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?

Dealing with Rejection, Badly.

EverythingIsGoingToBeAlrightI have been rather busy the last couple of weeks, and many things have been pushed to the back burner, causing a bit of stress.

In an effort to pay it forward, The Sis and I agreed to allow a friend from out of town stay with us for a bit while he got back on his feet (my best friend and like-a-sister let us stay with her when we first returned to town). In a matter of weeks it has quickly become a source of contention, especially where the furkids are concerned. My girl doesn’t really seem to like him and hasn’t warmed up to him at all, so there’s a lot of noise, at all hours.

There’s more to be said on the subject, but we’ll leave it at that.

We had family in town, and amidst all that, I have been on the job hunt.  Regardless of the fact that I was applying to a lot of jobs that were actually looking for people, I never received a response from any of them.  Not one.  And I’m quite qualified for what I was applying for.  I applied for positions online that had questionnaires and psych evals upward of 120+ questions.  Ridiculous.  It’s a bartending job, not working for the government.  In a last ditch effort I walked into a local bar with my resume and they gave me a call the next day.  So yay.  I got a new job, but this is where it all starts to go wrong, so to speak.

The same day I got the job as a server by the way, not a bartender (because beggars can’t be choosers), I got my rejection letter from the Nicholl Fellowship.  My script was not advancing to the quarterfinals.  Although one of my scores was high, it wasn’t high enough to push it forward for a third read which would have given me a chance to proceed within the competition.

I took it hard.  I still sort of am.  Yes, I know about accepting rejection and moving on – I’m sure I’ve even discussed it here.  All writers face rejection, often many, many times.  It is the perseverance to continue that provides us the success we desire.  I know that.  Doesn’t make the rejection any easier to bear initially.Fall Seven, Stand Eight

I didn’t necessarily need to win one of the top five spots offered, but I wanted to advance enough to use that as leverage as I send out my script to agents, etc., and yes, the money would’ve been nice.  I try to be positive in this space, but sometimes I just need to vent and hope it helps alleviate the stress because my life is so far from where I want it to be. The combination of becoming a server again (at my age) and not feeling like my screenwriting career is going anywhere is really affecting me in general at the moment.

I just don’t ever feel like I’m getting ahead.

Now, I realize I haven’t hit the market with all the fervor I should have by now (I only just recently got my first script to a point I was happy with), so my feelings of inadequacies are completely unfounded, but they are there nonetheless.  I don’t want to think that I should perhaps choose a different life, become a “responsible adult” and take care of all those things I want to by settling – leave the creative life behind…

I want to be a writer.  Dammit, I am a writer.

The last two mornings I’ve had to stare at myself in the mirror and remind myself that rejection is a part of the so-called “game”, that this is just a bump in the road, a lesson to be learned, blah blah blah.  Even in the letter I received from The Academy, they tried to reassure the rejected by saying the following:

A lack of success here may not have any bearing on your reception in the marketplace where a sale is the ultimate measure of success. I’ll even venture a prediction: several non-advancing writers will become professional screenwriters in the near future.

That only mildly soothed the pang of rejection.

I have two more opportunities I’m waiting to hear back on, Final Draft’s Big Break and the NYWIFT Writer’s Lab, so here’s hoping for something positive.  Not to sound dramatic, but I almost need a little something, an external force to remind me I’m on the right path.

When I read the rejection letter, The Sis immediately responded with, “Your writing is really good.” and “Are there any words of encouragement I can offer?” Oddly, that almost made me feel as bad as the rejection itself.  She has been so supportive of my career choice, and we take care of each other.  This has been one of my driving desires to succeed, so I can help her achieve her own goals.

Ugh.  I’m not sure I feel any better yet, and she’ll read this in her inbox later this evening and offer me some more encouraging words, and I’ll probably feel a bit worse again, but thanks, Sis, in advance.  I know you’re trying to help. 😉  I know I’ll be determined to “show ’em” in a few days, but for now it is what it is.

How have you handled rejection, my fellow creatives?

Quote of the Week

Patience - PassionTamedHello, fellow creatives!

I’ve enjoyed my time off, but now it’s time to get back on track. Yesterday sort of passed me by before I even knew it, so Quote Monday has been bumped.

