At the top of one of my beat sheet documents:
LEANER. CLEANER. FITTER. HAPPIER. MORE PRODUCTIVE.
It started off for-real and descended into self-amusement. Which is probably my #1 safety valve in my daily life of spending most of my time deep in my own head. Gotta laugh maniacally in the car by myself, ya know? If you don't, I quote Hugo from Bye Bye Birdie: You don't know how to live.
Anyways, that was one of my beat sheet documents, which I keep wanting to spell beet sheat. It was the first go 'round (4 pages) and the second built off of that and included every major moment I thought a scene needed (13 pages). It turns out this was also my safety valve: in my red file folder that contains my scrawlings for this current draft, are pages upon pages of extensive notes, some typed, some hand-written, some in portrait orientation, some in landscape, some in lists, some in messy mind-map-lookin' things. I'm relieved that I do this if for no other reason that I can tell my students that I don't have this hardcore linear way of getting things done, so they don't have to get derailed by the excuse of not being hyper-methodical.
But I'm REALLY relieved just to have this 13-page typed landscape-oriented document to go off of, AND NOTHING ELSE. I check off the beat as I finish it, and circle whatever I failed to squeeze into the text (not that much), in case I need to revisit it when I'm done. (For the little pedantic toady being deep inside me, who has to check things off. ...It's not a bad thing, so I shouldn't be obnoxious about it, but oh well. That's for another blog post.)
This rewrite has been easier because of this. I didn't clock my time on the beat sheet (wish I had), but I think it took me over a week. It wore me out as much as finishing a draft has. I used to hate beat sheets. I think I probably still do, for a first draft. But since I already had the bones, this way I could mess with them. ANOTHER lesson for my students! Poor students! ...But this rewrite has also been easier because I've had the old draft and the new one open, side-by-side, and it's glorious to cut-and-paste. Partly because of the time-saving but also... to see how I'm being a bit leaner, cleaner, and while not fitter and perhaps also not happier, definitely more productive.
Man. First drafts are so bloated and weird. And I can't see how, or why, until I do another draft and then I'm embarrassed anyone ever read it.
I confess to having a mental breakdown about it a few nights ago, though. I've learned a lot of strategies, most of them involving self-talk (as in talking my brain off the ledge, as in "you do not suck and you will do this and it will be fine and you will fix the problems and it will be fine"), but this does not banish the little demons once and for all - but it shrinks them to a less distracting size, as they chatter away in my ear, on my shoulder. In this particular case I was just tired. Mentally tired. I had hit the midpoint and I felt it was all worthless and it sucked. I knew, with part of my brain, that this was just foolishness, but I also felt like a loser about the possibility of it being true. So I went to bed. And did not touch it the next day. But I did put a few feelers out to friends, and they did the work of talking my brain off the ledge, this time. And by the next evening I was back at it. And hopefully by the end of today, I'll be done with the 2nd draft.
And then I can pull out all my notes, ALL of them, and see what I have FAILED to include.
Well, no. But definitely will have to go through and strengthen and clip and re-arrange and question... and hopefully not have a mental breakdown over all that, too.
I was reading a piece about procrastination in Vogue (sadly not online, yet, but worth a read, for sure) by a writer (Adam Green), a successful one by most any other writer's definition of successful (um, having a piece in Vogue, being a theater critic for Vogue, writing pieces for other major publications and having an advance on a memoir, etc.), but one so riddled by self-doubt and fear of writing he's had a wretched battle of ever getting stuff in on time. I can certainly relate. This is no longer a major issue for me because honestly, my ego got too decimated these last few years that I am rarely riddled by self-doubt - probably the only flipside of having experienced EGO DECIMATION. This is probably (I say probably because I can't entirely know for sure if I wouldn't have done it anyway) why I found my way back into screenwriting, and screenwriting is probably why (though I can't entirely know for sure if it was screenwriting that did or if another genre could as well - though I doubt it) I've learned how to keep at something relentlessly until it's where it needs to be at a particular stage/time. It was the thing that could absorb me utterly, and if I never sell a screenplay, it'll be more than ok, because cheesy or no, screenwriting has taught me enormous lessons about some very important things.
