24 March 2014

Screenplay on its way...! And get to those meet-ups!

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Hey y'all! So back when I blogged in January, defending the month and mentioning by attempt at tackling the screenplay format, well I'm happy to report a screenplay has been written. It's adapted as a pilot for a TV show and I sent it out to a TV/film director-writer friend, fully expecting him to come back with 'yeah, it needs serious work'. I was ready for that :) - but it seems to have gone done well - and I have to confess, that feels good. A boost of confidence never hurt anyone, though getting more expert opinions on the same piece is always healthy.

With that in mind - and being aware of my goal to engage more with writerly activities and writers themselves - I had a gander at 'Meetup' and will be giving it a go. That is to say, I shall join one of the groups and mosey-on-down to one of their meet-ups. I am particularly interested in a writing group that has an emphasis on critiquing. Sure, that's scary as hell but it's gotta be done. I stumbled on one group that described itself as being a group for writers who wanted to write with other writers and that the set up is to meet somewhere and just quietly write together in the same space. No talking apparently. Granted the aim of this is to make sure you get the words out - the first and imperative act. But I also read that with a loud 'huh?!' escaping me lips cos I thought that sounded kind of a bummer... particularly as it stated that socialising was optional and dependent on the organiser. Victorian boarding school much? Heck, each to their own. But my part in this scenario would have played out thus:

Ok! I'm ready and raring to go-
Find a seat. No talking.
But if you're like me and find you've inadvertently spent all your years pretty much writing by yourself, in your own cubby hole, you can check it out too. I'm looking forward to reporting on my findings once I've been to one and I keep at it.

Other news, I've passed the 50K mark for the novel that I'm currently penning. It's set in Ancient Greece - I know! SHOCKER. I'm not giving anything else away but if you're truly a soul-brethren of mine, just the mention of 'Ancient Greece' would have you on board, right? I'm right, right? I'm also tempted to do an audio-book reading for it because I needs to be expanding my voice-over portfolio anyhow. It's kind of a milestone for me, either way, because I've not got to the 50K mark so swiftly in my entire life. If I keep this up, I would have finished writing a novel within a year. That's huge deal for me. *Selfie high-five* (I have no idea how that works ><)

I know, I've blogged all about 'me, me, me.' But honestly, the lesson I've taken away from all of this is: 'Just go with it.' (**cliche alert**) I had put off writing a screenplay for years - technically since graduating uni awhile back - and well, I kept feeding myself these 'stories':

  •  I don't know the screenplay format/I haven't studied it enough
  • I don't have a solid enough/clear enough idea
  • I don't know who I am writing it for/what the market would be
  • I should only be focussing on fiction writing, screenwriting is a whole other discipline' 
  • yada yada yada  - the list can go on. 
And with regards to the novel writing, the same patterns: 
  • I can't write two novels at once
  • I won't be able to plot well if I'm working on more than one story
  • There aren't enough hours in the day
  • You're betraying the first novel (no jokes, honestly, particularly if it's your 'first love' novel)
It will sound familiar to so many of you. Just throw it all out of the window. ALL. of. it. And send out the manuscript(s) to others once you realise all you're doing is tweaking minor words and not really editing it at all. It's ready to be seen by other eyes then. If only to get your mind off of it and let someone else deal with it/pick it apart.

I'm going to meet with my writer-director friend next week to discuss the script and so I'll have more take-aways. If nothing else comes of this script itself, one lesson it did give me: I can do it. All the excuses in the world got nothing on me. 

Oh my, I sound inspired. Bets on how long that'll last? :) Psssht! 

PS - I know I said I'd write something about 'My faves' in my last post - I'll get on to that! 

 A cup of soothing Darjeeling while Benjamin Francis Leftwich's 'Shine' plays. Only because I'm into this song this month.

8 February 2014

I cheat on reading with writing....:$

Wow, it feels like whirlwind start to 2014. Which is in accordance with the 'Year of the Horse', what with it only being February and stuff feels like it's galloping full steam. Ha, to those who think/thought January sucks or is slow.

All seems right, you know? (Famous last words, egads). Winter TV is gut again - Revenge and Nashville are back on, Brooklyn Nine-Nine fills in for the chortle quota of the week, My Little Pony FIM new series and writing is going along with a precise efficiency. (Aside - that's another great thing about living in your own place: complete monopolistic control of TV viewing. I never have to be assaulted with the grey and dreary tele-visual style of the 80s that still dominates British soaps such as Eastenders et al. US TV looks so pretty, y'all). Of course, I'm not really reading though.

