Tuesday, 1 July 2014

THE WRITER'S ROOM




I was asked to participate in a writer's roundtable and nominate three writers that I know and respect. Below are my answers. 

1. What am I working on? 
I’m juggling with several things as usual. I’m still dancing between the film world, blogging and magazine work; so at the moment, things are never dull. I’m co-writing a small independent thriller script with a friend of mine in England that is hopefully going into production in September. I’m also trying to raise money for another script of mine that we’re desperate to get to the screen in Los Angeles. On the magazine front, I’m working on a few articles for an IPC publication here in the UK, as well as do my best to keep up on my blog.

2. Why do I write what I do?
When it comes to film, I have primarily written comedies and dramedies steeped in family life. The relationships between people (esp. family members) have always held a great allure for me, perhaps because I am from a very big family full of big personalities. The thin line between love, conflict, humour and pain intrigues me to no end. I’m also an absolute lover of comedy in any fashion. I love to laugh and hence, find myself always drawn to quirky, unique characters that find themselves in amusing life situations. On the magazine front, the articles are more driven by what is going on topically at the moment, or in my life as a woman, parent etc. The same goes for what I choose to blog about. It’s my mirror into the world I suppose. How I see things, what rankles me that day, or of course, what amuses me and compels me to share. Like any writer, I want what I write to resonate with people in a poignant and humourous way. I figure, life can throw some pretty tragic things our way, and as best as we can, we need to find the humour in life and reasons to smile as much as we can.

3. How does my work differ to others of its genre?    
Well, to be frank, I think it all comes down to one’s voice. With scripts, I certainly don’t reinvent the wheel all the time, but I’d like to think I have a unique voice that with the proper execution comes through and hits people in a certain way. I think that’s the most important thing for a writer to do, is to truly find one’s voice, one’s perspective, and not be afraid to hold onto that. I find humour in a lot of things, perhaps more than most. I am also a big believer in the subtleties of language and the relationships between people and how that translates into film. In the realm of blogging, for me, it’s often steeped in humour and my take on the world.

4. How does my writing process work? 
I am definitely a morning writer. I like to get a workout in first and a cup of coffee of course, as I find that those two in combination fires up the brain a bit. Then I hunker down at home and get to it. I am not a big believer in writer’s block. For me, as long as the outline is sound and fully realized, once I start a script I can then jump in and out of scenes as they strike me. If I don’t feel a certain scene is working, I can jump to another one as the entire story is laid out. If it’s a magazine piece, it’s a bit of the same, I start writing, allow myself a lot time (and room) for pacing and doing other things during the writing process. I am a big believer in letting things breathe. If something isn’t quite right yet, I go do something else, take a walk, clean, make a meal, whatever and the idea or solution usually always washes up on shore.

I'll add the links for those I've nominated to participate as they come in. 

Simon Uttley:

 http://siuttley.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/writers-tour/

Bel Jacobs:

Bel Jacobs was style editor for Metro newspaper for 15 years but before that, she was editor - simultaneously - of the Daily Mail problem page and of a directory of green businesses. It was an odd juxtaposition but it made sense at the time! Today, she continues her interest in fashion with her own blog which attempts to cover fashion in a way that celebrates the industry for its creativity, imagination and occasional insanity instead of its commercial potential. 

www.beljacobs.com

Cricket Leigh:

1. What am I working on? 
I'm working on a book entitled "Raising Mom: Moving home at 40 and parenting your parent". It's based on my real life experiences facing ghosts of the past, familial issues, drama galore, and how to parent-rear instead of child-rear. I hope it will be a balance of humor and education for others who find themselves in this position.

2. Why do I write what I do?
Well this book is a first for me. I am a Playwright and Monologist, so I write to then PERFORM it live. I do that because I like to write for underdogs, to give them a voice. Then getting to play them onstage is icing on that cake. It fulfills something in me that wants to bridge the gaps in society. The book is new terrain. I suppose I want to give people hope in a seemingly insane and hopeless situation.


