Throwback Thursday #2: The Lies We (I) Tell Ourselves (Myself)

Writer.

It’s what I tell people I am.

Most of the time it’s true.

Even in times of writing drought, when I was embarrassed by the day job, I told people I was a writer, as if that would somehow make up for, what I considered, my professional shortcomings.

I’m not just a food server, I’m a struggling artist.

I’ll never forget the time I used an elaborate word in front of a guest and them being surprised that I knew such a word and used it properly in context. How insulting.

Saying I’m a writer is almost like a hall pass. It takes time to make it, so floundering is all just a part of the journey. Working towards that goal for a number of years is expected, but I discovered I was lying. Pretending.

Disney’s Pinocchio

Not intentionally, of course. And really only to myself.

It was a way for me to justify taking another dead end job because a “real” job would be all-consuming and take away from what I really wanted to do. It was a way to excuse the life I had found myself in. It was a way for my friends to think me brave for following my dreams after all these years.

I didn’t want it bad enough. I thought it would be easier. The story is not quite right…yet.

Those are simple lies I could tell myself, in hindsight, as to why “it” hasn’t happened yet, but they’re simply not true.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. It seems I’ve only ever gotten in my own way.

Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s laziness.

Showing up for a dream is hard.

I was searching through old posts for today’s subject matter and came across so many instances of me saying I was going to “do things different this year”. I was going to try a new strategy. Set new goals. Make my mark.

It all led to this.

I’ve had this blog for 8 years now. I can count on one hand the number of times I did something different in attempt to propel my career forward. I write about staying positive, reaching for your dreams, slaying your goals and rewarding yourself for achieving them because I wanted to create a space in which I could inspire others, as well as track my progress.

Progress…ha!

Finding myself regurgitating the same words all these years later…well, let’s just say it was rather eye opening.

If my actions are any indication as to who I am, I am mostly not a writer. But it is who I want to be.

I have wasted years not writing, but I’ve never not said I wasn’t a writer. It’s a big lie I’ve told myself, and one I will not continue to perpetuate.

One of my goals for this year was to discover what aspect of my writing to work on. I thought it might be structure or pacing.

Goodness. What sort of Pandora’s box did I open?!

Apparently, my problem is follow through. I could write all day, every day, but without an actual endgame, there is nothing to propel me forward to making writing all day, every day a reality. A contest deadline isn’t enough. There has to be more. More action. More steps forward. More accountability. More solid, actual progress.

I’ve been on a mission for months now, after that lightbulb moment, and I am proud to report that I’ve finished one story, rewritten two screenplays, and am nearly halfway through writing a new one. But now it’s time to do something about it.

This post (may) hint at my self-loathing for my ability to so long not go after my dream, despite all the quotes to the contrary, but it is the kick in the pants I need to get myself off this merry-go-round. Why would you want to keep reading about my journey if I don’t have one?

I want to throw my fist in the air and say “That all changes today!”, but it physically can’t, there are steps that have to be taken, but I am taking a first step in that direction soon.

A story for another day.

What lies have you told yourself that are keeping you from achieving what you want? Let’s help one another move passed them!

xx, Rach

Quote Monday

by Quotes.pub

I like to share a bit of inspiration at the beginning of the week, but for me and some of you who work a non-traditional work week, it’s like my Thursday.

I suppose the inspiration helps to get me to my weekend, when I can finally decompress and be productive in the ways that truly matter.

This week’s quote is to help us writers with our confidence. Something I know I struggle with. We’re a strange breed. We spend hours beyond counting in solitude, consumed by self-doubt and without any encouragement for years, and then, at some point, are forced to pull a 180 in order to face the world in an effort to become “professional”.

And people wonder why so many writers are unstable. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We already have to be so many different people for our art – the writer, the editor, the audience, the hero, the villain – and then we have to alter ourselves to make it happen by being confident.

Okay.

It’s easy to be confident while I write. I take on the persona of my characters, the ones who are willing to do anything to achieve their goals, who go on big adventures, and do great things. I put myself in their shoes and walk into rooms as if I own them.

In the real world, not so much.

It’s hard to be confident when we’re unsure of the outcome. When we’re new. When we’re in a room with people higher on the ladder with much more sway. Or all the sway. But this is not so much about the physicality of the situation, but instead about shifting our mentality.

We have to be secure in what we’ve done and what we’re ready to put out in the world.

Easier said than done, I know.

Like any new skill, it takes time and practice aka patience.

One way I think of obtaining said “confidence” is knowing what we want for ourselves – our measure of success.

What needs to happen for you to count yourself as successful? There will always be disappointments, but what will give you satisfaction?

I’ve long dreamt of winning an Oscar. I mean, c’mon. How cool would that be? But does the possibility of never winning one diminish my drive? Nope. It’s a big reach, and a political gambit, apparently, so I don’t place my measure of success on having that gold statuette on my mantle. But I do have my dress picked out, just in case. Think of this, Stephen Hawking never won a Nobel, so…you know, perspective.

