Investing (literally) in my career

I just paid $147 to Spec Scout for three reviews of my screenplay, “How to Not Die Alone.” I was debating what service to use among these three:

  • The Black List
  • InkTip
  • Spec Scout

I ended up choosing Spec Scout because if you have high enough scores, they put your script on their website which industry folk have access to (and they pay a fee for that access). InkTip seems awesome, but anyone can post a screenplay so an industry person looking for a script can’t really trust the quality. As for the Black List, it just is more expensive because there’s a monthly fee and you need to pay to have your script read in addition to the monthly fee.

I’ve also been applying to graduate schools which adds up. Not only do you have pay for the application fee (anywhere from $50 to $125 (yes, that’s YOU Hunter College), you have to sometimes pay to photocopy scripts and get your transcripts mailed.

Suffice to say, it all adds up. I’m glad I’m working a corporate job these days. All I can say is – I hope it’s not all for naught.

 

 

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Where I am.

As 2012 races to a close, I’m finishing up my graduate school applications and hoping this is the final year. Heck, it will be the final year.

This has been a pretty great year overall. I started out unemployed and scared, and eating way too many frozen meals for it to be okay, but I ended the year feeling good about things. I’ve been productive with my writing and I’m on track to finish two screenplays in 2012 –  “How to Not Die Alone” and “Holly 2.0.”  They are both high-concept dramedys that admittedly, I had bits and pieces written before. But I finally put them all together. This seems to have been my year of screenplays.

It’s not surprising to me because I started out writing screenplays and migrated to plays for a few years, and now I hope to navigate both. I have always been a movie obsessive and majored in film and media studies in college. It was kind of hard to avoid in my family, especially with my dad having being a cameraman for thirty years. I think watching him manage a family and an artistic career made me believe, “wow, I could do this too.”

This Spring, I’ll be diving right back into a draft of my new play – semi-inspired by the planets and astronomy. I’m excited because I can workshop it in the advanced playwriting class I’m taking at Primary Stages with Cusi Cram.

And simply because I love Mike Leigh (“Happy, Go-Lucky” is one of my all-time favorite films)

” I do not make films which are prescriptive, and I do not make films that are conclusive. You do not walk out of my films with a clear feeling about what is right and wrong. They’re ambivalent. You walk away with work to do. My films are a sort of investigation. They ask questions.”

— Mike Leigh

Hurricane Sandy and Writing

I thought that maybe I’d get some more writing done with the downtime during Hurricane Sandy. Alas, I did not. Instead, I ate a lot of Stouffer’s French Bread Pizzas and watched the rest of Homeland, Season 1. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that when I have more free time, I do less writing. I think a lot of writers share this problem and I know there’s some psychological reason that that’s the case.

I still managed to write a little bit every day but not in the large time slots I had hoped for.

In other news, I did manage to apply to two major writing programs/conferences in the past week:

The O’Neill and the MFA in Screenwriting Program at UCLA. More and more I’ve been finding myself really excited to work on screenplays – if for nothing else than to prove to myself that I can do it.

Well, that’s all for now. My brain is a bit foggy from being inside so much. Hope you and your loved ones are safe.

“I suppose this is what I meant when I wrote what I did, sweet pea, about how it is we cannot possibly know what will manifest in our lives. We live and have experiences and leave people we love and get left by them. People we thought would be with us forever aren’t and people we didn’t know would come into our lives do. Our work here is to keep faith with that, to put it in a box and wait. To trust that someday we will know what it means, so that when the ordinary miraculous is revealed to us we will be there, standing before the baby girl in the pretty dress, grateful for the smallest things.”
Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

Hello, Queens.

So, I’m leaving Brooklyn and heading to live in Queens. It was a rather abrupt life change and it’s scary and weird to be living on my own again in a completely new neighborhood. (But this means I can apply for the Mission to Ditmars play reading series!). Last night I realized that since graduating from college, I’ve moved to a new apartment almost every year. That makes me sad. Especially being officially over 30. I wonder when this state of transition will end.

It’s been a time of a lot of things “almost” happening and then not. I almost got into a fantastic graduate program with full funding but instead made it to the wait list. I almost got a game changing writing fellowship but didn’t. Amongst others things. Sorry if this post is a bit angsty and emo – I’m blaming it on the weather. I worry about my optimism fading – and I have to somehow safeguard that. I haven’t quite figured that out, but if anyone has ideas, I’m open to hearing them!

On the bright note, I’m thiiiiiiiiiiiiiissss close to having a solid draft of my screenplay that I’ve been hammering out for wow, a year now. It makes me happy and it was a blast to write. I feel good about it. I feel like I’m broken the “I’ll never write a good screenplay again” spell that I was under for a few years while I devoted myself to playwriting. So there’s something. Now onto revisions of my play “Gorgeous.” Stay tuned for details on a reading Saturday, October 6th.

Stay dry.

 

 

 

 

 

Write every day.

I just finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” which is essentially a non-fiction account of the author attempting to bring more happiness and joy into her life by focusing on different goals every month for a year. I loved the book, and I am excited for her next book, “Happier at Home,” which is all about how to maximize happiness in your home space.

I subscribed to her daily email list and today she sent out a particularly resonant quote. I’d love to share that here.

“If you do the same thing every day at the same time for the same length of time, you’ll save yourself from many a sink. Routine is a condition of survival.”

–Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being, letter to “A,” February 10, 1962

This was in reference to O’Connor’s writing habits. I love this because I try to do the same thing in my own life. She wrote 3 hours every day and unfortunately, I can’t say the same. But I do wake up every morning and try to write for as long as I can before it’s time to start my workday.

Writing Input/Output

For the first time in my life, I’ve been going pretty consistently to the gym. It’s been about  7 months and I only go about 1-2 times a week, but I feel a whole lot better. I feel a bit calmer overall. The thing is, I haven’t really seen any major difference muscle-wise. But I imagine I must have gained muscle mass in some way. So I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can collect data about my input/output. Perhaps a body fat breakdown would do the trick.

Thinking about all this body data got me thinking about my writing output. How do writers measure their input vs. output?

Do you measure your output in terms of pages or time spent writing?

For me, I measure by time spent writing. To me, pages are never really indicative of how I’m progressing as a writer. It’s more the time spent tinkering and thinking – even if it takes me 1 hour to write half a page, it counts more than 10 pages in a half hour.

More and more, I’ve been learning that for me, it’s really just about how much time I’ve invested in my writing. So I’ve been slowly trying to push myself to write more and more each week, trying to get to that elusive 10,000 hours to be an expert.

In other news, I’ve been getting seriously into finishing two screenplays that I’d put on the back burner. It took me awhile to get back into that way of writing, but I feel like I’ve gotten over the initial bump. I’m not allowing myself to write another play until I finish a solid draft of one of the screenplays. I’m chomping at the bit, but I’m going to wait…

I hope you are all enjoying your Summer. Make Pages! (Or…Spend Time Writing!)