FANGIRL FRIDAY: WWFBD?

We’ve all been there. Well, most of us, anyway. We take the time to plan ahead, we think we’ve got all our bases covered, then that thing called life gets in the way and derails everything we had already set in place. Not in stone, but queued up in the hopes that things would go smoothly. I can hear Ron Howard’s voice now, deadpan, “Things, in fact, did not go smoothly.”

I’m sure my daily routine, such as it is, would go off without a hitch, if there were more hours in a day. Like 48, maybe? You know, sleep for 12 of them, but not all in a row–unless required. Then we can space work and leisure time more appropriately and our day wouldn’t be wasted on commuting, and so forth.

Oh, sure, you’re gonna tell me that with many people working from home now, they already save so much time in their day. They have it easier. Let me tell you, as someone who was forced to work remotely even before the pandemic, it’s no picnic. Because of the pandemic, our sanctuaries were transformed to a catch-all: office, school, playground, home?, prison.

Essentially our homes turned into the junk-drawers of life. Amidst this disarray, there still hovers the many deadlines we’ve either been given or have given ourselves. And since we have nowhere to go for a reprieve, the walls tend to feel like they’re closing in and it can be overwhelming. Sometimes, we just need to take a day, you know?

I have to ask myself, therefore, echoing the acronym of a title this week, “What would Ferris Bueller do?” For every attempt at working on my writing, be it blog posts or upcoming submissions, there would be one distraction after another. I have admitted to procrastination in the past, but it was never intentional. Yes, these distractions and delays are partially due to procrastination, but that’s because of fear, self-loathing and self-sabotage, not laziness. Come on, people. I put the “tortured” in tortured artist.

There are two amazingly wonderful and awesome kids in our household, both under 12 and on opposite ends of the autism spectrum. Personally, I think they’re the smartest ones under this roof. The adults here can hardly keep up. I’ve mentioned my nephew a couple times already, but it’s my niece that has captured my attention this week. Literally. My sweet Izzybear is a cunning 9 year-old, non-verbal, and very expressive. I lovingly call her X-23 and have the war stories to go with it.

Since they were born, I’ve always put their health and happiness ahead of my own, so even when pressed against a deadline, I could not and would not pass up an opportunity to spend time with them because I had already missed so much when we lived apart for five years. Seeing the world through their eyes is beautiful and humbling. They inspire me as a writer and as a human being. So, when the kids need me, I drop what I’m doing, if I can, and try not to think about the million things I should be doing and focus on being the best I can be for them.

The other night there were internet issues, and I got my post out later than usual. As long as it came out on the day that’s in the post title, I’ve learned to let some things go. I’m not there yet where I have weeks and weeks worth of posts already pre-written and scheduled for upload. I don’t give myself grief anymore for the small stuff. I know just how menacing and sadistic stress can be on a person. Stress, more than those who cause the stress, has been my antagonist these past few years. It’s a work in progress but I’m learning how to slay the beast.

I think Ferris would take a step back and be present in the moment. I’d been neglecting that bit of mindfulness right along with the whole self-care thing, so it’s all very new to me.

My plans have been altered, not thwarted. And I say this with a deadline just days away. However, what makes this different from previous times my life went off course is that I’m okay with this detour and I still know where I’m headed. We all need to take a day, sometimes. A day to refresh, a day to recharge, a day to completely veg out and do nothing. Whatever you need to help you keep on keepin’ on.

I can think of at least five things I need to do this weekend, but I can hear my niece giggling not too far away, because she knows as soon as I finish typing this up, we’re in for another night of dancing/tag/Simon Says/conga line through the kitchen madness, and I’m here for it.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: Rewind, Remix, Recycle, Reuse, Reduce?

