Here’s my Spoken Word performance of “Clover” at Strong Words #72. Hope you enjoy!
Hi everybody! I am thrilled and honored to be performing again with Strong Words as they stage their first show in a post-COVID world, Saturday, Oct. 24th, 2020 at 6:30pm.
Go to https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4779438 to get tickets and the instructions on how to attend. There will be a lot of social distancing and sanitizer involved.
Hope to see you there!
Hey everyone! I hope you’re staying healthy, safe and sane in your corner of the world.
I had made plans to do a new aerial routine in December of 2019. After a few swaps in tricks and music changes, I was able to film it with the help of some friends at the beginning of March of this year.
And now it’s finally ready to be seen! Many thanks to Womack and Bowman for being my training ground and means for self expression. Aerial training is a hobby for me, a way to challenge myself without comparison to anyone else.
I hope you enjoy!
If it’s December, there MIGHT be a showing of the Christmas TV movie that I wrote A STAR FOR CHRISTMAS.
And there is! Yay!
Here’s your chance to start your holiday season off right and you have many chances to do so! Set your DVR for any of the following!
LIFETIME CHANNEL – https://www.mylifetime.com/movies/a-star-for-christmas
Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 at 10:03pm
Monday, December 3rd, 2018 at 2:04am
Tuesday, December 18th, 2018 at 8:00am
Sunday, December 16th, 2018 at 9:00am
Cute trailer alert below!
Hope you enjoy!
So enough about me!
One of my secrets is to be friends with really talented people. And one of my all time faves is my bestie from childhood, YA Author Ash Parsons.
A few weeks ago, I went to Florida to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday. We drove to the Florida coast and rented a condo on the beach. Where I spent a lovely few days reading Ash’s newest book THE FALLING BETWEEN US.
Here’s the synopsis:
Just eight months ago, fifteen-year-old Roxanne Stewart was stuck in her tiny, middle-of-nowhere hometown with no prospects of leaving. But after her boyfriend, Joshua Blackbird, posts a performance of an original song on YouTube, he becomes an overnight sensation, catapulting to the dizzying heights of celebrity, and Rox joins him on the whirlwind ride of a massive national tour.
But it’s not long before the never-blinking eye of fame begins weighing them both down–the constant hunger of managers, diehard fans who call themselves “Birdies,” record execs, paparazzi, and even family, all leeching onto Joshua.
Then one day, Joshua Blackbird disappears. Was it a suicide? An accident? Rox will stop at nothing to find out the truth. The Falling Between Us is a haunting love story and a piercing look at the costs of fame.
It’s a fantastic read and well worth your time. And while you’re at it, check out her first book STILL WATERS, which is also amazing.
Among other things, Ash is a 2016 PEN Literary Award Winner AND a graduate of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Clown College. Check out her Circus Crush entries on her twitter feed, where she shines a well deserved spotlight on circus legends. (her Twitter feed is hilarious in general)
You can read more about Ash at these links.
It was a fantastic weekend of performances of SAY GOODBYE, TOTO at Colon Junior/Senior High School in Colon, MI. in March. Check out these uber talented kids from the Colon High School Drama Club:
If you’d like to perform the play at your high school, Please email me directly
If you happen to be in the Colon, Michigan area at the end of March, you can see SAY GOODBYE, TOTO as the Colon Junior/Senior High School is performing it for three performances in the high school gymnasium:
March 23, 2018 at 6:00PM
March 24, 2018 at 2:00PM and 6:00PM
Tickets: $5.00 at the door.
If you’d like to perform the play at your high school, Please email me directly
thanks and break a leg, Colon Junior/Senior High School!
Continuing last month’s theme with Part 2! – How Screenwriting Is Like Aerial Training (and probably other professions as well)
Surround yourself with people who are better than you
The aerial class I take is an advanced silks class. Usually I’m the worst one in class. It used to make me self conscious. But when I went down a level to an intermediate class, where I was one of the best in the class, I was still self-conscious and uncomfortable. I realized that I want to be the worst in the class, because I want to learn from people who are better than me. I don’t want to be the best in class. I don’t learn anything that way.
