Meeting Challenges Head-On

IMG_3373One 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.

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“I Tried Really Hard!”

bikeWhat is more important? The effort or the results?

I guess it depends.

I teach at a university on the side of my writing. And I teach writing – no surprise I am sure.

But I had an interesting exchange with a student yesterday. She was upset that she received a C on the report that I had just returned in my business writing class. I have turned this class into much more than simply business writing, however. I have emphasized professionalism and leadership as well.

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The Necessity of Feedback

csun
First day of the semester

I’ve neglected this blog, but I am back! A large reason I have disappeared for a minute is because I teach part time at a local university, and the new semester began. I am teaching more classes than I usually do, and so I have been busy getting into a groove.

But as I grade papers, I have been thinking a lot about feedback and it’s importance. I tell a story at the beginning of each semester about a poetry class I took in graduate school. As I paged through the first essay returned to us, I noted periodic checkmarks, which I assumed meant that I was hitting a point the professor was looking for. On the last page, he wrote “Good” and gave me a B. Hmmmmm. That made no sense to me. I must have uttered my confusion out loud because a student next to me assured me that the problem was probably that I had a lot of grammar errors – hence the B.

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Screenwriting Secret: Don’t Relieve the Tension

gmail, checking emailI’m feeling the tension! And seeking relief.

I keep nervously checking my email. Way too often.

But I can’t help myself. I am waiting for feedback on my screenplay. Yet again.

I just spent the past two months on a new rewrite, making some adjustments requested from a group of investors who took a look at it back in February. They want more tension. My response to that was, “Yeah. No kidding.”

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How to Tap into Your Genius

writers genius

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!

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Why the Search for Normal Is Paralyzing

what-is-normal-Google-Search-1I know writing. I have been doing it for a long time. I know how to get published in magazines, in newspapers, on websites. I’ve done that. And it was fairly easy to figure out. I know how to get a book published. I have written a couple and have a couple ideas for future books. Now, I have not actually published either book. But I spent a lot of time trying to get published and getting rejected. Of course, today, I would just self-publish. Unfortunately, at the time, self-publishing still carried a huge stigma. You know. It wasn’t  “normal.” So I have no books selling on Amazon.

But making a movie?? A complete mystery. And a very expensive mystery.

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Reading Screenplays, Inside AND Out

Inside OutAs an English professor, I LOVE analyzing literature. And I especially love analyzing a novel with a class full of freshmen who really have no idea how to tackle a novel: mapping plots, evaluating characters, determining the role of setting, deconstructing the language, discerning themes. But I have not worked with my classes on reading scripts (except Shakespearean plays, of course!).

Since I am fairly unfamiliar with screenwriting, I have been downloading and reading as many screenplays as I can find in my genre. Then someone gave me a flyer about a group that reads and discusses screenplays, Screenplay Development Group. When I saw this month’s choice was Inside Out, I knew I had to sign up! Not only is this movie in my genre, but I saw it with my 19-year-old daughter, and we both absolutely loved it. For $35, they mailed me a copy of the screenplay, and I joined about 40 people to discuss the writing.

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Reminder: Don’t Do This Ever Again!

screenplayHuge lesson today. And I should have known better.

Here it is: Don’t let friends or family read your screenplay.

There. And don’t forget it.

I have been very private with this screenplay. Actually, I am private with all my writing, now that I think about it. I guess the difference is that with all of my other writing, I KNEW when I had something good. I didn’t need to go to anyone for their opinion or feedback. I was pretty good at giving myself my own feedback.

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