Little to know, much to now

The more I encounter and speak with published, or even successful television writers. The more I realize that it’s just a jungle out there. It’s a world where there are so many voices, so many individuals pulling and pushing each other to get their material read. I mean, it’s a frenzy out there. To say that being a writer is “competitive” is an understatement. Also, it’s not a word I would really use.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been speaking with scholars, doctors, television writers, screenwriters, playwrights … and I’ve noticed something in most of them. They are less concerned with fame. Which is a huge thing in our society. I mean, truly — we are bombarded with the idea of FAME. Back in my days, it might have been a back up dancer for Mariah Carey…now being the lead singer of a band, or a movie star…or…just someone everyone wants to know. I was not immune to this mentality. I grew up with a desire for fame as well, but I didn’t really understand it. I didn’t really know where this urgency came from. And most of the time, I think the idea of fame became more important than the work.

Now – that’s dangerous grounds, my friends.

Because most of the people I speak with LOVE to do what they do. They just can’t stop doing it. It’s in their DNA. I have to write, I have to tell this story, I have to collaborate, I have something to tell you. I have a piece of truth that you should know…I hope you read this, I hope it gets multimedia and danced or spoken on stage. I hope it changes someones mind about something (fill in the blank).

Most of my writing gets used in dance performance, or short films, or my novel which has been in the works for years now. Lately, I’ve been dabbling with playwriting. And it occurred to me, in the process of writing, and casting, and getting people to read your writing out loud — and seeing it come to life in various forms with different voices — that the most important thing about ART (in my point of view) …is connection.

I sat through a Screenwriting conversation at the LA Film School a few weeks ago and noticed something. In the eyes of most (if not all) of the writers who talked about their journey to an Oscar nomination was the knowing that this was not the end or the beginning of their journey. They were gracious about the nomination, but they were also excited to share their stories about being writers. But at some point in their lives all of them had seen despair, a moment when they wanted to quit, an obstacle that told them – NO. NO MORE. YOU HAVE TO STOP RIGHT HERE.

And they pushed through it. These writers had pushed on and on until the story that was meant to be told as clean or precise as they could get it was out of them. And then, the story belongs to the audience, the listener, the viewer.

I am learning, Blog Land, that even though it would be nice to get published and maybe even famous…it shouldn’t be the thriving source of creation. That will get you nowhere. The most important thing, in my eyes right now, is that you write it down. It’s that you tell it to as many people as you can. Because maybe, just maybe, the right person will hear it and you and your writing have the power to change or validate a life.

I am growing, and I’m changing the way I see myself as an artist. I thought about now writing, and it just doesn’t work. I end up doodling words onto a take-out box, or singing a silly song to a friend. It follows me. It makes me think and challenge my thought process. Writing, keeps me healthy. And sharing the writing – through dance, theater, or film…that’s just the best thing ever. And it’s because I am sharing and connecting with others…

I’m sure it’s happened to you. You pour your heart out into a poem, you might share it at an Open Mic and someone comes up to you and says … “me too, thank you.” Man, I sometimes wonder if an award would ever surpass that feeling of connection. So Blog Land – be present, be real, be you.

 

Eavesdropping Installation 1 (aka The Blind Date)

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Interesting People: Short Latin Guy & Slightly Taller Chicana Woman. He has an accent, and she does not.
Location: Random Cafe in Berkeley
Situation: Blind Date…I think.

Guy: Why do you want to change tattoo your name into a Hawaiian name? (He actually said this.)
Lady: I love Hawaiians, I really enjoy being in their company…
Guy: What is your full name?
Lady: (Says her name) …but that’s my married name.
Guy: Do you have daughters?
Lady: I have three children, my oldest is 22-
Guy: Three?! I thought you only had two?
Lady: My text strictly said, my youngest is 12 and my oldest is 22. I didn’t lie, I just didn’t want to explain over a text.
Guy: Oh…okay.

(They drink coffee and whisper)
Lady: I had an amazing conversation with a lady the other day.
Guy: Where did you meet her?
Lady: It was in a political class. It was me and her and it was education…for art. She was taught and …it was like….

(Some random boring stuff about the school she met her in.)

Lady: Did you know that California has sister towns? So Berkeley’s sister town is Guadalajara. Every city has a sister city, and I had no idea! She says, the reason is because the United States thinks that they are the beginning and the end of the declaration and this is bullshit. This is what we do in the USA. We go to another country, and we want to tell another country how to live. There is violence going on everywhere, but we are there to control it. That’s what we’re there for. We’re maintaining the violence elsewhere.
Guy: You are saying the US creates an extension of violence? It gets out of hand.
Lady: Maybe because we have to have our opinion about everything…UGH! I hate politics and talking about it. It’s so pretentious.

(They drop it.)

Guy: Member? Just like George Lopez.
Lady: Wassup ey?! Wassup vato?!
Guy: Did you grow up with Norteñas?
Lady: Yeah. It’s good girl stuff. I was part of the good girl club. …haha, just kidding! (She pushes his arm and he laughs with her. The date is looking good.) I’m serious! We were called _________bras!
Guy: What?
Lady: This was back in the 70s. Back lowrider Mexican style. Let me show you some pictures.  (She pulls out her wallet). That’s my mom, and that’s my dad…when he died it was in the newspaper. Someone snapped a picture of him, a
Lady: And then he died a week later.   That’s my favorite uncle! He is my favorite. Are you okay? Are you tired?
Guy: Are you?    You’re sharing so much of your life…

Lady: And I’m going to put all of this in a movie.
Guy: U-huh.
Lady: Okay pause.
Guy: What?
Lady: Can I go to the bathroom, comma, and then can we talk about _________?

* * * * * *

I’m going to stop eavesdropping now because I’m pretty sure this Lady is part of the Latin Mafia. Blog Land, you should enjoy a little eavesdropping every now and then. See how fast you can type people talking. If you want, record it privately while you sit in a coffee place. Why? Sometimes as writers we forget about the little details. The colors  of the walls, the smell of coffee stuck to the hair of the usual customers, the awkward blind dates, and the weird writer girl hidding behind a pillar typing away at a conversation.

So many possibilities! So many characters. 🙂