2018: The Year of No School Work

Early last year, fed up with doing school work, I decided to speed things up a bit so that I could finish before Christmas and declared 2018 as, the year of no school work. And I succeeded in that goal, graduating in August (with honors) the proud owner of a bachelors degree in history.

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Little did I know then that 2018 would also be the year of hardly no husband. And Murphy’s Law of Deployment (essentially means trouble waits for your husband to be gone) hit us hard this time y’all. Car trouble, frozen pipes, broken microwave, stomach flu, endless snow shoveling, and a broken door latch on my husband’s car. The last one involved me having to drive 5 miles to the VW dealership while pulling on the door so it wouldn’t fly open. This all happened in the last two weeks.

**sigh**

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Thankfully we were able to ring in the new year as a family, and soaked in the joy of being together before facing the pain of being separated. This certainly changed how I viewed the new year, the hopes and the expectations, were quite different from last year. And I thought that I would share them with you, in honor of those whose new years celebration had a dark cloud hanging over it for whatever reason.

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Here we stand in front of a fresh new year, and I am reminded today about how circumstances can effect ones outlook. Today begins a 7 month long deployment/training. A chunk of time where our family will not be together, and everything we do until he gets back will be bittersweet. It is a burden that we must bear as a military family, and honestly no amount of patriotic statements or mentions of military benefits makes it any easier.

So our word for this year is connection. To dig deep and stay connected to each other. To stay connected to family and friends who can help and fill in gaps. To connect with personal improvement. To connect with hopes and dreams, and the powers that be who can, help, make them come true. Connect to what will make us stronger and better when this is all over.

And this years statement is, and that’s okay. When one thinks about hopes for the new year, they can be lofty and ambitious. But once you’re down in the trenches of every day life things change, and that’s okay.

You’ll have days when all you feel doing is watching TV. You’ll get sick on a weekend or holiday. Messes will be made, and mistakes too. You’ll be sad, frustrated, or angry at some point in the next 365 days and that’s okay. It really is.

So this year do whatever you need to that will help you feel better, make you better, help you smile, or help you cry if you need to. Ignore all those pre made “10 steps to a happier you” lists and make your own. Because personal well being is not one size fits all.

So we will strife for connections and if we miss an opportunity to do so here and there, that’s okay. The goal here is remain committed to becoming better humans, the road there may be uncertain but it’s the destination that’s important.

Happy New Year! May you be happy and healthy in 2018. And if you have days when you’re not, just remember, that’s okay.

Until next time,

The Texan

Writing Woes

Writing is difficult because it is never easy to create something from nothing, all while having only one tool at your disposal to do that with; your brain. However, once you finish a screenplay/novel/short story, you have to figure out what is the best way to get your work to the masses.

Which does indeed open up a whole new bucket of madness and frustration.  I am realizing that writing the darn screenplays will be the easiest part of this whole endeavor. Because while writing produces seeds of doubt, preparing a marketing plan opens up way more. Allow me to walk you through some my own thought processes in just the last couple of hours.

The journey began by reading selling strategy advice in The Screenwriters Bible by David Trottier. I will summarize.

Be persistent, but not pushy; be original but familiar. You need an epic hook, sell your story with awesomeness, be exciting, be captivating, showcase your work on a stage made of gold and dreams. Have your ducks (not regular ducks mind you, the best looking ducks you can find) all lined up in the perfect row, follow the rules, do your research, and don’t forget to shoot for total perfection.

Yep, I knew it everyone in Hollywood is Lord Business

***after stewing in self doubt for several minutes***

I’m not a genius okay, I’m just a writer. Your average human writer. Where do they expect to find people who can do all this crap. And speaking of crap, Hollywood, you got some ‘splanin to do.

I can’t do it. Nope. Can’t handle the pressure. This is madness. What kind of sick person would put themselves through this torture on a daily basis.

**sit and ponder for a moment**

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Yep completely craz — Wait! I’ve got it, the perfect logline/hook! **write it down**

Oh and this is a nice thought, maybe could be included in a pitch or query letter! **write it down** And this too! **write, write, write, writey, write, write**

Awe look it the little ducks finding there way to the row. Isn’t just…

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So what kind of person would put themselves through this?

A writer. And that is what I am.

