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? ūüėČ And do you have any tips on how to avoid this to share?

Happy Writing!

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!

Quote Monday

I have been struggling to reconcile having a mundane job that offers me the freedom to write or finding a new job that challenges me and potentially leaves me little time to chase my dream.

Either choice is exhausting nonetheless.

The monotony of my current job leaves me tired out of sheer boredom but it’s a job I don’t have to think about when I leave and it offers me a lot of time to think on my stories while I’m there. Actually, most of the time I just sing to myself because my trains of thought are usually interrupted a dozen times by customers asking if I work there. No, I just have OCD and need to rearrange this store’s shelves. ((face palm)) I often have time before and after work to write most days, and lately my writing has been all consuming. I make notes while on lunch. I’ve made notes on my phone at stop lights. It’s like a faucet has been turned on and left running.

Not a bad problem to have.

Obviously my concern about looking for something else is that a more “serious” job may take priority leaving me with little time or energy to focus on that which truly matters, and given this new river of inspiration, I don’t want to sacrifice one for the other.

And this is where continuing in menial work leaves me questioning my life choices. I know I’ve discussed this before – probably more than once, so apologies – the mediocrity before success. It’s hard not to want to feel fulfilled by the day job, we spend so many hours there, but if it pays the bills (hopefully) and allows us the freedom to pursue our passion, then isn’t it worth enduring? To some degree, I suppose it is.

It’s a catch-22.

The Sis keeps reminding me of the pros, and most days when I know I have time to write and do some yoga before going in, I feel like I’m already off to a good start. And that probably helps to get me through the monotony.

I truly look forward to the days when writing is the only “job” I have to worry about. ((sigh)) Can you imagine?!

If you’re in a similar position, how do reconcile this disparity? Let’s commiserate together.

Fear of Success

QuestionMarksI’m certain I’ve talked about this subject in the past – the idea that even if our lives are chaotic and unsatisfying, we’re comfortable with what’s familiar, what we know. ¬†Sometimes while¬†striving towards a goal, the unknown can be cause for fear, even if subconsciously.

How do I know this?

I’m pretty sure I created an act of self-sabotage this week, of course¬†without any thought.

I wrote an original TV pilot to add to my portfolio, and I have to say, I’m proud of it. ¬†It took some time to get everything in order, it’s sci-fi with aliens and distant worlds, etc. but when I got into¬†it, I had tons of ideas and I really wanted to spend more time with these characters.

Writing the pilot is among the most satisfying writing I’ve done. ¬†I had a clear image in my head and I wrote it. ¬†I made¬†minor adjustments, but honestly,¬†within five¬†drafts I felt it was ready to be seen.

I sent it to my readers, got positive feedback, and then found a contest to submit it to. ¬†I wasn’t looking for any¬†contests, it was my plan to get everything in order for the beginning of the year, but there was a pilot launch contest from Screencraft and the deadline was fast approaching.

So, why not?!

The Sis went through the script with a fine tooth comb and found all my little grammatical errors and one thing she thought needed changing Рthe name of a fairly inconsequential character.  Agent Six as he had been called, reminded her of something, and it was my goal to not have anything (names, places, expletives) sound too similar to those things I had been inspired by.  If that makes sense.

I had named him Six in honor of my favorite Cylon, but upon a search, Agent Six is a pretty big character on a current running TV series, so I felt it should be changed. ¬†I didn’t have a lot of time to make the change and I got sidetracked during the process…I’m sure you can guess what happened.

I hit submit, got ready for work, and an hour later on my drive it hit me – I hadn’t caught them all.

The Beastie Boys song “Sabotage” has been playing on repeat in my head for days now. (The fan made Rogue One trailer hasn’t helped matters.)

Was this an act of self-sabotage?  Am I afraid of getting what I want?  For all my talk about going after your dreams, am I just putting on a façade?

I am so angry with myself, still. ¬†Yes, it’s a small error, but when you’re¬†hoping to be a professional, the best, most perfect representation of your work should go out into the world. ¬†Does this error deter from the story? ¬†No. ¬†It’s near the end and takes up a fraction of the page, but it’s there, and I know it, and I know they’ll see it.

Sigh.

And now a new deadline lingers on the horizon, and in the back of my mind I have to wonder, am I capable of setting myself up again?  I truly hope not.

