Know What You Write

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When I was 13 I wrote a poem about an old woman. I shared it with my boyfriend who also considered himself a poet. He said to me quite seriously, “Do you know this woman? Do you know what it’s like to be an 80 year old woman? You should write what you know.”

Write what you know

“Writing what you know” is not a novel idea invented by Alex. However, I’ve never forgotten him saying that.

I’ve written many things I didn’t “know”. I’ve written plenty of main characters who are men, plenty of married people when I wasn’t married, people with children when I didn’t have children, and other lifestyles I didn’t “know”. And that’s fine. I mean, if no one wrote what they didn’t know there wouldn’t be any zombie¬†apocalypse¬†movies, right?

There’s also the kind of “writing what you know” when the part you really know is in the subtext- for example, “Big Love“, though not written by Polygamist Mormons, was written by two gay men who said they understand what it’s like to be ostracized in your society, like the polygamists living in the HBO show, because they have lived their lives as homosexuals in a not-always-accepting world. (RIP “Big Love”. We miss you.)

But I recently read that the Writers Guild of America claims that only 27% of their film writers and only 19% of their television writers are female. So what kind of service am I doing to the screenwriting industry by writing main characters who are male? What service am I doing if I don’t write the true female experience? (Men try to, but sorry Judd Apatow, your wife isn’t the only woman in the world.) And as Mitt Romney (though thank God not a screenwriter) said: he knows what women of America need because his wife talks to him.

So my new script, for which I’ve been writing the outline for weeks, is finally ready for page 1. And this one, though intentionally catering to all over-age-13 crowds, speaks the female experience that I understand best: the married one, the mother one, the overworked one, the struggling one, and the hopeful one. (And no, Sarah Jessica Parker is not starring in it and you won’t be left wondering, “I don’t know how she does it!” – though in its defense, was in fact written by a mother of two.)

On to page 1 – see you on the other side!

Day 91 – Take 2 OCD’s and Call Me in the Morning

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I never thought that my propensity toward organizing my time and tasks by to-do lists and times of day would end up being prescribed to me for my wellbeing.

I have never been diagnosed as Obsessive Compulsive, nor do I think I would be if tested. However, I do have some habits that sit somewhere along the spectrum. I like keeping an organized, structured life. My unhappiness lately, though propelled by the hormonal disturbances of pregnancy and the stressful fear of potential financial ruin, is partially due to the lack of structure my life has had since our daughter was born two years ago. For those of you who also run your own business from home, you understand as well as I that you not only get to create your own schedule, but you have to create your own schedule.

A woman I know recently told me that women who are able to “do it all” do it because they live by a strict schedule. She recommended I do the same. This made me (and my love for schedules) very happy.

So far, all I’ve got is my night routine, but it’s working for me. Here’s how it goes:

  • 9:30pm – Stop watching TV, or whatever I’m doing, and tidy up the living room and kitchen, so we can start with a fresh home the next morning.
  • 10:00pm – Stop cleaning, and get ready for bed. This includes flossing (I need to put this into my schedule, or it never happens), brushing, washing my face, and the occasional Aveno or Biore facial scrub. I then get in my jammies and get into bed with my books and notebooks. I turn on the sun lamp (per my Psychiatrist sister’s suggestion) and I do my writing and reading.
  • 11:00pm – Sleep. If I wasn’t tired by 10:50pm, I pick up my New York Magazine crossword, as it always puts me to sleep.

Following this schedule keeps my house tidy, gets me a fair night sleep, and makes my OCD-wannabe tendencies happy.

Take that, Prozac.

Day 14 – Where’s That Third Hand I Ordered?

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To follow up on yesterday’s post about how we are all too busy with our day jobs to pursue the careers of our dreams, I’m going to fuss and whine and stomp my feet a little bit more.

icanhascheeseburger

My hubby and I are living the dream. That is, we quit our day jobs and started a business of our own that we run out of our home. This means we get to spend all day with our lovely and precious little 22-month old monster and we don’t have to go working for some a-hole at a job we don’t like. While working from home is our dream, my dream is not to be running a video and photography business. I like it, so you know, but I want to be writing. My husband is thrilled. This is what he wants to do. And that’s great. My goal, however, is to help him get our business so successful that he won’t need my help anymore as we’ll be able to afford to hire other people to do my jobs for me.

But for now, I’m juggling raising a child (all… day… long…) while trying to find creative time to produce videos for three separate projects we’re working on, still trying to set up our new apartment (whatever, fuck it, we’ll finish unpacking next summer), going to the gym three days a week (haven’t gone since mid-November), and lastly, oh that’s right, working on getting a writing career.

I don’t know how she does it! Surely, if Sarah Jessica can do it… so can I! (Wait, stop- it’s a movie, it’s not real.)

I haven’t done any writing, or any focusing on my writing career, since the other day when I realized that I had to buy the Dramatists Sourcebook to move any further with my playwriting. It seems I don’t even have time to walk down to Barnes & Noble like I said I would (Amazon, sigh, here I come.)

I’m feeling a little beaten, like this writing career thing is this funny, unamusing game I play with myself that will never become something real.

We need more time. We need someone to take the little precious monster to the playground. We need to get her into school. We need help, so we can get all this work done. The problem is, even with all the projects we’re working on, we’re still really tight on money. We’ve got a lot of credit card debt, after leaving our jobs, and we’re not being paid a ton for the jobs we’re doing. So we don’t have any extra money to hire someone. How are we ever going to handle two? My fault for getting myself knocked up.

Today’s goal: Spend at least 20 minutes reformatting my play, so it meets the standard. Oh, and buy the damn book. For godssakes, just buy the damn book.