Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Rythm

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.
Extra words have got to go.
If they linger, let ‘em know,
“Tough noogies. I run the show.”

It’s 3 AM as I contemplate my editing process. Jotting this down on a loose sheet of paper I swiped from my printer, I scribble – trying to reawaken my slumbering (see: lazy and spiteful) pen. How I write depends on what I’m working on – a script, a novel, poetry… a first draft, second pass, beating-my-head-against-the-wall seventeenth? Maybe somewhere in between.

The more writers I meet, the more I find it interesting how our approaches vary. But, we all somehow manage to arrive at the same place. Completion! Deletion. Adjustment. Frustration! Elation. Excitement and trepidation as we realize our masterpiece is about to be seen by outside eyes…

I can work quickly – cranking out several pages a day – or crawl at what feels like a snail’s pace, secreting a slimy trail in search of the flawless rewrite’s salt-defying phrase. “It’s perfect, I tell you!” At least until tomorrow, when my delusions wear off. (aka: “What was I thinking?”)

Well, since you asked, here’s how I rewrite my fiction:

Poetry has a powerful influence over what I write. Add infatuation with alliteration and you’re warming up to who I am by draft two.

There’s a rhythm in my head.
Almost a drumming.
The breaths between words form a song.
Dissatisfaction from anything less
would drive my brain to great distraction.
I’d write fiction in stanzas,
but you would likely call me crazy.

You might be right.

You’re not really calling me crazy, are you? Good. I feel so much better.

Welcome to my brain. It's partly cloudy with a chance of free falls. (Umbrellas and parachutes sold separately.) What's your forecast? 

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Beginnings

Lying in bed this morning, instead of milking every last moment for sleep, I started thinking about my next blog entry. I’ve been in Hollywood for so long, I didn’t know where to begin my next topic. So, I’m starting from the beginning. (Don’t worry. I’ll spare you the baby pictures.)

Transitioning from actress to writer hasn’t been all the fun and games (see: immediate success), I’d hoped it would be. Good things seemed to come to me more easily when I was younger. Or maybe I have a spotty memory. (Ask anyone who knows me personally, and they’ll tell you that’s true.)

When I came to LA, I had no stars in my eyes. I knew I was an actor. And I knew going back to Levittown wasn’t an option. I was determined to “make it” – not be famous, just make a living at my craft. If all the people I’d watched while I was growing up could do it, surely I could find a way to pay a reasonable rent. (No rats or roaches, please.)

I refused to get discouraged. Okay, I did get discouraged occasionally – like when my manager told me I needed to drop 30 pounds. (I only weighed around 130 at the time. And I have a medium-large frame.)  After haggling like a shopper at some freaky, body image flea market, I firmly told him I’d lose 10. It felt like a victory. Sort of…

I guess my point is that things didn’t necessarily come more easily when I was younger. It may have been easier to get an audition with a slim resume when I looked like a teenager. But, it’s not like there was a tremendous call for adolescent, black girls-next-door. (Quote: “Could you be more black?”) I put up with things. (Not the casting couch.) And I eagerly did what it took – including extra work, once upon a time – to make ends meet and keep the dream alive. (I was a terrible waitress.)

After finding some success with commercials and small parts in TV shows and movies, I actually found myself disappointed. It hadn’t been the big, creatively-fulfilling journey I’d expected. Now, I’m not knocking acting. I still love it. But, I longed for more meaning in my work – which is hard to get when you’ll jump every time your cell phone rings. (Another free message from my wireless company?! Man, I hate those guys.)

To make a long story, well… a little shorter… I started writing to keep what little sanity I had left. I needed an outlet. And I wanted to tell stories I thought weren’t being told – about complex characters I cared about. Some of them are funny. Some are obnoxious, timid, antagonistic, na├»ve… Whether they’re overcoming low self-esteem, personal tragedies, abandonment issues, fears of intimacy – or of being alone – a tormenting sibling, or competition in the workplace, their journeys are interesting to me. (I’m not alone here, am I? Is this thing still on?)

Anyway, virtually starting over on a new path definitely has its drawbacks. But, pursuing your passion has enormous perks. When I begin thinking my life is difficult, I take a look at the world and count my blessings. Then, if I have any perspective, I look at my career in a new light. One of my first acting jobs in LA was in a psychic hotline commercial with Nell Carter. And I was glad to have it. Me to NC: “I’m getting the best reading of my life!”

If I'd only known then what the future would truly hold…

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Baby Steps

A few hours of sleep… and the neighbors didn’t start fighting until a decent hour. It must be my lucky day! This is my first blog post. Sure, I’ve posted a few musings on my website. But, I’d refused to commit to sharing what happens between my ears on a regular basis. (You can thank me later.)

I figured once a year was enough for positive words of encouragement, etc. But, with the blog-carrot dangled before me, I slowly embraced the thought that maybe – just maybe – someone might want to hear from me a little more often. (Just let me have that one. Artists have feelings, too.)

I might write about my writing process, living in Hollywood or the random creatures and notions which whisper into my ear, "Go ahead. Do it. No one will notice." Those notions are troublemakers. And don't get me started on the creatures.
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