Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sage Advice from Syd Field on Writing


Talent is God's gift. Either you have it or you don't. Don't let selling or not selling your screenplay (*book) alter your internal state of mind, your feelings about yourself. Don't let it interfere with the experience of writing. In the long run, you did what you set out to do. You fulfilled your hopes and dreams, fulfilled your goal.
Writing brings its own rewards. Enjoy them.
Pass it on.

-Syd Field, Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

*I added 'book' because writing is writing. It flows and then hits the wall and refuses to budge. It's elating and then it's depressing. It's everything and then some.
If you've done it, rejoice in completion. It's a long, dark, and lonely road.
If you're still in the trenches, keep going. We've all experienced those gut-wrenching emotions you're feeling, they are a necessary part of the experience. Take the good with the bad. You'll get through it. You're not alone. Every writer has questioned their worth, their sanity, and their crazy-ass decision to write. Give yourself a hug and some words of encouragement. Then start writing again.
The journey is the destination.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Meet Living Legend Larry Brooks: King of Craft


With Larry Brooks in Portland
This weekend I attended the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland. The conference is for screenwriters and writers. All of the speakers offered a plethora of information in an engaging way. I learned so much from pros like Hallie Ephron, Eileen Cook, Gordy Hoffman and Luke Ryan.  My only regret: that I couldn't attend every workshop.


This was the first conference I ever attended and all I can say is, wow. Huge value. Huge. My head is swimming with knowledge, ideas and lists of books to read by these great authors and teachers. And as for all the wonderful people I met, are all the people in Portland this nice?

The reason I signed up to go to Portland was to meet the King of Craft himself (in my humble opinion), Larry Brooks. Larry was teaching three days of story craft and after reading his books, Story Engineering and Story Physics; I knew I had to see him in person to thank him for making my dream of getting published a reality.

Rewind to three years ago. After finishing my manuscript and landing a superb literary agent I read Story Engineering and cried. I mean, had I known these core principles of story structure before writing my book it would have been so much better and saleable.
I looked at my manuscript with dismay and disappointment, had I only known...

Then I got a call from my agent, a publisher liked the premise but my book needed a complete re-write. A re-write? Where do I start? I asked. Page one, she said. Gulp.

Normally this is when most writers would reach for the bottle, I just reached for a king sized chocolate bar. But I also did a happy dance while gulping down said chocolate bar because now I could write my story using the principles I had learned and I knew it would be kick-ass. 

Nine months later (and a few hundred chocolate bars later) my script went back to the publisher and by the end of the weekend, yes, it was Sunday, I was signing my first contract (and starting a diet). Thank you Larry Brooks. Not only that but NO major re-writes and nearly no edits, it was relatively painless (no chocolate required).

So if you think your story could be better, or if you're wondering how to write that great story that's keeping you up at nights, I recommend reading Brooks' books, or at least reading his blog, and no, I don't get a commission.

Happy Writing!



It is Not the Critic Who Counts...


This quote by Theodore Roosevelt (below) is powerful juice for silencing the critics and the voices of those people who would rather you sit on the sidelines with them instead of in the arena where we belong. Dr. Brene Brown, leading Shame researcher and all around awesome person, says our biggest critic is ourselves and she would be right. 

Two weeks before my book hit the shelves I phoned my publisher in a panic.
"Lynn, I can't go through with this!" I wept.
"Ha, that's so cute," she said.
"No really, I just can't put my book out there to be judged and criticized, I just can't do it!" I was terrified.
"Breathe," said Lynn, "You and every other first-time author feels the same way. You'll only ever be a first time author once so enjoy the journey - even the rough spots."

Lynn reassured me and I accepted that the odd negative review was inevitable, instead I had to focus on the positive, my personal achievement, the idea that perhaps my book would help someone who was grieving.

But I never anticipated what happened next. 

Jimmy Fallon, yes that Jimmy Fallon placed my book at the top of his Do Not Read List. It was like that dream, you know the one where you realize you've gone to work and forgotten to wear clothes? Yeah. I was standing there butt naked, lumps and bumps and all, in front of millions as they laughed and pointed - only it wasn't a dream. It was real.

Granted, Jimmy Fallon was only making fun of the title but I felt like the awkward, pudgy kid getting picked on at the playground all over again. I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide forever. 
And then it hit me. I'm in the arena. I am IN THE ARENA. Yes, the arena where we get scratched, bruised, bumped - where we sweat, bleed and even cry but damn, this is it. This is living. I realized I had only two choices before me: run for the doors and hide or climb back up on my horse. I chose the latter and in doing so I chose victory. 

To stumble, to fall, to be vulnerable and to get back up again when you've been knocked down,is a helluva lot more fun than sitting on the sidelines. To be the butt of Jimmy Fallon's joke, to have millions laugh at your dream, the one you spent your entire life building up the courage to try, well, to be honest, is just awesome when you realize it doesn't kill you. In fact it's empowering because I did it. I did it despite the skeptics, despite my own self doubt, despite knowing I could end up being laughed at. 
I'm in the arena where dreams become reality, where fear loses it power, where the courageously vulnerable live. And truthfully, I love Jimmy Fallon, it's a badge of honour I wear proudly (not to mention my book went bananas right after).

