That doesn't seem so bad now, does it?

That doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?

So I finally read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers because I’m only six years behind in my reading. I had already heard about his idea that you need 10,000 hours of practice and experience before you can truly excel at something. Though this is debated, it makes sense that the more time you put into something, the better you will become at it. But when I think about this in terms of writing, I become confused.

The problem is that there is so many different processes involved in writing. Do I need 10,000 specifically in story breaking before I will become a genius at that? I hope not because I can only bash my head against a wall so many times. Or what about the actual writing of a script? Character development and getting their voices right? The tone? And then you get into rewriting which is a skill all on its own. Or does the 10,000 hours include all of that to make it come together in one great script?

And does it include all types of writing? I wrote my first story when I was in grade three. Was that the start of my writing clock? For the most part, it was short stories so that put in some story breaking hours for me there. Luckily my poetry phase was short lived in high school so no time wasted there. Or do I need a whole separate 10,000 for just script writing since it is very different than sitting down and writing a novel? Sure there are similarities in crafting stories but when you are limited to 120 pages and what you visually see, it’s a whole different kettle of fish.

What about all the other things writers do to become better writers? Does learning about your craft count or is it just strictly actual writing? Robert McKee’s Story has been a very enjoyable read and is getting me to look at my writing in a different way. Should I put him down and instead just focus on actually writing? And then there is reading scripts. One of the biggest pieces of advice you always receive is to read scripts. Read the scripts of the show you want to write to see how they do it. Read bad scripts. Read any scripts you can get your dirty hands on. But is that only counting towards your 10,000 hours of becoming a better reader?

What about blog writing? I’ve had this blog on and off for five years now and have been contributing to Film Army for four. Does this count for anything? I mean, I’m sure it’s helped me develop my own voice and prosaic stylings but does it count? I use it for procrastinating from my actual writing so maybe not it’s not all that helpful.

I know I shouldn’t be focusing on this and you can’t just count down the hours and then proclaim yourself a genius (if only it were that easy). This just comes from my own worry that I am never doing enough. I spend too much time trying to break the story that I never actually get around to writing the script. Or I don’t spend enough time on story breaking and write the script too soon and it needs endless rewrites. I never read enough scripts or the latest writing book (and by latest, I mean Elephant Bucks because that’s only seven years old, right?) I never blog enough. I feel like I’m trying to do as much as I can to make myself a better writing but in the end, I know it comes down to just actually writing.

mom

When I saw the first round of sitcoms for this season, Mom was going to be a clear winner since it’s Chuck Lorre. It was almost assured a second season right out of the gate and it did have the big jokes that you would expect from a Chuck Lorre show that had Sheldon Bull as a consulting producer. But then something strange happened. It took a dark turn. An incredibly dark turn.

The premise is somewhat dark to start with since it’s structured around Christy’s AA meetings and her relationship with her mother who was an alcoholic and drug addict in her own right. But then, Christy’s seventeen year old daughter, Violet, gets pregnant. Who doesn’t see the comedy potential in that?

Now, admittedly, I watched this show intermittently but I just finished watching the second half of the season and I was very much surprised. The teen pregnancy turned into an adoption which I’m not totally surprised about since I was wondering how they were going to deal with the baby in future seasons. Babies aren’t as funny as you would think. Then Bonnie, Christy’s mother, has a relapse. One of Christy’s friends from AA has breast cancer. Another is put in prison for embezzlement. Christy finds her father who abandoned Bonnie and her when she was just a baby. He tries to become a part of her life and then has a heart attack. The season ends with Violet saying good-bye to her daughter and then Christy giving the saddest speech at AA.

I wouldn’t call it a dark comedy but more so a comedy about dark topics and I’ve been impressed with how they’ve handled everything. Luke and Violet’s relationship was nice and touching during the entire pregnancy. Violet even took a stand saying that she wants her baby to be raised by homosexuals, not Luke’s crazy religious parents. Even though it is funny, it doesn’t have the typical Chuck Lorre laughs of Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory. I mean, it still has it’s edgy jokes about sex, drugs and all that jazz (that is the saying, right?) so it’s not completely different but it’s not the same. The act breaks are more dramatic than going out on the typical laugh (ie Violet saying she wants to give the baby up for adoption). I mean, Anna Faris and Allison Janney are both fantastic comedians but just watch the tag of the season finale and try convince me that is for a comedy show.

Basically, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the show but it’s surprised and impressed me. It’s not what I was expecting from Chuck Lorre.

What does one do when you’re out of school for a week? The one thing that got me through the last two months of school was the freedom that was at the end of the tunnel. It was going to be all sunshine and roses and naps. I was going to take one day completely off and then bunker down and get to work writing. I had it all structured out on how I was going to spend my days. I like structure. I like routine. It was going to be perfect.

