The dreaded rewrite

There is one thing I really dislike in theory. Cutting up my words and making things shorter than I had originally intended them to be. It gives me anxiety. And this is especially true with playwriting for me. However, when I sit in an auditorium and hear my words reflected back at me – I can hear and feel what needs to be changed immediately. I can sense the repetitiveness, and catch those words that are struggling to come out of an actors’ lips. They are unnatural when they stutter. Actors have a wonderful way of showing you through their actions a lot of the things you want to convey with “SAYING” or the written word, except the “DO IT” with their bodies. And sometimes, that subtle subtext is all you need. Thus, the dreaded rewrite has turned into something exquisitely gratifying for me. Especially when I get the chance to hear actors repeat my own words to me.

Here’s the thing folks, rewrites are essential. It is the reason why novels are published, movies are made, and open mics exist. Test your material, go to a live audience, read the story to a friend, and pick the sh*t out of it. Don’t hold onto things that will keep you down. What are the unnecessary items? Figure it out and cut-cut-cut them darlings. In the end, your voice will still be in there. Your message will pop. Maybe not in the originally way you intended it to…but it will be there.

So if you’re out there struggling with cutting down your work, just remember this: no two people write the same way. Even if you’re asked to change things up or “condensed” the work — it will still be you. Trust the process, listen to your writing out loud, and let it go. Because once it’s shared, and once it’s out there for the world to see — be it on a stage, on a movie screen, or even on a blog … once it’s out there, it’s no longer yours. It belongs to the collective ‘we the people.’ And you’ll have no control over what others may think of your writing, or you, for that matter. You can just hope that the message comes through.

So here’s an exercise for you:

  1. write something precious
  2. edit it to your liking
  3. give it to 3 people to read
  4. consider their opinions and notes
  5. cut cut cut to clarify and clean
  6. read it out loud to one more person
  7. cut cut cut again
  8. submit!

Here’s a cool place you can submit to: KPCC is looking for stories –

http://www.scpr.org/network/questions/YourStory

 

Tootles!

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Deadlines

I am trying to be better about deadlines. Tomorrow night, the pre-final draft of my play is due. I think I may also submit a couple of more pieces just to throw it in the mix. Writing original comedy is a scary new thing for me. Earlier in the summer I did an episode of “Bob’s Burgers” for a fellowship application which fell through. But I am going to try at it again. Hopefully all the various writing classes and stage productions will aid my technique and strengthen my style/voice.

Once I have a collection of work under my belt, I have to find someone to support me – a manage or agent, I dunno. I wonder if I should also try ghost writing? Though, I’ve heard horror stories about that.

Coffee won’t let me sleep for another 2 hours. I suppose the best I can do now is get to it. Time to polish.

The Boy’s Okay…

I met him two nights ago, a writer who wanted feedback. 2 hours in:

She talked his ear off about how he should write his play. She said all the things that came to her mind and even allowed herself to retract what she wanted to say — all in all to help him with the unfinished story. The character was interesting, different – kind of, but he wasn’t going anywhere! He wasn’t listening. Unfortunately, he had begun to think about sex. She saw this and realized her notes would be flowing somewhere in the space between the cold breeze coming through the door, and the hot air breathing onto the tips of their beer bottles. The three of them. So she sat back, allowed her round belly to overflow the front of her jeans, being held up by the added fat “hole” she had torn with a scissor about a year ago, when she stopped being 20-something. She was not thinking about sex at all. She was thinking about her pillow, and how she had left her apartment to help him finish this story and now … now he was clearly thinking about sex. Seeing her uninterested sigh and flesh, he then focused on the other girl with beautiful wavy hair who was hanging on his every word.

Let me read you…
Have you heard of this author…
I clean his front yard…
I am still working on this…
What I like about your suggestion is…

Later that night, wavy hair dropped off fat pants at home. Fat pants kept thinking about the empty main character, found him interesting, but knew there was something lacking in the story. Wavy hair watched as fat pants went up the stairs to her apartment, got on the phone and returned to the boys apartment. They talked for another hour and then decided to become intimate. 

And all of this because he impressed her with his story. A good story.

As wavy hair made love to him and watched him make poetry between the sheets, fat pants was at home thinking about his syntax. And they both had a romance that night, with this boy — as he climaxed on wavy hair 30 minutes too soon rolled over and fell asleep, wavy hair thought to herself, “the boy’s selfish.” Meantime, blocks away, fat pants took a breath and thought to herself, “the boy’s okay…needs work though.”

And they were probably both right.

#meetingwriters

Editing in the middle of the night

Colors, flashing light, aloe vera juice, and chunks of sugary sweet strums of guitar songs from olden times reverberates inside my ear. Room, room, room for more space within the span of time—make sure it’s under 30 seconds—room, room, room for everything that matters. Cutting, splicing, flattering shots of those who give you the bucks because otherwise what’s the point? Must make the makers happy with the re-making of their art. Sitting, watching, grabbing onto moments that they have beautifully spun. That, that right there — make it bigger, and show me the magic that reveals the truth behind that image. I select and highlight notes, and when it’s over it will render final cut.