But yeah, it was good to read about all the little things Green did to finally get a lock on his writing life. I'm not a hyper-realist but I'm also not into perpetuating youthful starry-eyed glamour after a point - in real life, that is. If you're a writer, that is. That should get funnelled into the actual writing, not saved for the process/lifestyle of it. Psh. Lifestyle. My lifestyle this second involves my sitting on the couch under my embroidered fleece Stitch blanket my mom got me years ago (as in Lilo & Stitch), wearing a fleece robe, blowing my nose from spring allergies, having a sandalwood candle burning that I always forget to blow out (unlike any other candle), applying cherry lip balm obsessively, getting distracted by various hairs on my face that need to be plucked, getting periodically sucked into internet-checking, getting up to "make" a Lean Cuisine and more coffee or crack open more Diet Coke, thinking I should do something like exercise, but more than anything else - because writing is MY BIGGEST SAFETY VALVE OF ALL - wanting to keep going with the story as long as I can.
Writing IS the lifestyle.
...I do want to note that while my ego is not particularly potent, my self-worth is, and I believe in my ideas and have reasonable faith in my abilities. It was an extremely hard lesson to learn, and I have no bones with ego as long as it doesn't oppress other people - but I don't think it is necessarily a necessary thing for others to learn. The way I learned it. Who knows. Who even knows. Maybe I'll know, later. :)
But I'm pretty sure I'm going to scan that Vogue article and give it to my students... heh heh....
The sun is shining. Three more weeks of class. And theatre, theatre, theatre, quite possibly now and forevermore! (Fine by me.) ...I still will have class but I do get a break and then I have a relievingly light load for 2 months. (I know relievingly is not a word.) Mass quantities of things to do before now and then but I'm taking a lil' break just to kind of... take a break?
Get it? Ha, ha. ...Coffee break. Yep. ;) This coffee break goes out to Ashley, because McDonald's.
About halfway through revision and I re-learned that I can't plan to do X amount of scenes or pages or whatever a day. I just have to turn on Freedom for 30 minute increments and just keep doing that for a few hours. And then come back to it later and more minutes and hours and such. That's fine. A time boundary is less oppressive. It's actually not oppressive at all. I like to defy that boundary constantly. I'm so subversive.
Got a lil' prize for myself today, finally - some larger bottles of two of the most exquisite perfumes ever - Portrait of a Lady and Lipstick Rose, by Frederic Malle. (Well. It's his line, but the perfumers are Dominique Ropion and Ralf Schwieger, whose names charm me - especially the former - probably because I love knowing who actually created a perfume.)
It's a prize because it's not a splurge. I got the travel sizes (3 each) and I'm only keeping one of each.
However, Barney's sent me a massive gift-with purchase, a bag full of their "favorites" and it is stuffed to the gills.
I will open it once I write for a loooooooong time.
It's still chilly out, not spring-y yet, but the Lake is thawed and very blue-green green-blue, and while I'm not going to "splurge" on long, langorous trips this year I'm happy to go to hit up a few places, soon... and this summer has become wedding-tastic which means travel-tastic. CO, IL, NC, WI. Don't mind if I do.
Alright, before mid-day tiredness sets in I'm going to go get amped on screenwriting. Don't mind if I do.
If you were ever wondering what I would totally wear, EVERY DAY, if I could, it would be Versace. Vintage Versace.
I'm not being dramatic when I say a Versace dress is what ignited my sartorial self. Way back in the... early 90's. Sorry, puff paint, slouch socks, scrunchies and baggy NKOTB t-shirts, stirrup pants and matching cardigans from County Seat - I do have a special place in my heart for you, but you are nothing. Nothing, compared to the magic of the baroque wonder of Gianni Versace. (Dress courtesy of a choice email from Resurrection Vintage.)
(Disclaimer: I would not actually pay to wear Versace. That is, pay what I would have to pay to wear it. Maybe someday I will find it in a thrift store.) (Disclaimer to disclaimer: I have a Versus by Versace coat I got on eBay for $100. That was pushing it.)