I once heard about screenwriting, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” So I follow a lot of writers on Twitter. I ask writers who are way better than me to read my work and give me their notes. Sometimes I have to wait awhile until their schedule clears up. And I always buy them lunch or dinner. And I always say thank you, even if they hate my script.
But! Don’t compare yourself to others
The surest way to implode in a spectacular Technicolor blast of writer goo is to read the Twitter feed of more successful writers as they announce their latest project or their standing in a writing competition while you trudge off to your soulless day job (bonus points if they’re actually people you know in real life.)
And if I wanted to, I could very easily implode in a spectacular Technicolor inflexible aspiring aerialist goo if I obsess over other aerialists. Look at their oversplits! Look at their graceful moves! Look at how effortless they make it!
(If I had any of my splits, I would just stay in them, all day long. I would watch TV in my middle splits. That’s how much I wish I had them. And maybe someday I’ll get there.)
But being jealous of what other people have, either their career progress or their flexibility, doesn’t do you any good. Get in front of that computer. Get on that silk. And work your own shit out.
Cheer for other people
At the same time, you need to cheer for your friends in real life who announce their latest writing project or contest standing while you trudge off to your soulless day job. You need to cheer for your classmates who finally nail that middle spit to ankle hang when they get it and you don’t. Celebrate any and all wins, even if (and especially if) they’re not yours. Be generous with your praise and congratulations. Only good things come from sending out love and positivity in the world. Yes, that seems all woo woo and foo foo, but I believe it.
Yeah, it’s tough. It’s gonna hurt. Keep going.
Nobody is perfect right out of the gate. People that go to the gym see the most beneficial effects when they consider it a life-long process, as opposed to a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.
Training in aerial arts hurts. Especially at the beginning. You’re getting weird silk burns on weird places (armpit burns, anyone?) while you figure out where the silk is supposed to be. After your first aerial class, you feel like a Mac truck hit you.
But if you want it enough. You keep going. And you get better.
When you first start writing, you have no idea what you’re doing. You’re just banging stuff out on a keyboard and stringing sentences together and debating the merits of outlining. The first time you get a bad critique, it hurts. You will likely call the critiquer an idiot who just didn’t get it. And then later on, you realize that they may have had some good points.
But if you want it enough. You keep going. And you get better.
If this is something you want more than anything else in the world, you will pursue it with everything you have. And it will be worth it. Says me 🙂
I’ve been aerial training since 2011. I’ve been writing since I was sixteen. I have noticed parallels between the two, and I thought I’d list them here for the three other writers who are also aerialists. KIDDING.
There’s actually a lot of parallels between aerial training and any passion you’re pursuing when you’re not paying the bills at your day job.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
Honestly, show me the profession or passion where it IS a sprint, not a marathon. Medical school takes forever. So does becoming a lawyer. It’s never fast as you want it to be. We all wanna be prodigies. Because if we discover that we’re seriously brilliant at something, then what? We don’t have to do it again? We live off the mountains of profits of the one masterstroke we did once in our lives? Life doesn’t work like that. Pursuing a dream is not a one and done thing.
If you’re serious about writing, it’s not that you write one script, sell it, and never write again. You are always writing.
And if you take a single aerial class and love it, you don’t take one class, and never go again. You keep at it. You go every week. Sometimes twice, if you can afford it. If you can really afford it, you sign up for unlimited monthly classes (that’s a dream of mine).
Your passion is ongoing, and you don’t even notice it because if it’s your passion, you love doing it. Whether it’s writing, aerial training, yoga or neurology.
Measure your progress
One of my favorite things to do when I’m at Disneyland or Walt Disney World is when I get to the front of the line. Before I get on the ride, I look behind me to see how far I’ve come (and to take pleasure in the fact that there are still people behind me and I wasn’t the end of the line).
Same thing when you hike to the top of Griffith Park – you have to look back on the trail and see how far you’ve come. It’s mind-blowing. I made it all the way up that hill. I made it all the way through thirty minutes of standing in line, and now I’m about to get on a roller coaster.
When I was a gymnast, I was marginally flexible. I never had my splits, but I did have back flexibility. I could do back handsprings like nobody’s business, all the way down the floor in the way that skinny twelve-year-old gymnasts can do.