Until next time,

The Texan

 

 

 

 

 

77 Pages

So I finished putting “Cambridge” into screenplay format. I got the spacing just right, deleted scenes I didn’t like anymore, added new ones, and made sure it was in the correct font. Then I sat back to marvel at my accomplishment only to notice that it was 77 pages long, which is, you guessed it, too short. At least 15 pages too short to be exact, I might even need 20 more. So I was like..

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Well I guess that was a decent effort. I suppose I could just work at Target, or something.

No.

I don’t like red.

Or khakis.

But it’s too short. Why is it too short? How can I come up with 20 more pages??

And the confident side of my personality was like..

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Uh, you’re going to read back through your screenplay, and find places where you can expand, and we’ll get to 95 pages. Boom! Just like that.

Yeah. Yeah! ‘Cause I’m a screenplay writer, not a quitter! I got this.badass

I got this!

Until next time,

The Texan

 

 

 

It Is Time

Well friends the bachelors degree has been earned, time off to relax (and take an epic road trip) has been taken, and the kids are back in school; therefore, quiet time has been regained. It is time to begin the, learn how to become a screen writer, uh…process. It’s time to finish Save the Cat! , and go over notes and a tips from that book and the first screenplay writing book I read simply called, Screenplay. It’s time to get “Cambridge” in proper screenplay format, finish “Brooklyn”, and do my best to perfect both stories. It’s time to make sure that Mae Forester, Evan O’Brady, Samantha York, and Carter Logan are the best they can be. After that of course it will time to discover the best way to get my stories to the “powers that be”, and maybe, just maybe, to a theater near you.

Before I focus on characters that have a future, I thought I would give a last bit of love to one that will never see the light of day; my ideal love interest for Bucky Barnes, a gal I call Rachel Buchanan. I wrote a blog post about her in late June, detailing that she had worked for S.H.I.E.L.D, helping with foreign languages, logistics, and mission planning. After S.H.I.E.L.D fell, she switched to helping the Avengers because of her friendship with Tony Stark (Iron Man). Her father was in the Army, and her grandfather worked for S.H.I.E.L.D as well, and was good friends with Howard Stark. The short scene that I shared included Rachel and Bucky laughing about the fact that he is technically older than her grandfather. Rachel is sweet, brilliant, and understanding; a lovely light to Bucky’s struggles with the darkness of his past. Now I know that Bucky will most likely end up with Natasha, it is, after all, in the comic books, and I’m good with anything that will bring Bucky happiness, and of course make him smile more.

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But as a writer, I can’t help but think of my own spin on something, and well…write it down. I suppose that it is at least valuable writing practice, and helps keep the grey matter in good working order. In the scene that I will share today, Tony expresses his concerns to Rachel after he has noticed that her and Bucky have, as they say in my neck of the woods, “taken a liking to each other”.

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Tony: “Maybe it was a mistake to bring you into all of this.”

Rachel: “Then why did you?”

Tony: “Because you’re good at what you do. And you have a low profile, which is helpful in this line of work. This..(gesturing toward where he last saw Bucky)..is like a weird plot twist.”

Rachel: “Well I didn’t plan on it, if that helps you. I’m not going into this blind. And I’m willing to trust him.”

Tony: “I just. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

Rachel: “I know and I appreciate that. You’ve always looked out for me. I remember when I was little I would call you Uncle Tony. (Rachel smiles at Tony, then sadness comes over her face) I remember the pain of losing them. What it did to you, and to my family. My grandfather was never the same after your dad died. Believe me, I understand what he was turned into, but that’s not who he is.”

(Camera shows Bucky standing in the hallway, guilt shows on his face. He turns to walk away.)

Tony: “Are you sure?”

Rachel: (smiles) “I am.”

Tony: (nods) “You know if you ever need anything.”

Rachel: “I know.”

Rachel comes out of the room, sees Bucky in the hallway.

Rachel: “Bucky?” (He doesn’t respond) “Bucky wait…(she catches up to him, touching him on the shoulder) What’s wrong?”

Bucky: “I’m sorry.”

Rachel: “For wha…oh…Did you hear what I said?”

Bucky: “I didn’t know that you knew them. I just…I can’t get away from my past. Not even with you.”

Rachel: “Bucky, I know that’s not who you are. You’re a good man.”

Bucky: “It’s hard for me to believe that.”

