Writer’s Slump

I’ve been quiet…for a while. Initially it was because I was focused on my work. My real work. I’m still disconnected from the day job since the incident back in February, so at least there’s that. It still takes up a lot of time and energy, just the same. But then a series of mental hits soon followed and I lost my mojo. I’m second guessing myself. I don’t write, even when I want to. I don’t know how to fix some of my story issues, I’m feeling depressed, and I’m just not writing.

I leave for the Austin Film Festival in the wee hours of the morning and I had this huge laid out plan for how I was going to be prepared for it. I was excited and ready to take on the challenge, and then, in the blink of an eye, the passion disappeared. No matter how many quotes about being positive and goal oriented, fearless and creative I read or post, nothing is cracking this current mood.

Yes, yes, I know that failure is a part of the process, but I feel like I’ve been struggling for a long time, when I know, in reality, with all the spurts of inactivity, it’s only been a few years that I’ve been actively pursuing a career. This year’s screenwriting competition season offered me nothing. With only one more competition awaiting announcement, I sort of feel like… I wasted a lot of money. I love the story I submitted, and it’s not to say that someone else won’t feel the same way I do about it in the future, but the lack of upward mobility was less than encouraging.

I don’t know why I want to rant about this. I’m guessing that sometimes we all feel like this, and maybe it would be helpful for other struggling writers to realize they’re not alone. We all hit walls along this creative path, but if it’s truly what we want to do, then I guess, after some moping, we’ll get off our asses and get back to it.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Because I only have tonight to shift this mentality and take advantage of this huge step I’m taking. And even though it may not sound like I’m excited, I am, deep down, and I’m sure everything will change once I board that plane and the realization hits of what it is I’m going to do.

I’m going to my first screenwriter’s conference!

I plan to discuss the conference day by day and hopefully impart some of the wisdom and helpful tips I learn. I’m hoping to get my mojo back, be inspired, and feel empowered, as well as make some writer friends who understand this journey.

So before that happens, what do you do when you hit a writer’s slump?

Quote Monday on a Tuesday

Although yesterday passed before I had an opportunity to post, it’s still early enough in the week to share some inspiration. ¬†In fact, today is my Saturday, so if you work odd shifts like I do, then it really doesn’t matter what day you choose to celebrate #MotivationMonday. ūüėČ

BeliefInSanta

We are our biggest critics, so it’s good to be reminded that we can also choose to be our biggest supporters. ¬†No matter what you’re passionate about, if you’re chasing your dream, then believe in yourself that you can and will make it happen. ¬†In the end, should we succeed or fail, it is up to us.

There’s another quote I’ve shared before that I feel is a good bookend for the above, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail.” ¬†Believe in yourself and find out!

Oh, February

Hiddles BdayEven though February is a slightly shorter month, it really did seem to fly by, and it had its moments.  From wanting to quit my job to celebrating my birthday, playing in the snow and buying a new computer, February was a rollercoaster of highs and lows.

Let’s start at the beginning.

I was officially written up at work for a few small things that could have easily been solved with a conversation. ¬†At my current employment, they only start paperwork when they want a paper trail on people they’re getting ready to fire. ¬†I took the hit hard because their accusations implied they thought I was capable of lying and stealing, among a couple of other not so flattering personality traits. ¬†And the source of it all, the one person I trusted. ¬†The person I share a very small office with.

Needless to say, it’s been a difficult few weeks in the aftermath, but it¬†was also an enlightening moment. ¬†Previously I wrote about having taken stock of my life near the end of last year and realized I had become too invested in a job that I didn’t truly care about. ¬†I wasn’t nearly focused enough on my writing and the career I actually want, so having it reiterated to me so effectively was enough of a boost to shift my attitude and focus.

The following week was my birthday. ¬†Dinner with friends and a numerical reminder that I’m not where I wanted to be by this particular moment in time.

SnowDayThen it snowed. ¬†Like a lot. ¬†So much so that the city issued a snow day, well, technically, a black ice warning. ¬†Now, for those of you who live in places where you have actual winters, you may mock us here in the desert, but the truth is, we don’t see snow very often and we are not at all equipped to deal with it. ¬†It was awesome though.