I’m pining away for news about the screenwriting contest, fellowship, and lab I entered and it’s at least another month before I hear anything, and the internal struggle is real.  I cannot help but check my email, Facebook, and Twitter fairly often for a status update or hint of any kind.

The Nicholl Fellowship posts top scoring script comments from readers nearly every day on Facebook, and I read each one hoping it might sound like mine, or I try to twist and turn the vague positive comment into some form that could resemble a review of my own script.  This is what too much time on one’s hands will do. Patience-Achievement

I decided to look up quotes on patience, and for the most part, they’re kind of lame.  That “patience is a virtue” or “patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting” stuff is not what I want to hear.  And you’ve probably heard it a thousand times too at this point.  It’s hard to wait for action on the part of others, but having a little understanding of how things work in Hollywood, having patience, or practicing having patience, is a good thing, because it’s something that will have to be mastered.

It may seem as if things move quickly in Tinsel Town, but in reality, it takes sometimes years to make something happen.  There’s a phrase, “the 10 year overnight success” which is used in regards to screenwriters who seem to find success out of nowhere.  They’ve been working, for a long, long time.  Everything takes time, and waiting for news about the advancement of my career is just one such test of my endurance.

If you’re in a similar boat, I suppose there is some comfort in the knowledge that there are others who are feeling the same.  My advice, which I am taking to heart, work on something new.  Pour yourself into a new project.  As an aspiring screenwriter, we can absolutely not have only one story in our arsenal, because of the question we are all supposed to be prepared for…”What else have you got?”

That story you’ve always got at the back of your mind, that one where you randomly see or hear something and tuck it away as part of that world, start to develop it.  We only become better writers the more we write – we are better able to develop our style and voice.

I’m working on my space odyssey pilot and rewriting my second script.  I love the development aspect of a story, thinking about characters and scenes.  I had an idea this morning, a fun scene between two characters that I haven’t even created yet, and it’s created an eagerness to get them into action to start exploring this relationship.  Squee!  (Yep, I’m giddy.)

I wish you all the best of luck as you continue forward!  And if you need a chuckle, there’s always this:

Too Many Witnesses

How do you handle the waiting game?  Advice and tips welcome!

Discrepant Writer Reviews – Into the Woods

ITWposter*Some spoilers – will try to keep to a minimum 😉

Sigh…oh, Into the Woods, I had high hopes for you.

First off, I had no idea this was based on a play from the 80s, I just knew it was a musical fairytale, and I was in, but after the first scene, I quickly realized this was not going to be what I was hoping it would be.

Quick synopsis –

James Corden and Emily Blunt, both of whom I adore, are a childless couple living in a small village as the local baker and his wife.  They have no names, unless Mr. “Baker” counts?  A musical opening number offers us the information that they would like a child, but have yet to be successful in conceiving.

In flies the witch – the always fantastic Meryl Streep, who is the witch from the original story of Rapunzel, in which she offers a trade to the man stealing from her garden – specific greens for his pregnant wife – the veggies for the baby.*  Fair deal.  The witch gives over a whole lot of information to this childless couple about how their house is cursed and if they complete a ritual in a given time, she will lift it.

For writers, this scene will drive you crazy.  It offers all the information about the movie in one scene and without any real provocation.  It’s not as if the couple sought out her help or advice.  She just comes in one day and says, “Let me help you.  Here’s everything you need to do, no strings attached.”  Really?!

*The baker’s father was the thief, and hence Rapunzel is the baker’s sister, whom he doesn’t give a fig about finding, just FYI.

So off the couple go in search of four items that when combined by the witch will lift the curse and give them the family they desire.  They need a cow the color of milk, a cloak the color of blood, hair the color of corn, and a slipper made of gold.  Enter Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk with his white cow, Little Red Riding Hood (who The Sis groaned each time she opened her mouth – she was annoying), Rapunzel, and Cinderella.