All is set and we're not ready to go, of course - but we will be!
I wrote a lil' experimental 10-minute play about abuse and more abuse, in the context of poverty and slavery. FUN, RIGHT?
...But the whole event will be amazing.
(CPT has a killer graphic artist, whoever it is.)
Somebody obviously has.
The Case Western Reserve Historical Society has a costume wing. You heard it. They have a massive collection, too, and dang, I wish I could see it.
The costume wing is a lil' small (only because it would be the size of a football field if I had my way), but it still packs a punch. I went yesterday for a little Fashion Therapy. (I think the winter blahs are hitting me late.)
I know a lot of the designers but feel too lazy to type them out.
And afterwards, I bought the book from their Galanos exhibit for $6.
I need more fashion exhibitions in my life. The YSL one seems too far away.
(I showed these pics to B afterwards and he says, "You took pictures of all the ones I didn't like." HA)
Seven scenes a day, if not more - that's what I'm "assigning" for my daily revisions of my HORROR MOVIE until I get it done. Am in the stage of thinking it's crap - because I spent a whole lot of time hashing out the beat sheet. It feels like I finished a draft.
And I figured out what I need to do, generally, to rewrite my previous screenplay, the MUSIC MOVIE.
It helped to imagine it as a David O. Russell film. Heh heh.
This probably only interests me, so lemme shift gears... and kick up my feet.
Just kidding. That was this morning. Yep - a kind of morning that involved feet-kicking-upping. I finally feel like I have energy - at 6PM. Ever have those weeks? Where the weekend was more exhausting than the actual workweek?
Did you note the silver tips of my suede slouch boots? Were you aware of their existence? Well, I got them on Etsy in the dead of the snowtastic winter, and haven't worn them much. (Salty snow - bad for suede.) And they're a smidge big (but as Professor Holly Kent said - "but who cares?" and that was the best shoe sizing wisdom I've ever heard). But I love them. The silver tip was the tipping point.
I also did something I've never done before, today: I bought, um, a maternity dress. BEFORE ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE I am NOT prego nor have ANY intention of being so. But I was at Goodwill and I found this rad, new Target dress... and it's maternity. (Puke. Sorry. Just grosses me out.) ...But there is nothing explicitly maternity-y about it. No elastic waist panels. No... anything. It's just long, and pleated, and jersey, and cap-sleeved... so I had to have it. Had no joy last summer in wearing strapless things, so this will be a good substitute.
Please, do, make fun of my expression. Don't know what I was doing, there. Except, probably, admiring my SILVER-TIPPED BOOTS.
Dress: $8. Boots: I forget. $40, I think.
Some feminist Pucci for ya!
...Ok it's not Pucci. But super-Pucci-rip-off-y with the top-bottom set, print, and ultra-wearable jersey. Oh, and being "signed". Label: HOUSE OF SHE.
You heard me right. Now see and behold:
And now, the entire house. Note: brick red. You make the connection. This is the House of She, after all.
I found this at an antique store I like to visit sometimes, in Coventry if you are Cleveland-inclined. Its shoulders and hem are sun-faded but I don't care. It still had its tag, too - was originally $11. I paid $15. Inflation doesn't affect me much, as you can see.
If you think I'm being lazy by sitting down it's because I have to. Not because I am physically incapable of standing, but because mirror. Man, I miss my vanity. (The furniture. My self-based vanity is still very much with me.) If you think I'm being headless, you are also incorrect. But I'm 35 now. I get less photogenic by the second, and believe it or not, I'm not very photogenic to begin with.
...Wait. I'm THIRTY-FIVE.
I'm not going to start dressing like it.
In lighter news, here is a haiku ode to my goose-down powder puff:
Baby's butts are meh.
The Snuggle bear is a hack.
As always, Frances RULES.
I do not lie.
As far as I know, though, you can't get these things anymore unless they're used or deadstock, like this one from Le Fee de Paris. Yup. I long ago despaired I'd never get one, because I was only searching for swan's down, which is MEGA pricey, and then I ran across goose down. Bam. BAM.
