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

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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!

#Sellout

TweetHashtagI’ve joined Twitter.

I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, in part because I have no idea what I’m doing.  When I informed my Facebook friends, one of them immediately responded with #sellout.  I replied, #haha.

So why do it then?  I’ve read how useful a tool it can be, especially for writers.  It’s a direct link to people in positions to offer advice, among other possibilities, and a way to build an audience.  So it was time to jump on the bandwagon.  My first tweet was, “Yes, I have succumbed.”

I’ve added the feed to my blog, and I give you fair warning it may be a little blank for a while until I get the hang of it.  I’ll share any useful insight I learn about this along the way as well, as I’m sure to be on a huge learning curve for a while I can imagine.  And I give you this promise – I will do my best to never use the following hashtags: blessed, selfie, nofilter, ROFL, YOLO, or any other annoying tag I’ve seen flung about.

I’m open to any advice, tips, or people of interest to follow if you’d like to share.  Facebook, Twitter, and self-promoting, oh my!

Have a great weekend everyone!

The Plague & Some Rules of Writing

QuestionMarksI’ve been trying to write some in-depth blog, but nothing seems to be coming out the way I want in part because I have “the plague”.  My mind is currently consumed with a hundred questions like, “When do you know your story is finished?”, “Am I making the story better by changing the perspective?”,  “Am I only changing perspective because I’m not the person I was when I started this story so I want the focus to change?”, “Should I get a writing partner, and how would I go about that?”, “Should we move to save money?”, “Should I figure out how to outline better?  Because I really don’t like to outline, but it may be more productive, except I like the journey my characters take sometimes without any supervised attention, but then again maybe this is why I’m having trouble.  Nah, it can’t be an outlining issue.”, Should I go back to a “real job”?”, “Is writing a mermaid story only prevalent now because I know they’re making a live action Little Mermaid?”, “Should I try to sell my fairy story to the Japanime world?  Because I really like the way those Final Fantasy characters look.”, “How do I get into video game writing?”, “Which of my new writer friends can I talk to about this story so I can just finish it already?”, and countless others…

This is one of those days I can imagine all writers have.  Let’s call it Doubt Day, or Overwhelmed Day, or I’m Over It Day, or I Need To Get Back Into My Routine Day.  The only way to persevere, I suppose, and have been told repeatedly, is to keep moving forward.

Maybe this will help…a list from Literary Rejections entitled the 10 Rules of Writing.  Well known authors offer their words of wisdom, and why not listen to those who have gone before and been successful?  I’m going to do a little cutting and pasting and create my own list of rules, there are some great ones to adhere to, and I’ll print it up in an effort to stay focused.  Maybe I’ll post it too, so it’s out there for all to see.

I don’t feel any clearer on the subject having verbalized the numerous questions currently plaguing me, but I’m off to a new writer’s group, so maybe I can find some solace there.  If anyone has any suggestions on any of the above, please share. 🙂

I wish you all the best of luck in your endeavors!

Bright Ideas

IdeaLightBulb(jeffbullassite)

Ideas.  Where do they come from?  You’ve got me.

Honestly, I have no idea how my mind works.  The things my mind decides to retain versus what it doesn’t…I don’t know why.  So how could I possibly explain why a line of dialogue or a simple word might instigate an entire thought process that leads me to a new story idea?  I make notes whenever something intrigues me (I’m very fond of the note app on my phone), and I’ve been much better about this as time has gone on because as stated above, I’m not sure I’ll remember it later.  I usually don’t.  Then I become frustrated that I let it slip away.  So I’m always a little surprised when I hear a writer wonder what they should write about.  Isn’t stockpiling a part of a writers bag of tricks?

But on the flip side…I became baffled by some of the things I’ve read about writers doing, such as “idea sessions” where they come up with fifty ideas and then narrow down to a few that seem viable, or hearing about writers that have written upwards of twenty-five scripts.  Then while floating around the internet, I came across Frank L. Baum’s Wiki page, creator of The Wizard of Oz, and discovered what he had done.  Take a quick look at his bibliography, and be forewarned of the feelings of inadequacy that will follow.  When I figured out my portfolio, I was happy that I had eight solid ideas for full-length screenplays with a couple more brewing, but after seeing what some other writers have accomplished…huh, talk about feeling inept.

I keep a notebook with snippets of ideas, lines of dialogue, what-have-you, but even contained within those pages I can’t imagine I have fifty ideas or twenty-five scripts.  I could not write fifteen books based on one idea.  I was thrilled when one of my ideas kept growing and I realized I could write a trilogy and create an entire franchise, but that’s still only three story ideas.  I’ve made a note to myself to seek out idea generator type information, thinking maybe I need help in this area, and saw this article from the aptly named Bitch. Procrastinate. Write. entitled Got no writing ideas? Here’s 11 reasons why.