As the title suggests, nearly the entire story takes place “in the woods” and they sing about it, often.  Sadly, none of the songs are catchy or even memorable except for one, which I will mention shortly.  The story does stay more true to the original tales in which the darker side of the storytelling is preserved, like killing the wolf to free Red and her grandmother who have been eaten whole, Rapunzel’s prince being blinded by thorns grown by the witch after being caught leaving the tower, and even Cinderella’s stepsisters cutting off parts of their feet to fit the slipper.  Yep and eww.

But the overall story is weak and drags, and this is coming from Disney…Disney! Who is the reason I have a princess complex!  And Rob Marshall, who directed Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago.  Chicago is great and so catchy!

Maybe because they were trying to stay true to the original, they didn’t realize that it didn’t translate.  A play is limited in its location changes, hence all the woodsiness (I like that word and I’m keeping it) while the action seemed stifled and the dialogue was often too on the nose. Ugh.

The two saving graces of this film – when the witch is transformed and looks like this:

ITWwitchAfter

Love it!

And when the two princes, one of whom is Chris Pine in a hilarious role as Cinderella’s prince, sing this song:

That’s it.

The story takes a weird turn about three-quarters of the way through, when the happily ever after seems too soon, but what follows is completely out of left field.  There is a moment of weakness that results in a really bad consequence and the remainder of the story threw me for an unexpected, and what felt like a forced, loop.

Given the cast, the people behind it, and the basis for the story, Into the Woods was not the fairytale I was hoping for.

2stars

What are your thoughts on Into the Woods?

*Video courtesy of Youtuber John Oncer.

Quote Monday

BraveEnoughI once jumped without a parachute, figuratively not literally. When The Sis and I moved to Los Angeles, I worked for a restaurant chain that allowed me to have a job upon arrival and to change locations with each subsequent move around the city. Unfortunately, with each move, the money worsened until at a total loss, I up and quit, feeling there had to be something better on the horizon.  It was LA after all.

Nearly 2 1/2 years later, I could not find a job to save my life. I sent out nearly 250 resumes in the first year and only ever received 2 responses. Those are some pretty bad odds, especially for a girl from Vegas.  I was lucky in that I had the support of The Sis who eventually told me to stop worrying about finding a job and to do what we had moved there to do in the first place – for me to become a working screenwriter.

Easier said than done.

The only problem with that was that the guilt of not working nearly ate me alive.  At my age, having my baby sister take care of me was a big pill to swallow, and the screenwriting career took a hit.  How does a fairytale writer write happily ever afters when they are wallowing in self pity and depression?

Cut to living in Las Vegas, again, and working for a company that is legitimately shady. Nearly 7 months of trying to find another job have failed to produce any results…again, seriously?! But this time, I’m taking the moral high ground. I will not continue to work for people that A) do not respect their employees B) operate under suspicious terms and C) do things that are, in fact, illegal.

ToMoveForwardBesides the mind numbing effect of the work, I don’t make enough money to support The Sis which is why we decided to move back to Vegas in the first place, so that she could go back to school.  I don’t write my own things when I get home because I’ve stared at a computer for 8 hours writing nonsense.  Sorry blog.  I’m usually brain dead, and to top it all off, I think I’ve gained weight because I sit around all day. Sheesh.

So here I am, ready to jump without a parachute, again.  I’m choosing to be brave and to expect good things.  ((crossing my fingers))  I hope this will lead me to bigger and better…please let it get better!

The life of a creative is a difficult one, always trying to balance work with what we really want to do.  Maybe when I’ve found some measure of success (of what I consider for myself), I’ll look back on these days with no regrets.  As of right now, it’s tough to endure.  Am I making the right decision?  I have lifelines here, but I feel making this decision on the grounds of self respect is, well, a bit haughty.

I’ll let you know how I feel about it next week when I find freedom…in the mean time wish me luck!

How about you?  Have you ever made a leap of faith?  What was the outcome?

Discrepant Writer Reviews – Death Comes to Pemberley

DeathPemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley recently popped up on Netflix, and as a Jane Austen enthusiast, I was excited to see they had picked it up.  I had been seeing articles, set photos, etc. for some months, so I made the effort to watch it almost immediately.  If you are wondering why I hadn’t watched it sooner, it’s because we haven’t paid for television in over 3 years.  So yes, I’m fairly out of the loop on most things.