#insomnia

Midnight Post 5

The winds are blowing hard on this small cottage here in Berkeley. Downstairs, the two dogs I live with are enjoying themselves by the fire. Their owners sleep on an inflatable mattress, and I am awake … editing and organizing my thoughts for the next few weeks. It’s November. It’s November…how did that happen?

I realized my body automatically shifted to the holiday spirit when I found myself reaching for the cinnamon burst candle at a store yesterday. I brought it up to my face and said to myself, “It smells like Christmas.”   It’s November! Thanksgiving hasn’t even happened yet and already I’m fantasizing about Christmas.

Lately, I’ve been writing my general thoughts in a journal or jotting down the small details I can remember about my dreams. It’s been a great way to keep track of my thoughts and my imagination, whether they are conscious or unconscious. There’s been a lot going through my mind. There are a lot of changes happening around me too. I am looking for a new place to live in January, and the transition to Berkeley has been…smooth, but at times, overwhelming. Work I thought I’d not find in this community has manifested. Work I actually enjoy and like. I shouldn’t brag, or pat myself on the back too much. It’s still a beginning.

Yet, here I sit. On the bedside wondering if I should read another Cesár Vallejo poem, or if I should just lie down and attempt to fall asleep.

Inspiration can drown out sleep sometimes. Even on nights like these…when I’m so very very tired.

Writer’s Block

I’ve got a case of the writer’s block y’all. It’s really starting to freaking annoy me. I’ve started about five posts, stopped mid sentence, and said to myself, “This is SH*T!”     So today, Reader, I ran away from my temporary home (my mom’s house) and came to my favorite hole in the wall in Temple City: Boba Express. It’s a quaint boba/coffee shop next to an old fashioned barber shop on Las Tunas Drive. A fun escape from all that is…well, familiar. Also, a good forty five to fifty miles away from my mother’s place. I love my mom, but sometimes she…well, sometimes she wants grandchildren and since I am not able to provide her with such right now, she focuses on making me look pregnant by feeding me all types of delicious greasy Peruvian stuff. I ran away. Away I ran.

I’m here now, drinking a Coconut Milk Tea Boba and chilling in the shade. Every now and then a gentle breeze comes through the back door and caresses my face. It’s a nice feeling. A very nice feeling, especially because the San Fernando Valley feels like the surface of the sun today! Aren’t we supposed to be getting rain soon? Gah…

Anyways, back to the reason I am writing (my personal drama). I think I have writer’s block because I am genuinely concerned about my future with writing. I mean, what do you plan on doing with your life? Writing? What does that mean? What are you writing about? Blah blah! And then there’s my novel. Is it based on a character, or are you trying to write an anthem? It’s like I’m getting spooked out of my own creativity.

Mainly, the most haunting question looming in the corners of my brain is WILL I HAVE A CAREER IN WRITING? Will I? Sometimes I tell myself that as long as I keep writing, and as long as I work through the writers block — something good will come out of it.     I should just keep venting to this blog because at least in my head, I know there’s some crazy a$$ woman out there who is also obsessed with aliens and afraid of writing about what she loves.

But you know what Reader? I’ve been hard on myself. I think we writers can sometimes be too much. We want to take a big bite, and sometimes, we’re not ready for the big bite. I think right now I have to take smaller bites, chew comfortably until the right answers emerge in my mouth like fun little flavors in a chocolate bar. Flavors that will inevitably settle down to give me the right answers. My imagination runs away from me sometimes, and in my naivete I came here to day, to this boba place to escape. I thought, maybe if I run after it to Boba Express, me and my creativity might meet up. I’d be like, Hey Creativity, it’s been a while. Come have  seat with me! Then I would proceed to swallow my creativity in order to trap it inside of me always. She hasn’t shown up. No luck! However, I am enjoying this refreshing drink.

Sometimes, Reader, I forget to celebrate the small things in life. These small things are what make us who we ARE: weird a$$ people with awkward social skills to boot.

I mean, right now I have an audience of about one to four on a daily basis. Isn’t that enough? Why must I be such a selfish little Peruvian creeper? As long as I reach some, that should be enough, for now. The point is to connect with a reader, Reader. Am I right? Tell me if I’m wrong.

No you’re not wrong! (<–talking to myself again) Damn straight. We writers need to take pride in our small successes and work through the things that discourage us to continue our progress. Life sometimes can interrupt our flow: bills, rent, work, drama, rejections, relationships, alien abductions, etc. These things can chip away at our soul on a daily basis, but in the end — we have to do it. We have to write. I’ve had writer’s block for about five days now—and quite frankly, it’s gross. Like, I want to throw up at how much time my creativity has decided to be away from me. It’s probably because I bragged about working on the third chapter of my novel to someone a few days ago. I have instant karma like that—but whatever. I should celebrate the fact that at least I started five posts with five unfinished sentences the past five days. That’s how Hemingway did it anyways (or at least that was a rumor I heard). He would stop writing his pieces mid sentence, in order to have something to complete the next day.  That’s a good tactic. Now time to work through the block. Ugh, this is so painful.