I’m not sure how to spin this to be helpful, except maybe to say, “make sure you have the time and focus to rewrite your work.” ¬†Deadlines are great motivators, but¬†let me be an example of what not to do. ¬†Don’t wait until the last minute. ¬†Don’t worry about something inconsequential – it can be changed later if there’s concern. ¬†Plan ahead. ¬†And, I suppose, this quote sums it up perfectly:

Don't be too hard on yourself

Wishing you all the very best in your endeavors!

How to Recover from Burnout

SherlockBoredAs many of you are aware, I like my routine, but something about it recently has created the side effect of “burnout”. ¬†I’ve had little motivation to do much beyond what is¬†absolutely necessary, and even those things have taken great effort.

I’ve been tired. ¬†I don’t feel compelled to write anything. ¬†I haven’t done those responsible things you’re supposed to¬†as a grown up, and it sort of came out of nowhere.

I feel that some of the blame can be placed on the vicarious living I’ve been doing through books and gaming, even my own stories. ¬†All these characters are having adventures, meeting new people, and are seeing amazing sights, while I sit on my butt. ¬†The other day at work, it was yet another slow night and I was writing notes for my fanfiction when the cook asked me if I was writing about my own life.

I couldn’t help but laugh, like a big hearty laugh.

I told him I write fantasy and science fiction, so that didn’t really apply, and then I waved my hand about the bar/restaurant¬†as an explanation. ¬†This is my life, well, my working life any way, and it blows.

We moved back to a city I don’t like to get back on our feet, and all we’ve done is struggle. ¬†I was unemployed in LA for two years, and since taking this current¬†job a year ago, all I’ve done is job hunt, so I feel like I’ve been perpetually searching and sending out resumes¬†for a good job (to no avail) forever. ¬†This in turn affects my writing.

I think it’s this cycle that has caused the burnout. ¬†I’m just frustrated and¬†bored with my life.

Falkor2014Luckily, I do have one thing to look forward to, and it couldn’t be more timely, Gishwhes is upon us.

The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen begins tomorrow morning.  This will be the fourth year The Sis and I take part on Team Falkor.  It is a crazy week of creative endeavors, acts of kindness, nearly impossible tasks, and sometimes utter nonsense that brings together a group of people from around the world with one purpose Рto make a change Рfor ourselves and for others.

So, what does this have to do with recovering from burnout?

The routines we rely on, the normal day to day that sometimes wears us down is something we occasionally need a break from.  This is why vacations are so important for overall well being Рthey tend to relieve all those internal and external pressures we put upon ourselves and bring us back to our equilibrium while reinvigorating our passions.

But…sometimes we are constrained by our circumstances, and yet we need to find¬†avenues we can explore that inspire and invigorate us. ¬†Gishwhes, for me, is the perfect example of that. ¬†It’s challenging and creative, makes you think outside the box, and for the most part, costs very little to be a part of. ¬†Also, the feelings of creativity, inspiration, and kindness last long after¬†the¬†hunt is over.

I’ve been trying to find inexpensive means of enjoying things in my current city, and you’d be surprised what you can do as a local. ¬†Often times museums, shows, even restaurants offer special deals for locals. ¬†Some movie¬†theaters offer specials on a certain day of the week – here in Vegas we have $5 Tuesdays. ¬†Some communities offer a number of free events through the county government, the library, or¬†the arts district, you just have to do a little searching.

It’s no vacation to a tropical island or London, but it’s a step in the direction of doing something different.

If you’d like to¬†a little break from the monotony, and¬†maybe escape the threat of burnout, Team Falkor is always looking for unofficial team members. ¬†Sometimes, an item calls for a specific landmark somewhere in the world, or the use of technology most of us don’t have access to, or something so random we¬†have no idea how we’ll accomplish it, and yet, you could be the answer.

Next week will be a little unconventional, so keep an eye out for the unusual requests, and if you’d like to help, let me know, and join me in saying goodbye to burnout!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Why Are Series Endings So Hard to Get Right?

HappyilyEverAfterThis post is in regards to shows that know they’re coming to a close, not shows that are cancelled mid-season or not renewed thereby leaving us with a wonderful cliffhanger to ponder for the rest of eternity, or dozens of unanswered questions that will haunt us on our death beds.

After watching the series finale of Dexter, way back in 2014, I wrote a rant. ¬†You can read it¬†here¬†in its entirety, but what it boiled down to was giving the audience a¬†“satisfying” ending¬†while¬†staying true to the¬†characters.

