Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Scattered Day

The morning started so well, with the first wave of cards going on the board --

Solid inspiration born out of a good morning of writing in bed. But then I had to hop on a conference call, then head out for a Break the Cycle presentation, so my flow was cut short.

Made a quick stop at Costco on the way back, where the excess is excessive --

I always like to look at the books, so neatly stacked and arranged --

Imagining the day when a book with my name on the cover appears among the titles. Sigh...

Left the store feeling in an emotional and creative funk. Probably because I've been listening to The Last Five Years cast album for two days straight. Raw and really depressing stuff, especially this track --

By the time I got to the Writers Junction for the evening, I wasn't feeling up for anything creative. I tried a few things to cheer up - caught up on photos of Boo, listened to the Hoops & Yoyo Christmas album, and read this beautiful NY Times article about my friend Suzanne's wedding, but never really snapped out of it.

These are the moments where discipline is proven, so rather than go home and call it a night, I forced myself to do one more 30-minute interval of writing that turned into an hour. Ended the night with a whole new set of cards on the board --

Take that, scattered brain!

Monday in Motion

Monday mornings are my favorite thanks to Zumba with Ashley. The best way to kick off my week! (And break my staying up too late / sleeping late cycle.)

The rest of the day was spent in the quiet, creative confines of the WriteGirl office. The view from my "desk," including a glimpse of Executive Director Keren Taylor hard at work --

If anyone knows any affluent people who are interested in changing the world, send them to WriteGirl! We're already transforming girls' lives - we just need sustained financial support to continue doing it. And it's all tax-deductible!

Evening was spent at a mixer for writers in Hollywood, rubbing elbows and talking about scripts. No sarcasm here - you already know how much I love meeting other writers. It was a truly wonderful night.

I connected with a few old friends, and ran into this crowd of people I'd just seen the night before!

They're stalking me, clearly.

By the time I got home, I was exhausted, so no writing happened.  Ack, not good. Promise to carve out time in the morning...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sunday By The Hour

10:53 am - Woke up, shocked that I slept so late. Then remembered that I stayed up until 2am, so maybe it wasn't that weird.

11:15 am - Breakfast in bed!

11:24 am - Settled in for a Relax & Write meditation.

12:08 pm - Meditation completed. Opened my journal and started writing.

1:12 pm - Finished writing another chunk of my sci-fi novel! Indulged in an email, Twitter, and Facebook break. Yes, I was still in bed. (I love my life.)

2:00 pm - Lunch break! Chicken, spinach, artichoke, Parmesan, and egg scramble with fresh squeezed orange juice in a wine glass, because my drinking glasses were all in the dishwasher.

I felt pretty great about my creation until my sister texted me a picture of her lunch --

Korean BBQ - jealous!

I dined while watching the latest episode of Top Chef, featuring guest judge Chef Eddie Huang.

Many of my actor friends recently auditioned for a TV pilot based on Eddie's memoir Fresh Off the Boat, a title that made everyone roll their eyes. What the heck was this show going to be about?

But after watching him in action and doing some online research, I'm intrigued. He's a brash, unique personality who left the good Chinese lawyer son path to become a celebrity chef. It should be an interesting show!

3:10 pm - Transcribing time. I always write my fiction long-hand in journals, which means everything needs to be typed up after the fact. I try not to let the writing stack up too much before I transcribe it, but I've been lazy, which meant I had a lot of catching up to do.

4:00 pm - Still typing. Though I did take a break mid-way to watch these --

5:00 pm - Still typing! Damnit!

5:37 pm - Done! 22,000 words so far. Not that impressive when you consider that I started on January 1st and declared I would be done with this thing by the end of the year. Maybe I should adopt a NaNoWriMo-type mindset and drive to 50,000 words by December 31st. Oh, we'll see...

6:00 pm - Left the house for a party. What? Me at a social event? My friend Julian generously invited me to the cast party for Artist At Play's Cowboy vs. Samurai. I'm a huge fan of their work and am fortunate to count many of the actors and artistic directors as my friends.

I was a fly on the wall as they laughed and reminisced about their successful run --

And enjoyed the best homemade pound cake ever --

10:00 pm - Arrived home and jumped right back into my pajamas. Beat out this blog post and some more thoughts for my new pilot...