It was during this confinement that I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy a new computer, something I had been deliberating for months. ¬†With the desire to move my writing career forward fueled by the past weeks’ infuriating nonsense, paying a pretty big penny for a new piece of equipment that’s meant to help me suddenly became the easiest decision.

Keeping up the momentum I entered two more screenwriting contests and started the whole “get my professional portfolio in order before the big screenwriting conference”. ¬†Yes, I am going to attend my first conference this fall during the Austin Film Festival.

I’ve found that when we get comfortable, things slide. ¬†I know I’ve had this conversation with myself a number of times in the past, getting my sh*t in order, but then my job gets in the way. ¬†In some way or another. ¬†It’s usually my major source of ire, and whether I ¬†have a job that sucks and spend too much time looking for another, or invest too much and lose focus on what really matters, I get comfortable.

The now tenuous work situation has me looking at things differently. ¬†Maybe my increased maturity ūüėČ is also helping to streamline my focus. ¬†I don’t want to regret not taking this chance. ¬†I don’t want to only ever say I’m a writer without anything to show for it. ¬†And while I’ve said this a time or two before, something’s different now.

Sometimes we have to let things goAfter shedding a number of tears because the higher ups insulted my character, I said¬†some words aloud on the drive home that were meant to give me perspective, and they did just that. ¬†And that’s when I felt it. ¬†The shift. ¬†I literally felt a detachment occur.

As clich√©d as it’s going to sound, life continues to put us into situations that we may not understand at the time, but are meant to help propel us in the right direction when we finally realize the pattern. ¬†This is my moment of discovery. ¬†It’s time to take advantage of it.

What Kind of Screenwriter Are You?

In my time of slack, I accumulated hundreds of emails that required at least a fleeting glance. ¬†In my time of focus, I think I’ve cut that number down to about 60 that will require a slightly longer look-see. ¬†Not too bad given the short amount of time dedicated in that direction. ¬†During this time, I came across a personality quiz for screenwriters from Stephanie Palmer’s Good in a Room site.

writingmemeI feel like I know who I am as a writer. ¬†I don’t outline much; I “generally” know where it’s going to go though, before I sit down.¬† I like happy endings, my characters are often sarcastic and they’re always do-gooders (the protagonists anyway), and because of my genre choice, I have some freedom to let my imagination run wild. ¬†I listen to my characters. ¬†I alternate between procrastination and binge. ¬†I like to write some things by hand (my fanfiction has almost entirely been written by¬†writermemehand, oddly enough), but the computer monitor allows me more space to “see” (hence, all my screenplays have been written via the modern age). ¬†Plus I type much faster than my hand can write to keep up with my¬†brain (which is why some of my fanfiction looks like chicken scrawl).

I realize that my style of writing will some times write me into corners, but often¬†ideamemetimes, I discover alternate paths and ideas that I never would have seen had I not allowed my story to just unfold. ¬†I have literally found myself astounded with what I’ve unearthed this way.

So I wasn’t surprised by my results upon taking the quiz – Gardener Heartwarmer. ¬†Even the name sounds right. ¬†Here are some of the highlights from the break down:

  • You are good at generating new ideas and following them courageously wherever they lead. You work best when they have the time and the confidence to allow their creativity to spring forth without judgement.
  • You combine new ideas in unusual ways and can make unexpected, quantum creative leaps. You also function well when ideas are in a murkier state ‚Äď and this is often the case when a screenwriting project is in earlier stages of development. ¬†You create strong, complex characters and stories which contain emotionally powerful moments ‚Äď the cinematic moments we remember forever.
  • Drama requires conflict, and this means putting characters in the worst possible moments of their lives. This can actually be difficult for you because you are experiencing the emotional journey of your characters so poignantly.

And then there were a few helpful tips.  This one, in particular, struck me:

Your creative work is going to take you to some deep, dark places. Make sure you’re writing at the right time of day (or night) so that you have the freedom and the strength to go where you need to go.

I used to like to write at night, when the world grew quiet. ¬†The Sis would be asleep with the furkids snuggled up beside her, my phone was silent, and there was less likely to be something to sidetrack me because The Sis was asleep and I didn’t want to disturb her. ¬†I’ve been trying to write during the day, and I find too many distractions. ¬†I need to get back to the old routine, where I can be more productive.