Based on the novel of the same name from 2011 by P.D. James, I have to say I have been less inclined to read any of what is basically fan fiction of one of the most famous love stories in all of literature.  This is not a judgement in any regard.  I love fan fiction, I write some myself, but what I have discovered in some of the reading I have done is that it lacks the…hmm, what’s a good word…magic?

Jane Austen ran in the circles she was writing about.  Modern day writers can only emulate what they’ve studied, read, and seen because we have not lived it first hand, and again, by no mean is this a shortcoming.  I love period pieces, and if we only wrote about what we “know”, we wouldn’t have the wide range of diversity we do in any medium.  As writers, we each have a voice, and when it comes to something as widely beloved as Pride and Prejudice, you have to get it just right.

So here is my quick review.  Twoandhalfstars

The film was broken up into three parts.  I’m pretty sure it could’ve been told in two.  Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Rhys play our leads, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy in their sixth year of marriage planning their annual ball when tragedy strikes.  A murder.  Because of the people involved, a wedge is slowly driven between the couple and we are given a glimpse as to the repercussions of following one’s heart instead of one’s head – or at least in the minds of these characters.

The actors are both very good, but I felt Elizabeth was cast incorrectly.  She was not the same spirited woman I have come to love and this is where I blame the writing.  She seemed weak, and that spark that had attracted Darcy to her in the first place was replaced by insecurity and she was kind of dull.  Darcy was too distant, even from the beginning of the film, and because so little is really known of him from the original material beyond those honorable traits we know and love, he too came off a bit dull.

Now, I haven’t been married, so maybe after six years of marriage in this world, they’re a little bored of each other, but when we leave them at the end of Pride and Prejudice, it’s not that I expect the permanent happily ever after, because it is based in “reality”, but I expect more than this.  Of course there will be hard times, etc., but I also expect that the challenge they presented to one another would carry over.  They should have spirited debates, and still have some spark…well, I think so anyway, and that was missing entirely from this tale.

I didn’t feel/see any spark between these characters, and I almost felt like the obligatory “romantic”, oh, let’s call it what it was, the sex scene was meant to reassure us that they did indeed have “something”, but that doesn’t happen in Jane Austen’s stories, so I know it was meant specifically for modern day audiences, and for me it felt out of place.

There’s an odd side story involving Wickham, played by Matthew Goode, and that does have some bearing on the story overall, but in the vein of a mystery, it was still rather convoluted.  The other failing was the absence of Jane and Bingley, the two people dearest to our main characters.  I think there were two scenes with Jane, and they didn’t amount to much.

I love the idea of seeing more of two of my favorite characters, as I’m sure does every Janeite, but I would almost prefer to imagine their fates as an open-ended tale without any real knowledge of what happened.  Looking back on what I’ve written, it doesn’t sound that promising of a film, but it had its moments, and I was glad to have the opportunity to watch it.  If I were flipping channels and it was on, I’d most likely leave it for a bit, but it’s lack of overall charm doesn’t compel me to go out of my way to watch it again.

Well, that’s my take anyway.

Happy Sunday!

It’s Quote Monday…kind of.

BewareDestinationAddictionThe last couple of weeks, the impending doom surrounding my birthday has caused random outbursts of emotion.  I’ve had some bad birthdays, but this one is different.  I was in a home store, looking at the various items that could be useful in the new place; new towels, area rugs, side tables, etc. when I started to well up.  It’s frustrating to feel sort of stuck; always hoping and striving for more.  I keep banking on this elusive future that I can’t wait to happen, and yet with each passing day I don’t feel any closer.  I got a job I was hoping would be something I could be proud of in the meantime, I’m writing every day, but we write rubbish and I don’t even make enough money to make it worthwhile.

So as I stared at the cute side table, thinking that I should be able to walk into a store and just buy something like that once in a while, I was reminded of my circumstances and that with the looming age I should be in a different place.  So my eyes filled and I started the self-loathing.

I’m just not satisfied with my life.  Being an artist is a difficult path, and as positive as I try to remain, sometimes life just smacks you in the face.  I’m usually the first to say, “age is just a number”, but this birthday now puts me in a new box.  You know the box.  I’m officially in a new one next week.