1:47 am - Called it a day - good night!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Retreating and Reviewing

Today was more productive than yesterday, but not by much!

I awoke early to read a short film script in preparation for an afternoon student film audition. The script was based on Sherwood Anderson's painfully beautiful short story "The Triumph of the Egg," written in 1921. A classic, moving portrait of desperation and the American dream - read it for yourself!

Then it was off to the annual WriteGirl volunteer retreat! Held at the GRAMMY Recording Academy in Santa Monica. Such a cool building --

Grabbed a brand new journal from a table full of generously donated journals - thank you Paper Blanks and Leuchtturm1917!

Our fearless leader Keren Taylor getting volunteers ready for a new season of mentoring teen girls through creative writing!

Lunch was the best potluck spread ever. Better than any Las Vegas buffet I've ever seen!

Remember those posterboards I bought last night? I used them to make this display to recruit volunteers to the Public Relations team --

Though the In-Schools team leader had me beat with her Mr. T sign --

Ended the retreat with a professional development panel of accomplished women writers and agents --

I love being a volunteer for this inspirational and impactful nonprofit!

My afternoon audition got postponed due to filmmaker illness, so I headed over to the Writers Junction for the rest of the night. Snagged one of the private writing rooms --

And hunkered down for some writing time, baby! I reviewed all my random notes on my pilot idea and started pulling them together into a series proposal. Aiming to finish by tomorrow night in time to send out for writers group!

Ended the night with a little transcription work on my sci-fi novel. Feeling good about tomorrow - a whole day free to just write! We'll see how it goes...

Accountability Check, Please!

Working stiffs often talk about striving to find a work / life balance. Now that I'm working part-time at WriteGirl, one of the non-profits with which I volunteer, I'm realizing I need to find a work / work / life balance.

That is, I need to find enough time in my week for my public relations duties for WriteGirl, my writing, while maintaining some semblance of a life.

In the past few weeks, it's the middle category that's been suffering. I need to get going on this new TV pilot script and I have an unfinished novel nagging at my door. And I'm really eager to spend more time on them. But the one thing I don't have more of is time.

So I'm turning to this blog for some accountability. Like I did during my previous Writer's Diet Experiments, I'm committing to one week of daily blogging, with the hopes that reporting my day to day actions will force me to find a balance.

Because if you don't see me writing enough, I give you permission to fill my inbox with finger-wagging messages. Here goes!

Friday began with an audition for a TV comedy. My waiting room spot was right next to the casting office's drop box, which was overflowing with actors' hopes and dreams --

I was thoroughly entertained by this excellent piece of art in the office --

The Periodic Table of the Muppets? Genius!

After my audition, I headed to the WriteGirl office for the rest of the day, intending to leave by 5pm. I left around 6:30pm. Ack.

Was greeted by this stunning sunset as I got on the freeway --

Made a quick stop at the 99 Cent Only store to pick up some posterboards for a WriteGirl-related art project --

More on that tomorrow...

Then, I made dinner and caught up on episodes of Revenge while doing some more WriteGirl stuff. Looking back, I should have written in the morning before going to my audition. Ah, hindsight.

See why I need help? Here's to more productivity tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Just Get It Done

Coming out of a creativity dry spell takes courage and tenacity. I've been facing a massive one myself. Hours of writing that feel pointless and unusable. Not to mention hours of beating myself up for getting caught in a dry spell. Writers love a vicious cycle.

My breakthrough came the other night at the Writers Junction. My inner critic was raging so loudly that I actually started pacing the halls like an exhausted mother soothing a crying baby.

I ended up wandering into their library - a small strip of a room packed to the gills with books and scripts, including a shelf exclusively reserved for books published by members.

I sat down with my tea and took a deep breath, soaking in the literary milieu, attempting to calm the hell down. I pulled random books off the shelves and read the first page of each, hoping someone else's creative genius might inspire mine to re-emerge.

Some openings were stunningly captivating. Others felt flat and forced. I leafed through a copy of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweilerand was reminded why it was one of my favorite books as a child.

And after just 15 minutes of book-surfing, I had an epiphany - regardless of the content or quality of the writing in all of those books, they all shared one vitally important characteristic --

They were finished.

