Script Writing Lessons

 

I went off and got married, disappeared on a honeymoon, and haven’t blogged in forever. On the honeymoon, my wife and I had an amazing adventure in Bali. One of the days, we ventured off to visit a healer. Our driver took us to a village where we waited an hour for locals to chat with this healer, until it was finally our turn for a little divine intervention. One of the things he told me that’s chimed in my head since was – I need to make decisions and stick with them, and not get stuck in the chaos of “what ifs” and the crippling tangents our mind is so naturally inclined towards that create stagnation, and prevent action.

I’m in the middle of a rewrite on a script I’m developing with a company. While digesting the notes, I see my main character, my protagonist, doesn’t really know what she’s doing in all the scenes. Yes, the scenes and dialogue are funny. But she doesn’t always have a clear objective. She’s lacking the decisiveness I sometimes struggle with in my own life.

Story structure is a wonderful reminder that we’re all the hero of our own journey, and have the option to choose the narrative we want to tell. The problem is, we often find ourselves reactionary – life happens at us, and then we react, instead of us creating the space for life to happen, giving ourselves a moment to observe, and then actively choosing our next step on the narrative we long to tell. I loved choose-your-own-adventure-books as a child. It’s a mystery why I so often forget to choose my own adventure.

My biggest regret in life would be to be on my death bed and look back at my life as if it were a script and realize my protagonist didn’t always know her objective and didn’t always make clear decisions that would lead her on the journey she wanted to embark upon.

Instead of getting stuck in the stagnation of the world happening around us, lets gently reminder one another that habitually reacting to the chaos doesn’t give us the space and opportunity to give meaning to the chaos, and decisively choose our next step, in a way that helps us actively create the story we’d like to tell on this adventure of life.

Commencement

Commencement: a beginning or start.

I love to break up my morning writing sessions with a good commencement speech.

There’s so much promise in a commencement speech, sending graduates off into the world with wisdom that hopefully inspires choices that lead to actions, that somehow equate to success and happiness in their future.

The fact of the matter is we don’t need to graduate from anything to indulge in a good ‘ol commencement.  The dawn of each new day allows us to indulge in such on a daily basis if we choose.

With that knowledge comes great responsibility – it means that every day, upon rising, we set off on an adventure.  Remember those choose your own adventure books? Every day we step into our own story, and choose our own adventure.  Our personal story is our own choosing.  It’s terrifying!  Do I choose to wake up and reach for my phone, check my e-mails, etc.  Or do I wake up and decide to slay a dragon on that particular day?

I’ve been consciously trying to partake in activities that make me uncomfortable.  I went paddle boarding last week – paddled hard and got nowhere, real fast.  My fiancé and I were not informed how bad the current was.  But it was an adventure.  It was something I’d never done before.  And then I went skimboarding for the first time in ten years.  I HATE being bad at things.  It was rough. But it forced me to dive back into that childlike playfulness I often loose track of.

Now, in fairness, I was on somewhat of a vacation – which inevitably provides time to play and have adventures.   BUT – creating space for a daily adventure, even as mundane as an early morning walk vs. the immediate jump to e-mails, creates space for us to choose our own destiny instead of blindly walking into a fate determined by habit vs. our own free will.

A lifetime is a series of commencements leading up to an ending that’s as climactic as you make it!  Step into your own adventure book and write the page-turner worth reading.

Good Tidings

Good tidings is an old fashioned way to say I’m bringing good news.  I’m not.  But I’m writing with the ocean in view and thinking of the tide, and well…”Good Tidings” felt like an appropriate title despite it being an inappropriate use of the phrase.

Office for the week: ocean, coffee, script. @aineod8 #screenwriting #wavespiration

A post shared by Jenna Laurenzo (@jennalaurenzo) on

I’ve spent a lot of time near oceans in the past 6 months.  Last month I listened to a swami discuss the ocean and it’s waves, comparing life to the changing tides, currents, water temperature, etc.  Standing on the shore you can appreciate the beauty of the ocean.  Once inside, you’re tossed about; much like life.  You can be of the world, but not in the world.  He said it far more poetically, but tis the nature of the telephone game.

I’ve heard such analogies countless times and they had always bothered me, because I felt like I was being told to live life without passion.  But years later, and countless hours of thinking too much, I’ve realized it’s quite the opposite.

When we stand outside life’s drama without getting caught in the constantly shifting currents and tides of gossip, self doubt, constant worry, criticism, and all that chatter that occupies our minds with nonsense – THEN we can jump into the ocean with open arms because there’s space for joy. Despite the constant flux, we can always return to the larger beauty within the grand scheme of things without getting bogged down and pre occupied with all that is out of our control.

While anxieties might always pass before the forefront of our minds like passing clouds, instead of running with them on tangents, latch on to the vast ocean of joy running parallel, and know the personal freedom to choose joy is the life buoy always available when the ocean gets a little rough.

 

 

Stonehenge Adventure

I just returned from a family vacation with my parents and brother, celebrating the 30 years my Mom and Dad have been married.  They officially celebrated their 30th anniversary in August.  We visited London and Paris with day trips escaping both cities, enjoying the rural landscapes, and seeing a broader scope of the country outside the bustling city walls.

One such day trip took us to the English county of Wiltshire.  My Dad insisted on seeing Stonehenge.  As intriguing as the famous site is with the mystery it entails, the two of us had already seen it 2003, when my college roommate and I tagged along with him on a business trip to England.  We participated in the same 12 hr. day trip back then.  It took 12 hours of driving in circles to get to Stonehenge and back in 2003, and it took 12 hours of driving this time around (with the city of Bathe in between, which is where I’d now like to retire).  So, while most of the Brits I’ve asked have never been to Stonehenge, I’ve spent a whopping 24 hours on the site.  An entire day of my life was spent on a landmark that’s famous for having little explanation and killer solstice festivals.

“We are visiting a giant question mark,” – my half complaint.  “It looks like Giants were playing dominos, and that’s what we’re left with.  And it’s somehow connected to Venus.”

“But we are getting INSIDE the circle this time,” my dad explained, like a kid filled with the excitement of Christmas morning.

Let me just explain.

The “fence” that keeps visitors outside the inner circle is a rope that’s strung together on sticks, THAT COMES UP TO MY SHINS (maybe ankles). I’ve seen more challenging hurdles in my day.  I could literally skip into the inner circle if it weren’t for the security guards.

Alas, we arrived at sunset.  It was beautiful.  We were in the middle of nowhere and since we were there after hours, there were only about 15 of us.  Let’s be honest, who the hell else is traveling 12 hours from London to drive in circles to visit a giant stone circle?  It’s a cyclical cycle of torment and car sickness.  I JOKE, I joke.

Standing in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of an inexplicable stone configuration, was a marvelous experience.  Miles away from everything, within a literal mystery, enjoying a breathtaking sunset, I was reminded how small we all are.  Life is a wondrous mystery with or without giant stones as a reminder.  BUT, it was nice having one.  Breathtaking moments are around every corner when we’re open to the divine mystery within all.

The “fences” we perceive, may momentarily keep us from enjoying the wondrous mystery, until we realize the mysterious supreme is omnipresent .  Inside or outside the “circle,” we’re all within the same giant circle.  With time, the fences become mere rope boundaries that can simply be walked over given the right timing and circumstances, or perhaps, perseverance.