Wednesday Writing

Are you writing today?

No, because you’re reading this blog. 😉 Trick questions there. But since you’re reading, go check out this article: 12 Fundamentals of Writing the ‘Other’

I stumbled upon it by accident, but it’s really well written and covers some really good points about writing from a perspective that is not our own. (And just ignore the fact that it comes from Buzzfeed until you get into it. I was skeptical at first too.)

I don’t know if it just hit me because there was another murder of an unarmed black man yesterday, or if I’m just whirling around in that head space, but I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be an ally. As a heterosexual white female, how can I be an ally to my homosexual friends? How can I show my support, that I can more than hashtag #BlackLivesMatter ?

For me, this article just reminded me that one of the best ways is to keep writing diversity into my work. To not default to white, but to purposefully add colors to my worlds. We don’t live in a Leave It to Beaver world, we live in a world with color. And I’d rather see that in my writing.

2016- The Year of Learning

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This year my goal is to learn, to hone my skills, to really knuckle down, acquire discipline, and pursue learning. I’m continuing work on my screenwriting certificate and applying to fellowships and competitions to really try and hone my skills and develop my craft.

In addition, I discovered a fashion design certificate on groupon, and have purchased and begun a year long semi-intensive certificate in fashion design. I’ve always been interested in clothes, sewing, runway, and the creation of the things we wear everyday, so why not? It may take 10,000 to master a craft, but I enjoy a good diversion and feel it’s important to let the brain wander in different directions.

This year, instead of trying to read 25-50 books, I’m selecting 12 books from my shelves and working my way through one book per month. These are books on the craft of screenwriting (I have at least 10 half-started), books I’ve long wanted to read but never actually picked up (Quiet: Power of Introverts), books I’ve enjoyed but gotten distracted from (House of Leaves), or books that will highlight other pursuits (Born to Run). In short, I’m trying to consolidate and optimize my time.

Now, I think resolutions are bunk. They’re like a pie crust promise: easily made and easily broken. (We can all thank Mary Poppins for that bit of wisdom.) But goals– these are sustainable and empowering. One thing I discovered last year that has really allowed me to hone in on the things I want, and get them done in a timely manner, is Passion Planner.

passion

This gem has really helped me, especially because it includes a lot of visual components and places to make lists, keep things together, and progress points to really look at how you’re doing each month, and whether you’re really making progress. If you don’t already have a planner you love, I recommend giving Passion Planner a try.

What are some of your goals for the new year? Do you have a theme or focus that’s driving you?

30 days of Letters

A letter, such a simple, easy thing to write, yet so difficult and so rarely used.  I’m embarking on a challenge of writing 30 letters, one per day, to various people and ideas. Now, most of these letters I can’t actually send.  I found this challenge on Habitica, and I love the concept.  I write to my grandma (not as often as I should) and I miss that people don’t write more letters to one another. The ones I can’t actually send I’m going to post here, because, well, why not?  To give you an idea of what’s coming, here are the 30 days:

Day 1: Your Best Friend *Mailed

Day 2: A crush (I picked my husband) *Written, not delivered

Day 3: Your parents *Written, not mailed yet

Day 4: A sibling/close family member (I’m picking grandma)

Day 5: About your dreams

Day 6: A stranger

Day 7: Your ex boyfriend/girlfriend

Day 8: Your favorite internet friend (I’m just going to pick a different friend on this one)

Day 9: Someone you wish you could meet

Day 10: Someone you don’t talk to as much as you’d like to

Day 11: A deceased person

Day 12: The person who caused you a lot of pain

Day 13: Someone you wish could forgive you

Day 14: Someone you’ve drifted away from

Day 15: The person you miss the most

Day 16: Someone not in your state/country

Day 17: Someone from your childhood

Day 18: The person you wish you could be

Day 19: Someone that pesters your mind– good or bad

Day 20: The one that broke your heart the hardest

Day 21: Someone you judged by their first impression

Day 22: Someone you want to give a second chance

Day 23: The last person you kissed

Day 24: The person that gave you your favorite memory

Day 25: The person you know that is going through the worst of times

Day 26: The last person you made a promise to

Day 27: The friendliest person you know

Day 28: Someone that changed your life

Day 29: The person that you want to tell everything to, but are afraid

Day 30: Your reflection in the mirror

So not all of these are things I can mail, or would want to mail. But the ones I can’t, I’ll post here.  And update on what I’ve mailed or not mailed, as the case may be.