Does anyone else get that? The more they write, the less they read and then vice-versa? So that reading becomes what I do in those respites between prose-penning. Usually reading also helps me to get fired up about writing again but if I'm already fired up, reading doesn't have that much significance.

Gosh, that doesn't sound good, even for a bookworm like meself - that I view reading as a kind of plug, a dependency to inspire and ignite again. I use reading. Then I acrimoniously push her aside when I'm engaged to writing. And then when cleaning my room I notice the pile of 'books yet to be read' and a pang of guilt sweeps over me. Reading knows and she sits there, staring...
But seriously, my commute is not long enough to get into a book, you guys!

**FUN FACT**: The Japanese have a word for this unread pile of books - tsundoku(n.) the act of buying books and not reading them and/or letting books pile up unread on shelves or floors or nightstands.
'Needle in the Blood' was some random book my boss gave as a gift to
my colleague who insisted it wasn't 'her thing.' I doubt it's mine either...
In all honesty, I've read parts of the Rumi book. It's one of those that you can pick at any time and just flick through. I also have a Krishnamurti book my dad has recommended I read and I'm super guilty about not having delved into that. I have some time tomorrow, so who knows? Wait, I was going to make muffins, which will be a triumph in itself because I want to make from a recipe that demands coconut flour, which one canna pick up the supermarket. Had to get that jazz online. Super exotic.

I think my next posts will all about 'fave' moments from books and perhaps TV shows. I happened to r-read quite a bit of Potter over the Christmas period and I forgot how funny it can be. A laugh a minute...! Oh, J.K...!

2 January 2014

Tackle the screenplay format, shall I? And why January does not 'suck'

By golly, it's 2014. *head spins* I trust everyone's Christmas and New Years was spiffing. Meeting up with various amigos and amigas over the Christmas period inevitably led to someone sighing about 'January being sucky.' To quote Penny from Happy Endings, 'Hell-err?' Side note - I was rather poorly for the first week of December, which allowed me to watch all of season 1, 2 and 3 of Happy Endings. I need a Penny in my life. Any takers? To give you a taste of what is needed in a Penny-like companion, please see below video (the best part is from 8:11 mins):

Anyway, back to 'Eh, Hell-err?' I refuse to allow this attitude of January suckiness. Not cool guys, I mean Jan must feel pretty bummed. If we all loved her, perhaps she'd feel good and make an effort to bring her best game and shine, non? O-k, just read that back. I'm sorely out of practice.

'The start' of things is always the best for moi - no chance for things to get bowed down with disappointments just yet, only potential possibilities. I think that's why I love rewriting 'beginning' chapters or intro chapters to characters - I can start anywhere. Of course, I *can* get stuck in this loop.

With that in mind, I think I'm finally going to tackle a screenplay and write a pilot for a TV show. I'm not a natural to this discipline because it requires a certain succinctness in conveying the narrative - and one gets ones thoughts down so much swifter and easier in essential prose. That said, if practiced enough, I can get better at tackling it. I certainly would like to be able to write screenplays going forward. I'm always super intrigued when someone says they find it easier writing screenplays. Fair does, I mean, novels can seem daunting. But screenplays have to be more rhythmic in a way, they have to hit those story beats with more precision. It shall be interesting either way, as I'll be adapting something from prose fiction.

Also, I want to write even more - more quantity but more efficiency and I shall be wanting to engage in more writerly activities, one of which will be entering more competitions. Because it forces me to share my work more, which has always been a hold back of mine.

What about everyone else? Any resolutions/goals, writerly or otherwise? Do share!

Disney's Frozen - Let it Go (Idina Menzel) - empowering y'all! You must see this film, it's so beautiful!

19 November 2013

Writing for yourself

In the words of George Takei, 'Oh My...!' - I've fallen off the wagon - the consistency of blog post writing wagon that is.

I've been rather overtaken by my fiction writing of late, so have no fear, reader, it's not like I've not been writing. That's all I've been doing. That and finding myself watching 'Charmed' as it re-airs on E4 each morning? (Why?!)

The project that has been at the forefront of my writing endeavours has been a new story set in Ancient Greece. Because, of course. And yes, I started it before 'Atlantis' aired. I had it in my head that I would not work on anything else until my final revision of my fantasy novel manuscript would be complete. I was being as disciplined as I could be, methodically revising each chapter. Alas, though, the path does not stay true - or rather it does, just not straight.

What I mean to say is that, though I've been diverted, it's not a diversion. No writing ever is. I have my sis to thank for the proverbial kick up the backside/impetus needed to write this new tale. And I am happy to report that the process of writing it has been the very antithesis of writing the fantasy novel.  I just got the idea and ran with it, sans a) writing for a market/audience, b) analysing 'what am I trying to say'?, c) charting out pace and rhythm, d) wondering if my characters work. I wrote it for me. And by gods, if it isn't enjoyable. I'm quite taken and I don't want to leave this world I'm inhabiting.

