Ready. Set. Write! Update 3

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself. All the details are HERE.

How I Did on Last Week’s Goals:

Writing- I began work on my screenplay revision on Thursday and was able to get 9 pages that day. I also finished the BEAT SHEET for the other screenplay I’m working on. It’s still a rough draft, but I love the idea and where it’s going.

Reading – I finished Things We Know By Heart by Jessie Kirby, but haven’t had a chance to start any new reads yet. I plan to start A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas next.

Workout – I kept up my exercise routine, and added in two sessions with my brother the personal trainer. This week I would like to do the same!

My Goals This Week:

Wrting:

1. Get between 5-15 pages on my screenplay every day this week. I won’t have a full finished revision before I leave for Comic Con and Los Angeles, but I’ll be more than half way through.

Reading:

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas next.

Life/Workout:

1. Start knocking stuff off my “getting ready for Comic Con list” and don’t panic about the fact that it’s almost here.

2. Workout every day, do two sessions with my brother this week.

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

Line of Dialog from one of my characters, Simon.

But here, we can be anything. Here, maybe there’s way to save the damsel. Even if the damsel is you.

The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

Focus. I have a lot going on right now, like everyone, and focusing on the task at hand without getting distracted with future tasks, other tasks I should be dealing with, was a real hurdle this week.

Something I love about my WiP.

I love that by the end of this revision I will have a largely different story than I had at the end of the first draft, but will still feature all the same characters, just deeper versions of themselves. The power of revision in action!

What are your goals this week?

Ready. Set. Write! Update 2

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself. All the details are HERE.

I missed updating last week, but I’m here this week. Even though I missed updating last week, I did not miss meeting goals. Here’s how I’m doing:

1.  How I did on last week’s goals:

Writing: I’ve been working steadily on the Beat Sheet for my screenplay revision. In the last two weeks I have executed a major overhaul on the plot and dug down deeper in the main character’s motives. I finished a new draft on Friday and I’m pretty sure it’s the One. I also began a new Beat Sheet for a new screenplay and I am really excited about it.

Reading: I read Just One Day by Gayle Foreman and LOVED it so much. I know I’m a bit late to that fan club, but man, what a wonderful book. I am heavily into reading The Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby, and it’s already ripping out my heart.

Workout: I’ve kept up my workout routine, and even added in some sessions with my brother, Isaac, who is a personal trainer. I almost died on YouTube last week when my sister-in-law and I did a workout to prepare for Comic Con. If you enjoy laughing, you should check out our video!

2.  My goal(s) for this week.

Writing:

1. I need to finish this Beat Sheet for the new screenplay because it’s due to my screenwriting consultant before Thursday.

2. Start the revision of the Comic Con screenplay!

Reading: Finish The Things We Know By Heart!

Workout: Do at least two sessions with my brother!

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

Satisfying Character Arcs — one of the things I have struggled with a lot on this Comic Con screenplay is making the three main characters (because it is more of an ensemble) all have satisfying arcs that happen at the right time in the story.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

Juggling. Like most of y’all, I’m sure, summer is insanely busy. I have a lot going on with my son, my husband, my dogs, and my own stuff. Keeping all the things in the air is kind of distracting.

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

I love that, after working so much on the plot, I really feel like I know these characters inside out, and even with all their many flaws, I am confident that each of them is worth following on their journey.

A Husband Who Became a Dad

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My husband is not a saint. He is not Prince Charming. He is not my savior. But some days, he comes pretty close. It’s on those days, when everything feels like it’s going to fall apart, and he brings me a glass of wine and swallows the sarcastic comment waiting on his lips, replacing it with a kiss on my forehead, that I send Jesus a little prayer of gratitude for letting him be mine. And I pat my husband on his hip, and remind him he’s the best.

As a husband, he kicks ass. He’s not intimidated easily, and so he doesn’t feel challenged by my brassy tongue or big dreams. He’s faithful, and not just for show, and not just with his body. He believes in me.  He likes the challenge of me. And he is up for that challenge. He’s the only one who ever could be. For years, I have known he was the smartest man around. I love when other people realize it, too. I smirk, because I knew when he was just sixteen, and so I must be pretty clever myself.

But as a father, he’s even better. He’s a builder of legos and an architect of pillow forts. He’s a baker of sweet treats and a master at macaroni and cheese. He can fold a flawless paper airplane, and then spend hours flying them from the second floor landing. He can draw whatever cartoon character my son is currently “into”, and all while the kid stares over his shoulder, breathing warm, moist air down his neck.

He plays video games and knows obscure superhero trivia. He and my son have intellectual debates about villains and heroes.

He’s good at the hard stuff too. He’s great with nightmares and middle-of-the-night requests. He isn’t afraid of tears or holding on really tight when my son can’t stop them from coming. He will say no, but not just because he can. He always provides a reason. He can multitask, but focuses completely when the situation calls for it. He doesn’t ignore hard questions, and he doesn’t pretend feelings are meaningless.

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He gives us both hugs at the same time. He kisses me on the lips in front of our son and tells me I’m beautiful. My son tells me I’m beautiful, too. My son gives compliments to girls and talks about deep things with his friends. He is kind to animals and smaller children. He is sensible and silly, and he wants a wife, not just a girlfriend.

My son is learning everyday what it means to be a good man, and that’s because his Dad isn’t afraid to show him. My husband is my soulmate, but my son’s dad is a hero.