Letter writing just resonates with me, maybe it’s because our mailboxes are full of bills and junk and advertisements to buy things; I mean, when was the last time you opened your mailbox and it held a letter?  My grandma writes me, even when I don’t write her very often, and it always makes my heart glad when I see that letter in the mail.

What do you think? Maybe embark on this challenge with me or at least write a note to a loved one?

Word Problems

Whew!

So I’m attempting to apply for a seasonal job at Anthropologie.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to work there?  I can only imagine that the discount is amazing, and getting a chance at their clothes and merch for cheaper sounds like a win.  Unless I end up spending my entire paycheck and giving it back to the store… But I digress from my blog topic.

Word problems.  I thought I left stuff like that behind in grade school.  Nothing more confusing than when you got a math test and it asked:

If Jack has a three gallon pail of water, and Jill has a two gallon pail of water, how fast will they fall down the hill if the water buckets are half full?

But man, I just took the little intro quiz thing these companies make you do to try and weed out the thieves, stoners, and lazy people, and it was tough.  It wasn’t easy like when I applied to Taco Bell years ago and the questions were “Is it okay to steal?”  I mean, that one is pretty straight forward.  Urban Outfitters ups their game and has you answer from 1 – 10 on an Agree/Disagree scale.

I felt like I was going through a subtle psyc eval the entire time I was taking the quiz.  I’m really curious how the results pop out.  Is there a ratio for giving strong agrees/disagrees vs giving weak responses?  I think I failed some of them, but the questions are a bit tricky.  Most of the questions are two parters– so it’s hard to say if you’re answering for the right part. For instance;

I used to always show up late, but don’t anymore.

If you agree, then you are saying you show up late.  No one wants an employee who rolls in late all the time. So do you say you don’t show up late?  If you disagree too strongly, does it look suspicious?  I’m very anti stealing, and have very strong opinions on it, but is being too disagreeable seem like I’m overcompensating?

It’s very interesting.  I would love to know if anyone out there gets to look at results from “opinion surveys” like this.  Is it like a mini psyc eval? Can you tell a lot about a person by what the answers are?  Or does the computer just spit out a yes or no based on the results?  Can it tell what sort of issues an employer is going to have with an employee?

Success, and the fear of

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Success.

That word is packed with so many things. Hopes, fears, aspirations, and conflict. At least, the idea of success in my mind fills me with conflict and conflicted emotions.

I have a fear of success.

I know that it’s bizarre, and completely irrational, but it doesn’t make me procrastinate any less or try to avoid being successful. I know that it stems from my childhood and where it comes from, but that knowledge doesn’t make the nervous whirl in the pit of my stomach go away when I think of actually trying to go after something I want. It’s the same feeling I get when I think of the times I was successful as a kid and then other kids made fun of me. I’m not sure that there is a worse feeling than being made fun of for doing well– you succeeded, yet you are still a loser. I ran my hardest in cross country and managed to come in second place! My less successful teammates mocked me for running the B group instead of the A group, taking away my hard won success. So my brain equates success with losing, and that’s not really a good way to get to where I, or anyone, wants to be in life.

I just did some research on the fear of success, and it’s a legit thing. It is nice to know I’m not the only one who suffers from this. So I want to share some of the articles and found and what I am doing to overcome this fear.

Step 1: Buckle down and do it. I overcame my fear of talking to strangers and being shy by just doing it. I live in LA, and an ability to network is a requirement. If I can’t make small talk with strangers I’ll never get jobs or make connections. And, more importantly, I would be spending all my time alone at home because I wouldn’t have any friends. Most of my current friends are people I randomly met at a party, started talking to, and found that they were fantastic. So I’m applying that same logic to my fear of success. I know I have the fear, but I just have to face it head on if I want to overcome it. It will be a struggle, something I probably always carry with me, but the more I do it the easier it will get.

