Every day, I wake up in awe. Every day. Every day I set my alarm for a half an hour before sunrise, and when the alarm rings, I struggle to open my eyes before turning toward the window at my left. Through trial and error, I have discovered that by this point, a faint glow will line the horizon. There have been a couple of mornings where cloud cover hides that glow, but most mornings, the orange color that swells and deepens as the earth rotates to reveal the sun propels me out of bed.
It’s the word that keeps coming to mind. Adrift. Rudderless. Alone. Confused. Mired in the moment.
I’m struggling. And I knew I would be. And even though I tried to imagine what it would be like once both of my kids were off to college, I couldn’t quite capture it. And now I know why. This feeling is too unfamiliar.
One of the decisions I made for 2017 was to do things that are difficult. One night I was thinking that it had been too long since I did something that was really hard for me, where I really challenged myself.
I felt this was especially important because I have finished one major writing project (my screenplay) and have not started another yet. Well, the screenplay is not “finished,” exactly. But I like the draft I have, and I am taking a break from continuously nitpicking at it. I figured I could use some distance from it while I wait to hear from people who are looking at funding it.
Any decisions in that regard have been put on hold for a few months to wait and see what this Trump presidency will do to investments in entertainment, if anything. That’s fine. I get it.
Here is a great article about a gentleman who was extremely successful with the first screenplay that he wrote. I am posting it for two reasons: one, the strategies I used for writing my screenplay are very similar (so I must be on the right track), and two, it is possible!!
Writing is hard.
Sometimes. This time. Right now.
Other times, it is a breeze; it is a joy. It is as natural as breathing.
But not now.
I am not lacking in ideas. I have plenty of those, and they just keep coming. I just simply don’t have the focus. Or the drive.
This doesn’t happen to me very often. But I am currently sitting inside the eye of the motivation-draining perfect storm.
For one, I teach part time, and even though I absolutely love being in the classroom, the other benefit of my classes is that they give a foundational structure to my week. I only work three days a week, but that is enough to provide a trellis to grow my writing around.
School ended a couple of weeks ago. I am struggling without it, despite my complaints that it was cutting into my writing time. My days are wide open, and the distractions are plentiful.
Then in the beginning of May, I finished the latest draft of my screenplay and sent it out to attract investors. So in my mind, that meant putting the script away on the shelf while I waited. Of course, this is always good periodically. Get some distance; develop some objectivity.
Word from the investors is that they are thinking about it. I’m not sure what exactly that means, but I definitely know that that is a lot better than “No thanks!”
So I have some ideas of areas to fix, to tweak, to change, but I am still busy getting some distance.
Also, during these past few weeks, I participated in an intensive transformational writer’s workshop. It was amazing, inspiring, life-changing. Coming off of it, I was completely motivated, especially to begin working on a new project that has been in my head and on 25 pages in a buried file on my computer for ten years.
But rather than dive in on the following Monday, I crashed. I crashed for three days. At first, I was concerned. How could I have been so high only to drop so low? And then I remembered. I had done another transformational workshop, one having nothing to do with writing, with a group of friends. And none of us were prepared for the crash we all experienced after that. So this is familiar territory.
The other problem I am struggling with is finding a place to write. Evidently, I have convinced myself that my brilliance does not manifest when I am at home. Actually, this is not entirely true. I just don’t like sitting alone at home in the silence, at my desk, facing the wall. Besides, I get easily distracted by my dog or the pile of laundry.
I like writing at Starbucks. I am incredibly productive at Starbucks. But it feels tortuous to sit in a Starbucks and not order a mocha frappuccino with whipped cream. And quite honestly, I don’t want to have to spend money every time I want to write.
Then I have the problem of trying to figure out which Starbucks to go to – there are a dozen that I know of within a 15-minute drive. The one on Tampa is full of middle school kids. The one on Hayvenhurst is the one where someone brazenly stole my wallet out of my purse as I went to grab a napkin. I won’t go back there. The one on Louis is ALWAYS packed – it’s hit or miss when it comes to finding a seat. The one on Van Nuys is so small I feel claustrophobic. The one on Shoup is my favorite, but it seems so silly to pass by multiple Starbucks just to get to that one.
