Inbox: Conventional Wisdom
(The standard text is a letter from a reader. Italics are my response.)
I read (again) this article about "age" in relation to screenwriting...
... and I have to admit it's pretty depressing.
I just turned 47 and am still working on that great idea.
You are very young and have your life ahead of you (forgive the clichés) and I am envious. But the bottom line is I don't want to "whine" about my age and all that rubbish.
Well, in the meantime, I am a younger girl fighting into what is basically a boys club, and as a girl who is used to being the only girl let into the boys club, I am getting pissed at the roadblocks. Aliena nobis, nostra plus aliis placent. I understand that ageism is an issue (and pride myself on writing films that feature some hefty roles for those actors who have the benefits of the years), but what we've got to do is look at what we do have going for us and use those attributes to be the best us we can be across the board instead of looking at what we don't have. Plus, seemingly non-related skills and experience can prepare one for new crafts, so don’t discount life experience: Many things on this sweet planet are related.
You have faithfully answered my emails and I really appreciate that. I'm sure you are a busy person in LA but your responses show you are still a very nice caring person who is still a "person" and not a Hollywood/LA robot who only thinks of herself. I most definitely appreciate that. Please keep up your good work and I wish every success to your artistic efforts.
Note: being genuinely "nice" in this "biz" scores a zillion with me. (smile)
God bless you Jessica.
- Your friend in screenwriting...
The essence of masterful writing derives from what you know about life, and what you know about life will trump flat information and theory in any craft any day of the week: Those are the basic tools that make one wise, and are adaptable to every instance, every discipline. Even in a short-sighted industry such as ours I have to believe that wisdom eventually prevails once technique and skill are mastered. So again, keep your eye on the ball (my favorite cliché) and dare to question the conventional wisdom, what is generally believed, by being the best version of you; by traveling with what you Know to be true. Even when that way is the harder way. Augescunt aliae gentes, aliae minuuntur; inque brevi spatio mutantur saecia animantum et quasi cursores vitae lampada tradunt.
*Latin attributed to the playwright Syrus and the poet Lucretius, respectively.
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Today I had a fitting.
Costume designer Anastasia Smith is a pro when it comes to corsetry. That’s her specialty. As she laced me up like anon good nurse, I braced myself against the doorway and she said “o-ho we’re not done yet,” as this all happened amidst my winces, the tightening; I realized that this was the first time that I had been fitted for any sort of corset in costuming.
I suppose I assumed that skinny girls were immune to corsets. Apparently no one is: They trick you by taking your measurements and making the things custom for you - so tightly just for you, oh yes - so that you can’t breathe, pass out, fall off a cliff into the sea and Johnny Depp has to save you. No matter what size you are.
But J.Sto needs to be able to run around and fill her lungs with air, and I don’t even know Johnny Depp really, so I asked for some breathing room. I did not refer to myself in the third person when I asked. I usually save that address for special moments, such as this corset moment, brought to you by JSDC.
PS: Do not click on tightlacing: It will freak you out.
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I have no desire to professionally edit film at any point (one can only wear so many hats, after all). Tonight I was, however, teaching myself a narrow bit of editing.
One of my points lately has been that creatives are tinkerers. All crafts involve trial and error and a certain amount of curiosity and autodidactic invention.
No matter the discipline or end goal: You ought to be messing about with something.
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. . .
Ex oriente lux. Ex occidente nox.
We are all at war.
And so the bluebird shoulders the sky and the stars pin the night...
Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?
Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance,
Prohibit the taking of omens,
A thousand battles, a thousand victories…
All in the palm of one hand.
(Opportunities multiply as they are seized.)
In the dance of the blind only the enlightened see,
You have to believe in yourself.
*With inspiration from Sun Tzu.
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But, How to End It...
So apparently the words orison and orifice are not as closely related as I subconsciously assumed in the past, which totally changes the end of this.
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Know the artist through the art.
That is all you need.
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Am I myself today?
Usually I signal when I turn, when I’m driving, because no one else does, which annoys me and also I don’t want to get plowed into by some tail-gating LA-lite who is too busy talking on his Bluetooth to notice what is going on in front of him. Today I went right and didn’t signal, and a biker yelled at me. “Why don’t you use your freakin’ sig…!!” he said, twisting around in his seat as he passed so that he could aim his volume right at me. But then he saw my face and knew that I hadn’t meant to, and trailed off.