I found these quotes, that made me feel a little better, and thought I’d share them for if you’re ever feeling low.

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” – C.S. Lewis

“In my dreams, I never have an age.” – Madeleine L’Engle

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain

I hope you all have a wonderful week!  And if you have any words of wisdom, please share! 🙂

The Smurfette Syndrome

characters_smurfette_002

I took a Women’s Studies class in college, in part because it fulfilled a credit requirement, but I quickly learned it was one of the best classes I would ever take.  It really opened my eyes, and it was then that I slowly began to look at the world differently.  I would also learn that I am a bit of a feminist, but don’t let that sway you. 🙂

I don’t think I made a conscious effort to alter my writing, but the types of stories I wanted to tell were definitely intended more for women.  The majority of my scripts have predominately female casts.  Those were a conscious decision.  The funny thing is, this started long before I learned that there was a growing problem in Hollywood, the place I want to be a part of, in the continuation of a lack of a female presence, both in front and behind the camera.

The Smurfette Syndrome aka “the token” girl has continued its prevalence according to the numbers this summer at the movies.  I saw this article about the trend and felt it deserved a share.  There was also this article from a little while ago from the NY Film Academy.  I can’t remember if I shared it before, but it also discusses the inequality in the numbers.

So what’s my point?  Be sure to include the other half of the population in your storytelling, and not in just some token capacity.  Create an opportunity to balance out the scales.  Since many novels are now the basis for films, it would be wonderful to see a surge to encourage a change.  I’m not saying that you have to change all your characters from male to female, but be aware of stereotypes, and don’t perpetuate the trend.  Think of the younger generation.  How they need more role models in their literature and entertainment.  I mean seriously, no solo Wonder Women movie yet?  The fact that Disney is not planning on releasing any further Princess Leia merchandise?  Maybe the lower numbers at the box office is the start of this awareness.

I guess the phrase “change starts at home” might be some of the most useful advice to encourage diversity.

Write well, my friends!

Caution: A Fairly Happy But Ranty Writer Ahead

Happy Wednesday!

BrecilianForestCave

Here’s a little update:

Last week I received my first link to a story inspired by one of my writing prompts.  I was so excited!  Please give the wonderfully vivid Things Best Left Forgotten by redgypsophila a read and offer feedback, and let’s start building! 🙂

Moving forward, I’ve started to have a few ideas of what I’d like to do in order to “build” this community.  I’ve felt a little brain dead the last few days though, so it may be slow going.  I blame all the new social media outlets I’ve been exploring.

I joined Twitter (my handle is @RachaelCMarek).  Now that I’ve (slightly) got my bearings…I’d like to use this specifically as a resource, so if you have any tips on how to use it wisely, or can suggest people to follow that might be beneficial to writers, please, please, please share in the comments.

Then I signed up for Tumblr.  I didn’t realize it was another blog, so that one will probably fade into obscurity, but I wasted a whole lot of time the other day…

I added a link to my YouTube page that I’m trying to build with the writer in mind.  I’m trying to create “music to write to” playlists.  This will be a work in progress, but if you’re like me and like to write to music, you may find a few new things.

And as if you needed one more thing, I saw a post about a blogging resource called Quora.  This link is the article via The Write Life.  Is anyone using this yet?  Is it worth it?

Is all this other nonsense really required to be a writer…??  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, blah blah blah.  Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy some of these services (some much more than others); it’s a way for me to stay connected, keep in the know, learn new things, etc, but A) It’s too time consuming to maintain so many outlets. B) It’s too easy to waste inordinate amounts of time. And C) Why?  This is not how it used to be, not even a couple of years ago.  Yes, there are hints of bitterness laced with mind-numbing exhaustion.  I take full responsibility for time wasted the last couple of weeks.

As for actual writing…I spoke to some of my new writer friends who helped me gain some perspective.  I decided against the massive rewrite, as it would change the story completely, and am going to try to find the issue in Act I that is affecting Act III.  I have been all over the place with this, and this might be one reason I’ve started to mentally check out.  So wish me luck.

Wishing you all a productive rest of the week!