Good or bad, their authors got to The End and moved on to the next step, which led to the next, and the next, until finally reaching publication, distribution, and a trip to libraries like the one in which I was sitting. So many steps to get from writing the first page to that room.

And I'm getting stuck on step one?!

Call it a reality check to end all reality checks. I can't worry about making my writing better until I get it down on the page. I thought about my writer friend Issac Ho's blog post "My Something Beats Your Nothing." It's true - my own something is better than my nothing.

I was also reminded of this great quote from Kami Garcia, co-author of the Beautiful Creaturesseries of books --

Stuck time was over. I got up, shook off the self-judgment, and did a smidgen of solid writing before heading home with the confidence that the next day would be far less painful. And it was. Thanks, books.

Just write - you can worry about editing, revising, and judging later. Just get it done!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fiction Friday: Love in the Time of Ninth Grade, Part 3

Click here to read Love in the Time of Ninth Grade, Part 1 and Part 2

The marching band’s haunted house was a success, raising $420 for new uniforms. Though Derek, Steve, and Lars were all reprimanded for going off the approved plan and causing injury to a student. They were tasked with dismantling the entire haunted house by themselves.

As Steve and Lars struggled with the giant skull heads, Derek slipped into the Fall Festival to look for Amanda. He found her sitting on a bench with an ice pack to her eye and walked over quickly.

“Hey!” he said with a wave, forgetting that he was holding the marshmallow gun. Amanda flinched at the plastic weapon sailing toward her head. “Oh, sorry.”

She continued to stare at him. Even without speaking, she made him feel calm. He took a deep breath and spoke. “Sorry about the sandbags. I knew they were a bad idea. And I’m sorry about your eye. If it makes you feel better, you can shoot me with this marshmallow gun.”

He held out the gun as a peace offering. Amanda lowered the ice pack to look at him properly. “Derek, right?”


“I’m sorry I called you a jerk. I was just mad.”

“I know. I mean, it’s a haunted house in a soccer field. It’s not actually supposed to be scary.”

Amanda managed a smile and looked at the marshmallow gun in his hand. “How about you buy me some cocoa to go with those marshmallows instead?”

His eyes widened. “Um…okay.”

And as they walked into the festival to find cocoa, Derek Nordvall no longer felt like the most anxious student in the ninth grade. With Amanda Winters at his side, he could handle anything.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Fiction Friday: Love in the Time of Ninth Grade, Part 2

Click here to read Love in the Time of Ninth Grade, Part 1

Life behind the scenes at the haunted house that night was not good. Two of the marshmallow guns wouldn’t work and Steve was panicking. “The whole world already thinks marching band is a joke! Our haunted house can’t suck too!”

Derek, still swimming in his rare state of peace, tapped Steve on the arm with the sole working marshmallow gun.

“Relax. Just throw something else when people come in.”

Lars, the stoner snare drum player, piped up. “How ‘bout those mini-sandbags we use to keep the marimba wheels down?”

“Perfect!” Steve shouted. “Let’s get them!”

Derek frowned. “Wait, no, sandbags could hurt someone.”

“Come on, it will be fine!”

It turned out fine after all because Steve was a lousy shot. Each time a group walked through the curtained entrance, Derek would fire his marshmallow gun, Lars would bang on his makeshift drum and cymbal setup, and Steve would throw the sandbags while they all howled like wolves. The kids would scream or laugh or pretend to be cool before moving on to the next section. Even with the flashing strobe lights, Steve hadn’t managed to hit anyone.

Until Derek looked over the wall from his perch and saw Amanda Winters and her friends approaching. The butterflies that usually crowded Derek’s chest went still at the sight of her. “Guys!” he whispered. “More people!”

When the girls walked through the curtain, Derek howled and fired, taking care not to hit Amanda with any marshmallows. He could see them all laughing from the chaos. But then, in the flickering light, he watched a sandbag strike Amanda square in the eye. She screamed and covered her face. Steve landed another sandbag on her arm.

“Stop! Stop!” Derek yelled. He dropped his marshmallow gun and hopped off his perch, rushing over to her. “Are you okay?” he asked.

Amanda registered his face with her good eye and shoved him with both hands. “No, you jerk!” She and her friends turned and rushed out the entrance, leaving Derek with the dagger of her words in his chest.

Click here to read Love in the Time of Ninth Grade, Part 3