You may be wondering why I’m¬†on another rant. ¬†I’ve finished a few¬†shows recently, all terrible endings, and it got me wondering:

“Why can’t I get a satisfying end?”

*Be forewarned, there will be spoilers ahead for shows Dexter, True Blood, and Lost Girl!  

Let’s take a look at Dexter.

This one still bothers me, years later. ¬†After some time recollecting on Dexter as a character, I don‚Äôt think his character arc found justice in the end. ¬†Dexter was an amazing character to watch grow into¬†a fully realized human – something he didn’t think he was capable of. ¬†After all that time invested, on both sides, to leave him on his own in some podunk town without his family, no less? ¬†Nope. ¬†Wrong.

What would have made a satisfying ending for a serial killer? ¬†Well, clearly there’s a moral gray area here. ¬†Dexter, generally, killed people according to his code, does that mean he should walk free? ¬†Not exactly, but it’s a show. ¬†We watch it for entertainment value, not reality. ¬†I wanted to see him reunite with his son and the woman he loved. ¬†Simple as that.

Then there was True Blood.

True Blood ended in 2014 and I was an avid viewer of the show.  About three episodes into the final season, they killed a character off in such a way, I was turned off completely from finishing the show.  Two years later, finally having access to HBO again, The Sis and I decided to finish it.

What a let down.

From episode one on, Sookie is generally at the center of whatever conflict is happening, but they wrapped the show up in a nice little bow as if nothing bad would ever happen again. ¬†We’ve had 7 seasons of crazy, people. ¬†So what, it was like, they’ve done there time and have earned their peaceful Thanksgiving dinner? ¬†Please.

They killed off a main character, they let another character revert to his old ways, and then, to top it all off, they gave Sookie that normal life everyone thought she deserved Рpregnant by a faceless human husband.  She never dated a human in the entirety of the show because (I want to shout) she can hear their thoughts.

So what would have been a more satisfying ending, you might wonder? ¬†Well, first of all, they should have listened to their characters. ¬†Don’t send them on these unique journeys, only to put them right back at the beginning. ¬†We didn’t hit the refresh button. ¬†What I wanted, was to see these characters 20 years down the road. ¬†It’s a vampire show. ¬†There’s longevity involved.

Finally, there’s Lost Girl.

This Canadian import had a unique premise, and although I felt there was so much more they could’ve done with the show, it was a fun watch. ¬†The show’s premise was the all-encompassing world of fae, centering on the character of Bo, a succubus, who uses her power to help human and fae alike as a sort of detective/champion. ¬†The show was episodic, but had an overall theme each season.

After multiple seasons with hints to her power, we were treated to about 5 mins in the series finale of her going nuclear, but not quite all the way, and then they wrap it up a short time in the future.

Another let down.

As the fae on the show live for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, I would’ve really liked to see these characters in the future, not just hinting at an old foe just recently beaten. ¬†Bo was in love with two people on the show, Lauren, a human, and Dyson, a shifter. ¬†Dyson’s character could love others, but could only truly give his heart to one person, and he chose Bo. ¬†Bo chose Lauren in the end. ¬†As human lives are relatively short in comparison, I would’ve liked to have seen a reunion of Bo and Dyson in the future. ¬†He was a wonderful character, and I feel he should’ve received his happily ever after too.

I’m not looking for just “happily ever afters”, but I am looking for satisfying endings. ¬†As¬†TV shows go, I understand there are multiple writers and¬†that stories progress in different ways as seasons continue, but in these examples, I’m not sure they did right by their characters.

What do you think?  Did you like any of these endings?  What other shows annoyed you with their finales?  Which shows ended well?

I’ve been thinking about this in regards to my own original series I’ve been working on, wondering what would be the most satisfying finale. ¬†I may not be in control of that in the end, and that sort of makes me nervous, but it doesn’t mean I can’t hope for the best. ¬†I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Rise in Shock Value

CapHydra

The internet, and myself included, were all in a tizzy this week with the announcement that in a new comic series, Steve Rogers #1, Captain America is actually an undercover Hydra agent.

Nope.

No.

Not having it.

Fans were quite rightly upset and for good reason. ¬†Captain America has stood as a moral icon, defending the defenseless against tyranny and oppression, and choosing the right path, regardless of personal cost, for 75 years. ¬†He’s the good guy, with no hints at all to his character to the contrary. ¬†Many fans believe this is just a publicity stunt, shock for shock value alone, and I agree.