I also believe that as we continue to meet and exceed our goals, that helps to build our confidence as well. So as we look forward to a new year and the associated objectives we wish to accomplish, tackle those small tasks that lead to bigger ones (and then tackle those too) and reward yourself each step of the way.

Be brave, my fellow writers. Be confident. And 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

The Other Side of Goal Setting

As another year draws to its inevitable end, it’s hard not to reflect on the goals I set for myself and how I fared. Where did I succeed? Where do I need improvement?

As many of you are now aware, The Sis and I had a rough start to the year. That chipped away at a big chunk of productivity overall. Months were lost, and when I realized how soon 2021 would be gone, I was stricken with a sense of scrambling to make my year end goals. This led to exhaustion, and a bit of depression.

The last month or so I have felt little motivation, in any regard. It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t seen the sun in weeks either. How can the sun just not exist here?! It’s too cold. It’s too gray. *Side note, I had a Facebook reminder today that 8 years ago I was basking in 81 degree weather and was rubbing it in the faces of my East coast friends. Today I’m avoiding the fact that I’m now in 14 degrees and my car is buried in the snow.

The day job is mind numbing, and I’ve already said enough on the topic. It won’t change until I make a change, so that one is on me, but compounded with the above, I’m feeling the effects.

I think I also may have been too over-reaching this year in my goal setting. With the big move, a sick pup, and the two above-mentioned downsides, it has been harder than usual to stay the course, so I should have reconfigured the list sooner so as to not feel this disappointed by not being able to mark my goals as “complete”.

So this is where we come to the moral of the story. When determining your goals for the new year, be reasonable, and a little lofty in your aspirations. The “resolutions” are meant to be inspiration, something to strive for. While some of them may feel out of reach or grandiose, the point of making a goal a goal is so we have a measuring stick for our accomplishments. They shouldn’t make us feel bad about ourselves. They should offer us something to work towards; to help us gauge each step in our progress, and that falling short doesn’t mean we’ve failed because at least we were willing to try (and are possibly continuing to do so).

This is something I’ve had to remind myself of, and why this week’s quote struck me.

I allowed my inability to accomplish all my goals affect my feelings of self worth. I have let a number of years slide without a second thought as to my aspirations, but this year was different. When I had that lightbulb moment about my writing, that newfound desire to follow my dreams resonated so deeply within me, that I think the thought that I couldn’t accomplish a few simple tasks hit me harder. “If I couldn’t finish a movie watching goal, what makes me think I can be a professional writer?” Those two things do not have any bearing on the other, and it was an easy spiral to find myself in as a way of discouraging my progress.

So be kind to yourselves. Set goals, but understand they may take longer than the time we set for ourselves. Celebrate the small steps or accomplishments toward a greater goal. Find people who will continue to encourage you. If you can make changes to the things that are inhibiting you, be brave. And Good Luck!

Here’s to a new year of new goals and to crushing them!

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

Quote of the Week

I had this video of Tom Hiddleston’s “greatest life advice” saved on YouTube and finally gave it a watch this morning. The title was catchy, but let’s be honest, I was watching it for him. But then the video barely showed him, although it did let me listen to him. I feel like some second place prize analogy is relevant here. As he spoke, this was the line that struck me the most because I realized this was the lightbulb moment I had a couple of months ago verbalized by this delightful man.

About two weeks ago, I literally uttered the phrase, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Gracious. I still roll my eyes in retrospect, but I’ve discovered it’s true. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I felt like I had time. Even a few months ago I was still in that deluded mindset.

I think I might be having a mid-life crisis.

Living with The Sis all these years has kept me young. Not only does she support my passions, she encourages them, and vice versa. I’m lucky in that, but maybe, to some degree, that has added to the delusion. I don’t really feel my age, except in the mornings now when my joints crackle as I arise from bed, or when I have caffeine later in the day and it keeps me up, or when I have one more cocktail and feel crappy the next morning because I don’t bounce back like I used to. Yeah, I definitely feel my age in those moments. But it’s when you don’t feel the weight, the burden of time passing, the pressure to pursue your goal with some tenacity lessens.

I’ve always said I was a late bloomer, so here I am, finally…come to the conclusion that time is finite.

Whatever it is you want to do, do it. There will never be the perfect time, and waiting for it won’t help you get any closer to that goal. Obviously if there are some restrictions, financial or the like, the pursuit may be slowed, but there are a number of other things you can do in the meantime. As writers, we can write, but if for some reason that’s not working at the moment we can continue to learn. We can read, we can find a class, join a writer’s group, or watch videos with professionals discussing the craft. If it’s some other pursuit, creative or otherwise, there are starting points for all of them.

One life.