Except it didn’t happen. I kinda got sick. Never full out sick because that would be I would get better sooner. Instead it can just drag on indefinitely so that I couldn’t get my routine going. I couldn’t get writing done but I couldn’t fully relax since I felt crappy.

Now, I am lucky enough that I have a part-time job. Except that I’m terrified of being poor … or at least more poor than I usually am. The plan that I was so confident in to before school ended (working part time to focus on writing) now seems terrifying. What if I don’t make enough money? What if I don’t get enough hours? What if I get too many hours and don’t have enough time for writing? What if I get sucked into going back full time and then my dream dies and that $10,000 I invested in school is useless and I drown to death in my student debt?

So no matter what I do, I feel guilty for not writing enough, not working enough, watching too much TV, not watching enough TV, not eating healthy, taking too many pictures of my cat, not seeing my friends, seeing too many friends, not spending enough time outside, sleeping too much, not sleeping enough so I’ll be sick forever.

I feel like normal people don’t have these problems. I wonder what it would be like to be them.

When I looked ahead at all the days that are stretched before me, I decided that the best way to tackle all the writing I had planned would be to restart this blog one more time. After all, the best type of writing procrastination is writing. Especially when it’s writing about writing. Don’t worry, I’m confused too.

My previous blogs have all been focused on specific topics (CanCon, creative writing, job hunts) and this one will be kinda be a combination of all three. But in the vague sense that this is no real coherent theme. Though it primarily will deal with my creative ramblings, from writing philosophies to self-reflections to pieces I have actually written. So join me on this journey to see where my future lies.

(And yes, the post title is a reference to The Moffatts. What could possibly be better way to start fresh than with a late 90′s pop reference? It’s the music of my soul.)

My greatest achievement since finishing school last week: beating 2048.

work in progress

So I wrote another post about two weeks ago that I didn’t publish but it was all about trying to find some sort of balance in my life. Since then I have given up on that project. Balance is for suckers. Instead there is something else I want to talk about to make up for the resounding silence on this blog as of late (see: lack of balance).

This has been an interesting year for me for a variety of reasons but mainly it has been a year of self-discoveries, most of which will probably be explored more in-depth later on. I’m far more capable and stronger than I’ve ever given myself credit for and have pushed myself far beyond my comfort zones, which for an introvert is pretty much anything that involves other people. Nothing is better than the inordinate pride you get when you have a normal conversation with another human being (it’s the little things). All of this self-knowledge has melded together to make a startling conclusion: I may actually be better at real life stuff now than I am at school.

When I searched images of mental anguish, this came up. I found it fitting.

When I searched images of mental anguish, this came up. I find it fitting.

Now that is a bold statement since I’ve considered myself an academic to the core. Sure I don’t have a MA or a PhD but I never felt more comfortable than I was in a classroom and I still try to apply literary tropes to my own life. I wanted to be a student forever (which is why no one was surprised when I went back to school this time).  And we all remember how miserably I failed for the first while I was out of school. But the Chocolate Store of Some Renown is what has given me more skills than my undergrad ever did.

It took me a long time to realize how valuable the skills I was developing at CSSR were but now it is resoundingly clear. I am also currently doing an internship because I want production experience and my retail skills are far more helpful than anything I learned in class. There’s the true secret to being successful at any sort of job: smiling and looking like you’re busy no matter what. That will always get you quite far.

Since I’ve had to run my own shop, I know the value of having things run smoothly. The smoother everything is, the better it is for everyone (and usually means that you get to leave at an appropriate time). One of the reasons I was a great assistant manager was because I could anticipate what my manager needed and then made sure it got done. I could keep an eye on my staff while doing whatever else I needed to be do for the day (one of my proudest skills was being able to do schedules on the sales floor in-between customers). I’ve learned how to deal with people, from associates to customers, depending on whoever was being the most difficult that day. Now I am far more confident going into new situations since I finally have those transferable skills that I was supposed to have when I graduated five years ago.

This theory has been causing me a lot of cognitive dissonance, and the very fact that I still think in terms of cognitive dissonance may disprove it entirely. The strange part is that I am coming to terms with the idea that I no longer want to be a student (or need to be the best student). I would much rather be on set than in a classroom. Sure it’s good to go over story structure again and again (and again and again) and that will improve my writing which will help get me in a writers’ room. But so will being on set to prove I can be useful and meeting people who could hire me in the future. I never thought I would say this but I may finally be done with being a student.I think I may be ready to move on (she said, a month into her school program).

Note: I love how my former associates are now the ones who read this blog. Love to you all!