Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Fears of Job Security and Other Fun Things

This is less of a post, more of a rant, I suppose. Actually, less of a rant, and more of a...concern? I think that maybe, this might be the best outlet to share these concerns because (unfortunately), we might all be in the same boat. I say this because the majority of us are likely seeking some sort of creative career involving writing. For some of us it's the goal of being a published author, for others, it's becoming an editor, and some, screenwriters.

I'm not sure if I'm just coming from a conventional, strict sort of family, but I do get a plethora of interesting responses when I inform someone of my intended career path.

I get a lot of, "Oh...like, on the side of your actual job, right?"

Sometimes, it's just flat out, "Oh. Risky, huh?"

Other times, it's the sympathetic relative who wants to crush your dreams gently, without doing so directly. So they whip up some response, and it generally comes out like: "Well, as long as you know that it's not likely, and that you pursue something else, and do this on the side, why not?"

And while my initial reaction might be, "No Cheryl, I can't be a screenwriter and a neruosurgeon at the same time," I feel inclined to understand.

And I mean, to some degree, I understand. When the job market is already so competitive, why on Earth would we plunge ourselves into one of the least stable career groups? Why not become a doctor, or a lawyer, or an engineer, (or all three, if my parents had their way)?

I often ponder if I'm on the right track. There's a lot of evidence that suggests I am, but I do feel insecurities creeping in sometimes. First and foremost, I love writing. And this is setting aside any concerns of whether I'm any good, or if I'll ever make it "big". I simply enjoy the processs. There's something cathartic and therapeutic of being able to string words together to perfectly encapsulate what I'm thinking or feeling at any given time.

It's all I've ever really been good at (arguably). Suffice it to say, I'm not the best math student, there's no career for me in history, and if all the people with my grasp of science wanted to go into the field, the world would be doomed. I thought I couldn't have a career in politics because of underqualifications, but this last presidential election sure proved me wrong. 

I know that this job, (screenwriting, in my case), is the only sort of career that will ever make me truly happy.

But I also know what it's like to have food on my plate every night, and I'm kind of attached to that stability, too.

Maybe this is just an exaggeration, but I feel as if this is how our society regards those who aspire to go into creative fields, whether it be an artist, a writer, a performer, etc.

I wish I could tie this to a solution, right about now. It certainly feels expected, what with the way I've formatted this post. But I don't have one. It seems, everywhere I look, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to ignore my fears in pursuit of my dreams. And while people often say, "Follow your dreams at any costs"- those people probably have stable jobs themselves, and don't fear paying off college debts and being jobless right out of university.

Just something to ponder, I suppose.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Fine Line Between Progression and Being Out of Character

Recently, I've run into a bit of a paradoxical situation when I've been writing characters that I've established for quite some time now.

I can best pose it in the question, "How far can character progression go before they simply become, 'out of character'?"

Let's say we have character A, who's known to be a hardass, a stickler for the rules, disciplined, etc.

Over the course of the novel, movie, story, whatever, character A softens up to the people around her. She cracks more jokes, she smiles more, she's even okay with playing hooky from work, all because of her exposure to this new friend group that she's made, or something to that effect.

Look at what you've started with, and what you've ended with. The dynamic is completely different. The way they'd respond to something in the beginning of the story should be a complete 180 from how they would react at the end.

This might be a good thing. It might be bad. But this begs the question, is that progression?

Readers tend to get attached to the way certain characters behave. If you're constantly shifting the morals and the attitudes of a character, it feels...messy. You're not really sure where they stand, or how they're going to respond to something, and it's this ambiguity that bothers certain readers. They expect a character to be a certain way.

Again, an example:

Let's say that character A is asked to skip work to embark on the roadtrip of a lifetime.

Your readers now have different ideas of what the response is. Reader 1 might argue, "Well, she's obviously going to say no, because work is everything to her, and I like that about her. She gets shit done."

Reader 2 might say, "Oh, she'll totally say yes, because she's changed, now. She's happier."

So who's correct? How can both versions of the same characters exist at once?

This sort of idea of progression frightens me a little, because it takes an established character, and does away with the characteristics that make them who they are, in a sense. And if people don't agree with this new version of your character, are you shit out of luck?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Word Count Wednesday!

What am I working on? 

I started working on a new screenplay/play that's doubling as my assignment for class. It's the weirdly controversial one about the terrorist and his (or her) roots. 

How do I feel about the process? 

It's a little difficult to really get the message of the story across without also spreading a message that condones terrorism? I want it to reflect the roles the general "west" has on these people without naming countries. I want to express what a day in the life of one of these innocents was before western occupation, then what happened to forge them into the spiteful people we seem them as, (at least how the media portrays them). It's not really meant to be a sympathy piece, or a message of accusation. It's supposed to just be an unbiased reflection of the other side of the story, what we don't hear in media outlets. I'm not really sure how or if it will come together, but it's been interesting doing the amount of research that I have.

What am I reading? 

Lots of articles from the past few years regarding the subject. I bet the CIA is suspiciously monitoring my google searches, now. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Creative Writing Experiment 6

A world exactly like our own, except...