This conclusion is something we all come to in our own time. I’m not trying to force my own revelation upon you, it’s just that I wish my youthful arrogance had not caused me to brush off those pearls of wisdom from my elders, you know the ones – how time flies and how youth is wasted on the young – those are actual life lessons, ones you only come to on the other side, and they’re ones I wish to give you honest insight into in the hopes that you will reflect and decide how you want to pursue your own goals.

There are so many things I want to do, and have put off under the guise that “I’ll do them later”, but am now realizing I might not ever get the opportunity to. Another wasted pearl that I am now learning the truth of, “In the end you only regret the things you didn’t do.”

For Tom Hiddleston, he learned early on that his approach to becoming a professional actor wasn’t working for him, and so he changed his perspective and then pursued his goal relentlessly (and could he be a better example?). I wish that for all of us. Sooner than later. So that we can enjoy the fruits of our labor. ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you want to listen to how Hiddles inspired me today, here’s the link.

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

I did it.

I finally wrote two of the most encouraging words for a screenwriter:

Fade Out.

The troublesome third act, the one I’ve been complaining about (for years) has finally come to a conclusion and I feel a sense of satisfaction, for the first time.

There has always been something off about the third act, no matter how many versions I tried, it was never right, and then I got that advice at AFF, and although that was nearly two years ago now, it finally all came together. Whew.

The two years is not ideal, nor acceptable in the real world – I still have the luxury of being a non-professional – but it is apparent that the time was necessary to get it right. It’s also apparent that I need some fellow screenwriters in my life.

When I wrote those two little words this morning, the feeling of accomplishment was such a relief, rather than the feeling of depression I recently felt at the end of the other story I had been working on. This has been my baby, for longer than it should have been, but after a rewrite or seven, I look forward to watching it go out into the world. It’s long overdue.

This particular story is special to me. It has changed so much over the years, but the heart of it has always remained the same. And I have high hopes for it, so it is with some trepidation that I’ll send it out, crossing my fingers that it will be well received, but that’s later.

For now I am going to relish the moment. Maybe do a little celebratory dance.

I often see these quotes that say to “trust the timing”, etc. and I sort of thought it was all bullish*t, but a few things needed to happen to get me to this place, and I wouldn’t be the writer I am now without that journey. I am planning to rewrite all of my scripts in order to prepare for next year’s submission season, and the ideas I’ve had, I’m not sure I would have had them prior to all this. Well, I suppose that’s obvious as I’m having them now…so here I am, spewing the same line.

If you are struggling, find someone you can bounce ideas around with, and trust that the story will find its way.

I wish you luck! Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

A few weeks ago, I mentioned how I had felt this mental shift towards my writing. I suddenly felt this desperate need to get my work out into the world. Maybe it’s because I’m in a terribly monotonous, uninspiring kind of job, and at my age, I thought I’d be in a different place on so many levels. Maybe it’s because I feel another birthday looming on the horizon, and again, I thought my life would be different at this point.

I have long struggled to maintain focus and momentum where my writing has been concerned. I think this was a byproduct of my youth – thinking I had time. Another one – believing I had to be inspired to write.

I’ve always been a late bloomer, doing things in my own time. That’s why, after so many years of aimlessness, I think it finally clicked. I had to get here to know it’s not where I want to be.

I feel it. It’s different now. I’m different now.

After I pulled myself out of the mild depression I was experiencing from finishing one of my stories, I turned my attention to the troublesome 3rd Act of one of my screenplays that I have labored with many, many times. This is the act I didn’t know how to finish, for some reason have never known how to finish, but came to me during the quiet, meditative state I was in during one of my yoga practices recently.

It’s flowing, and I’m feeling satisfied with it, for the first time. Now that’s a feeling to relish.

So many things had to happen for this to come about. I had to meet a certain writer at AFF who gave me sound advice. But I had to be at a particular point in my life to be able to attend. And he had to be standing in front of me while waiting for our coffees so that I could be bold enough to speak with him – something I may not have been brave enough to do had I not taken the soul-sucking job that helped me develop certain skills.

I had to experience more of life because this isn’t a story I could have told in my twenties.

I had to realize that saying I’m a writer doesn’t mean as much as being a writer because it was just lip service for a long time because I was embarrassed about whatever job I had and it was a way of making myself sound better.

Some of this is for one particular story, but it all boils down to this:

I had to finally decide that my writing matters.

You don’t have to wait until you’re in your forties to come to this realization, but as I mentioned, I’m a late bloomer. This is my journey, and goodness, has it been a long, rough ride at times. I think, for those of us who struggle, we just have to come to this conclusion for ourselves, and I believe much of this comes down to timing. No matter how many quotes your read or pin to your wall, or how many experts tell you the same thing, we have to make the decision, when we’re ready.

It’s a state of mind. It’s perspective.

Some people are fortunate to follow their path without much hesitation, while others have to find themselves in a low place, maybe even a place of desperation to discover if their passion, their art matters. However you come to the conclusion, I hope you grab it with both hands and run wild!

Best of Luck! And Happy Writing!