Rachel: “I know. (she looks around as if searching for the right words to say) I believe that true goodness is not born out of the absence of bad, but rather to ability to endure the bad, and come out the other side still good. I know that it will take time, but I have faith in you.”

Bucky: “You do?”

Rachel: “Yeah I do. (they smile at each other) Now, I believe a certain gentleman asked me for a date earlier. (Bucky gives her a “you still want to go out with me” look) So where are we going?”

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Even though she will never be a “thing”, I’m proud of Rachel Buchanan, and the little mini story that I created about her and Bucky. I suppose it is important to be proud of any work that one puts out whether it becomes a “thing” or not.

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Until next time,

The Texan

 

 

 

 

My First Character

I have been enjoying not having to do school work, and riding the good vibes wave that comes with accomplishing something that was difficult; and also took a long time. I have yet to discover if the dean liked my paper, I also don’t know my final GPA, but the work is complete. And I am so close to being able to wear that t-shirt that I bought from the university store; or as I call it, the “t-shirt of victory”. I mean I know that I can wear it now, just wanna make sure everything is final first, you know, truly complete. I look forward to that day, its going to be awesome! You know sometimes its okay to bask in your own glow. Its important for each individual to recognize just how amazing they truly are, and then use that…uh…amazing-ness, to better the world around them. Imagine if everyone did that?

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But I digress.

I’ve been reading a book called Screenplay by Syd Field, to help in the process of making my unfinished yet to be finished screenplay, ready to present to the world. I started working on it about 2 years ago, and it currently has the working title of “Cambridge”. The main character is a young American women from Kansas, and her name is Mae Forester. Mae is a graduate student at the University of Kansas, and is only a few credits away from completing her master’s degree in history. She gets accepted to competitive summer program at Cambridge University, one of only 6 Americans chosen. When she arrives she meets Evan O’Brady, an aspiring chef, who is working as a Cambridge tour guide for the summer. The impact they have on each other is the story.

Now Mae isn’t looking for love, or in need of a man, more just tired of the ones that turn out to be a waste of time. For her going to Cambridge is all about finishing her degree, and proving to herself that she is capable of succeeding in the history profession; and then moving on from there. She’s not really expecting anything more, however, waiting in Cambridge is something more. This meeting generates happiness, but also conflict; which I hope will make the movie interesting. Today I would like to share with you one of my favorite scenes, when Mae (who doesn’t travel well) first arrives in Cambridge, and meets Evan.

Setting exterior in front of Cambridge:
Camera set under a bus showing the stairs. Feet in sneakers appear, one at a time. Mae walks off dragging her suitcase rather than using the wheels. She looks extremely tired, messy ponytail and wearing sweatpants that say “Jayhawks” along the side. Evan notices her, and offers to help.

Evan: “Miss. Excuse me miss. Allow me to assist you with that.” (He puts the suitcase back on its wheels.)
Mae: “Oh yeah. I’ve never been this exhausted in my life, this coming from a girl who has taken her fair share of final exams. I’m actually a little upset with England right now.”
Evan: “Why England?”
Mae: “Because it’s so far away from Kansas.”
Evan: “Kansas? Are you American?”
Mae: “Why else would I be coming from Kansas?”
Evan: “Good point.”
Mae: “Yeah I know. (looks at Evan) You don’t have to follow me, I’m just going over here.”
Evan: “Just making sure you get to where you need to be.”
Mae: “I am (big yawn) where I need to be.”
Evan: “Right.”
Evan watches Mae, as she meets up with the rest of the people that got off the bus. After a few moments they walk into the university.
Evan: “Hmm.” He walks away and the screen fades.

I’m excited to begin the process of polishing up, this, my first story idea, hopefully seeing it made into a movie, and then moving on my second story idea; which has the working title of “Brooklyn”. I also look forward to finishing Screenplay, that book is full to busting with tips and sound advice about screenplay writing, then reading a book called Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. I’m excited to learn all I can!

“Talent is God’s gift; either you’ve got it or you don’t. But writing is a personal responsibility; either you do it or you don’t.”  -Syd Field

I guess it’s time to write!

Until next time,

The Texan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Next Amazing Thing

On June 14th, my humble little blog crossed the “been around for 6 months” line. Happy 1/2 birthday “I Write A Little”! My blog has been viewed 414 times, gotten 70 likes, from people all over the world; 21 different countries to be exact, and has gained 20 followers! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, to all my readers; you sir/ma’am are awesome!