...I don't know why they've been banned. Am not pro-cruelty but come on, you can buy feather boa's from freaking Hobby Lobby for seven bucks.
I don't have pets. I have powder puffs.
Revising my horror movie, so far, has been about making sure the structure is solid. I spent a TON of time trying to break the story for the first draft. I found it exceptionally hard. I think this was because it was, and is, a mystery - the story, that is. A lot of horror movies are. It's not terribly different than writing certain kinds of plays, I guess - where the protagonist has to come to some sort of realization there, too. But it IS terribly different in that I have to know it all before I start; this revision is no different. I KNEW the first draft had major plot problems but I just couldn't touch it for a long, long time. And for this draft - while I certainly don't assume it will be the last - I want to deal with those plot problems as deftly and scarily as possible. So I've been sitting at my coffee table, with about 8 sheets of paper in front of me, scritching away at beat sheets and notes, finding the answers to questions, but also finding more questions than answers. BUT. I'm getting there.
And I've discovered that this draft is much, much darker. It has to be. Not because I've dictated that, but that's just where it's going. I don't mean that mystically. I'm starting to think that each major screenplay draft I do, is a different movie. Um, because it is. Der. But sometimes it's just tonally different.
In other news, it's blizzarding out. Apparently throughout the midwest. Photos of snow are clogging my Instagram and Facebook feeds. Some people aren't happy about it. I am, because it meant I didn't have to give my speech this morning. :) And have the weekend to practice it a bit more. I'm already giving myself a B. I won't let any student who hasn't shown up to 90% of the classes actually grade me (I promised the diligent students that they could). It makes me crabby to even think about what they would say if I let them. I can't believe I opened up a way to make me feel slightly vulnerable about any of my abilities. ;) But the student who asked is SO PUMPED that I'm going to do one. Sigh.
I feel sad today, though. I like watching the snow, and don't have to be anywhere, and I have my choice of what two things I want to work on revising. But some days are just sad. One of my classes just ended and as much as I tried to help, some students just didn't want it enough. To pass. Sometimes this is heartbreaking to me.
Compassion is a strange thing. I think it can be cultivated. I think it can be ignored. Sometimes it has to go rogue and underground. It often feels that way with students - I'm not their buddy, I'm their teacher. Some of them will always be wary of me for no other reason than the structure of authority. Some of them won't give a crap about my wanting them to succeed - on very specific but beneficial terms. I wonder what everyone else is like. I wonder what amount of teachers care, and what they think of the challenges their students face. I could probably blog about this endlessly, but I generally don't, because I don't want to cite specific instances.
The relentless weather makes sense to me because in this crazy year that has essentially 180'd my life into something I never expected it to be, I have to be relentless with myself. Relentless. A lot of wonderful things have happened, but I'm not done. I'm not all there. I probably won't ever be there all the way. I used to want to achieve things for a blend of altruistic and non-toxic egocentric reasons. The altruism is mostly intact. The ego is not. I accept myself, for sure. But a lot of what I do, I do it because I can. I do it because I promised to. I do it because I'm not alone, even when I want to be alone, or feel like a loner in my mind and choices. The only way I want to be "set" is in fiercely valuing the human spirit. Because this can contain everything good, I think.
And a lot of really hard things have happened. I don't dwell on them, nor do I say they had to happen in order for me to grow. They happened; they happen. I try not to box them, or the people involved in them, in, such as by making proclamations ex post facto that colors them all one shade. I get that things are very, very complex. I hate having to make stark decisions when I know things are complex. Someone said to me recently that they thought the only kind of courage is when a person has to decide between two very, very difficult things, and there is no easy answer. I'm not saying I'm courageous, because I'm not. But I try to be. And sometimes I just have crawl into a corner and be a freak. Sigh.
I don't actually like that my screenplay is getting darker. I have to go there with it, and it's hard. But maybe it'll mean it's a bit more than a popcorn flick (though I love those). I certainly hope so. I largely just hope for myself that I am helpful; but if I get to be a little entertaining, that's fine too. ;)
But enough of my self-indulgent commentary. NEW WORLDS AWAIT. In my head and maybe elsewhere, too. :)