Then I saw somewhere that a writer’s favorite question is:

What if?

So there’s a starting point.  And another reason I share the writing prompt images.  “If I can help just one writer…”

I’d be interested in getting some feedback on how you all generate ideas, and if I’m alone in feeling this.

Good luck everyone!

How To Survive The Writing Highs & Lows

TypewriterFontWriterWriters are a misunderstood bunch.  To the outside world, one might think our lives are spent wistfully daydreaming the day away.  That we spend our time living in imaginary worlds, not staring blindly at a blinking cursor on a white screen for long stretches of time while we try to find the exact right words for every single word we want to put down, or the time spent learning and honing our craft, or the mental (and sometimes physical) obstacles we need to hurdle to finish a piece, in addition to all the other things we’ve learned we need to do in order to write professionally along the way.  Writing can sometimes be an exhausting pursuit.

After last week’s admission of current shortcomings, I discovered that I sometimes follow a pattern.  What’s nice about this “light bulb” moment is that I can now use it to my advantage.  Being aware of the non-productive periods can help me lessen them in the future.  All of life is a learning curve.  Sometimes we are made to repeat certain instances until we come to an understanding, learn the lesson, and stop repeating them.  I’ve written about the marathon-style sprints I’ve been on and I’ve written about the dry spells.  There is no more or less passion during either of these times, but there is an ease in which the flow occurs.  This is something that “other” people will not understand.

So, as I decided to stop the madness and get back to work, I had a bit of a serendipitous moment when I found this article entitled, How the Ups and Downs of Writing Can Improve Your Craft.  Again, from The Write Life (who are quickly becoming my go-to site).  The third bullet point in the lows is exactly where I’ve been – finding out what has brought me down and fixing it…the only way I know how – Get back to writing.  I’ve reassessed some of my goals and am making some imaginary deadlines to get me focused again.

I’m not sure where I read it, but I have it on my board, a mantra of sorts that I’ve had to get back into the habit of repeating:

Discipline, Focus, Positive Energy

It is one of my goals to remain positive.  It may sound strange, but I’ve seen a few things that suggest that positivity is a choice.  It’s easy to fall prey to depressing thoughts, or feelings of inadequacy, and I would prefer not to, not anymore.  This recent low has reminded me of that.  So I suppose there’s good in that.

I wish you all the best in your writing endeavors and lots of positive thoughts!

Good luck!

A Rambling, Ranty Journal Entry

FlyingLettersFirst off, I’d like to thank all of you who have been supporting me along this journey.  All of your encouragement has really helped to boost morale and it is greatly appreciated.  The following ramble is really just a journal entry of a few things I need to get off my chest.  I’ve never been able to keep a journal, but when I started this blog, I swore to myself that I wouldn’t slack off as I had done so many times before.  I wanted to keep track of my progress, the highs and lows, and the things I’ve learned along the way.  So I hereby forewarn you (“Avert yer eyes” – in a Scottish brogue (from the film Brave)) of the following bump in my journey:

I think I’ve discovered the reason(s) behind my recent melancholy.  As a writer, mood swings are hardly unheard of, but sometimes they do happen because of “something”.  The last few days I’ve been trying to put my finger on what’s been causing it…I didn’t have to dig too deep, because I already knew, mostly.  1) I haven’t been writing.  Not really.  I know, I suck.  I was on a tear for a while there, and suddenly all the wind has gone from my sails.  There are multiple reasons/excuses going at the moment; motivation, money, lapses in creative judgement, reallocation of  priorities, what-have-you…

2) I have lost enormous chunks of time.  I’m not even sure how.  I haven’t even been gaming.  I’ve been at my desk, doing what I thought was “work”, and even though I know I haven’t opened up Final Draft in days (at a time), I’ve made notes on current ideas, come up with a few new ideas, I’ve been researching for the hopeful/potential writing job, but evidently there have been big gaps of non-production.  Insert question mark.

3) I was reminded of a deathbed regret.  While talking with some new friends, I was cornered into revealing some things I’ve buried, in particular a man I let slip through my fingers, Nicholas.  If you’ve read the excerpt about my story Fate(s) or this post, that’ll give you some insight.  I felt something I hadn’t ever before, or since.  I don’t like to admit that a man might solve some of my problems, I’m a bit of a feminist, but I suppose the “right” man might.  I like to say I’m a romantic on the page, but in truth, I’m one in real life too.  There’s a whole other story here, but it’s not for today.  I was just reminded of a loneliness I’ve been ignoring.  I think a good snuggle may be in order.

So there it is.  Maybe now that I’ve sort of voiced them aloud, I can move forward.  Or use the angst to the good of my writing.  It’s a day like today when I wish I were a poet.  Maybe I should give it a try.

Thanks for letting me vent, again.  (I’m not even going to share this one around.)

I wish you all the best!