Step 2: Ask myself these questions. I found these questions today, and I’m going to include them in my ‘diary’ on a regular basis. (My diary is more a reflection of my day and musings about my goals and where I want to be.) The questions are these:

How will my friends and family react if I accomplish this goal?

How will my life change?

What’s the worst that could happen if I achieve this goal?

What’s the best that could happen?

Why do I feel I don’t deserve to accomplish this goal?

How motivated am I to work toward this goal?

What am I currently doing to sabotage, or hurt, my own efforts?

How can I stop those self-sabotaging behaviors?

This questions came from an amazing article, very worth reading: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/fear-of-success.html I highly recommend spending time every week thinking through these questions. The article recommends 15 minutes to really think about them, and that’s what I’m going to. Every week.

Step 3: Stop beating myself up. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be successful, yet I then turn around and sabotage myself. After sabotaging myself, I beat myself up for failing, yet again, to overcome and strive for what I want. Condemning myself doesn’t do anything to help, and only re-affirms the concept that I don’t deserve success. So from now on I’m going to value my successes and forgive myself for any stumbles. As the photo says, mistakes mean I’m trying. And what could be better than trying to be my best?

My current sabotage involves not writing on my screenplay and doing everything under the sun to procrastinate. I want more than anything to be a writer, yet if I never write I don’t fail and I don’t succeed. I just stay exactly where I am. …which is a hallmark of a fear of success.

This article: http://99u.com/articles/14347/are-you-subconsciously-afraid-of-success also looks at what some of the subconscious fears are, and what to do about them.The Fear of Not Coping with Success, Fear of Selling Out, and Fear of Becoming Someone Else are all fears that lead to behaviors that keep you right where you are. Never changing, never advancing, never being the person you truly can be.

In the words of Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.”
yoda

Do any of you out there suffer from the fear of success? Has anyone overcome it?

100 Years Since the Beginning of WWI (1914 – 2014).

This is an amazing blog post, and certainly something to think about.

World War I: Marking 100 Years Since the Beginning of the first World War (1914 – 2014)..

100 years.  To have come so far, and yet to still be so close to it.  Visiting the WWI museum in Kansas City was one of the most surreal experiences.  People don’t often take the time to revisit their history, or truly learn about what paved the way for where they are now, but they should.  I think quiet reflection is in order today.

Memory and Living

So I’m part way through this wonderful book,Moonwalking with Einstein, and it’s given me a lot to think about. I’ve been toying around with a lot thoughts of life and living lately, but this book is really bringing it home.

Moonwalking_with_einstein

The current portion of the book I’m in is discussing how time is shaped by our memories– like we live more the more we remember. It is like how as young adults and teens our lives are full of new experiences and things that define us, so time seems to slow down, while as we become adults who only do routine things, time starts to speed up and up. So the more we remember, and the more we do things that challenge us and cause us to create lasting memories, the more we are living and the more we will, then, remember.

It just brings to mind all the things I’ve been thinking about as I take a hard look at myself and what it means to be Amanda. One of the challenges from a class was to write an ‘about me’ that allows prospective employers to learn a bit about me, or even when I’m out networking to be able to sum up what it is that makes me a unique person. Only… whenever I’m staring at that blank word doc, I never quite know what to put on it. I don’t feel like I’ve led a boring life, or that I’m a boring person, but when I look at that sheet of paper, all I can feel is that I am, in fact, boring, because I draw a total blank on exciting or fantastical things that would show someone reading my ‘about me’ who I am.

Then, reading this book, I have to wonder if it’s just a memory deficiency– that I don’t catalog things the way other people do. That I lack the bits of memory I need to flush out my own life. Like maybe I spend too much time reading books and listening to other people’s memories instead of creating my own. I was talking with my husband about this, and talking about how he has all these exciting stories, and his response was, “Yeah, and most of them I’ve been lucky to live through!”

