Saturday, August 1, 2015

Working on The Collective, a screenplay

I'm back working on my screenplay from my master's program. It was my thesis and final project, and I still really like the story. However, since my program, conversations with my daughter, and the many social issues I follow, I'm looking harder at the really smaller details.

I want to look at race, gender, and orientation - stereotypes and role models.  I noticed the words one of my characters (a jerk and the antagonist) uses, and I made a few changes. HE might actually use some hate-filled words, but then I also want to keep some of that out of my movie. I don't want to perpetuate hate. I've tweaked just a few words, and I think the message is just as strong without promoting stereotypes or bringing up hurt.

Words are really important. I changed "messed up" to "did" and the whole connotation and implied backstory shifted. I want my antagonist to be the jerk we all hate, but I don't want other tropes to follow along like implied baggage. I can make changes, which hopefully changes how the audience relates to my characters.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What do readers want?

My daughter and I were sitting and talking with my daughter of dinner. Suddenly, she became very interested in my writing. She said I needed to write about characters who don't want children. (We had a sitcom on TV in the background where the couple wanted to have a baby.) Then she went on to add that more movies and TV shows needed characters who were bisexual, pan-sexual, gender fluid, asexual, etc.

When I wrote my first children's book, the story was based on a family event.  We are Irish/Italian primarily. Pretty white. Mom, Dad, brother, sister.  However, I did have some choices when it came to illustrations.  I decided to have a mixed-race family because there aren't many characters out there for those families. But, making characters in a children's book different skin tones is easy.  What am I to do about all of the different traits my daughter was asking for? 

It's an area I'm not personally familiar with, and I want to stay authentic.  I'm glad my daughter has faith in me and things I might write in the future. It does give me a lot to think about. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What are you writing when you aren't really "writing?"

Today, I've made sure to do several activities related to my life coaching, teaching, and writing endeavors. One thing I've noticed (especially with life coaching) is the amount of writing and non-writing/business efforts we do just to support what ever we ARE doing.

Life coaching is a great example. I need to make checks to my website, make sure I've got some Facebook and social media connections going, etc. Today, I finally decided to create a Blogger blog for my coaching since I was continuing to have issues with my Go Daddy account.  Go Daddy is great, and I can count on them for the best customer support, but it just seemed faster to plug in a blog with Blogger. I use it all the time for teaching and writing. Why not.

There may be several hours per week of business work that isn't actually the life coaching!  But, if it doesn't get done, then the life coaching won't happen.

The same is true with your writing life.  Even if I'm not actually writing on one of my creations for publication or contests, I'm creating my presence on social media, working on my writing blog, reading about writing, or working through journals and exercises.  Those activities are part of this whole process and writing life. I have to remind myself that the minutes spent on these activities are absolutely as valuable as the time with my pieces.

It's like sports, music, plays/movies, anything in life.  So much back work is put into the final "performance." Give yourself credit for or get on the ball with the back work.

Monday, July 6, 2015

February 4 - a milestone (drafted in Feb, whoops)

Early this morning (because she is a night owl living several time zones away), my publisher sent me a message that our sales reports were available. Merry Christmouse was just published in time for Christmas last year, so the window for sales was short, but timed beautifully for Christmas shopping.

My book sales earned me Best Seller for the 4th Quarter 2014. A good feeling indeed. My goal was to sell beyond my 1st degree of friends and family, and I believe I accomplished that. I think solid sales and a very warm reception is a great start. I don't have goals on the J.K.Rowling level, and "solid" is good for my future book sales and endeavors. 

Feb5 -second milestone (drafted in Feb, whoops)

Another great moment in publishing- your first royalty check. Even up to this week, I was thinking that I would finish the Baxter series and move on to other endeavors in writing, not necessarily in the print realm. However, with the receipt of sales reports and royalty checks, I may reconsider.

That check allowed my daughter and I to go out to dinner, and I think I got myself a little trinket.  Not Earth-shattering, but very nice.

Writer's get into a funk - yep

I suppose an apology might be appropriate, but I don't think I'm going to apologize. I haven't written a blog post in a long, long time.  I am going to admit I'm human, and I haven't been writing. I haven't been writing at ALL in a while, and I was going through a funk.

I definitely suffer from depression, and I was in one of the worst funks in my life through the last two years.  There were several contributing factors: failed relationship where I felt incredibly hurt, betrayed, and confused; an illustrator who left in the middle of a project; finances; getting my daughter's health back to normal and getting her out of high school/into college. Last summer, I stayed in bed for 3 weeks in July.

I had some great successes in that two-year period: first children's book published, department chair at my school, recognition in my district for my hard work, happy daughter becoming a great adult.

After my illustrator quit, I "put my pen down."   I didn't want to write. I didn't have anything to say unless it was in response to political events on Facebook. While I knew that this period would end, I didn't realize how long it would take or how much frustration I bottled up.  I even missed writing an article for The Belly Dance Chronicles one quarter. I couldn't do it.

Writer's are human, and I suppose that the studies say (my Facebook feed articles, at least) that we are prone to more emotional distress. We are more fragile, etc.  Maybe it's really that people who tend to be more prone to deeply introverted tendencies, isolation, and emotional fragility happen to find writing is a suitable outlet.  Which came first: the writer or the depression? Funny, not funny.

It feels good to write again, and I'm grabbing with both hands every tool to help myself back to where I'm "Crazy Aunt Tess," as my nephew and niece call me. I want those grandiose highs with ridiculous idealism.  

I thank my daughter, family, dance troupe, fellow teachers, and writing group most of all. I love how they understand that lows beget highs and that I'll come around one way or another. I also want to thank other writers out there, especially The Bloggess, a brilliant, witty writer.

So, I'm off to write an article now.  Then I've got my third children's book to complete and my film script to revise. Good things, man. Good things.