3. How does my work differ to others of its genre?    
Well most people who write plays write multi-character arc, the voices of many. As an Actress, I only wrote for myself. Then I wrote a 2-person play, which explored two voices. However, I've never wanted to write for more than that. I don't want to write a play with 14 characters in it, it's not my strength. Although, life is long and I may do it at some point. My work also has a strong social issue content to it. I don't just write a character because she'd be "fun to play". I write her core, what she needs from the world, why she's not getting it, then I know it will be fun to play. So, most writers aren't performers also which gives me a leg up into connecting to them as I write.

4. How does my writing process work? 

It's a bit random, but when I'm inspired, I make time every day for it. If I skip 4 days, I don't feel badly about it, I go with it. However, If I'm producing said play and have a deadline, then you can bet I'll be up writing at all hours. I love deadlines, they make the work flow for me. I also NEVER edit while writing. I let everything come out, bad punctuation and all, until the ideas and framework is there. Then I go back & edit.

Cricket is a playwright and monologist from Chicago, currently living in Kalamazoo, MI as she begins her Masters in Social Work program this fall. She has written numerous plays, two of which were produced several times in Los Angeles and New York. She was The Manhattan Monologue Slam Champion in 2010. As an Actress, she's performed at The Goodman Theatre, The Chicago Lyric Opera, The Sundance Theatre Lab and many more. She studied at The Groundlings in Los Angeles, where she began writing characters for her first one-woman show "Constantly Distracted".  Her last play is a 2-person show called "Confetti Bayou: The Last Interview with Janis Joplin. She is a graduate of The Tisch School of The Arts at NYU.

www.cricketleigh.com



Wednesday, 11 June 2014

LOVELOCK


There is a bridge in Paris called the Pont Des Arts Bridge, where for many years, lovers have been visiting this site, writing their initials or putting a photo on a padlock and attaching it to the bridge as a sign of their love. Yes, Paris definitely brings out the romantic in people. The problem is, now this bridge is collapsing in one area of its fencing due to the overwhelming amount of locks padlocked to the bridge. These ‘lovelocks,’ once a testament of the endurance of love, are now perhaps a suggestion that love is just too darn heavy. Or perhaps, too much love is overkill?

On one hand, I love traditions. Any traditions for that matter where human beings can proclaim their (positive) feelings and participate in a romantic gesture on a grand scale. I think it’s romantic gestures such as this that make the world a better place. Or at least deflect us from the other gory stuff that is going on in the world. More love, less….well, gunfire for starters. But as with everything, sometimes an innocent gesture can go to far. Many Parisians (why doesn’t this surprise me) say that the bridge is an eyesore riddled with 'metal lumps' and now the bridge is in ‘mortal danger.’ Oh the drama. Then again, other locals pride themselves on the fact that Paris is such a love mecca and don’t want this to change. Bruno Julliard, the city’s culture secretary, aptly said,  “Paris is the capital of love and is meant to stay as such.”

This symbolic act of chaining one’s love to bridges in a lovelock is not exclusive to Paris apparently. Bridges all over the world have experienced the same fate, from Russia, to Hungary, China to Guam (something tells me the penalties for this in some places is much more scary). Apparently the idea came from two Italian novels in the early nineties where the gesture was first introduced. So I suppose Paris can blame Italy at the moment for having to close the Pont Des Arts Bridge for a day. 

I am all for public safety, and certainly don’t want the bridge to give out one day under the weight of all that love, but I would also hate to see another tradition get pushed to the wayside. Not sure what the solution is (another bridge? A lovelock wall? A mountain of locks in the French countryside?), but if anyone can figure it out, it's the city d'amour!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

ENOUGH ALREADY


I am getting to the place where I can no longer be a part of the conversation that is going on in my country about guns. It is a tad stubborn on my part, I admit, but for me it’s a dialogue that has become so absurd, it’s hard to call the conversation anything but pointless. Yes, you heard me, I find arguing about the 'good of guns' utterly pointless and counter intuitive. 

The gun issue is out of control in the United States, and no matter how hard one tries to duck and dodge the cold reality of what is happening, there is no other country on earth where roughly 80 million people own guns (that’s 79 to 1 in comparison to law enforcement and military for those of you paranoid that the government is armed to the hilt). Not to mention, if one more person tries to defend the necessity of guns to me, my head may pop off. While I have tried in the past to understand the need for an American to so fiercely defend their second amendment right, I can never understand why these same individuals aren’t as fiercely protective over what is happening to our society, and our children due to guns and their accessibility to the average individual. Not to mention, where is my g*d damn right to avoid being shot when I’m out trying to buy milk. Where are my children’s rights to go to school and not be gunned down? What exactly are my rights when it comes to wanting to live in a more peaceful society that does not allow any Tom, Dick or Nutjob to obtain a gun faster than I can negotiate with my four year old on what to wear in the morning? 

