In Search of a Silver Lining

silver-liningI’ve been wondering for the past few days if I wanted to talk about the election and the ramifications.  As you all know, I’ve tried to make this blog a positive place where I hope you’ll find inspiration and, when I actually sit down to write, tips you’ll find useful.  This blog also serves as my diary, in part.  I try to limit the scope to the writing sphere, and although it may not appear so, at least not in the beginning, I’ll get to that bit by the end.

So yes, I’ve decided to talk about it.  At least a little.

I’ve been trying to find a way to remain positive and to find the right words to share here, with you.  Even as a writer, this has been extremely difficult.  I’ll be honest, I cried when the votes were tallied and discovered that a candidate whose entire platform was built upon some of the most deplorable things I’ve ever heard had the audacity to walk up to the podium to accept the presidency and say we needed to come together…the word “hypocrite” came crashing to mind.

I was, in a word, horrified.

I’ve never been politically inclined, or evidently overly patriotic.  Since I was 19, I’ve been trying to find a way to move to England, and I had only become a US citizen two years before.  Did I think about reinstating my Canadian citizenship?  Yep.  Will I?  Well, in my desire to travel and live around the world, it is easier to do so as a Canadian, sooo maybe.  (And no, I was not one of the many who crashed the Canadian immigration website.)

The night of and the following morning, my eyes were glued to social media as if I were witnessing the carnage of an accident.  I couldn’t look away.  But then the gloating started.  The “stop whining” started, and from people I considered “friends”, well, at one point in my life, I mean we’re just Facebook friends now, but still.

Were they so oblivious to what this meant to so many?  Were they just ignoring all the threats made?  The insults?  The blatant lies?  Or were they under the impression that his whole persona was just for show?  That underneath all the “isms” is an actual decent person?  Do they really believe that someone who had aided in dividing the country so greatly is actually the one who will bring us together?

And this is an honest question – Is this what they believe?

Talk about delusion.  There are a number of quotes about the actions of people vs their words, and in either case, the president-elect has shown us his true colors.

I have worked a long time in the food service industry.  I have been assaulted by men at least a dozen times, both physically and verbally, because in their minds, their tip for me providing them with food and drink also included a grope, fondle, grab, or enduring a disgusting string of insults under the guise of a compliment.  Only a couple of weeks before the election, these two older white men who have become regulars at one of the restaurants I work for had the nerve to say that all women would happily allow a man in a position of power to grope them, as if it were some sort of special commendation.

I looked at them aghast and said, “No, we wouldn’t!”

It is not a compliment.  It is not welcomed.  It is not acceptable.  We are not asking for it.  For many of us, we’ve had no avenue to defend ourselves against such behavior.  And when we do speak up, we’re bitches and being difficult, and the assailant gets a slap on the wrist.  And if you’re wondering why we’re feeling even less secure, it’s because the chosen leader of our country not only condones such behavior, but has also perpetrated it (and on minors, no less).

This is just one example of one of the “isms” you think we’re being cry babies about.  There are a number of groups who have been trying to make strides in the direction of equality that now feel an even greater upward battle is just beginning.

Then the voices of rational people started to join together and grow louder.

No, we don’t think all his supporters are hateful people.  No, we do not want him to fail.  That was never even a thought.  He will be our leader, and there is a great deal riding on his “broad shoulders” and his leadership.  We’re all counting on him to be successful.  We’re all hoping for that, even amidst the fear many of us are feeling.

The irony of it all, I suppose, is that for a man who wanted to break down the political system, he has shone a bright light upon it and made a lot more people want to get involved.  Well, maybe not so much irony as a blessing.  Perhaps this is that silver lining we’re looking for.  I don’t overtly share my beliefs.  I try to find quiet ways to do things for the causes I believe in, but that quiet side is done with sitting in the shadows.  She is beyond incensed and ready to find an outlet.  There’s just been too much.

And this is where we get to the writing.

As writers, we have our voices.  There is a great deal we can do.  Whether you write a non-fiction essay about the ramifications of this decision, or you write an allegorical fantasy that thinly veils these contemporary times, we have it within our means to say so much for so many.  We don’t have to stay silent and wonder what we can do to make a difference.

pinWe have our voices.  Let’s use them!

And on a side note, I truly appreciate the safety pin movement created during Brexit, and offer my support to any who need it.  I’ve added my email to my About page.  Feel free to use it if you ever need a friendly ear or a word of encouragement.jossquote

Keep your chins up, my friends!  Let’s do what we can to stay positive and to bridge the divide.  Let’s be kind and open-minded.  Let’s stand against all the “isms” and find a way to help one another.  We’re all in this together!

xx, Rach

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Finding Your Writing Voice

TypewriterFontWriterI hate, that as screenwriters, we are often told that our first screenplay is rubbish.  No one ever says that about a first time novelist. (Although, obviously, there are exceptions to that rule in either case.)  It’s an infuriating statement.  I’ve been writing something since I was eight, of course, that was all rubbish and I had no idea what I was doing, but when I wrote my first screenplay in college, I was in love.  That’s when everything changed.