Often, I am paralyzed by the choice, and I just head out, figuring I will land where the wind blows me. Do I need to tell you that more than once I have driven around for awhile and then just end up back at home anyway?
I tried out the local public library a few times. That was ok. But I tend to write in long blocks, and I could not bring food or drink in. That was a problem. And the quietness of the library simply magnifies the distraction of those who are snoring, watching music videos with earbuds but at full blast, reading books to groups of children (as cute as they are).
(I think what I am going to do going forward is to put on my calendar at the beginning of the week where I will go to write for each day. Then maybe I won’t waste so much time thinking about where I should go.)
All I know is that this has to end. It is time to get to work. It is time to write, whether I want to or not.
I have improvements that need to be made to Captain and the Greyhounds. No matter what any investor, or anyone else for that matter, says about the movie, these changes will make it better. I need to just do them.
And I have my novel, which currently exists of only 25 pages and a powerful vision and message.
Thanks for indulging me today. I think this is the kick I need to refocus. There is work to be done! And I am committing right now. Tomorrow, I am dusting off my screenplay and heading out to the Starbucks on Shoup.
“Now who are you?” the production manager asked.
Mike Lizaraga had just joined the set of his first film where a crew of about 50 people prepared to bring the characters from one of his short stories to life.
He watched as the production manager worked her way around the room, assigning people their jobs for the day.
Then she turned to Mike. He was one of the first on the set that morning and one of the last to leave. But who was he?
“I’m the screenwriter,” he responded, unsure of his role in the process but determined to witness the magic. Continue reading “A Screenwriter’s First Time on Set”
It’s here! Version 2.0! It may seem a bit early to be coming out with my new version, but as a writer, I am never opposed to revising.
And just like I am a beginner at screenwriter, I am actually a beginner at blogging. So this is a learn as you go project, and I decided it was time to make some changes.
The first change is to my address. My new domain is theaspiringscreenwriter.com
This will still be my journey to the red carpet, but I am going to take you along with me. I want you to finish your screenplay and to invite us all to your premiere party or your first screening or your debut film festival showing.
I will continue to take you with me as I navigate this process, but I am also going to bring in other people’s stories. If there is one thing I have learned so far, it is that there is no “right” way to make a movie, there is not just “one” way. So I want to share as many ways as possible.
In the future, in addition to my posts, look for interviews and links to helpful information. I am so excited about this new direction! And I look forward to everyone’s input.
I spent an amazing weekend with this group! The goal? To get in touch with the genius that we all have and to use that genius for good (actually, we are all writers, so the real goal was to use that genius to write something considered, well…genius!).
The power of community is something I did not understand until much later in life. I’m not sure why. I have always been somewhat of a loner. Not necessarily socially. I love being out among people. In fact, I am at Starbucks right now simply because I like being around people. But when it comes to work, I have always been more of a “do it myself” kind of girl. And I’ve always been proud of that too. I now cringe at the thought of how many times I have bragged about not needing anyone. Not ever asking for help. Being able to figure things out myself. Installing ceiling fans and toilets – all by myself. You know the type, I am sure. We re all over the place, usually struggling and overwhelmed!
My daughter Emily and I went to Starbucks together to get some work done – I had writing to finish, and she had studying to complete. What a mistake! I always forget that I never get anything done when we go together. There’s too much watching people, sharing funny tweets, taking selfies (she is the one taking selfies, not me! Although she often gets me in the background, unbeknownst to me), noticing cute dogs outside, and doing whatever else keeps us from our tasks at hand.
Then she had to show me her favorite all-time video. She was giddy as she queued it up and untangled the ear buds. She then handed me one as she placed the other in her ear. Here it is: