So, I'll be offline for a few days - that is, I'll be separated from my precious DSL connection, but will probably have a few opportunities to leap onto a computer and check email and so forth. Be back Sunday.
Hanging out with all sorts of family in the Valley, ages ranging from 74 to 1. Four days of four generations of wacky!
2. Does your family have any particular traditions?
Bottles are opened. Joy is spread. Meanwhile, the under-forty set spend a lot of time watching TV and making fun of each other. I imagine this is a tradition that will last until we're the over-forty set.
3. If you could invite one guest to dinner (someone alive), who would it be?
My mom's other sister and her family, marooned in Florida, will be missed.
4. What dish do you always bring? Or, what's your favorite dish at the table (if you don't cook)?
I LOVE PIE. I am a big fan of any holiday that involves pie. I should learn how to make pie - but that could lead to chaos and me no longer fitting into my pants. So instead, I'm there for the pie.
5. What *serious* thing are you giving thanks for this year?
I'm in a good place right now, and I have some strong friendships in my life, some sense of focus about what I'm doing after graduation. And my family is amazing - they do amazing things, and they're there for me, and I'm so lucky.
6. What *goofy* thing are you giving thanks for this year?
HAIL TO THE PIE. GOD BLESS PIE.
7. What's the strangest thing that has happened to you on Thanksgiving?
There's a tie.
We were visiting my grandparents in Ohio over Thanksgiving, and had two Thanksgiving dinners. We ate a lunch-type deal at the nursing home (which featured a truly disgusting cranberry loaf that Shall Not Be Described), but that night, got dinner at a buffet-style place called Randy's. This was where Dad saw a guy fill a plate with bacon bits and then cover 'em with melted cheese.
It was fairly surreal.
And then, tied for first:
Wednesday, 8 PM:
"What time's your flight to Sacramento, Liz?"
"9:30. You can still give me a ride, Jess?"
"Yeah. It'll only take us twenty minutes to get to LAX from USC. You packed?"
"Give me a minute."
Wednesday, 9:45 PM
"Um. Hi Dad. That noise? Well, I'm still at the airport..."
A 6:00 AM cab ride and 7:30 standby flight led to me showing up in time for breakfast.
20 minutes to LAX on Thanksgiving Eve. You can't make this stuff up.
So, it's been quiet here, and there are school related reasons and me related reasons. For my moods are almost embarrassingly cyclidical - I don't like to write during my low periods, mostly because I don't want to do ANYTHING during my low periods but watch TV and forget who I am. So I do, and you don't get the full picture. Not necessarily a bad thing, but still.
The bad days are usually triggered by something small - the way my thighs look when I sit down, perhaps, or rereading something I wrote and having no clue how to improve it. This time, it was, in part, an honest conversation with an old professor about a sample script I wrote last semester. In between his encouraging words, he was pretty clear about how it wasn't really good enough for submitting anywhere - and I knew this, deep down, knew that there was a lot more writing to be done. So I took the crit like a pro, said goodbye, and sat down. Turned the TV on and my brain off. Tried to regain the energy I needed to face the deadlines.
It was a wake-up call, I guess, about how difficult this process is going to be. I'm good, and I know that - but I need to keep working hard if I have any intention of doing well. I'm not the next Aaron Sorkin yet, and I haven't written that great script that will guarantee me representation, work, and a really nice wardrobe.
I have at least two original script ideas that I need to start developing. Not to mention a half-done screenplay that needs to be all done, and some classes I should avoid failing. There's so much to do.
Well, say one thing for the low periods - I always come out of them well-rested.
I wake up and my brother's fractured his wrist. Shit. At least it wasn't the mouse arm.
And a lovely little crew of my friends, people I love and care for, are... Well, I don't think a formal declaration of war has been drafted, but lines certainly have been drawn. Because sides suck, I am staying so far out of it. Here is it ----> IT.
And here is me -----> ME. Far, far away from IT, and hoping that these lovely people will remember how lovely they are and talk things through rationally. Without the line-drawing.
(Sure, spatially there's not too much a difference between ME and IT. But it's a metaphor of an extremely literal sort.)
And to think. My first instinct this morning was to just keep my computer disconnected and go to the coffee shop and do all the work I avoided this weekend.
I didn't listen to the instincts before. It's time to listen now.
Yesterday, I found myself in a Kinko's on Sunset Boulevard, making copies of my first big screenplay.
Wannabe screenwriter, table for infinity.
On Thursday, I finally got around to emailing the manager people (not without a little help from da Caz). I knew that they would reply quickly, which they did (because they're clearly more responsible about emailing than I am *g*), telling me to send them a copy of my screenplay.