With his rise in popularity due to two¬†wonderful¬†films in the MCU, I can imagine that there was a meeting in which execs and writers came up with a few “what if” scenarios, but as a fellow writer, I can attest to the fact that not all ideas are good ones. ¬†I can’t fault a writer for wanting to take a risk, especially with a character of Cap’s¬†reputation, but taking a character with such a strong moral code and turning that on its head without any warning is just feeding into the mentality that the only way to be relevant is to be shocking.

We, as a people,¬†continually exposed to all manner of craziness via the internet and the rise in dramatic, stunning¬†television, I think, are the reasons behind such bold moves. ¬†In order to be noticed, we’ve resorted to becoming the one-uppers. ¬†Shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and American Horror Story, among¬†others, have risen the bar in the way of surprising their audience, and I thank them for it, but at the same time wonder if it’s not hurting us as well, overall.

We now expect so much more from all our media-going experiences, and this is forcing writers¬†to do the unexpected often without reason. ¬†A scene like the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones had a great deal of build up. ¬†It wasn’t an out of left field surprise, although yes, it was upsetting. ¬†The stage was set, long before we arrived, with¬†bread crumbs left along the way¬†that led us to such an inevitable conclusion.

GoT

This is something as writers we need to be aware of. ¬†We can’t throw in a shocking twist just because – there has to be a reason, motivation, there has to have been set up. ¬†Audiences want to be satisfied, they also want to feel clever, and this is done by offering them morsels and insights they can piece together before the big surprise.

This offers us, as writers, a great challenge to think about the nuances needed to tell our story more effectively.  If we look at the big picture, how can we impress upon our audience what is to come with a little foreshadowing?  Is there a metaphor that could highlight the impending dilemma?  Is there a phrase said by a character early on that offers such insight?  Think of social media and how people dig into their favorite scenes, stories, characters, etc. to find more depth and hidden meaning (I have discovered a number of memes and the like showcasing foreshadowing I missed myself) and think of how happy it will make our audience if we can offer that to them.

I found this writing tip via Helping Writers Become Authors that offers the good and bad reasons to kill a character, but I think it can be utilized in regards to any plot device.

KillingCharacter

Let us not short change our audience. ¬†Let us give them the surprises they deserve; those that mean more because we cared enough to think our story through, and not just another tactic or ploy meant to incite emotion or a reaction. ¬†Let us also not short change our work¬†or¬†our characters. ¬†Be true to them. ¬†They deserve no less…and so does Cap.

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday (on a Tuesday)

I’m not really sure what happened to last week. ¬†I was here. ¬†I was up and mobile, but somehow, my computer remained in a dormant state. ¬†The room which houses it remained dark and almost imperceptible – like that thing you see out of the corner of your eye, and yet when you turn to view it fully, it disappears. ¬†My office was sort of like that, evidently.

And here I am, starting the new week off a day late. ¬†Sheesh. ¬†I think there’s an actual medical term for the state of permanent behind-ness. ¬†If there’s not, there will be one soon, and Marek will be somewhere embedded within that 10-syllable phrase with a picture beside it of me rolling my eyes. ¬†Maybe it will be slightly blurred from me shaking my head…I sometimes like to think it’s Fate’s way of keeping me out of harm’s way. ¬†Eh, it’s as good an explanation as any, I suppose.

YourJourney

Along our journey, we may find it hard not to compare our lives with other, sometimes more successful, or more put together, counterparts. ¬†In turn,¬†there are those who may not grasp what it is we’re chasing. ¬†The above quote is a great reminder that we each have our own path (but may be a little late in getting there).

Don’t let the naysayers derail you from what you truly want to do. ¬†Dream big!

Have a great week!

Quote Monday

I’m going to ramble for a moment, so please bear with me while I vent.

In last week’s Writing Prompt post I mentioned how I was struggling with choices. Before the end of the year, I was doing some hard thinking about plans for the future. ¬†The Sis and I moved back to Las Vegas a little over a year ago for a number of reasons, one being that she finish her undergrad and then we move on. ¬†Unfortunately, she has now found a job she truly enjoys, she’s making friends, and getting herself together. ¬†She’s currently taking the semester off.