Current location: Ancient Greece
I never left since the last blog post -
not when they have juice smoothies!

That doesn't mean I haven't jotted down thoughts and ruminations that could otherwise be blogged about. I just haven't set aside the space to write them up (see above note about not wanting to leave the setting of my new story's world). On that note, though, I did jot something down that I wouldn't mind sharing - it's a thought I imagine one of my characters from my (somewhat eastern inspired) fantasy novel would say but it sprang up in response to watching a video about the sadness of impermanence. Sadness - what sadness? Life only changes form.
The whole universal knowledge of existence can be known if man were to acknowledge and know the Tree - her truth, her actuality.
Do you think the tree weeps when winter's chill comes upon her? No, for she knows that she will be beautiful again come spring. And again. Eternally so.
And if she is uprooted, she does not weep then, not with sorrowful tears. Rather she has wept her seeds, which have gone on and spread afar - and so the tree will be renewed in numerous new places, ones she could not even dream of, once again to grow tall and beautiful.  
I guess in this way, the tree never dies. And if a time were to come when there is no such time for trees even, well who would be there to 'record' and 'lament'? -  concepts that likely will have neither place nor meaning.

8 October 2013

Letter to the BBC: hands off Ancient Greece!

Where I belongs, reader
Dear BBC - specifically to those in Drama Development,

I had not really been aware of your latest drama that occupies the Saturday primetime spot, Atlantis. Despite the show's content being Ancient Greece, it had not really registered. I happened upon the opening episode when it aired last week.

I am sorry to say that disappointment doesn't really adequately describe the feeling attributed to watching this show. My emotional arc can be summed up thus: eager anticipation, bemusement and then outrage.

Yes, outrage, which might seem a little of an overreaction to fiction. But here is my issue or gripe, as it were: Ancient Greek history and mythology (any mythology, for that matter) is a trove of immense storytelling. Most of it is nuts and that's why it's so enjoyable. But I believe BBC, you have handled this material with little regard and decency. It was so, so poor and I do not think it unreasonable to expect a little more from your institution. Though perhaps this is my error - I should not expect so much, I should resign myself to the fact that a whole load of nonsense comes out of your shows. However, that's not entirely true - you've got Sherlock, among other fine dramas. I understand Saturday evening is a 'fun time' slot and has been inhabited by equally silly but somewhat 'fun' shows like Robin Hood and Merlin.

I just don't understand the need to do away with a little authenticity in favour of cheap thrills. It's one thing to have poor writing and poor acting, quite another to trample over quality source material. Mythology and Ancient Greek is a bit of fun but can we at least get some simple details right, so that young people (any people) are at least educated a wee bit as well? Alas, I did not watch the entirety of the show - after 15 minutes or so, I was crying out at the TV screen, which is never good for one's blood pressure, so to ease it, I switched off. I quite literally cannot judge the rest of the episode but I can say that watching that much alone has induced quite a reaction in me.

I am not going to mention the predominant Anglo-Saxon ethnicity of the casting - Robin Hood and Merlin were authentic in that sense but are we still stuck in the 1960s? There are no shortage of talent you could employ. Instead, for reasons I know not why, Mark Addy, the kind of portly man who you'd have a pint with, seems to get noble and warrior-like roles, such as King Robert in Games of Thrones. Here, you have him as Hercules, despite his utter lack of warrior-ness. Bemusing. Worse still, he's got a Roman name. Is it so immensely difficult to have him referred to as 'Heracles', as that is Greek after all. And let's get one thing sorted right away - Heracles would not, WOULD NOT, be afraid of the Minotaur. That is woefully poor on the writer's part, woefully. It would have worked if the Heracles in question was in fact a young man, as yet to take part in his trials and so was not a schooled warrior.

WHAT THE HAY?! moment:
Wait, what? This guy is the infamous Hercules?!! But he's scared of the Minotaur...*SIGH*
That brings me to the depiction of 'the oracle'. There was little or no mysticism around this ridiculous character. An oracle is not a person but rather the person - woman rather - is a vessel for the oracle. She is also not someone who just answers random questions. As such, the writers leeched any real suspense (or coolness) around that scene where the protag visits her.