So, are you ready to learn how well you know yourself as a screenwriter?  Take the quick, six question quiz here.  Share your results below.

I Think I’m Having a Midlife Crisis

MidLifeCrisisThe next birthday is still a little ways off, and while I’m not that uncomfortable with the number itself, I am a little with the lack of achievement thus far. ¬†I’ve been having a number of thoughts that really only lead to one conclusion…I must be in the midst of my midlife crisis.

No, I’m not compelled to buy a sports car or start¬†something with a piece of eye candy half my age, although I’m not opposed to either, ūüėȬ†SnoopyMidLifebut I have been thinking a lot about spirituality, my purpose, and vainly, my legacy.

I also want to cut off all my hair and do something I’ve always been too afraid to do, I want to buy a house, stop hoarding boxes in anticipation of yet another move, paint the walls and make the space my own, and at the same time I want to run away and see the world because I’m not completely weighed down by responsibility.

Maybe some of this has to do with the fact that suddenly because I have insurance, my¬†body had decided to fall apart. ¬†My eyesight is getting worse, I’m fairly certain I have rheumatoid arthritis, and I have tears in the plantar plates of my feet. ¬†I mean, c’mon.

Sorry, back to the topic at hand.

I’ve been watching Joseph Campbell’s mini-series, “The Power of Myth” on Netflix, which I highly recommend to any writer, for the purpose of continuing my education. ¬†I’ve been struggling with a mythologically infused screenplay’s third act for some time, and thought I might find inspiration by “taking a class” with the master. Campbell is known for his books, The Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Hero’s Journey, in which he discusses the history of storytelling and the evolution of myths in cultures around the world.

Some of his comments relate to various religions, and even before watching the series, I had been entertaining the idea of studying different theologies more in-depth to not only have a better understanding of them, but to also open my mind up to the possibilities. ¬†I write stories of fantasy; a genre that allows a writer to explore real world topics in an alternate setting, and knowing more of the world can only enhance one’s writing.

Which then led me to rethink my purpose. ¬†I want to be a writer. ¬†Let me rephrase that. ¬†I want to be a professional writer, and yet I have been doing very little to cultivate that goal. ¬†My day job is getting in the way, and slowly, as time is passing, I’ve found that I’m liking it less and less. ¬†Another sign I think I’m amidst the “mid-life”. ¬†I was fairly content, not that long ago, but I’ve been rethinking the hours, which are erratic, and what it is I’m doing with the bulk of my day. ¬†To sum it up, I help people party and ensure their celebration in our venue goes smoothly. ¬†What?! ¬†I don’t even like people.

These thoughts then led to my legacy, and what I would leave behind should my time run short. ¬†Yeah, I’ve been having those thoughts too. ¬†The Sis works for the Coroner’s office, so death is a common subject in our house. ¬†And then someone we both admired, someone, despite his advanced years, a person we hoped to meet, passed away. ¬†Stan Lee. ¬†Seeing the outpouring of affection for not just him, but the legacy he created, struck a chord in me. ¬†Vanity reared its head – I want to be remembered.

Is that so wrong?

I want to create characters that people will admire, and make fanvids about.  I want people to ship my characters, and tattoo my symbols on their bodies.  I want to create worlds that will long survive me and be studied in film classes for years to come.

It’s pure vanity, but I realized that with age comes the confidence to be honest. ¬†At least for me. ¬†I haven’t always had this, and often times I was afraid to say exactly what I wanted for fear of the reaction, but f*ck it. ¬†If I can’t be brave in my own post, where will I be?

Now, I’m not saying I want to be famous. ¬†Visit any social media site and you’ll find that I don’t use my own likeness for the profile picture, but the truth is, I want my life to have meaning, and for me that’s through my work, my writing.

I’m tired of telling people I’m a writer, then being asked if I’ve published anything, because how can I call myself a writer without some accolade, so I have to rephrase and tell them I’m a screenwriter, so publishing doesn’t work the same way, and so I get that pity look, like, you’re over 40 and you think you’re still going to achieve your dream?! which then makes me angry and productive for about a week because I’m going to show them, and then the momentum diminishes and here I am, over 40 and angry anew that I haven’t accomplished what I intended for myself.