Welp, I have officially completed my degree, well not officially really, because my final grade has yet to be posted, so I don’t know what my final GPA is; and I have yet to hold that beautiful piece of paper in my hands. But! All the work has been done. My final paper has been graded. Which by the way, was very well received. My professor used words like; excellent, great details, and very simply, I knew you could do it. He also wrote that he had submitted my paper to the Dean! He could make no promises, of course, but the submission itself is a honor. Which makes me all like….

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For the last assignment, he wanted us to write about our plans/goals, in the forum section, so our class mates could read it as well. Here is what I wrote.

The journey to finally earning this degree began way back in 2006, just a month after I got married. I was taking classes through Southwestern Illinois College, known as SWIC, while still active duty. I was slowed down by babies, moving to Europe, and then back to the states; but here I am, at the end. I honestly have not given much thought to pursuing a master’s degree, just wanted to get this one with my GPA, and my sanity, still intact. I think I have done that successfully, and feel good about accomplishing a long sought after goal. If I were to pursue a master’s degree, it would be in history, most likely the “Public History” program at this university. I would like to work for a museum, or help with historical preservation; either would be awesome. I have also toyed around with the idea of being a historical consultant for movies, you know helping with historical accuracy and such, that would be really awesome!

I learned a good deal about myself throughout this process, have gained some writing experience, come to realize just what I am capable of, and to not settle for my own perceived limitations. I know that I will only go as far as I believe I can, so I need to reach for what I believe is possible, and then go beyond that. I have some creative writing interests that I look forward to focusing on, and by that I mean, screenplay writing. I have one completed story idea, one that is about half done, and a few others floating around in my head. I may succeed, and I may not; but the only way to true failure, is not trying. The dream of writing a screenplay, is something that I have been kicking around since I was 12 or 13, just never told anyone about it. Maybe I never thought I could do it. But this degree, my husband, “Breaking Benjamin” songs, and a book called You Are A Bad-***, have helped to instill some confidence. I look forward to what the future holds, and it is comforting to know that I will always have this degree. Next chapter here I come!

And to also send him a private message about something we learned while researching our chosen topic that we did not previously know. This is what I wrote..

I enjoyed digging a little deeper into this topic, especially the English side of the story. From the start, I was a “team Godwinson” kind of girl, and felt that Harold would have been a good king for England. This time I realized the motivation behind the English people’s will to fight, and just how loyal they were Harold. They were willing to follow him to hell and back, if that meant that they would have a chance to retain their way of life. Even after William won and gained the throne, they were still steadfast to their “Englishness”, or “Saxonness”. I felt inspired by their spirit, because it was that spirit that allowed them to win in the end; the final victory belonged to the people of England. The commitment to hold on to what is important no matter what, that is lesson that I will take with me. Much can be gained from the story of 1066, what that ends up being, depends greatly on who is reading it.

So now that I finished my degree, it time to move to the next amazing thing, for one is not only allotted one amazing thing. My next amazing thing, is to write a screenplay, or 2, or 3; and be involved in the movies. The idea of being in the public eye and achieving some level of fame is a dream that I have secretly harbored for years. My reason is one that I finally said out loud just this morning. “I want to achieve a modest level of fame, in order to use my platform, and money, to serve society in a bigger way.” And to also make people laugh, inspire them, and be the/a reason why they reach for their own dreams. To have an impact, like that, in the lives of other humans, would be well, amazing. It will encourage me to push past any failures or set backs that I will endure, for I know that the road to success is paved by failure. I am committed to giving the world my best, because it deserves my best. And when I feel like giving up, I will stand in front of a mirror and give myself the, “Steve Rogers eyebrows of disappointment”, see below for a visual aid.

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Yep, I am ready to step into the unknown, kick fear in the face, and follow my crazy, amazing, gonna be awesome dream, of writing a screenplay. And there’s the side perk of not only meeting this guy, but working with him. Might as well aim high, right?

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All the while I will be listening to my motivation mix which includes, “Hall of Fame” by The Script, “Failure” by Breaking Benjamin, “It Has Begun” by Starset, “American Noise” by Skillet, and “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors.

Alright, the first step has been taken, let the journey begin!

Until next time,

The Texan