It seems unfair to uproot yet again, but I don’t want to stay here. ¬†I don’t like Vegas. ¬†Never have. ¬†I’m tired of moving…we’ve moved so. many. times, but I want to find a place to call “home”. ¬†I’ve only felt that sense of home once, when I traveled to England for the first time. ¬†I felt it¬†before we even landed. ¬†That’s when the obsession began. ¬†And, that’s what I’m looking for. ¬†As much as I’d like to do a final move across the sea, there’s just no way that’s even remotely possible in my current state.

So here’s “the thing”, the thing that’s been lingering at the back of my mind, the thing I never want to say out loud. ¬†I want to be a screenwriter, but all screenwriters know it takes at least 5 years to make any headway (once you legitimately hit the pavement – so I still have about 4 years), and I don’t want to flounder in this state, without purpose, without direction, for upwards of 5 or more years. ¬†I don’t want to hold down a menial job that I loathe until things work out. ¬†Yes, I’m still trying to remain positive, hence the lack of the dangerous “if”.

I want a job I enjoy. ¬†I want to buy a house. ¬†I want to plan for the future but I feel as if I’m destined to remain in this perpetual state of limbo. ¬†It all comes back around to choices. ¬†I’ve made choices that have led me to where I am, but I’m finding it difficult to make choices that will encourage¬†change…in part because I don’t know¬†where¬†to begin.

Do I suck it up and make it work where I am, or do I continue to seek out that thing that I know is out there? ¬†How does one move forward when they’re kind of stuck due to obligation and circumstance? ¬†How do people get their act together?

NewEnding

Any advice from fellow creatives would be greatly appreciated.  How do you make it work, find balance, and stay sane?

The Dangers of Casting Your Movie in Your Head

A couple of nights ago, The Sis and I were randomly discussing the actors I would like to see cast in my first screenplay, Fate(s). ¬†You can click the link for a quick overview. ¬†It really is brief. ¬†This story has a personal history, the male lead and some of the story are inspired by my own life, so deciding who should play “him” is a little hard to narrow down. ¬†This is of course fine, because in reality, when¬†this film is made, who I imagine or hope for will of course not be the actor chosen.

RosamundPikeSo there we were, imagining all the people who would fill these roles, when I started to laugh.  What if the powers-that-be decide they want Jennifer Lawrence for the lead when I envision Rosamund Pike.   Huge difference.  This would in turn change the whole perspective of the film.  It goes from adult to YA.

Fate(s) involves a great deal of Greek mythology, and the character of Ares, in particular, is based on the Ares from the television show Hercules. ¬†I loved him. ¬†Kevin Smith played the role wonderfully, and to have someone fill his shoes, yAresou need the snark of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki with the looks of a Joe Manganiello or Jason Momoa.

Do you see the slippery slope I am on?

In my head I know what the characters look like, in general. ¬†I have some more specifically envisioned than others, but my fear is that where I am looking for women and men (and I mean “women” and “men”), I will suddenly have a teenage rom-com where the role of Ares is played by Zac Efron. ¬†Super adorable. ¬†Wrong. ¬†So wrong.

It is one of the first lessons you learn in your film school screenwriting class. ¬†Don’t cast your film. ¬†I’ve been told it’s good to have an idea of a few actors you’d like to see in choice roles, to give the execs an idea of your “vision”, but it’s all a matter of chance and fate. ¬†See what I did there? ¬†Who has an available schedule? ¬†Who’s even interested? ¬†So many little things that may hinder the right choice. ¬†Although, sometimes a different¬†(let’s not say wrong) choice really comes out on top.

Tom Selleck was originally cast to play Indiana Jones. ¬†Eric Stoltz was cast to be Marty McFly and actually shot quite a lot of footage. ¬†Thinking back, can we think of anyone else who could’ve filled those roles better than Harrison Ford and Michael J. Fox?

So we cast my entire film, although I’m still uncertain about a few choices, then recast it according to the actors¬†that would most likely prevail. ¬†Obviously, I want to be a part of the Hollywood system, but when put into this perspective, I had to cringe, laugh, and try not to cry. ¬†We’re pretty sure Meryl Streep will be Hera, in any casting choice, because as it was once stated on Modern Family, “she could play Batman and be the right choice”.

It was a fun exercise, but not one I’ll be repeating again any time soon if I can help it. ¬†It was just a little too real and painful.

How about you, my fellow creatives?  Do you cast your stories?  Does it help or hinder your vision?