MidLifeRecreation

No wonder I’ve been escaping into video games. ¬†I’d like to say it’s the measurable progress, but that’s not entirely true. ¬†There’s so much involved on a hero’s journey that is lacking in my own life, and so, during the last couple of weeks I’ve had an interesting internal dialogue.

I’ve been reevaluating all my writing, I’ve been creating a bucket list, and I’ve come to some conclusions. ¬†One being that maybe this whole “midlife crisis” thing doesn’t have to be a negative. ¬†If I’m feeling the impulse to make changes, move forward, and get off my ass to actually work towards my goal, I should embrace it. ¬†Like the picture says, it’s my midlife re-creation.

Watch out, world!

Rachael Goes on Vacation

IMG_1610Yes, you read that correctly. ¬†In all my years updating my blog for posterity’s sake, I’ve never mentioned a vacation, and that’s because there hasn’t been one, in like 16 years.

And yes, you read that correctly as well.

With the new-ish job (that one I’ve been in for a little over a year now), I learned I got vacation pay. ¬†What?! ¬†I haven’t had that in ages, and it wasn’t even a thought it was available to me. ¬†Side note, if I ever really paid attention to my paychecks, I would’ve seen the accumulated vacation time. ¬†Second side note, I don’t consider little weekend or even week-long getaways to visit family or friends “vacation”. ¬†Sometimes, that’s more work than work. ¬†And remember last year, when The Sis and I went to LA to visit our family, and my new car got broken into and all our stuff was stolen…yeah, good times.

So I decided to spend some of the savings I had been hoarding like Smaug and treat myself to an actual getaway.

The Sis and I talked about where we’d like to go, what we’d like to do and see, and initially, our plans led us to Disney World in Florida. ¬†But goodness is that an expensive trip. ¬†And it sounded like too much work. ¬†All that walking and being around people. ¬†No. ¬†I wanted peace and quiet and solitude and lethargy.

After a recommendation to look into Costco Travel we found what we were looking for…

Hello, Hawaii! ¬†It’s been a while.

Yes, that is a lot of sunsets. ¬†We watched it every night. ¬†It was entrancing. ¬†Because of the way we were situated on the island, we never saw a sunrise, although because of the time change, I was up with it almost every morning. ¬†That was weird. ¬†It also gave me an opportunity to watch a lot of random television. ¬†I’m finally finishing The Office.

It was hot and humid most days, so we pretty much just floated in the ocean or the pool, had pina coladas for breakfast and mai tais for lunch. ¬†We ate very little, because of the heat, so that saved on cost. ūüėČ

We discovered at a neighboring hotel during an off-property excursion that we were actually staying at the same hotel we had stayed at 27 years before on a family vacation. ¬†With my memory, and the fact that The Sis was only 4 then, it was understandable that we didn’t remember it. ¬†In my defense, at least partially, the hotel had changed names.

So, a few things to note as a reminder to myself in the years to come – our rental car was an upgraded version of my current car (made it easy to drive), I wanted to bring home that itty bitty, teeny weeny gecko that visited our balcony, birds flocked to us as if we were Snow White, we saw endangered green sea turtles (there was a reserved spot on the beach for them to rest), a large manta ray, 16th century petroglyphs (the last photo above), and finally it was on this trip that an attempt to eat fish, because, hello, we’re in Hawaii, finally made me turn a corner from a sometime pescatarian to a full on vegetarian because that fish did not like me.

It was a nice getaway, long overdue and not long enough. ¬†Nearly the moment we returned, I was thrown back into work, full force, and the vacation quickly became a distant memory. ¬†So I guess the only way to get another “fix” is to plan another one, and not let so much time pass before we explore another amazing piece of this big world.

Aloha!

That Time I Chose to Become Rachael C Marek

RCM4yrsIt was a little over four years ago when The Sis and I had a conversation.

We were living in Los Angeles, and I had been struggling for nearly a year to find a job.  No exaggeration, I sent out over 250 resumés and only received three responses in return.

