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s why we keep at it. We can’t help it. It’s who we are. And I know for myself, it was what made me excited to get up in the morning these last few months. Something I never thought to say.

So, it’s decided. Today will be my last day of wallowing. It’s literally time to turn the page on a new adventure.

How do you mark the end of a project? Do you celebrate or mourn? A little bit of both? Commiserate with me. And Happy Writing! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Writing Tip Tuesday #3

There are a lot of reasons a writer’s life is frustrating. I think we can all agree that one of the more disheartening moments for us is when the muse has shown up, we’re writing tenaciously, and then suddenly, our mind goes blank in regards to what should happen next.

The mind becomes a barren wasteland of inspiration. The fingers hover over the keys. The eyes stare off into the distance in vain hope that the answer will reveal itself. A minute passes. Dread sets in. Self-doubt creeps up our spine. Frustration grows until we finally give up.

What a delightful path we’ve chosen.

The other day I was on a roll with my story when I suddenly got caught up in a moment and didn’t know how to proceed. I knew the scene I wanted to go to next, so instead of stopping the flow, I made a note of what I wanted to happen and continued on.

I don’t know where I learned this, but it’s one of those tricks I’ve picked up along the way, sometimes fail to remember its use, but appreciate when I do, so I thought I’d share.

If you don’t want to lose your momentum, but are stalling because of a scene, or dialogue, or what-have-you simply do something like this:

[fight sequence]

* bittersweet farewell

(convo about the past and sudden realization)

I often color code text that needs to be revisited. I’ve even written short paragraphs so I don’t lose the idea or feeling I want to impart. It’s like a sticky note, and it’s a simple trick, one I wish I had learned about years ago – this has been a more recent discovery – because I have wasted a lot of time staring in vain.

Watching that little blinking cursor remind you that it’s waiting can genuinely ruin your productivity, so when you have more time to sit with the difficult, time consuming passage, you’ll have a clue as to what you wanted to write about without having lost your rhythm.

Because if the faucet is on, let it flow.

I hope you find this useful. Feel free to share any tricks of the trade you’ve picked up along the way.

Happy Writing!