But I’ve always struggled with this. This idea of defining myself in a paragraph or a sentence. I hated in school when we all had to introduce ourselves and say one interesting thing about us. How do you pick one? How do you know which one to pick? What if what you pick says the wrong things about you? What if some of the things you are proudest of would make someone laugh? What if you like the small things? Why do these introductions just feel like a pissing contest where everyone tries to one-up each other with their interesting fact?

Does that make for an interesting life? Adventure seeking? Risk taking? Is that what creates memories? That faster heartbeat? The accelerated pulse? Do you have to find a way to do that every day to make the most of life? Is it learning something new every day and just spending your days being curious and explorative?

I also just watched the movie Lucy yesterday, and that is all about how the sum of who we are as humans is basically the sum of everything we have learned and remembered. It is memory that separates us from other creatures.
lucy-review-scarlett-johansson-using-100-of-her-brain-as-lucy-05365d79-4a18-4713-a914-f8c3cb376c2a

Aside: Am I just reading, watching, and musing over memory so I’m seeing it in so many things around me, or is it so around me in the zeitgeist that I’m mulling over it?

I really enjoyed the movie. It had a lot to mull over, and while there were some very obvious plot holes, I would recommend it. Potentially just because it brings to mind all the things I’ve been mulling over recently. But if we don’t wonder what it is that makes us human, and what makes our experience as humans unique, what are we to wonder about?

3 things

Write three interesting facts about yourself.

I hate this.  I really do.  I hate whenever you were in grade school and you had to stand up, introduce yourself, and say something interesting.  In a class I’m in now we have to list three interesting things about ourselves.  I guess so we can have something interesting to talk about when networking with others.  Maybe I just don’t think I’m that interesting, or I just don’t see the things I do as interesting, they just seem like regular things to me.  And the things I find interesting about myself aren’t necessarily bam-wow things.

My list:

Open Water Scuba Certified

Have goal of road-tripping/visiting every state in US (22 so far)

Adore puns

Ran a half marathon

Have won awards for writing research papers

Member of Natural History Museum because I love dinosaurs

 

My love of puns makes a lot of people roll their eyes, but it’s dynamite to me. I guess it’s good to look and reflect on what makes you more than just a sheep blob of a person, but it just makes me feel inadequate.  Like I failed at learning how to dance ballet as a kid or serves as a reminder that I’m abysmal at playing a musical instrument.

My other problem with this is that it implies that you have to do or have done certain things to be interesting.  Like you aren’t interesting if you are just a person who exists and has hopes and dreams.  I don’t know. I’m probably just over-thinking this.

What are three things about you?

 

Will You Be My Friend?

So I’m looking at some of these ‘writing prompt’ things and many of them have you harken back to school days.  Meh.

One of the things that always sticks with me when I think of some of the friends I’ve had is people’s willingness to share.  When I moved to a new city in 5th grade one of my first friends became so when she gave me a fancy pencil. (You know the kind, they had the lovely wrappers in colorful paper) It was such a strange act that I immediately wanted to be this girl’s friend.  Maybe it’s because I’m the oldest, but the idea of sharing something like that was unbelievable.

Another time I was having a really bad day and a friend gave me their last Oreo.  This was not a guy who was skinny or the sort who shared his Oreo’s to begin with, but to give someone your last Oreo, that’s friendship.  That, to me, is altruism. He got nothing but my thanks and the knowledge that he’d made my lousy day better.  It wasn’t that he’d shared something he had plenty of, or something that he didn’t want; no, he gave up his last Oreo.  Who does that?  Has anyone else out there gotten the last of a dessert because someone else saw that you were sad?

 

Upside Down

Upside Down

I’m feeling a bit like this puppy at the moment: turned upside down, bewildered, looking up and hoping for a sign that everything is going to be okay.

I just went to the funeral on my step-father-in-law, a man I admired and loved. So much drama surrounding it that I feel my next script will probably be a murder mystery. (Yes, there is a possibility he was poisoned)

I’m behind on the screenwriting I’m trying to do, I haven’t exercised in a week and my anxiety is really starting to kick in, I have too much time with family and not enough time to myself (I need to be alone to re-charge sometimes), and my husband is half a continent away from me.

I need someone to rub my stomach.