If you are one of those people who think it's best to wait until you're perfect to enter the arena, it's never gonna happen because perfection doesn't exist. It's like a rainbow, the more you chase it, the more elusive it becomes. 
If you think going into the arena will be easy, you're wrong. Dead wrong. But it will also be damn rewarding.

"Vulnerability is the doorway to courage," - Dr. Brown.

You are worthy of the arena and I am cheering you on every single step of the way. Silence the critics. Silence the self-doubt and just get on with it. Come into the arena. 
You just may find that playing with a lion's testicles isn't so crazy after all*.

Adventures Await,
XOXO 

*A South African expression that means to take chances.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms. the great devotions; who spends himself in worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly..." - Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, July 11, 2014

Never too late to take the plunge...

Last weekend I was hiking in the mountains with our newly adopted four-year-old Newfoundlander, Tony Soprano. 
He waded into a lake, walked off a ledge...and sunk. Tony didn't know how to swim, nor did he have instincts to doggy paddle. I pulled him up and two days later he was enrolled in his first swimming lesson (that's his instructor below) proving it's never too late to take the plunge. 

Turn up the music and watch Tony crush his fear of the water. Watch till the end because the grand finale is his swan song.

Enjoy!



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Play with a Lion's Testicles, a.k.a. Take A Chance!



All you need is twenty seconds of insane courage, and I promise you something great will come of it.
-Matt Damon in We Bought A Zoo

*Pick up the phone
*Ask for what you want
*Submit that manuscript
*Start that manuscript
*Hit 'send'
*Say yes
*Say no
*Say I love you
*Ask her out
*Ask him out
*Book the ticket
*Lace up your runners
*Take the first step
*Put down the soda
*Pick up where you left off
*Speak up
*Show up
*Surprise someone
*Say hi to the stranger on the subway
*Apply for the dream job you don't think you're worthy of
*Dance your butt off...wherever you are
*Sing your heart out...whenever you feel like it
*Exhale
*etc

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Got a Minute? Great! We need you :-)

If you're pressed for time, click here to send your signature in support of a conservation plan for the Great Bear Sea. This is not just for Canadians, we are all affected by this.
White Spirit Bear, Photo courtesy Marine Planning Partnership, Great Bear Sea 

British Columbia is home to the Great Bear Sea - the name says it all doesn't it? This is one of the last remaining rich, non-polluted, untouched marine ecosystems On. The. Planet. 


It is a world treasure on par with the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon Rainforest.

Stretching from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan Border, the Great Bear Sea is home to an incredible bounty of life: 400 species of fish, including wild Pacific salmon; 29 species of mammals, like orcas, humpback whales and sea otters; and more than three million nesting seabirds.

The rare white spirit bear seen above is found no where else on earth. Either is the Pacific coast wolf, also only found in this area.

Our coastal waters are under threat and British Columbia hasn’t committed to a plan to properly protect them. While Australia, the United States and New Zealand expand safeguards for marine ecosystems, Canada has protected less than three per cent of the Great Bear Sea.
Photo courtesy Marine Planning Partnership, Great Bear Sea


We need a plan that will leave the Great Bear Sea healthy and productive for our children and families, before it is too late.

The Province of B.C. and 18 First Nations worked together in an innovative partnership and made plans to protect the Great Bear Sea and the people and economies it supports. Now, we need to call on the provincial government to commit to those plans.

The plans are state-of-the-art in Canada. They will create zones for wildlife and ecosystem protection, and for ecotourism, renewable energy and aquaculture.


—
This summer, B.C. will decide whether to adopt these plans to protect our ocean. Join us in seizing this historic opportunity. Send a message to our leaders by clicking here - 30 seconds and you're done. EVERY signature matters - especially yours.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014

If I had my life to live over, Nadine Stair, 85 years of age



If I had my life to live over again,
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.

I’d relax.

I’d limber up.

I’d be sillier than I’ve been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances. (a.k.a. Play with a Lion's Testicles!)
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.

I would, perhaps, have more actual troubles but fewer imaginary ones.
you see, I’m one of those people who was sensible and sane,
hour after hour,
day after day.
Oh, I’ve had my moments.

If I had to do it over again,
I’d have more of them.

In fact, I’d try to have nothing else- just moments,
one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute.
If I could do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had to live my life over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.

I would go to more dances,
I would ride more merry-go-rounds,
I would pick more daisies.

How would you like to live your life differently? Would you like to take more chances? Live in the present instead of worrying about the future or regretting the past? What would you love to do? And...when is a good time to do it?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Acceptance




Acceptance. Exhale. Acceptance. Let Go. Acceptance.

Acceptance is what takes over when we stop asking the questions that have no answers. It is what eases the suffering. It is the answer we seek, yet resist. Acceptance.

From the tiniest crack to the blackest hole, acceptance will attempt to fill the void, if we let it. Acceptance.

Acceptance stands alone. It cannot exist with judgment, bargaining or emotion. It does not need recognition for it already is. Acceptance. 

We need not embrace acceptance, we need not rejoice in it, we need merely invite it in to the space that needs occupying. Acceptance.

Acceptance is strength. Acceptance foreshadows solace, and, the courage to move forward albeit changed, to become unstuck. Acceptance.

Acceptance. Exhale. Acceptance. Let Go. Acceptance.