The world trip turned out to be a difficult and wonderful one. I would like to say that out of all the places I was able to visit, Paris was the most productive in terms of writing. I think it has to do with the history of it just being a tremendously inspirational place for writers. As is Fresno, I’ve recently heard (grin towards all my Latinos in the house). Maybe it’s time to explore some California writing nooks.
After all that lugging around with hard drives, notebooks, tee-shirts and jeans dragging me down from stair case to stair case throughout the various cities I visited … I have to stay, it’s nice to be home.
Back to applying for television writing. Oh, and apparently – improv classes too. Because improv helps you with television writing. Did you know that Blog Land?
For some writers, being part of a WRITING GROUP is kind of risky. Who’s hearing your story? Who will stab you in the back and use a story without your permission? Is the feedback any good? Is everyone contributing the same amount of work? Did someone mistake the group for an onsite dating event? Etc. etc. etc.
I’ve had some encounters with these type of fears before. But I really do love writing groups. I think they are valuable and interesting and weird and above all – they usually have fun snacks. And that’s always a plus in my book.
However, in this industry (here in La-La Land), people are a bit more cautious with sharing their stories, and rightly so. You never know when your idea might show up in someone’s tv spec/episode/improv show/stand-up routine/open mic event/you name it — it lives here in Hollyweird.
So I’ve taken it upon myself to start WRITING MEETINGS. Which, unlike a WRITING GROUP — where everyone just looks at each other and people take turns explaining their plot and character, and in some cases (when texts are long) — talk about ONE person each week (or however many days you meet in a month) — no. A writing meeting has slightly less pressure for the writer to have a finished product; especially in the first few meetings. It involves a writer meeting another writer, or two or however many you can stand, and sit with them in a space of your choosing to write.
My friend and I have been meeting at a café for about a month now, and it’s been really rewarding. Because it’s a blocked time when I will sit my butt down and write. Also, she’s really on top of her sh*t, so when I see her tapping away at the computer it urges me to keep on going myself. Actually, it’s encouraging to have her there. And then if I have any questions, or if there’s a passage I want her to read – she does it and visa-versa. We’re right there when the moment of inspiration happens, and if we choose to – we can talk about it.
Personally, I have found that a WRITING MEETING is much more productive for me. It allows me time to write, to feel a little competitive (but mostly supportive and supported), and it also it gives me instant feedback.
I did not invent Writing Meetings — I’m sure some cave person did long long ago when storytelling because the rave with us human species. But I thought I should share.
If you are one of those frightened writers who needs a little privacy and motivation, get out and meet with someone. I think I will try meeting with non-writers to see what that enables in me next.
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.”
In my short four years here in Northern California, I am able to deduce that (at least for me) the networking here feels a tad bit healthier than in Southern Cal/Los Angeles/Hollyweird. I stumbled into a colleague recently and we began to talk about our upcoming projects. And it was great! He told me about some concerts he was doing sound and lighting for, and I told him about my videography, and we smiled and talked about maybe doing something in the future. Then we drank some beer and watched a dance performance. One-two-three, short and sweet.
That is, until intermission rolled around. Then we just looked at our empty bottles and twiddled our fingers. We looked at each other for a milisecond as if saying, oh hi — I forgot you were there…sitting next to me. A gentle cough from him propelled expectations within me—What do I say? I said to myself as I panicked slightly, which one could only tell by looking at my twitchy eye, side effects of being a caffeine fiend. If this was L.A. and I was at a mixer, I’d be talking about my next movie project. I would throw in some work-travel experiences, and talk about my time in television—but emphasize how much more fun it is to work in film. And I would throw my head back forcing out an unnatural laugh, while (at the same time) hating myself in the process.
But no, this was different. This was a dance theater in the Bay Area, the dancers were waiting for the bathroom in plain sight, surveys were stickered to a chair awaiting my feedback for future grants/funds, and there were 5 different flavors of beer at the concession stand–
“I am working on a novel,” I blurted out. His eyebrows raised. I said that it was a passion of mine, that I was pacing myself, that my characters are floating about and reminding me about their stories. And it felt good, Blog Land. It felt like I was talking, not just to this person whom I’ve worked with before, but that I was verbally confessing something to the universe: this is who I am.
“I’ll keep you in mind for future projects,” and so forth the casual tone returned. This heavy awkward silence, lifted from our midst and we smiled at each other until it was time for Beer #2. I wonder if I should get new business cards? It would read: Writer, Videographer, Dancer, Weirdo and Survivor…or something like that.