I’ve been feeding my insomniac self by watching midnight movies and shows, rather than having a midnight snack. Despite ratings, despite warnings, depending on who’s talking, I watched Terminator: Dark Fate and Bad Boys For Life on back to back evenings. Then, I recently caught myself up on the final season of Lethal Weapon and saw a commercial for a new Punky Brewster series. This semi-FLASHBACK FANGIRL FRIDAY post maybe hit me with the nostalgia bug finding some connection to characters I knew and loved, but I started to wonder if that’s all there was anymore.

In a recent article about a possible Criminal Minds revival, it got me excited. I’d recently binged the final season and already miss the characters. The article explained that a revival involved original cast and crew members, though no actors had yet to be attached to the project at the time of announcement, whereas a reboot could have completely different characters or a redo of a previous iteration with new actors. Revivals, reboots, reunion specials, series based on the big screen, movies inspired by the small screen. Different versions. Different perspectives. Same enjoyment?

What keeps us coming back to these types of stories? Is it the formula? Is it the familiarity? Is the market so saturated that we go with what’s comfortable? As a writer, this is something I think about a lot and it scares me as much as it motivates me to want to share my stories with the world.

As for the fangirl in me, I do enjoy these types of shows and movies–when they work. There’s a fine line between beating a dead horse and realizing the horse ain’t dead and you need to let it live its best life. When it came to Terminator: Dark Fate I think I wanted more. I loved Terminator 2: Judgment Day and remembered watching it in the theatre (*sniff* remember movie theatres?) and leaving so empowered. Linda Hamilton‘s portrayal of Sarah Connor is iconic. This (final?) instalment that reunited her with Arnold Schwarzenegger should’ve been awesome, but it ended up being too campy and dare I say, felt like the production was banking on their names to lure us in. I mean, it worked. I was lured, but I didn’t end up enjoying it as much as I wanted to.

Bad Boys For Life, on the other hand, answered a question I’m sure every fan had asked. I wonder what Mike and Marcus are up to these days? Yes there were cheesy moments, but the chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence is undeniable that it’s like they fell right back in step with each other–or maybe they’ve been fighting crime on the streets of Miami this whole time. Who knows? Maybe it was the storyline in Dark Fate or what I perceived as forced acting between Hamilton and Schwarzenegger, but I didn’t feel as emotionally invested in their lives as I did our Boys from Miami.

Maybe that’s why I don’t want to always hedge my bets on these types of offerings. Expectations are too high and sometimes we’re left with disappointment. It’s also perhaps a good reason why I’m such a fan of shows like The Mandalorian and WandaVision. They’re expanding on storyverses that I’ve grown to love and are giving us new characters and storylines that can satisfy our late night binge watching hunger. You can be certain that I’m all in for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier when it comes out next month.

How about you? Are you into revivals, reboots, redos, and/or continuations, or are you a one and done type of viewer? Whatever it is, there’s definitely something for everyone. Enjoy your midnight visual snacking.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: Running Circles Around the Competition

a.k.a. Prompt Submission Update #2

Two weeks in and I’m neck deep in research for the impact x SKYDANCE prompts. What last week yielded in idea plausibility, this week I came up in spades with story structure. I’ve been getting myself famiilar with the Plottr software program and there are many templates to choose from to help plot a story, novel, or screenplay. Heck, people have even found non-writing creative ways to use that program, such as meal planning and scheduling. More on the Plottr program itself in a future post.

Every writer has heard of the Hero’s Journey, at some point. Since a lot of my WIPs are more adventure/quest based, this seems fitting. Joseph Campbell introduced the world to the Hero’s Journey, or the monomyth, and it’s the foundation from which millions of stories have been built on ever since. I’ve learned a lot from this method and know that it’s something that will always be in my writing toolkit.

Something that appealed to me recently, however, is Dan Harmon‘s method of storytelling. Also known as Plot Embryo, the Story Circle takes the complexities of the Hero’s Journey and strips it back to its bare essentials. If the Hero’s Journey is the album release, the Story Circle is the acoustic version.