Now, the premise of that screenplay has sort of remained through subsequent drafts, but it has seen a major overhaul of story and characters a number of times.  So yes, that first screenplay was terrible in comparison, and I would never have considered sending it out, but I don’t believe that’s what “they’re” talking about.

Regardless of how many revisions a screenplay has seen, I think “they”, the elusive industry people, believe that a first screenplay is just a starting point.  They don’t believe we have found our voice, learned enough about structure and pacing, and all the other technical screenwriting terms we’re supposed to know because writing a screenplay is nothing like writing a novel*.

*I’m currently reading Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.  Gracious.  If a screenwriter wrote like that, we’d be blacklisted.  For those who have read it, you know what I mean, for those who haven’t, eek, it’s a tough read.

As a screenwriter, I have not focused on any other writing styles as part of my portfolio or tried my hand at being a freelancer.  I wouldn’t even know where to begin.  Whenever I tell someone I’m a screenwriter, the next words out of their mouth are almost always in regards to having anything published.  Nope.  I don’t write the kind of stuff that can easily be published, anywhere.  And then I feel like a failure.  Although, in all fairness, I’m not going to hone my screenwriting skills writing an article on cats, or what-have-you.

Reading Stephen King’s On Writing didn’t help morale either. (Now, I learned years ago not to compare myself to others, not in writing or in success, but, and this is a BIG “but”, he currently has 50 titles to his credit, in addition to so many other things while I’m sitting proudly behind my 4 1/2 full length features, which I round up to 5 to sound better and the immense TV show floating around in my head.  Ugh.)  He started writing when he was a kid too, influenced in a completely different way than I was.  Where he enjoyed the horror movies of the 50s, I was drawn to princess stories and the fantasy films of the 80s.  He was encouraged to create his own stories, but honestly, I don’t remember having that same sort of support.  Here’s that discrepant part of my memory.  I don’t remember really sharing anything I had written until my senior year in high school when I took a creative writing class.  That was the first time I had ever read my words aloud, and although the feedback was positive, I didn’t feel compelled to send my work out.  Again, I didn’t even know where to begin.

I continued to write in the privacy of my room, taking a variety of English classes, playwriting, and creative classes along the way, but nothing satisfied the way screenwriting did, and I wouldn’t find that for many years.  I remember I wrote this one-act play that my teacher loved.  She said I should have it put on by this theater group that performed at a coffee bar across from the university.  I never pursued it.

It was these early mistakes that I think stunted my growth as a writer.  Without proper encouragement, I was left flailing – never to develop my voice, never to see my work in print or on stage, never to pursue a career with any fervor.  Now here I am, all these years later, finally getting it together.

So, here’s the point.

If you truly want to be a writer, you have to work at it.  That’s how we develop our voice.  We have to read.  We have to write.  Everyday.  This has been reiterated by every writer throughout history.  And it is absolutely true.  I am not the same writer I was when I was 8, at least I hope not.  I’m not even the same writer I was in my 20s, and that is due to exposure.  When we are exposed to other voices and styles, we see what we like, what we don’t, what works, what doesn’t (at least for us), and that makes us better writers by adding to our toolbox.  Another lesson from On Writing.

It is through trial and error that we develop our writer’s voice.  We have to practice everyday.  Find new ways to explore our voice.  That’s why I started writing the flash fiction pieces, and the fan fiction, for that matter.  This blog has helped me tremendously as well.  I thought that if it wasn’t screenwriting, it didn’t matter.  How wrong I was.

Don’t make my mistakes.  Let my errors be a lesson or a cautionary tale.  Find avenues to get your work out there.  Attain feedback.  Find a writers group.  Find a beta reader.  You can be your own cheerleader, most of the time we have to be anyway, but find someone who will encourage you.  You may already have this person in your life, or maybe they’re a friend waiting to be made in a writers group.  They don’t have to be a writer, but only other writers understand the life.  It’s tough, it’s lonely, and often thankless, but we do it for the love.

We love to tell stories, and hopefully one day, others will love reading them.  As for that first screenplay, I’m still going to send it out.  I love it…now.  It doesn’t remotely resemble the first version all those years ago in Screenwriting 102, and that is in part because I have written and rewritten and written some more, not nearly as much as I should have by now, but I like my current voice and style, and that is reflected in it’s most recent rewrite.

Although in the real world, by which I mean Hollywood, I would not be allowed to keep rewriting my script 10+ years later.  Oh my gods, if someone doesn’t buy it soon, I’ll be known as the George Lucas of rewrites. 😉

If you ever need an encouraging word, you know where to find me.  Wishing you all the very best!