Now as an adult, my back flexibility is marginally better than an eighty-year-old. Those back and shoulder muscles are brittle with age and years of day-job desk sitting. But my aerial teacher doesn’t give up on me so I don’t give up on myself. I stretch. Most every day. I’m the freak in the corner of the LA Fitness doing a backbend against the wall.
There are a lot of days where I don’t wanna stretch. I’m tired. I’m cranky. There’s a lot of snap, crackle and pops in my spine, knee and hip joints when I stand up. I need a motivator. So I started taking pictures every few months at my aerial studio, Womack & Bowman. I reasoned that if I couldn’t see any progress, than I could give up.
There’s an old saying in aerial circles, which is that “Progress is measured in millimeters.” So I did see progress in my backbends. In millimeters. But it’s enough to motivate me. It’s enough to keep going.
In my writing, I keep a log of how many scripts I’ve written in my life. The number is too numerous to mention in polite company, so I will say… more than ten. And I think it’s helpful to sometimes go back to those early scripts. Because they’re awful. Truly truly wretched. Like, how in the world did my college screenwriting professors even put up with my stanky-ass writing? One of my short scripts was setting Alice In Wonderland in a mental institution. Because I was SOOOOOOOOOO brilliant at twenty years old! Nobody’s ever thought of that one, right? Blargh.
But I kept at it. I didn’t give up. And my writing today is better than my writing ten scripts ago. And my writing ten scripts from today will be even better. That’s the cool thing about writing and aerial training. The more you keep at it. The more you practice and observe and read and learn, the better you get.
The little things are important
You can be working on the most basic silk trick in the world – climbing up the silk or a hip key – and it will ten thousand percent look better if you’re pointing your toes and keeping your legs straight. There is no reason in the world you cannot point your toes on a silk. That doesn’t require muscle strength. That doesn’t require flexibility. Everyone and their mother can point their toes (Upon retiring, my mother started adult ballet classes, so she can for sure point her toes). And you look so much better.
In writing, the most basic thing in the world is spelling. Because you’re a writer. Words are what you trade in. I would go off on writers in my writers group when I’d read their stuff and spot more than two misspelled words. One writer explained that he had written the script on his phone during his day job lunch hour and didn’t have time to spellcheck. YOU ALWAYS HAVE TIME TO SPELLCHECK. You’re a writer. Don’t misspell words. That’s akin to a doctor putting on the wrong-sized Band-Aid. It’s the basics, silly.
Be a professional. Pretend like you’re getting paid dream job money. Act like a professional before you’re getting paid, and then you won’t have to make any adjustments when you are getting paid.
Put your name and the date on the title page. Tick the box on the Final Draft export window that include the title page when exporting to pdf. Pay attention to the little things.
Know your limitations and keep working on them
There’s a particularly evil stretch in aerial class called the Moose Pose. It looks like this.
It looks like you’re praying to the wall. I used to hate the Moose Pose. But it’s supposed to open up your shoulders and back, and I need flexibility in both those areas. So I did the stretch in class. My teacher said I could do the stretch at the gym, at home, in the bathroom at work. So I kept at it. Until I eventually stopped hating it. Again, progress is measured in degrees, so my back and shoulders are opening the slightest bit. But the bigger progress was made in my hatred of the pose going away.
In my writing, one of the more difficult things for me to do is write sympathetic characters. It’s not my nature, because I’m a Super Grump. I battle against the thinking that sympathetic characters are obvious characters. That showing the main character’s proverbial Save The Cat moment is the Like My Hero, Please! Moment.
I feel like if we come up against something that’s hard, our first impulse is to run away and not do it. We whine “But I thought because I liked doing something, everything I try in that arena should be EASSSSSYYYYYYYYY.”
If it’s your passion, when you hit a roadblock, you bust your way through it through hard work and perseverance. So I work on my Mose Pose, even though I can gripe and complain about it. And I work on writing sympathetic characters in non-cheesy ways, though I can bitch and moan about that, too. And I will get better.
Stay tuned for next month’s installment! Oh yeah, I’ve got a lot more to say, hahaha.