Of course, these are by the by, one could argue. I would argue it just comes off as embarrassing. I would also state that the reason I get so irate watching something on this subject is because I know that I would have created something of better quality. I do not believe I am coming from an arrogant, deluded position here; I absolutely adore Ancient Greece and her mythology and I am dying and so unbelievably keen to get my hands on something that I can then work with and bring to life (of course, I am writing my own material that will adequately reflect what I mean). I don't get overly excited about much but if anyone comes to me and mentions Ancient Greece, I'm there with bells on.

I can also tell you, there is nothing mutually exclusive about being true to their culture and stories AND being fresh and bringing something exciting to the audience. We've got it in our heads that people won't like it if it sticks too much to a traditional approach. You can be as creative and mad with a story that still holds true to the original setting or tales that come from that story (Scott's Gladiator is a fab example). In fact, that is the only way you can add true value, true meaning to a new telling. I could in fact forgive more if it was a modern adaptation/set in a more modern era. But if you are going to set it in Ancient Greece, goodness, do justice to that at least! Or step aside and let those who will do it worthily.

Lastly Ancient Greece is the home to drama, the kind of drama that we love and still sustains us. There is no end to the ridiculous high stakes situations and scenarios that run through their tales. So it's still mind boggling and immensely frustrating that anyone/group of people can fail to do it right, when it's already there - very richly so!

I highly doubt you'll care much that lil' ole me is not going to be a viewer of Atlantis. But if you'd done it even a little decently, you would have had an AVID viewer and advocate. Now, I'll just seek comfort in the saying, 'If you don't like the way it's done, see if you can do it better.' I shall sirs and madams, I shall indeed.

3 September 2013

A fast and slow learner: disappointment, proactive, gut instinct and take heart.

I'm thinking about 'disappointment' - the word, what it feels like, all the stuff relating to and around the this state. I know within myself that I've probably sat in this state and thought on it too long for my own good, so apologies, this is one of those posts that is more to do with 'getting it off my chest', as it were.

I'm reading the 'Etymologican' by Mark Forsyth, a brilliant read on, yup, you guessed it, etymology of words and phrases. Tis a fascinating read indeed. So when I pinpointed my recent morose state as being grounded in 'disappointment', I wanted to understand the word's structure. Without needing to run to the internet or an actual book dictionary, I could surmise that it was a state of 'non-appointment', or opposite to 'appoint' in some way. And golly, did that strike a chord. Because it's only in that small crack of illumination around the word's construction that it resonated more in terms of reflecting my inner-goings on. Anyhow, so in confirmation of my basic pondering around the word:
Disappoint is traced to the Middle English disappointen by way of the Old French desapointer. In literal meaning, it is to remove from office.[5] Its use in the sense of general frustration traces to the late 15th century, and it first appears recorded in English as an emotional state of dejection in the middle 18th century.
I'm beginning to think disappointment is one of the heaviest and most crushing states. Depending on when it flares up, one can shrug it off. 'Oh, they didn't have the ice-cream flavour I wanted.' Not the end of the world. Sure. But we humans seem to have a 'cumulative' emotion meter. It adds up over time, nay?

It's all come to the fore much more when I happened to be at my folks' place the other day and was clearing out a big ole storage box of stuff that had all work from high school. Among my trove of wonders, I found loads of cards my friends and I had written to each other at birthdays and more generally - and man did we gush about each other! I was genuinely touched to read over some of the messages and it shocked me to realise that version of myself had existed and that I'd forgotten those thoughts. Now, I for one, adored high school.  It was an all girls school and a lot of people immediately think 'oh no, it must have been bitchy and nasty.' It really wasn't for me. School was there to nurture me, it had possibilities and because I had that attitude, it did. It's evident in my friends' messages too - we had this constant back and forth of 'lifting each other up.' Lastly, having flicked through my old AD work at uni, I could see how proficient I was at a job I didn't even get officially trained for. I taught myself; it's a pattern of mine - more on that later.
Courtesy of http://www.loveandlaundry.com/

Why do I recount my reminiscing? Because we forget. We forget really easily - how fired up we could be, how fearless we could be, how nice we could be, how wonderful we are. I know this sounds like self-help do-da but having that inherent knowledge, that inherent reassurance that doesn't need to be pushed and pulled forth from murky depths, allows one to just go forth, strike out and do things - achieve things - without a second thought. It does away with the umming and aaahing, the hesitation, the procrastination, the fear of failure and so there is an efficiency to life, there is an immediacy.

So, we then also forget the inherent lessons silently wrapped up in those past experiences. Or rather, I forget. It takes me a long, long time to a) work out why I feel 'off', b) remind myself that I can switch that around and that I was once (am) confident without thought c) remind myself that I've been through a decent amount of experiences that have allowed me to overcome a great deal (failing to achieve in one's career should be child's play compared to overcoming severe health problems and breaking free from a poisonous home environment) d) get excited and fearless and e) ACT ON IT. In fact I can get through a to d rather swiftly. It's the gap between the D and E. There should be no gap whatsoever. D should roll into E seamlessly.

