"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.
This evening, I got home around 9 p.m. I sat down at my desk, opened up my laptop, and without hesitation I began journaling. Three pages into my thoughts, I stopped, saved the document, and began scrolling through stories on NPR. I found a blog piece regarding Beyonce's cover for Time's "100 Most Influential" that instantly ignited some sort of fire within me. I started writing a response - which I was going to post to my own blog, but for now it will have to wait. While jotting down some notes, and for a reason unbeknownst to me, I started to think about a play that I wrote back in college. I thought of the story line and the women I wrote about, and wondered whatever happened to them. Then, something just clicked. I began writing a monologue for one of the main characters. I completely and utterly lost myself for a moment in her mind and realized that The Secret Seduction of Little Girls was never truly complete. I opened up YouTube to find a video referencing it, and paused as I saw the video copied below appear in front of my eyes. It was the first one on my subscription feed, and I couldn't help but feel a moment of pure connectivity with everything that led me to see it exactly in that moment.
As I mentioned, I wrote Secret Seduction back in college. I have written many plays since then; many of which have been failures, but I have (and always will) keep writing despite that. Elizabeth Gilbert served as a healthy reminder for me tonight: whether we succeed or fail, it is important (no matter what) that we come home to whatever makes us truly happy. Which for me, and for her, is writing.
Apparently it's an anomaly to walk 1.2 miles to and from a bar in Los Angeles, but I always love to deviate from the expected. Tonight I found myself walking down Santa Monica at 10 p.m., with my headphones nestled in my ears, and a familiar song playing on my Pandora station. Instantly upon hearing that song, I had a flashback of New York.
I was walking up 8th Avenue, on my way to meet my friend at The Pony Bar. The same song was playing in my ears and I was somehow walking/dancing along to it as I weaved in and out of crowds. I remember this moment because it was much needed with everything else going on in my life at that time. Along with a slew of outside circumstances, I found myself questioning a lot of my choices and felt the need to find some sort of an outlet (since I was avoiding writing and theater). For some reason, the thought crossed my mind to place myself in an imaginary film. So I pretended the music playing was the soundtrack to what was going on around me. I began writing a scene in my head and directing the shots as I saw fit. I panned in and out of the girl dance walking, and surveyed the lights of the city and the crowd around her. There was the sound of sirens, people laughing, and arguments between strangers mixed under the song she was listening to. The girl seemed at home, and so did I, in this imaginary state. I remember meeting my friend at the bar and telling him what I had realized: If I were writing my life as a book or a film, it wouldn't be anything like it had been up until that moment. It would be the life I've always imagined, and that's exactly how I planned to start living it right then and there.
It's funny that I have now ended up in film. How I'm developing a series of projects and working behind the scenes of stories that appear in front of our eyes. I love it. I truly do. It makes me feel completely alive and genuinely happy. Maybe that's why I feel so at ease walking around Los Angeles late at night. I feel somehow invincible. Like nothing can break me down. I'm fighting the good fight and will stop at nothing in my way to see these things through. It's encouraging, motivating, and exhausting all at the same time. I feel at home in these worlds, these worlds around me and the ones I create in my mind. Call it a form of escapism if you will (I do). Even so, it continues to awaken parts of me I didn't know existed, and causes me to question things I thought I knew the answers to. It's about risk and taking chances. It's the idea of stepping outside your body and seeing it from another perspective. There's no right or wrong answer, simply the adventure- and isn't that what it's truly all about?
I'm not sure. These are just some thoughts I had while walking alone late at night. I’ve always found that walking can clear the mind space and allow room for new ideas to take place. That's why I love exercising. Whether it is running, walking, hiking, rock-climbing, or yoga. Suddenly I'm there and an idea for a story appears in front of me.
Yeah, so basically this is just a propaganda piece for people to start walking more in Los Angeles. Things are not that far away, people. It's okay to put one foot in front of the other to get there. You might be surprised what treasures you'll find along the way. (Brought to you by "Christine's Work Out LA" – a new film I should be developing.)