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The Writer and the Fan: Thoughts on Mother’s Mercy

**Here there be spoilers about the Game of Thrones season five finale**

via casaharington on tumblr

via casaharington on Tumblr


The writer and the fan in me are constantly at odds.

The season five finale of Game of Thrones did a great job of highlighting this fact. As a writer, I understand the need to kill beloved characters for the sake of narrative integrity and vision. I have done that in my own writing with little concern for the future, potential reader’s delicate feelings. To me, the creator of the world and her characters, that death is destined, unchangeable, simply fact.

The fan in me does not deal in those absolutes.

The fan in me loved Jon Snow. And last night, this morning, throughout the day if I let my mind wander, the fan ached.

Now, before you laugh, judge, or think you are better than me because you care about the real world, I encourage you to consider, for a moment, why we absorb into art in the first place. Why actors act, writers write, musicians compose, and on and on: we want to connect, to make sense or make light or make broken something from our real world. There have even been studies done that show readers are more empathetic human beings.

We need art to help us understand the world we do live in.

As a creative person, I may also be more inclined to feel deeply for the characters I spend time with — whether they be my own or someone else’s. In the two years since I began watching Game of Thrones (we binged the blu-rays during the hiatus between season 2 and 3), my affection for the Bastard son of Ned Stark has become a thing of amusement to family and friends. I have received texts and Tweets and Facebook tags whenever someone ran across news about this character. I even wrote a character analysis about him once.

Fine, you can judge me a little. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

I remember feeling this way as an eleven year old reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time, sobbing over the attack on Jem and Scout, broken for these characters that had become (and forever will be) a part of me. I remember when I was sixteen, reading Harry Potter and turning into a broke-down zombie bride, waking in the middle of the night to check that the book was still beside me. I wrote essays about Harry. I wrote off other humans who couldn’t understand how I had been changed, utterly and completely, by the experience of going to Hogwarts.

I remember it from earlier, too. From Anne of Green Gables, from Pollyanna, from Charlotte’s Web and The Chronicles of Narnia.

And when I discovered The Hunger Games at twenty-six, and was suddenly thrust back into that experience of visceral, untainted affection, I remember spending an entire day crying after finishing Mockingjay. I was without the words to explain why I couldn’t shake the feeling of loss and longing gnawing away inside me.

Jon Snow is dead. We can speculate as fans that he will resurrect, but the line coming from the Thrones camp is one of finality. Kit Harington, the actor who was Jon for these five seasons of Thrones, has given interviews expressing his certainty that he is done. They could all be lying, milking it, but for now, I am just trying to grieve the loss. Because even if Jon comes back, it won’t be the same.

The writer in me understands this. Even if this is not the death I would have ultimately given him — a point I have argued with anyone willing to listen since I woke up this morning. But, this is not my show, and as much as my affection affords me the right to pine for the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch or to nerd rage over this loss, I can’t change it. I have nothing to bargain with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and all my empty threats about quitting the show, well, they aren’t listening to them.

But I can allow the fan in me a chance to feel sadness. To feel cheated. To feel like Jon — my Jon — deserved better than death at the end of a mutinous dagger. I have to because that is why I consume and create art. Feeling pain is wonderful and valuable, it provides an opportunity to grow, to learn. Is it silly to cry about Jon Snow’s death? Maybe. But ignoring what I have gained and now lost through his death, that would be a missed opportunity. That would be a mistake, as a writer and a fan.

And I’m both. I’m proud to be both.

(Clarifying: HBO and Kit Harington both have an obligation to maintain the line that he is gone because the show ended on a cliffhanger. My perspective is simply to believe that even if Jon (and the actor who plays him) comes back, the character of Jon Snow as we have known him will be altered. I expect, if they are going to bring him back, he will likely have a different identity (being reborn/renamed), and that will be how they get around the statements they have made this week.)

Ready. Set. Write! and My Goals

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself. All the details are HERE.

This is (I think!) my third year participating in RSW, and I can promise that it is worth the commitment. Accountability and community are key to the solitary life of a writer. We need each other more because so much of being a writer means being inside your own head, warring with fictional characters and sorting out plot and stakes and getting words out.

So, I am excited to join in. And here are my goals:

  1. Get my BEAT SHEET finalized for my screenplay There’s Life Outside Comic Con. Now that I am working with a consultant, I am not allowed to move forward until the Beat Sheet (from Save the Cat!) proves this script will hit all the high notes.
  2. Begin the Revision on that screenplay, with the hope of completing another draft by the middle of July. (When I will be at San Diego Comic Con!)
  3. Start a revision of my manuscript Of Blood and Promises. I had back burnered it for a while to focus on screenwriting. I am moving slow with this, and need to be right now since that’s not my #1 priority. So, just knowing how to start and starting is my goal for the summer.
  4. Do a Beat Sheet draft for at least one more feature.
  5. Read the books I want to read, as many or as few, and let myself be moved, take time, stay up all night.
  6. Continue to work out every weekday. I have been exercising for the last six weeks and am seeing happy-making results. I am doing nothing for diet, but don’t want to. My goal is strength and stamina and feeling good about my body. That’s it.

Next week (Monday, June 15th) we’ll be posting our first update using these headings…

1.  How I did on last week’s goals.

2.  My goal(s) for this week.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

I hope you join in! I’ll be cheering you on if you do.