Friday, December 20, 2019

As the pendulum swings.

Image from
For more than a year I have been swinging on a pendulum (creatively speaking) between an open floodgate of ideas drowning me with too many possibilities and a yawning void echoing the chirp of crickets. Back and forth. Back and forth. Floodgate. Void. Floodgate. Void.

At the beginning of this year I felt a pull to go to Scotland. Then it left. Then it came back. Then it left. So, when an opportunity to attend a writer's retreat in Scotland happened along, I grabbed it, hoping to shake something loose.

You see, one of my many floodgate ideas swirls around the experiences of a notable Scottish ancestor. I thought visiting her homeland would help me gain focus and maybe flesh out her story.

I spent three weeks in Scotland, and pardon my gushing, but I absolutely love that ancestral homeland! 

Nine days were spent with writers in workshops, conversations, and excursions. Hanging with other writers was a balm I've needed for a long time. Still, a story eluded me.

After the retreat, I journeyed east of Edinburgh to an area where my ancestor had lived, and spent several days exploring. I strolled along the coast of the North Sea, her favorite place, then hopped on a bus to her hometown. Surely I would feel a story there, right? But no muse met me... instead I had a disturbing experience and left disheartened. 

My husband joined me in Edinburgh after I was done with the retreat and my research. It was mid-August, so the Festival Fringe--"the world's largest arts festival"--was in full swing. Edinburgh exudes amazing creative energy during the festival. Still, a story eluded me.

We had a blast exploring and eating our way through the Scotland. (Haggis with "neeps and tatties" is delicious, ya'll!) Oh, and if you ever get the chance to go to The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, do it!

Liverpool, England was next on the agenda and we walked along the Royal Albert Dock where my ancestors sailed to America. Then onward to London, and a day trip to Chawton to see the home where Jane Austen lived and wrote. (If you read my previous post Jane Austen Binging this will not come as a surprise.) Still, a story eluded me.

Upon my return home, I went into a slump again. The void.

Then the pendulum swung towards the floodgate, but this time clarity shone upon one of the ideas and
a story surfaced for a new screenplay... incorporating the aforementioned odd experience in my ancestor's hometown as a twist. I immediately opened Screenwriter and typed until the idea faded.

Now I am back in the void.

And that's okay.

Thanks to the supportive writers I met at the retreat, I am being patient. They encouraged me to relax about the process, and assured me that even if a story comes in fragments, I can write a fragment at a time until it all comes together.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Jane Austen Binging

Public Domain Image: Jane Austen
I've been binging on movies based on Jane Austen novels. It started with watching the six hour BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice (1995) with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, which then made me want to watch the two hour version (2005) with Keira Knightley playing the part of Elizabeth Bennet.

Since I was on a roll, I moved on to Sense and Sensibility (1995) starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman, then watched the 2008 mini-series for comparison. Both are good, but I prefer the version with Emma Thompson.

With that name in mind, I went to Emma (1996) starring Gwyneth Paltrow in the lead role, followed by the 4-hour TV mini-series (Emma 2009).

But the binge didn't end there. I also watched Mansfield Park (1999) with Jonny Lee Miller as the best friend-turned-love interest, Edmund Bertram. (I watch the Elementary series with Johnny Lee portraying Sherlock Holmes, so it was fun to see him in such a different role!)

Does my husband mind all these supposed chick flicks? Not at all. In fact, a couple weeks ago when asked what movie he wanted to watch, he selected The Jane Austen Book Club (2007) and felt proud that he knew most of the stories they discussed... except for Northanger Abbey. I was unfamiliar with that one, too, at the time.

So, I downloaded a free app called "Serial Reader" that provides just a small portion of a classic book each day at a specified time, and I selected (you guessed it) Northanger Abbey. [This is a great way to read classic literature because it only takes about 10-15 minutes to read the day's portion, making it a bit easier to concentrate on and digest.] I'm approximately 81% through this one.

Then I stumbled across an interesting book: The Jane Austen Diet: Austen's Secrets to Food, Health, and Incandescent Happiness by Jane Austen, Bryan Kozlowski (Contributor). The Jane Austen Diet? I had to see what it was all about, and it turned out to be full of delightful nuggets. Who knew Jane Austen was a health guru! One thing for certain... she wouldn't advocate binging, so it's doubtful she would be flattered by our excessive viewing/reading of all things Jane.


In the meantime, I discovered our local library has the DVD of Northanger Abbey... two versions, actually. I didn't even know it was made into a film, let alone more than one! Guess what we'll be watching after I finish the novel!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Take 40: The Music of Silence

Tuesday: My "take" on a film.

The Music of Silence (2017)

The Unforgettable True Story of Andrea Bocelli

I first became aware of Bocelli when he sang "Because We Believe" during the closing ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics held in Torino, Italy. I had recorded the program on VHS and watched that segment numerous times, his magnificent tenor voice touching my soul.

Since then, I've purchased many of his songs. They lift my spirit, soothe anxiety, inspire.

So imagine my delight to watch a film about his life... his journey with blindness, his struggles and triumphs, his family's love, support, and encouragement. And I learned how the title reflects his approach to singing, as he is taught...

Maestro (Antonio Banderas)
Silence is the most important and
the most difficult discipline.

With that, I will stop talking about the film and let you go watch it.

Movieclips Indie Trailer: The Music of Silence

Notes on Content:
  • No violence
  • A scene with implied sex, but nothing shown. No nudity.
  • No language issues (or it was so mild, I didn't notice).

Monday, June 10, 2019

Attitude makes a difference.

Monday: Dialogue, Lines, or Quotes

I posted a review of Walk. Ride. Rodeo. (2019) last week, and I continue to reflect on these wise words of dialogue.

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. I realize maybe I won't have control over every situation in my life. Maybe I don't get to make every decision. But when I wake up in the morning, I get to decide my attitude. Today is our day. And if that's the only decision I get to make that day... I better make it a good one.