Hi Blog Land. I’m just got back from visiting family in Perú. Last time I was here, I went to Cuzco and had me quite the adventure. This time around, I spent it helping my family with work, with their children, and well … I spent most of it inside my grandmother’s house. Which has been awesome really…I mean, I can’t complain! I have plenty of food, lots of company, and nobody got on my nerves. : /
Lady Chambi next door who sells the cheapest little treats like potahter chips and Cua-Cua chocolate wafers was my favorite every other day visit. Sometimes when she wasn’t too busy, she’d give me the low down on the neighborhood dirt, but mostly she talked about her daughter who lives in New York and is obviously cooler than me. The man who bought the Jehova witness church two doors down from Chambi now runs a studio rental space, and we get to hear people partying all the flipping time. I mean, it was totally great. Though I should have arrived later in December because from December 3-10th (basically ALL of my visit) – everyone was having some type of deadline for work or graduating from some kind of class. Every night the Jehova witness party center had amazing music coming through the walls, but I couldn’t join because my auntie would pass me her flipping adorable baby who I just couldn’t stop kissing.
Maybe it’s just sinking in, that I’m getting older. That I’ll be thirty in just a few days. Seeing my young aunties making babies, my tiny cousins all grown up and graduating from high school, my grandpa asking me the dreaded questions: So when are you going to have one? Are you married? Why aren’t you married? You’ve been DATING for six years?! What’s wrong with you? Blah blah blah are you a lesbian? : /
Perú…I wouldn’t change you for the world.
I have to explain to all my family in Perú, that though they may think I am an old bat—in the states–women my age are still going out, still doing their thing, still getting their career going. But grandpa doesn’t buy it. “If anything,” he says, “you can be the baby’s godmother. That way, at least you can have one for pretend.” Sigh.
Meantime, I am happy to report that my grandmother’s window, when left open and unattended, has the juiciest mini stories around. Here’s a few things I overheard a few Peruvian men and women talk about this morning with a little bit of embellishment because that’s how I do:
Translated Eavesdropping on Peruvians outside my grandmother’s living room window:
“You owe me too much money man!” / “I know, I know I’ll pay you back soon.” / “I don’t believe you!!” / “Get your hands off me!” (voices fade)
“If Jesus were here right now, he’d point at her and call her a whore!”
“Did he call you?” / “We have different phone carriers.” / “Stupid CLARO!”
“Today I am not going to let him come in the house, what does he think he can just come in and out whenever he wants! I’m not a hotel!”
“I love you,” / “What did you say?” / “Look, a tree!”
“Supposedly I know her, but I don’t see how. We’re just going to say that we know each other and smile from now on.”
Dear Blog Land…hello y’alls! Hope you are all doing well this Sunday afternoon. Me? You ask, well—I’ve got the most annoying writer’s block in my life. The kind that makes me sound like a deuchbag going through an existential crisis at a friend’s get together after one too many beers.
But what does it really mean to have writer’s block? I am starting to understand it better now. It means I haven’t greased my engine. It means that I have been lazy. I have been neglecting the one thing that used to bring peace to my life: reading. It’s simple really, instead of complaining just write about what it is you are going through until (eventually) the writing will morph into what you want it to be! Ugh. I hope this is the answer. For now, I am going to rely on some books given to me by my PhD candidate friend from UC Berkeley. I’m starting with Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. The chapter emphasized is “Shitty First Drafts.”
I’ve read the chapter before in a creative writing class, but it’s time for a refresher.
My friend suggested I catch up on some books that are made to inspire writers who are also women of color because apparently we have our own disease of writer’s block to deal with.
Book List from UC Berkeley PhD Candidate that I am sharing with you:
A few days ago I posted about being contacted by a person who would like to work with me in a project; better known as the writing partnership. I met him today. Turns out, he’s Peruvian, an engineer, and an inventor—but he hates the process of writing. English was his worst subject, apparently. However, he’s been sitting on this story idea (which is pretty interesting but needs a lot of organizing) for 15 years. He’s had a couple of tragedies in his life which have enabled him to reach out, in search for a potential writing partner. These tragedies have given him a new perspective in life, and he’s also started working on other projects in order to find a way to support his endeavors as an entrepreneur/inventor.
I met him through a mutual friend.
I agreed to write down notes of our discussion, but of course—being the cautious one that I am (and having friends who in the past have been screw*d over)—I told him that I would write 1-3 pages of a sample from the outline he provided. I told him he was to review the sample, and if he liked my work that we could continue working together. He has promised, if published, a certain cut of the deal.
Here’s my dilemna. I am paranoid because I trust anyone who laughs at my jokes. I know, stupid right? But it’s true. I can say that much about myself. I’ve consulted a few people, and they tell me to go by the life rule: CYOA — “COVER YOUR OWN ASS.” I’ve only been published in a Berkeley journal. I’ve never really been paid for writing. I have no idea how this works! Does ANYONE out there have any advice?
