Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What I've Been Doing

I have always been a writer. I began writing in the third grade and have continued without stopping since then. But what I've written has changed significantly over the years. What started with an article detailing what a great president Ronald Reagan would be has morphed through short stories and non-fiction to novels and screenplays.
I remember telling myself stories as a child while I acted them out with my Barbies. In middle and high school, I made the shift from live action drama with dolls to strictly paper tales. I wrote horror because I wanted to be Stephen King. I wrote a play about a drunken, neglectful father because that was the social cause of the day. I vilified those who hurt me and canonized those I loved. I lived in those lines and adored my step-father's cast iron portable typewriter for the freedom it game me to keep pace with the stories in my mind.
When I participated in the process of writing a play on drunk driving and the adult writers used many of my lines verbatim, I thought, perhaps, I was pretty good at this stuff. I remember being furious when the playwrights gave only passing credit to me and my fellow thespians when the play was written. When I was deemed to look too old to play the part I'd essentially written, I was crushed, but I worked hard on that play and ended up directing it when our advisor quit suddenly.
I tried out for a play in college, but found that acting really wasn't my strength. I walked away from the theatre and focused on journalism and non-fiction. Except for those two movies my friend and I made during those years.
All Zombies Wear Sunglasses was an idea a friend and I came up with during the summer between our freshman and sophomore years. It was a parody of Evil Dead, right down the evil book and the running camera shots in the woods. Our camera, of course, wore sunglasses. It was a blast to write and film. Even editing it in the days of VHS camcorders was fun. It was so much fun, in fact, we decided to make a Kung Fu movie over Spring Break the following year.
The Kung Fu movie was meant to be done in the vein of the Sunday Afternoon Movies shown on local television stations in the 70s and 80s. We also threw in some Monty Python and a little Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride. In keep ing with the Sunday Afternoon Movie theme, we wrote and filmed parodies of the Energizer Bunny and Jimmy Stewart Campbell's soup commercials.
The Kung Fu movie was far more complicated than All Zombies Wear Sunglasses and included a much larger cast. The one constant was that I wrote and directed them both. And then I walked away from screenwriting for many years.
I can't say I'm proud of my next foray into writing and directing because that would be a lie. I'm not ashamed that I wrote, directed, filmed and edited pornography, but I know it wasn't my best work or even the best use of my skills. At the same time I was working on the pornographic material, I was working on educational videos for the Leather and BDSM community and I am more proud of those than I am of the porn, though I still recognize I could have done better. I worked on several projects during this time, but then shifted my focus form film to print for the next part of my journey.
It started as a conversation with a man I admired and became the first non-fiction I wrote. That blossomed into a few more relationship-based non-fiction books before the fire went out. I became disillusioned with the community for which I was writing and I turned to fiction.
I finished a novel that had languished for twelve years. Then I wrote a young adult paranormal series. I also started but didn't finish several other books during that time before dropping my pen for almost four years.
Those years were dark for me. Writing is the light that burns inside and illuminates the path to my dreams. without it, I succumbed to depression and very nearly lost myself for good. And then I got brave. I turned my back on what kept me from writing and I picked up the pen again.
I've written a new young adult novel, finished a historical romance novel and wrote a romantic thriller this year. I started or pushed forward a few other projects as well. And then a friend asked me if I would be interested in writing some episodes for a television series. I calmly said yes and then did the happy dance so enthusiastically that my dogs and roommate became convinced I'd lost my mind. While I waited for the project to begin, I worked on other writing, including a concept for a series of my own.
And then it happened. I got the first set of "gotta haves" for the second episode of the show and the go ahead to start writing. I was back to that place of telling stories but instead of Barbies, I was writing for real men and women who would take my vision and breathe life into it. Writing for the show has been a lot like coming home. Everything I loved about telling stories with my dolls, performing the improv so those playwrites could create the drunk driving play, and writing and directing parody films in college has come back. I'm excited about the writing and looking forward to seeing how these enormous ideas translate into images on the screen.
My dreams are big and my vision stretches far beyond what I can do alone. I am so blessed to have found the people with whom I'm working and I look forward to this new chapter in my life becoming everything I dream.