It all happened very real-life fast, yet moment slow.
Then I was in the elevator. It stopped on the first floor on the way up from the parking garage. In came a man. Instead of saying hi, I just sort of stood in the corner like a quiet girl. So the man didn’t say hi, but simply shuffled through his mail and checked what had come via Netflix. Silence for three floors, and then the elevator was mine.
Not that shared quiet is an unwise thing: The unwise thing is that most people do not acknowledge what is right in front of their face; that we don’t acknowledge one another.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see. . .
Also, M.Sto, I get it now. True, everyone likes Beatles music. I mean I liked it fine when I was little despite throwing a fit when you tried to hijack the radio in the car. It’s not like any person is considering the music bad, after all; even if they don’t want to listen to it for whatever reason.
Sometimes I used to wire up the old record player, dig out a Beatles record and listen while lying on my back on the floor feet up on the couch in the foyer sitting room in the dark when no one was home. Until one day we were like, “Why do we have a record player next to the CD player? It only collects dust.” So the record player was packed away to the back of the crawl space. Maybe even sold at a yard sale. So yeah, no one is saying The Beatles aren’t good.
But now? I get it.
Two years ago I got Pink Floyd. Sixth months ago? Zeppelin.
And now; The Beatles.
Some things you have to discover on your own.
Here is what I’ll say to older generations:
The idea of making a musical set to Beatles music was so terribly bound to fail, that I thought it might actually work. The truth? Horrific. I’m really sorry to everyone who grew up in the time when The Beatles defined music and movement. The filmmakers might have tapped that energy, the energy of the ‘60s. I might like to know what that felt like. In fact, I’m certain that’s what I paid for, and didn’t get.
I feel like this is somehow my generation’s, younger generations’, fault.
But you know, as usual it’s that generation, the Baby Boomers, the make changer-ers, who are all status quo and settled and useless. That’s who made the decisions on this film. So why do I feel like it’s my fault?
And how is it possible that so many unwise jackasses own various rights to some of the most wise, impactful, meaningful works of art? Yes I know it’s all more complicated than that; except when it isn’t.
The worst part is, the filmmakers dicked around in the most mainstream way and called it art. Way to leverage your Beatles library, Sony. Way to sell out your whole generation, everything you stood for, and the moments of your life that make up the better part of who you are.
Humanity has an incredible ability to forget.
It all happens very real-life fast, yet moment slow.
Here is what I’ll say to younger generations:
When all the new music sucks (and it frequently does) take a spin through the past to realize our present.
Here is what I’ll say to everyone:
Storytelling, art, performance, music, entertainment, show… It’s a powder keg, a catalyst and you ought to be more careful. It can be that fast, or that slow; shifting the ideological plates that form the foundation of the human experience… Oh I know it’s not quite as heavy as all that; except when it is.
It all happens very real-life fast, yet moment slow...
Because the world is round it turns me on
Because the world is round…
Because the wind is high it blows my mind
Because the wind is high…
Love is all, love is new
Love is all, love is you
Because the sky is blue it makes me cry
Because the sky is blue...
You say that I’m young, and that I don’t know anything.
Maybe I know what you forgot.
People go to war over stories.
. . .
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Forever in Colour
It’s a grey day and grey days are my days.
Which means that it’s time to go to Starbucks.
And I could probably use my colours.
So I look at the closet and get an idea.
It doesn’t work so I tinker with it.
And then it works so I roll with it.
“I love your scarf thing”—
“It looks so cozy”—
“Is it connected?” —
“You’re so cute!” (noi’mnotand)
Are you people missing the fact that,
MY SCARF IS TOTALLY HARRY POTTER YEAR 3?! <— Important.
Fantasy fierce! Can I help it? Anyway,
1. No, it is not connected.
2. Yes I will give you fashion tips at the Starbucks, lady.
The bamboo inside of my shoes is unweaving
Soles splitting, guts spilling
Little tan specks on the carpet
Still wearing ‘em through the
bleeding and not giving up yet—
What can I say, fools? Grey days are my days,
Because they aren’t grey;
(Break yo’ self!)
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