  1.  A world exactly like our own, except when someone does a terrible parking job, they lose their rights to drive an automobile forever 
  2. A world exactly like our own, except you are fined every time you utter a curse word. 
  3. A world exactly like our own, except intellectuals are revered over entertainers. 
  4. A world exactly like our own, except gender does not exist. 
  5. A world exactly like our own, except Pangea never split up. 
  6. A world exactly like our own, except colleges PAY YOU to attend. 
  7. A world exactly like our own, except the need for food and water is gone. 
  8. A world exactly like our own, except you can purchase knowledge. 
  9. A world exactly like our own, except the government is pure and uncorrupted. 
  10. A world exactly like our own, except space has been colonized. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Word Count Wednesday!

What am I working on? 

I found an old journal of mine from when I was 8-10 years old, and I'm trying to polish it and also make an online copy of it for...posterity.  

How do I feel about the process? 

It's hilarious to read how naive and excited I was about everything back then. It's riddled with grammatical and spelling errors, and it's just...innocent. I can see myself trying to be funny, and failing miserably. (I must have thought it was damn great at the time). I'm working on transferring it to my computer, but I want to preserve the errors. Also the smudges. It really puts things into perspective for me. I mean, if anyone told me I was going to aspire to be a writer later on, I think I would've died laughing. It's terrible. 

What am I reading? 

Just my journal, at the moment. I have a to-read list I'd like to pick up, but there's not a lot of spare time at the moment. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Word Count...Thursday

What am I working on? 

STILL working on polishing that screenplay! 

How do I feel about the process? 

I'm proud of it but I also hate it at the same time, if that makes any sense?  

What am I reading? 

Just our Stephen King text.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Narrative Project (Pt.1)

This was originally adapted for a screenplay for a film project I’m working on:

“You know, it takes a lot out of you.” The words crackled to the young marine over the less than ideal internet connection, the figure of her sister an amalgamation of grainy seeds on a screen, formed vaguely in the shape of her face.
A face etched with concern.
“I like to think that sometimes, it’s going to be okay.” Her sister went on, the telltale lilt of her tone suggesting that it was anything but okay. “I think we’re all entitled to that hope, right?”
The marine nodded, wondering if her sister could even see the movement, the doubt reinforced doubly by the grainy quality of the video chat, or the fact that she was so wrapped up in the words that spilled out of her own lips, a quiet sense of piercing emotion behind every syllable.
“But then again, I’m reminded of what’s at stake.” Her sister blew out a breath, almost laughing in a sort of melancholy, hopeless tone. “What happens if things don’t go our way? What happens when I’m not there?”
“You’re overthinking this.” The marine assured softly, her hands resting just under the table upon which the monitor sat, in the darkened communication room on her base. She didn’t have too much time, she knew she was required elsewhere, but this conversation was so...dire.
She’d never seen her sister- her older sister, her tough, gritty, icon that she grew up admiring- broken to such a shell of the woman she normally was.
She felt guilty, like the weight of an anvil was pressed upon her shoulders, and she couldn’t meet her sister’s gaze. Part of this was her fault. Part of this was due to the fact that she was out in the badlands of some country that didn’t ask to be ransacked the way it was. Part of this was due to the fact that she wasn’t home.
“Sleepless nights.” Her sister continued, as if she’d added nothing at all to the conversation, (and maybe she hadn’t). “Do you know what sleep deprivation does to the body?”
The marine nodded her head.
It was part of her profession to know.
“You don’t notice it at first, but pretty soon you’re sleeping maybe...two hours a night, at best. And it kills your routine, the next morning.” Her sister pressed on, as if getting closer and closer to the tip of the spear that she was intent on driving into the heart of the conversation.
Soft whirrs of the nearby computers and flickering lights of the sleeping monitors gave the marine little peace.
“The cries.” Her sister continued. “They tear a little piece of your soul out, every time. Every cut, every scrape, every bruise is a reminder of mortality, a nick in your coat of armor, a cautionary tale. It’s enough to drive someone crazy.”
The marine swallowed the lump in her throat, nodding slowly, knowing that it was enough acknowledgement for her sister to continue.
“And I think the worst part of it is knowing that you can’t stop every bruise, and every fall, and every cut. And you can’t stop it because….well, you’re not enough. You’re one person, and despite all the training, and the classes, and the lessons from mom and dad….you’re alone. And being alone is the worst, because not only are you prone to failure, but you have to accept that they’re your failures, and only yours.”
The marine felt her lips dry, licking them with apprehension as her sister sighed, her blurry hand moving to pinch the bridge of her nose (as far as her sister could make out on the grainy display).
“It’s harrowing.” Her sister finished softly, an echo of her rising tone just moments before. “And I know that no one said being a single mother was going to be easy, but…” She trailed off, a gentle crease in her brow as the connection cleared up momentarily, enough for the marine to see the tears pooling in her sister’s eyes, glazing her own vision as she felt herself react.  “No one said it was going to hurt this badly, either, you know?”
The marine woke up startled, reliving the last conversation she’d had with her sister. Before she’d been killed a day later, in a car accident, leaving behind her son of only six years.