When I went on a deep dive of articles and videos on story structure, I found myself immersed in dozens of videos using the Story Circle to break down movies such as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and The Matrix. If you want to test the durability of a story’s overall structure, these two movies were made 22 years apart and the methodology is sound. It’s easy to google articles, images, and videos on the subject. YouTube has these great examples of Story Circle film analysis that you can watch here and here. Considering Joseph Campbell was alive over a century ago, this really proves the adage of “If it ain’t broke…” because it’s clear the stages that progress throughout a story, if done well, can stand the test of time.

Since this submission prompt was for episodic television, it was a masterclass to see the analysis of the Story Circle as it pertained to each episode’s plot points in Harmon’s cult-favorite Community. Harmon broke down the Season 2 D&D episode on his tumblr feed that you can read here. Of course, for those who prefer watching to reading, catch these Story Circle Community analysis vids here and here. I like how they go so far as to break down each character’s own Story Circle within the episode. When I’m further down the road in my story, I’m going to do a detailed analysis of how the Story Circle applied to each stage of my protagonist’s story arc.

What story structure do you swear by? Are you a structure loyalist and adapt your story ideas accordingly or do you like to switch things up? I know the rabbit hole is never ending, but, I’m curious. Are you a fan of analysis vids or is it just me? As a visual learner I absorbed more information on story structure by watching these videos than combing through thousands of words on the subject matter.

Regardless of which method you choose, and there are plenty more out there to choose from, you can see the similar paths on the protagonist’s journey. These are different perspectives of a timeless and effective method of storytelling.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: We Interrupt This Research Session…

a.k.a. Getting Nostalgic Down a Digital Rabbit Hole

I do solemnly and lovingly proclaim this to be the first of potentially many FLASHBACK FANGIRL FRIDAY posts. I had something previously planned for today’s post, but there was a slight detour while doing research for my impact x SKYDANCE submissions. Depending on the day, I might have something playing in the background while I work. Earlier this week, it was essentially a slew of John Mulaney videos on YouTube, because, why not? One particular vid was him chatting it up with Desus & Mero. While it was entertaining, in itself, there was a moment when John brought up the 1990s classic TV show, (in my humble opinion), Ghostwriter. They talked about it for a spell and even sang a bit of the theme song. It’s funny how a simple phrase can activate the recall sensors and I paused to reminisce about my personal enjoyment of the program.

A while later, I was reading up on story structure for a television series when it just so happened that the post’s author mentioned their time working on a show called, you guessed it, Ghostwriter. Was this the universe telling me something? I can say for certain that my posterior was telling me to take a break, so I got up, stretched for a bit, then decided to feed my curiosity. I was tickled to find that you can watch the entire original series run on the YouTube channel IBeGhostwriter. Yeah, I subscribed. Apparently there’s a reboot, but I haven’t seen it yet. This post is all about old school shows I enjoyed. Let the fond memories continue.

Of course, the White Rabbit was calling me, so down, down the rabbit hole I went. More nostalgic feels washed over me. It’s like the one recall opened the floodgates and I was trying to name as many shows as I could from my childhood. The next show that came to mind was The Edison Twins. I happened on a random episode on YouTube that featured a very young Corey Haim, later of Lucas and Lost Boys fame, among others. I enjoyed the grainy quality of the episode and I’m chuffed that the episodes of The Edison Twins can also be streamed on Amazon Prime Video.

Determined as I was, there was this one show title that I was stumped on. I tried google searches for “kids mystery shows” or “kids detective shows from the 80s-90s”, to no avail. A handful of hours, several lists, and dozens of cross-checks on YouTube for clips and/or theme music later (that was a fun trip down memory lane!), I found it. The moment I saw the title, I smiled, then it was confirmed when I watched the sometimes creepy opening credits. Friends, a show I loved to watch back in the day was called Read All About It!, that ran from 1979-1982. When I started watching it in the late 80s, it had already been in syndication for a few years. I’m so happy that the complete series is also wonderfully curated for your infotainment on YouTube. Yep. Subscribed to that, too.