That brings one to the popular and much used word, 'proactive.'
 The author, Austrian existential neuropsychiatrist Dr. Viktor Frankl, used the word to describe a person who took responsibility for his or her life, rather than looking for causes in outside circumstances or other people. Frankl stressed the importance of courage, perseverance, individual responsibility and awareness of the existence of choices, regardless of the situation or context.[4]
I think that's the catapult, the voltage between D and E. All the other stuff is 'analysis', the mind's work. The next part requires the body, essentially yes, the heart. Hence the phrase, 'take heart.' And also 'gut instinct.' I think I need to be aware of those a LOT more. It's weird though. I applied this all in terms of my journey to health. I did away with the usual thinking and methodologies around medicine, the stuff that's just assumed, just taken for granted and so would have left me with 'making do.' I questioned everything and then my gut and heart told me, 'there's another way!' It was a whisper at first and then it became a yell. 'How dare you make do?' So I acted on that inherent listening. And success and triumph followed.

So, I'm sitting here, having written this all and wondering, why do I fall short of applying this to the world of work? I should be fearless here. I should be able to sever all ties to 'maybe this might happen', 'maybe that'...blah blah. The mind is NOT my friend in this scenario. If I know that 'making do' was never my mantra, never my truth, then hell, what's the hold up? I'm writing this from my flat that I live in with my sister, a place I couldn't even begin to imagine living in this time last year. But I'm here.

So what I can understand from all this over-thinking? That only you can make stuff happen. Sure, with the flat, I had my sister's support and family's. Ditto with the health stuff. Yet at the heart of it all, it was also just me. The alternative is 'relying on others'.

This weekend I was involved in the a short film being made. I work for the director and had come on board having done film at uni, ready to make...well, films. He told me about his film ideas. I was happy to get a job. Six months went by and I'm filling in all manner of roles because it's a startup. A year later and we're only doing corporate work because that's what 'pays the bills'. I've racked up  skills as video presenter, voice over narrator, in website customisation, all just to facilitate and I was happy to get thrown in and do it. It continued that way for three years. Finally, we start to get the film made and that hopeful young woman who wanted to make films was happy. Then disappointment reared its head. In this scenario, it was 'relying on others' that did it: waiting for some people to get their stuff in order, waiting for them to recognise your worth, how much you've helped, how much you've supported them when the chips were waaaay down, even stepping back and allowing them to grow in the hopes that you'll be in the frontline when they finally do work that means something to them. Just being there. And then annoyed because you didn't fight more, you didn't yell like your heart and your gut were yelling at you. You got sidelined.

Hence, disappointment is crushing - because when all is said and done, at the heart of it, you're angry with yourself. And disappointing yourself is like nothing else. You can't project it onto objects, i.e. someone, a situation, a scene (I mean you can for awhile but's all fallacy). While disappointing others is never good, I can bear it. I can even bear it when others disappoint me but more often than not, it's my issue and not theirs. I cannot bear disappointing myself.

26 August 2013

Post for Urban Times on Earth 2 Hub is up!

I'm rather chuffed to announce that I had the great opportunity of writing for Urban Times on Earth 2 Hub's continuing development and exciting new work.

I'm on the front page, you guys! Though I'm totes envious of Mr. Mill's title...

The article is here - and I must say, it was a pleasure and super easy to get the post written via Urban Times platform. While writing, you even get the chance to pick out 'pull out quotes', like so:

I know this might seem really unexciting but my serotonin levels spiked when I realised I could do it, that I had that kind of control. So there. And Urban Times gets major kudos for being super accessible and inclusive. I look forward to penning more stuff for them. I encourage writers to check it out, there's all manner of cool content on there.

Anyway, it was a good to get back to catching up with all things E2Hub, especially they are setting up some fab partnerships and working with the likes of Jason Silva and Dr. Rachel Armstrong, who is part of the team leading on 'Project Persephone' which is about designing a 'living' world-ship. Officially: Project Persephone is charged with the design and implementation of a giant natural computer that will form the ‘living’ interior to the Icarus Interstellar worldship, which constitutes a kind of ‘space’ Nature.' Oh my, how cool is that? Something reminiscent of a sci-fi film fo'sho! And of course, with names like Icarus and Persephone, I'm already loving it. Though I get the reference to Icarus, I'm intrigued by the selection of Persephone.

Anyhow, do feel free to check out the post, like and share if you feel so compelled, merci!