But in order to do this, money had to be spent. ::sigh:: $20 to the WGA to register the bloody thing, 8 cents a page for copies, $10 on envelopes, $3.95 on postage...
I came home from the post office, having just sent my screenplay to be considered by industry professionals for the first time - and started yelling at my roommate for not being more supportive of me. There was very little basis in the realm of reality for this - but my head, under pressure, is not always a very sane place.
"I don't see why you're so worked up about this," she said after I apologized for going wacky. "You're good, and if you keep trying, something will happen. Even if they reject you, it's not the end of the world."
"I know it's not the end of the world," I snapped. "It's the beginning."
I hate moving, I hate change and I'm moving out of my safety bubble - preparing for the day when I'm not a glamorous film student anymore, when I'm just another aspiring screenwriter working a crappy job to make ends meet. When I'm a wannabe.
I don't want to be a wannabe. I just want to be. But I have no idea if that will even happen.
Recently, I've been forgetting why I'm in screenwriting, and it's been so easy to make my motives seem shallow and silly. I never got to sit with the cool kids at lunch, and so this is all just a misguided attempt to right the wrongs of high school. Hollywood is the biggest in-crowd of all, and if I can make it there, I can make it anywhere.
Blah blah blah.
I wrote a scene for my TV spec this morning; an evil, horrible scene that I was sure would suck, proving once and for all that I have no clue what I'm doing writing Six Feet Under - writing, period. (It's also the first scene - there's no such thing as a coincidence in my world.) But I did it and it WORKED. It's simple and fairly concise and does the job it needs to do. It's not particularly fancy or well-written. But I like it, nonetheless.
That's what I love - the moment when a scene clicks, makes sense - when all the description and dialogue add up to that moment of change and realization. I love leaving characters alone, letting them bite their lips, crease their brows, think things through. I love the snappy retort, the bad joke, the harsh bit of honesty piercing the air.
I love this, sometimes. I do.
I now have one screenplay winging its way through town, though, ninety-nine big envelopes, and four extra copies of my one good screenplay, all registered and ready to be read. My goal is to get rid of them all by Christmas, via contests, other potential readers, whatever. I don't know if it's the best work I'll ever do, but it's good. It could be better. But there's no such thing as a final draft of anything. Including life.
It's the end of the world and the beginning. I don't expect anything to come of this particular manager. But there's always the next one. Or the one after that.
Because I am a screenwriter. A screenwriter who wants to be.
You really want to know about my underwear? Well, nothing special folks. Same as every other man out there. They are old, got holes, and worn through to the point of transparency. I occasionally buy new ones but I never throw any away. If a man says he throws out his underwear, he is lying. It?s as simple as that. They don?t get trashed, they just sometimes fall off or ignite.
I haven't written much about Atwood's Negotiating With The Dead - primarily because I've been busy, but also because I've been thinking, especially about one particular essay. Not to mention the cover image - two little girls, exactly the same, one a little fuzzier than the other.
Within a writer, Atwood says, there are two different people - the one who lives and the one who writes. One half of the self who puts down words, throws herself into the creation of worlds - and another who's almost a spectator, worrying about mundanities, unable to recognize her work as her own.
For years now I haven't felt like my name was really mine, especially when it would come time to write my byline on scripts, essays, stories. The very rare occasions I've seen myself in print have always been disconcerting, because I feel so separate from the person on the page, the person who wrote the words. It was just like Margaret Atwood says. Because she is almost always right.
The reason it comes up, to give some not-very-sensical ramblings a place, is because one of my short scripts was selected yesterday as a potential 480 film - meaning that if a student director reads it and likes it, then it could be made into a 16mm film next semester. While the likelihood of getting a director is extremely small - student directors prefer to write their own scripts - it's still nice to be up on this list, for all to see...
...but at first, I just stared at it, a bit bewildered. Not really sure what I was seeing, disconcerted that someone with my name was on the list, but it wasn't ME - wasn't the girl who cries and lies and stays up late laughing with friends. It was that other person. The other girl in me, the one a bit fuzzy, out of focus.
I wonder if this is something that I'll ever figure out. If I'll ever feel like the writing me and the living me are one and the same. Or if I'll just come up with a nom de plume, be someone on the page - and someone else off it.
So last night, I slept for eleven hours. ELEVEN HOURS. It was the best thing in the world, waking up at 8 AM and knowing that not only was I not late for anything, but I could KEEP ON SLEEPING. And so I did.
It's been a long week. Yesterday especially was strange - there was a scholarship meeting I wanted to go to in the afternoon, so I had to go into work around 9:30, then after four hours of computer crazies, I hustled across campus to watch Red Dragon (the scholarship is for the accurate depiction of science in film, and so for the annual info meeting, they screen a movie involving a certain theme - this year, the theme was forensic science -- whee!). Red Dragon was, pardon my French, shitastic, but the discussion that followed was really good - they brought in three forensic scientists and I took PAGES of notes about their lives, the way they do their work, the difficulties and challenges and horrors...