Among the many shows that took me back decades, these three stood out. Campy? Yes. Dated? Sure. All around good fun? Definitely. All three had to do with kids trying to solve problems through investigation, experimentation, a lot of times using words, puzzles and critical thinking. Many years later, long after I’d watched the last of the episodes, I now realize these shows were the early foundations of my wanting to become a writer.

By the night’s end, I welcomed this sidetrack, of sorts. The premise behind these shows and the effect they had on me as a child has certainly informed the way I choose to tell stories in my fiction today. Perhaps these choices would emerge from the deep recesses of my subconscious, or maybe the pattern of storytelling that appealed to me over the years has been ingrained in me as I write. Either way, I’m grateful for shows like these. They were important for curious young minds and serve as a reminder that I have the opportunity to have the same positive impact on the next and all generations with the stories I share with the world.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some binge watching to do this weekend.

Nostalgia. Such a beautiful thing.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: Pandora’s Box of Plotting Prep

a.k.a. Prompt Submission Update #1

It’s been an interesting week, so far. Having a shiny new story idea is both a blessing and a curse. I started with a one teeny tiny lil’ magic bean and it didn’t take long for that to sprout and shoot up to the clouds where I’m now dodging the footfalls of giants as I navigate where this idea will take me.

It began with an idea for the impact x SKYDANCE Premium Drama prompt that quickly evolved into so many scenarios that took twists and turns I hadn’t even considered. All of this because I kept asking questions and raising the stakes for my main character. I posed such questions to some of my writing groups and got some amazing results. It also led me to a writing community that specializes in medical guidance for more accurate depictions in fiction.

You know how people often joke about their internet search history? It’s even become a meme where the punch line is something like “It’s for a book. Honest.” or “Having to explain you’re a writer when someone sees your search history.” I have to say, once you go into a deep dive to develop a story idea, having the world at your fingertips is also a blessing and a curse. Before the majority of the world was blessed with wifi and access to the interwebs, research, as a whole, was a more cumbersome ordeal. Don’t get me wrong, back in the day, the tactile experience of digging through books and microfiche to do research really put me in ‘detective mode’ and got the creative juices flowing. However, sometimes, research was stalled because I had to return the books to the library or someone else had already checked out the book I needed. Then, I’d have to lug home half a dozen or more books–which, I guess counted as my workout for the day, right?

I will always love libraries and bookstores. However, there are so many advantages to researching in the digital world. The obvious and most important one for a writer is the speed at which we can acquire the information. No more rifling through indices or cross-referencing multiple sources. Now, search engines do the heavy lifting and we find what we’re looking for much faster. Another bonus is not having to worry about storage space, even though, one day, my dream house will have a most spectacular library in it. Currently, surface area comes at a premium, so I need to be selective with what I have in such a confined space.

Back to speed of knowledge acquisition. I’ve spent the last several days learning a plethora of information including but not limited to body decomposition, how many minutes after a lack of oxygen until brain death, along with a handy infographic of gunshot wound diameters upon entry and exit–and these weren’t even for questions I asked about my own WIP! This is where the curse part comes in after the blessing. It seems that answering one question leads to another, reading about other writers’ questions leads to further story ideas and more questions about those potential plot points. It’s a deliciously vicious cycle.

So far, this has been a fruitful information expedition. I should keep all the newfound knowledge in a reserve file, as I’ve stumbled upon a treasure trove. However, I need to stay on track because I only have a few weeks to submit this fully-formed story idea–times two because there’s the Grounded, Elevated Sci-Fi prompt I’m also working on. There’s still a lot more to be done but I’m hoping by the next update, I’ll have everything plotted out. While, they’re only asking for the story idea, I’d like to have drafted the pilot episodes and maybe one or two episodes after those within the next few months. It’s good practice and I’m excited for where these story ideas and questions will take me next. Thanks, Pandora.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.