I was miserable. ¬†And while writing should’ve given me some solace, I was too concerned about finding paying work, so every time I was on the computer, I felt guilty if I wasn’t doing that.

I barely wrote a word that year.  One of the main reasons for moving to LA Рfor me to become a professional writer Рand I was failing, spectacularly.

It was then The Sis and I had “the talk”.

She was making good money at her job, and she had already been supporting us, so instead of continuing on in such a futile manner, the definition of insanity, I should change tactics and do what I was meant to – write.

It took a little time to become accustomed to the idea that I was being given free reign to follow my dreams, but I realized that I probably wouldn’t have another opportunity like that again, and so Rachael C Marek was born.

I wanted to create a pseudonym, but I still wanted it to be me. ¬†My name really is Rachael (Hi!), and the C is the beginning of one of my middle names, but the Marek, well, that’s thanks to a character I identified with in a book. ¬†It seemed appropriate.

The above reminder popped up last week and it gave me reason to pause. ¬†Had it really been four years since that pivotal moment?! ¬†It made me wonder what I had accomplished in all that time. ¬†I have some writing to show for it. ¬†I still have big dreams. ¬†I still have stories to rewrite, even more to tell…and although I may still be some distance from fulfilling my goal of being a professional writer, I’m in a better place overall and I think that a big part of that started when The Sis encouraged me to become Rachael C Marek.

She deserves a BIG Thank You for years of support of every variety.

And then there’s all of you. ¬†You’ve been welcoming and encouraging, and although I’ve never met you, and maybe never will, we’ve been a part of each other’s journeys, the ups and the downs, and such a community is important to the lowly/lonely writer, so thanks.

xx, Rach

And Then There Went March

Happy-AnniversaryMarch marked the one year anniversary of a turning point in my life. ¬†I had been struggling for some time before then. ¬†I had been unemployed for ever so long, and a move to help us get back on our feet didn’t really garner us any reward.

Until March.

A former coworker recommended me for a job.  From how she talked about it, it was a good one.  And it was.  I was able to buy a car, start putting away for a savings, pay off some debt, and stop worrying about every penny (although, too long worrying about every penny has made me a bit of a miser).

And then I got promoted.

The money wasn’t as good (because any time you move from getting tips to not you’re going to feel it), but it created a path to doing something else, something more. ¬†And I like it. ¬†And I’m good at it.

My boss has become a friend, the work, while generally remaining the same from day to day, varies during events, and I’m meeting people in an industry I always thought would be fun to be a part of. ¬†They’re kind and thoughtful – like on my birthday. ¬†They bought me a cake and gathered around to sing. ¬†Some of them even took me out to dinner and began planning a road trip to help me get my writing career on track. ¬†See, thoughtful.

That’s the work-financial side of life. ¬†The creative side finished the next chapter in the Dragon Age fan fiction series. ¬†What started off as a simple Writing Prompt exercise has grown into 123,000+ words about a girl’s journey to save the world (while falling in love, of course).

The strange thing about fan fiction, for me anyway, is that because the characters aren’t mine, I just sort of write. ¬†It’s freeing and uncomplicated, and that freedom led to a chapter of 41K words that I didn’t outline or plan. ¬†I just wrote it, with very little forethought or editing, and it’s my most well received work on AO3. ¬†And, it’s non-canonical. ¬†So while yes, the characters aren’t mine (except for the protagonist), the story is and that’s a huge boost to my writing ego.

In my own work, I agonize over every word, so there are some days I may only write a page, and that’s a screenplay page – there’s a whole lotta white on those pages.

So March turned out to be pretty good. ¬†I’m in a better place overall and that’s encouraging for the year ahead.

I hope you all are well and still reaching for your goals!

xx, Rach

The Not-So-Impending Birthday Blues

DW10Birthdaycard

My birthday is in three days.

((wince))

Ever since my 30th birthday, back in two-thousand and something or other, I’ve had a sort of distant, disinterested relationship with the celebration of my birth. ¬†Honestly, there are a few people who chose to ruin the day versus letting it pass and ruining the following day, so after a few slights, I stopped looking forward to them.