It was great to gain all that perspective, and to have one of my major suspicions about CSI's realism confirmed - yeah, forensic scientists don't interview the suspects in cases, or really investigate anything but the evidence. There was free food afterwards, too. I had a better time than I've had on most dates. *g*
Then I met up with Alison and we went to see 8 Mile, which was much better than Red Dragon. Review pending - it's on the list. Then, home, 1000 words on the novel, and to bed for eleven hours of sleep.
It'd been a long week of running around and getting things done. But today, I'm wearing my headphones, the rain falls outside, and I'm feeling very, very content.
Well, I voted. A lot of Green Party, Democratic where it mattered, and I just said no to Ah-nuld's not-so-good after school program that the League of Women Voters disagreed with. When the LWV doesn't like a pro-schools measure, I pay attention. And their reasons were valid.
CNN is cracking me up. Every two minutes, they use the word "projected." You go, CNN, with your not-calling-too-soon bad self.
Jeb Bush is more coherent and seems much more intelligent than his brother. Well, it's not hard.
Last night, just as I was going to bed, somebody in the building next door to mine got arrested. It was pretty cool, what with the helicopter passing over shining a spotlight DIRECTLY into my room - roomie and I watched from above as they cuffed the guy.
This sort of thing never happened when I lived around campus.
Didn't get to bed until much later, though - helicopter noise winds me up. Stupid helicopters.
Finished reading Negotiating With the Dead and rereading Kavalier and Clay. Plus, got two new books from Bookslut, so there will be much reading in my future, to go along with all the writing.
So much writing to do tonight. Really, it's out of control.
And I have to vote! And there's Buffy! It's all crazy-like, my life.
Thought you might enjoy this, Dad. Pete's a wise bloke.
Thanks for passing it along; a nice piece. Townshend, of course, has never been one to understate his genius or his appropriate place in the universe to anybody within shouting distance, but he has certainly been there, and has the scars to show for it. An old story -- he was being interviewed about the deaths of Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, et al. He interrupted the interviewer and said "Look, mate, they may have been your heroes. But they were my FRIENDS." So, yeah. Read the review, and the book, and then go watch "Requiem For A Dream". If you make it, it will certainly "get you in tune with the straight and narrow...."
In any case, "Here we are now, entertain us." is certainly as good a line as "Hope I die before I get old." You have to be careful about these things -- they start off as throwaways, and then haunt you for the rest of your life.
A coincidence (if indeed there are such things) -- I've been continuing to rip old LPs into MP3s, and in front of me is today's effort, the second album of a 22 year old, circa 1963, who seems to have something to say -- "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan". The liner notes say: "Throughout everything he writes and sings, there is the surge of a young man looking into as many diverse scenes and people as he can find, and of a man looking into himself. 'The most important thing I know I learned from Woody Guthrie', says Dylan. 'I'm my own person. I'll never finish saying everything I feel, but I'll be doing my part to make some sense out of the way we're living, and not living, now. All I'm doing is saying what's on my mind the best way I know how. And whatever else you say about me, everything I do and sing and write comes out of ME.'"
So, yeah. We got to keep Dylan, and Townshend, but Kurt slipped through our fingers. A pity.
6:00 PM: I lay on my stomach, staring at my screenplay, wondering a) why the hell I was doing this writing thing and b) why it took me an hour to write one page about my protagonist making a dish of chicken marsala.
I'm not a writer, I think to myself as I rest my head on my folded arms, yearning for the energy to accomplish things. Writers actually give a fuck about what they're writing.
8:00 PM: I halfheartedly turn away from the opening paragraphs of my novel to watch Firefly. But I can't stop rushing back to the computer during commercial breaks. I can't hold back this energy.
I really enjoy these Tips and Strategies from Headquarters. Especially since earlier today, I went ahead with Point #2 unknowingly by completely scrapping my original planned idea and instead beginning to write the big, monstrous, vaguely autobiographical Ugly Friend idea.
Current Word Count: 2358. Which puts me somewhat ahead. If I can do 10,000 words by Sunday, I'll be sittin' pretty.
This is so surreal. I have new scenes in mind. New ways to fictionalize the real and realize the fictional - I just want to keep writing and writing, even though it is most definitely bedtime for me and I am due for some hay-hitting.
I'd forgotten this feeling, this real, genuine desire to create. I wonder what happened to make it go away?
For tonight, at least, I'm so glad I decided to try NaNoWriMo. We'll see what tomorrow holds.