Commitment

March 30, 2010

Sunlight on a Japanese screen

Sunlight on a Japanese screen

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I feel guilty about it. Even if this post is only for myself, and only a way to help me put my words down in a form that is easily accessible, I feel guilty if I can’t get to the blog on a regular basis.

The reasons why are not important, but what my “absence” has made me realize is: All writing is about commitment. Words do not get on the page by themselves. Someone (preferably human) has to write them down or type them up. This requires commitment.

This last week when other things were distracting me (or, as others would be quick to point out, when I was allowing things to distract me), I did not put my efforts into my screenplay. I let other things take priority.

Sometimes, yes, there are other things that demand attention (and not only things, but people)… and I am still struggling to find that balance between “dealing” with things and making it clear to all around me (but most importantly to myself) that I am a writer. “Being a writer,” to me, means 1) getting my thoughts out of my head and onto the page before they drive me insane, and 2) getting my thoughts down in such a way that they make sense to me (and perhaps others).

The “reason” for my being distracted will be ending today… and I am ecstatic. But I think, more importantly, that during this period of time when I was “away,” that my mind kept saying, “Don’t forget about the script! Don’t forget about your stories! Don’t forget about your time–the precious time you need to write.”

So, today is an opportunity to remind myself that, yes, I write. And, yes, I make the commitment to write. And today is also an opportunity to observe that, once again, “wanting” and “doing” are different things and when I am “doing” I am not thinking about “wanting.” So, whatever your creative dreams are, I hope you are actively “doing” them, because, at least as far as I know, that’s the only way they’ll ever get done.

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Focus

March 9, 2010

Teapot City

I started this blog for myself, but what has come out of it are comments and observations from fellow writers about the struggle to write. About the feeling of loneliness, despair, confusion… yes, I would say those feelings come up often. But I would also say that it’s very easy to fall prey to those feelings and not focus on the larger task at hand: the act of writing.

I met with a dear friend the other day who has decided to take the plunge and rewrite a short story she has kept under wraps for many years. But she was quickly hit by a barrage of mixed emotions: Am I doing the right thing? How will I know when it’s good enough? How do I know when to stop? What if I don’t make any money on this? Will I make any money on this? Am I wasting my time? Do I really need feedback… shouldn’t an artist express himself/herself as he/she sees fit?

Tough questions, yes. Answers? I would say “Focus on the writing.” Do not let your mind wander down other nooks and crannies because, in my experience, they lead nowhere. As I was told by Ellen Sandler, the author of The TV Writer’s Workbook, “Your job is to write.”

This simple sentence sums up very clearly what I am supposed to be focusing on. It quickly sweeps away all the other “noise” in my head. I cannot show anything to anybody, I cannot win any competitions, I cannot sign any “deals,” I cannot interest anyone in anything until I have something to offer them. In other words, I must write. That is the first step.

So, fellow scribes, if any of you out in there in cyberspace stumble across my humble blog, don’t fret about the big picture — write about it. Then, maybe there will actually be a big picture… in more ways than one.

Trust Your Voice

March 6, 2010

Fields of My Dreams

Fields of My Dreams

I was doing a little pre-spring cleaning today, getting rid of the old, making room for the new. In the process I found so many forgotten treasures. I discovered to my absolute delight that songs I had created 10 years ago on my old PC (tucked under my desk) are able to be played (and edited) on my MacBook Pro through the magic of Midi conversion. It just couldn’t have come at a better time, since I and my co-writer have been trying to breathe new life into these songs with the help of an interested producer. So, that started the day off right.

And then… just like a movie, I found some old diary entries on the floor. I was shuffling notebooks and things around and they just fell out. I picked them up and this is what I saw circled:

“Trust your voice–it’s the only voice you have.”

This simple reminder to myself, written almost 8 years ago, shook me to the core. It is so easy in this world to be dismissed, laughed at and drowned out by all the squeaky wheels, the screamers, the shouters… the list goes on. And yet, I have slowly but surely realizing, in my bones, that my voice counts. My voice deserves to be heard — and, for any of you who have felt yourself pushed to the back of the room because you weren’t sure whether your voice had any value, let me say right here and now that it has so much value that if you do not use it you are making a big mistake.

I am reminded (since I’m old enough) of the wonderful moment in Wizard of Oz of the following dialogue:

Oz: I am Oz — the Great and Powerful. Who are you? Who are you?!

Dorothy: If you please, I am Dorothy — the small and meek. We’ve come to ask —

Oz: Silence!

Well, she may have started off  “small and meek,” but when she realized she had been treated unfairly, despite completing all the tasks she was asked to — she spoke up. She let her voice be heard. She made a difference. She humbled that old “wizard,” and she became a more powerful person by trusting her voice.

I’m going to make this my mantra and I’m going to stop pushing my talents to the wayside. It’s time to start trusting my voice  and making myself heard.

You Can

March 4, 2010

Decorate your table

Like a lot of creative people, I have struggled with the belief that I actually have anything to offer. This is why I am great at investing my time and energy into other activities and other non-creative related jobs. It makes me feel like I am doing something, that I am contributing to society, that I am somehow participating. But at the end of the day there is still that feeling that I am not answering to myself.

I didn’t really connect with this feeling until my dear friend and co-writer turned me on to The Artist’s Way. For those of you who don’t know about this book and philosophy, let me just sum it up in two words: “Morning Pages.” One of the benefits from reading The Artist’s Way was learning how to do “Morning Pages,” as author Julia Cameron refers to them.

Without going into lengthy detail, “Morning Pages” unlocked many doors to my mind, heart, dreams, and imagination. It subtly and not so subtly made me see how I had been cheating myself out of opportunities by not believing in what I had to offer. For that, I am grateful. I believe it is after I read the book that I finally “got the message.” I have now written my own book, Freelancing in Tokyo, produced two short films, written numerous scripts, and won awards in the process.

And yet… I still struggle every morning with “Facing the Page.” Today I struggled mightily, but once I said, “Oh, for Pete’s sake, all right, already, I will sit down and write!”… once I said that, I could not stop. My short film script is essentially done and I finally feel my feature is actually going to be completed soon (at least the first draft). These are wonderful feelings and I guess what I want to say is:

There is a lot of internal “noise” that constantly tells us “no” — while I can think of some choice responses, the best thing to tell yourself (and the noise or the voices or whatever you want to call them) is: “I can.” Today, I didn’t think I could, but not only did I put in time on two scripts, I made a storyboard for a video I’m collaborating on and finished two assignments for a magazine I edit for. So, surprise, surprise, I can, I do, I could and I did!