They haven’t all been bad though.

And the last year, despite some rough spots, was pretty good overall, and even though the number associated with this year’s birthday is a strange number to admit to (like, I can’t really be this old, right?!), I’ve realized a few things that really only come with age.

  1. I don’t care if everyone likes me.
    • It used to bother me if I learned there was someone who didn’t like me. ¬†Why? Because I’m a sweet princess, and what’s not to like? ūüėČ ¬†Then it was my goal to make them like me. That was then. ¬†This is now. ¬†There’s a woman at work, who thankfully, I don’t see very often. ¬†She likes to be nice to my face and then talk a whole lotta nonsense behind my back. ¬†And I’m not her only target. ¬†She’s about 50, and I find this kind of behavior juvenile. ¬†I say good morning when I see her, half the time she ignores me. ¬†Fine. ¬†Whatever. ¬†I’m not going to stop being nice because she’s clearly petty and jealous. ¬†Before I would have gone out of my way to win her favor, and now, I’ve realized some people just don’t deserve that kind of attention. ¬†It’s a waste of my time, which is precious the older I get, and the refreshing thing is, it really doesn’t bother me. ¬†What an odd thing to discover.
  2. I’m comfortable in my own skin.
    • While I feel I have a few pounds to shave off – I mean, almost everyone I know feels this way – I’m comfortable with who I am. ¬†I’m 6′ tall, and I’m currently about 170 lbs. ¬†Even when I was working out last year fairly consistently, the scale didn’t change. ¬†Of course the distribution did, but I realized, like my age, it’s just a number. ¬†I’ll never get back to my high school volleyball playing days, and I’ve accepted that. ¬†Am I still holding on to that one pair of pants I’m striving to fit back into? ¬†Uh, yeah. ¬†Everyone woman I know has that pair, but I think we’re all hanging on to them out of some twisted sense of nostalgia.
  3. I let my geek flag fly.
    • I don’t think I was ever embarrassed to admit the nerdy or geeky things I liked as a kid (kids are fairly shameless, after all), but as with the natural progression from child to teen, the desire to fit in with the people whose opinions wouldn’t matter the moment we took that first step in the graduation processional seemed rather important in those early days. ¬†Then geek became cool, a sort of badge of honor, and joining a fandom became an open door to making the kind of friends who not only understand you, but are the kind of friends you make for life. ¬†Star Wars aside, saying you play video games or want to cosplay will draw out the kind of people you want to know. ¬†Well, that is, if that’s your cup of tea. ¬†I proudly admit to writing fan fiction and getting a geek tattoo with The Sis, and because I’m comfortable in my own skin and I don’t care what people think, I’m not embarrassed to admit to much anymore.
  4. I’m happy on my own.
    • I always thought, and intended, to get married and have a family. ¬†It’s what you’re “supposed” to do. ¬†But I was never fond of the whole dating thing. ¬†And the older I got, the less inclined I was to follow in such a tradition. ¬†Then, when I was about thirty, the man I was dating at the time, yes, one in the same who ruined my birthday, and I had a pregnancy scare. ¬†As the title of my blog suggests, I have a terrible memory, but I remember that moment clearly, as if it happened last week. ūüėČ ¬†It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least. ¬†I was turned
      off to the whole relationship idea for years after; he was not a nice human being. ¬†And then I got to a point¬†where I had built a life I enjoyed, and knew it would take a special kind of person for me to want to mHiddles Bdayake room for them, and as of this post, I have yet to meet such a one. ¬†(Except you, Hiddles. ¬†I’d give up…hmm…well, we’ll have to talk about it. ;P) ¬†Besides, two of my beloved icons, Elizabeth I and Jane Austen, never married. ¬†Everyone still wants to set me up, but it’s nice that the stigma of the “spinster” has gone out the window and people accept me for the happy single I am.

So what does all this rambling mean?

Getting older has its benefits, and it’s a gift not afforded to everyone.

So, I’m not not looking forward to my birthday this year, in fact, I think I’ll do my best to embrace it. ¬†There’s a lot to look forward to because I have BIG plans this year!

Ramble over.

xx, Rach

p.s. Thanks for being along for the journey!