I was recently introduced to the work of Seth Godin. A very large book of his was quite literally dropped into my lap, and as I flipped through the pages, I gazed upon words and photos that filled my heart with such comfort. This book started off as a blog and developed into this amazing piece full of inspiration. His entries consist of insightful quips and detailed observations on life.
It reminded me that while I have this blog, I don't have to write the perfect post every time. In fact, I'm going to embrace the imperfection of it all and set a goal for myself to post one blog entry a week. It could range from a sentence to a lengthy essay, but either way, I think the important thing for me is to keep creating.
For now, I want to share that last night I ended up writing ten pages of a new play that's been on my mind for far too long. I sat down at my desk with a glass of whiskey, lit a balsam and fir candle, and let the dialogue pour out onto the page. It might not be Shakespeare, but I'm very excited to see where it goes.
In 2015, my dad and I got phoenix tattoos for my birthday. His is this bright green color and has a flowing shape. Mine is a black outline and symmetrical. We had them designed to match our personalities. My dad had chosen a phoenix for us each to get because he related to it’s mystical powers and thought it would be appropriate for us as we’ve molded into different versions of ourselves throughout the years.
But at the year anniversary of getting my tattoo, I found myself heartbroken. I had thought that upon having my skin soak up the ink, my life would immediately become more gratifying. There were all these changes I expected to happen. There was this ideal version of myself that I had hoped to become, but in the summer of 2016, I found myself in therapy, not writing, and felt victimized for how life’s game had played out for me. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I was supposed to get the tattoo and life was going to get magically better. As I was voicing these thoughts to my partner, he reminded me that I was forgetting the most important trait the phoenix represents: rebirth. A phoenix must burn and rise from the ashes to become a new version of it.
2016 was definitely a year of burning for many of us. Beginning primarily with the election and all the celebrity deaths we felt so connected to; we were also witness to so many terrors that made us feel that our world was in fact coming to an end. I know I’m not alone in feeling that 2017 does represent a year of rebirth, now that we’ve finally closed the chapter on 2016. But we need to keep in mind that there are greater challenges facing us as we find our way in this new world. I for one am continuing to find my role in society as a woman, a white privileged woman, who wants to use her voice to help better our society.
The day after the election was one of the roughest days of the year. I remember putting on my makeup like I was preparing for battle; unsure of the world I was walking into. I questioned my idea of feminism and wondered if I was part of the “white feminist movement” ignoring others around me, drinking the “male tears” Kool-Aid and complaining about everything wrong with society instead of doing something about it. I was depressed for a long time. I tried writing about it, but couldn’t put the feeling into words. I attempted to push forward and put the call to action for politicians, and found hope among friends doing the same.
The greatest struggle I had towards the end of 2016 was the balance of staying up to date with all the news but not letting it weigh me down. I wanted to be informed, but found myself having a nightmare of Steve Bannon transforming himself into a shark and feasting on a Muslim family in front my eyes. It is an image I will never be able to get rid of. So I found myself wondering how to care about everything, but not too much so it didn’t cause sleep deprivation. I wish I could tell you that I found an answer to achieving this balance, but it continues to be something to work on. It continues to be a part of this person I have created in my mind, this ideal version of myself I want to be.
After Carrie Fisher’s death last month, I was journaling and wrote down the following: “She is a woman I am continuing to admire and want to live my life a little more like her: with zest and sass, not taking every damn thing so seriously, and tearing down a fascist.” That is what I strive to be more of in 2017. I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines, saying how unfair life can be. I’m tired of not believing in magic and the good in people. I’ve decided I’m going into this year with strength and hope.
Yes, there is this version of me I want to live up to, this version of this woman with the phoenix tattoo I’ve been scared of for far too long. And there is nothing more limiting than doubt. So I pledge right here, right now, to live up to the person I’m meant to be. And I ask that you do the same. Instead of making resolutions this year, let’s make a pact to live up to our full potential. Let’s stand united instead of against each other, and open up the dialogue instead of shutting it down. A new chapter has opened for us and the pages are blank. We have the power to make it anything we want. So let’s not burn the pages of 2017, but hold it up as a symbol for all that we can and will be.
"I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else." - Pablo Picasso. The screenplay I'm currently working on began as an idea when I was in college. It started out as a 10 minute play, which grew into an one act, and is now becoming my first feature. So far the process of creating this beast has only taken me nine years (give or take), and I could look at that timeline with judgement or criticism, but I refuse to do that. Some stories take their time to come into fruition. Sometimes they're not ready to be told yet. Now, I believe, is the time for this one. The idea behind it is something that greatly matters to me, which in my experience is the best way to start writing something. Write about what matters to you and go from there. Who knows what worlds you'll get introduced to along the way.
This past week, I've been focusing a lot on mapping out the main points of the plot. I drew a storyline chart on graph paper (like a boss) and was even gifted with two amazing books, The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne and Lab by Hope Jahren, thanks to a couple of inspirational fairies. The timing couldn't have been better to receive these treats. I'm already devouring Shawn Coyne's words and feeling inspired to write a novel alongside this screenplay. And I'll admit that is one problem I have while writing. I get a lot of ideas swarming in my mind all at once and have trouble focusing on one solid plot. I want to write all the stories all the time! But right now, it's good for me to focus on one priority and map it out.
The process actually reminds me a lot of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" or "Give Yourself Goosebumps" books I used to read when I was younger. There are endless possibilities as to where the story can go. I could introduce new characters I haven't even thought of yet. I could trap a character in a corner with no way to get out except to combust. I could throw a dinosaur into the mix and really mess with the world I've created. The sky's the limit as to where I can take this and I look forward to seeing where these maps lead me.
And yes, another #cheesyending. The theme was maps. Did you get it? Now all I want to do is eat some cheese though. Shouldn't have said cheesy. Blurgh.
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