Is there a good website?
Can someone recommend a place where I can find a solid contract? One I can mock a draft after?
Someone also told me to keep a journal of our discussion. Yikes. Maybe I’m being too paranoid.
How do I go about the professional logistics of a writing partnership without insulting the person who has provided an outlined story? He doesn’t want to write it, he just gave me an outline with a lot of information — BUT I would be the one developing the character, conflict, obstacle —etc. etc. etc.
I have a question for those of you who may have some knowledge on this. How is it to work with another writer? Someone contacted me about possibly assisting them in a 15 year-long fiction project. Part of me is excited, but part of me has absolutely no idea what a Writing Partnership experience is like.
Anyone willing to shine some light on this for me?
A few days ago, I wandered into a small town within the Latin Quarter of gay Paris. In that town, between a mosque and the Pantheon, I found Ernest Hemingway’s old pad.
Hemingway happens to be one of my favorite American writers—mainly because of his memorable quotes that are great for all writers (aspiring and/or experienced) to read. Have you read any of his work? His stuff is fearless, in a way, and it is also a complicated style that can be interpreted in multiple ways. Well, it’s complicated for a lot of other reasons. For one thing, some critics consider him to be a sexist writer; a male-chauvinist to be exact. It’s hard to dispute that argument because of the way he portrayed some of the women in his stories. However, (and this—I think—overshadows this negative perception of him) —- Hemingway was simplicity at its finest.
What does that mean? Well, Reader, it means that if at first glance his work might come off as repetitive, later it can reveal itself to be beautiful and full of technique. The man is memorable, quotable, and thanks to Woody Allen’s recent interpretation of him in Midnight in Paris — we can all imagine how incredibly charismatic and seductive he can be with his syntax. Although, the character in the film was a satirical view on Hemingway, I tend to believe Woody is capability of grasping the essence of this man/writer/legend/person…etc. etc. etc. Let’s not forget that he was handsome back then too.
All in all, the man knew how to tell a compelling story. In my imaginary world, if you were to cut Hemingway’s flesh he would bleed ink. Okay, now I will stop drooling and admiring and just say PICK UP A BOOK if you haven’t already, and get to know this author.
Oh, Paris, you never disappoint. Ernest Hemingway lived in that building, he probably smoked a cigarette outside that door, leaned on that wall, took a leak somewhere around that corner, and walked up those stairs. He was there, and, for a couple of minutes, I got to live in that space. I stood there wishing that I would somehow grasp onto one of his muses. Hopefully, she has been diligently waiting somewhere in that building for someone like me. Someone to latch onto. If I were Hemingway’s muse, I know I’d sure be missing him by now.
It started on Sunday. We left Berkeley: my boyfriend, sister, and I. We drove to Reno, Nevada first and stayed the night. Then came Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, etc. etc. etc. Slept in Chicago, spent an afternoon in Ann Arbor and arrived in Toronto on Thursday afternoon. We were greeted by my boyfriend’s family and had some home made pizza. Pizza never tasted so good. Especially after having crap snacks on the road.
It’s been quite an adventure. We are here until Sunday morning when we will continue our adventure on the road back to California.
Being on the road (and away from the madness that has become my life because of…well, post graduation blues, frankly) has allowed me to contemplate on the next steps in my future. The next steps as a writer, as a person, and as a woman. What a mouthful. Aren’t all these titles somewhat similar? You might ask, and I will say—YES and NO. It’s been a difficult transition…wow, I’m so OATMEAL tonight. Obviously I can’t sleep. It’s three in the morning here in Toronto, but in LA it is 12:05 AM—and this post counts as a midnight express.
I’ve been collecting my thoughts and re-arranging them. What do I want to do after I come back from Paris in August? I think to myself. What are my options?
To help me figure things out, I’ve been writing by hand (if you haven’t done this in a while, Reader, I suggest you do). In the process of doing this, I’ve realized a few things about my writing. One, I write best when I start by hand. Two, I tend to ramble and digress. Three, sometimes my message gets lost in floweriness. If you don’t know what flowering is…well, it’s all that fancy mumbo-jumbo we writers do in order to elaborate mundane details and make them sound fantastic…when they are really just, well, mundane details. Yet, it’s in these small details that I find great moments of reality and truth.
I suppose I am exploring the truth behind my writing right now. Is there a meaning behind it? Should there be a methodological system I must operate under? I don’t have all the answers right now, but at least I am exploring some possibilities. I wonder how far I can push myself in this exploration process. When I write the words depart me. They leave my mind and stick to a page. They taunt me with their materialized presence. What next? What next? WHAT NEXT?! As if I knew. But you do know! says the muse in my head, but I don’t believe her. I suppose I have to learn to trust.