For me, and for many others for that matter, it comes down to this: guns beget violence. Like it or not, they do. They are easy to attain (any dipshit can get one, let’s be frank) and are designed for one thing and one thing alone, TO KILL THINGS. As I see it, our jobs as human beings is to do whatever we can to lessen our violent tendencies and coexist in a place where instruments of violence are not so easy to attain. For those individuals that insist on continuing the diatribe that includes, ‘well people will just turn to knives;’ or ‘cars kill more people,’ or I need my guns to hunt.’ I say this, yes, human beings have an animalistic violence at their core (I’m hoping one day instead of accepting this, we can try to tackle the problem and teach our youth from an early age that violence isn’t the answer), and people will always exhibit certain behaviors that are harmful to the collective, but isn’t our job to do what we can to actually lessen the violence (and not facilitate it?!!) and lessen the ease of obtaining weapons that can cause mass destruction? Furthermore, am I to understand that because there are more deaths on the highway that this should clear the way for us all to roll around in our gun piles joyfully and say to hell with it? Cars kill people so let’s keep our guns too and kill even more people? It’s a rationality that my four year old would come up with.

We have become a lazy country of people willing to accept the status quo (and yes, mass shootings have become the status quo) instead of trying harder to be better human beings, be more attentive parents, and be more willing to join together and once and for all battle a problem that affects us all. So for those of you sitting back clutching onto your rifle until your dying breath, I say, it’s time to wake the hell up and accept we have a problem on our hands. Just because you’re responsible with your firearm doesn’t mean the rest of society it is. And not that I’d wish this upon anyone, but sooner or later, gun violence may affect you, or someone close to you and then and only then, you may wake up to the fact that no good comes from guns. DEATH and injury comes from guns, they are not friendly instruments that shoot out rainbows. And I don’t know about you, but this makes it all too easy for me to see them as a detriment and not an addition to society.

I realise that hoping for an ideal world where all countries could operate like the many that do where guns are illegal is a far fetched dream. In America, I realise this will never happen as the gun lobby is simply too strong and the gun industry is too lucrative. So, what I hope for is this, that we can somehow reach a place of co-existence and somehow find a place where controls are tightened so that those of us that do not support them, can feel safe in our own country and those that must bear arms, can take on some responsibility for what guns are doing to our country.

For those of you that still need to waffle on about your rights, here is some happy reading for you.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/pro-gun-myths-fact-check



Wednesday, 21 May 2014

THE KING'S REBELLION


There is a comedian named Louis CK that is very funny, if you haven’t heard his stand-up, look him up for a good laugh. Anyway, he does a bit about children that will resonate profoundly with most parents out there. The gist: before becoming a parent himself, he used to see kids having a tantrum and parents yelling at them and think to himself, ‘that poor child, what on earth did those mean parents do to him.’ Now that he has kids, when he sees a kid in a store flipping out over something, he thinks to himself as he looks at the mother, ‘that poor poor woman, what did that mean child do to her this time.’ I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist.

As most parents out there know, there comes a point in parenting when you realize that not only is parenting a challenge that tests you from every angle, but some days you will seriously contemplate selling your child on eBay (calm down, I love my kid, I’m not going to sell him unless I get a really high offer for him). Of late, the King has become, well, a total and utter dictator. My husband and I have prided ourselves on the fact that for the most part, the King skated through the milestone phases with very little fanfare. He was obstinate, sure, and had his bout of tantrums, but nothing like what we’d see when we were out and about. We would almost sigh to one another in relief behind closed doors as if we’d dodged some unruly child bullet. Then, as if the universe was simply bored (or the King was), the King decided it was time to see if the Kingdom was really paying attention. Gone was Mr. sweet and agreeable that sang to me for an hour in the morning and in his place was 'Mr. I’m Turning Four so you can stick your plans, wishes and directives where the sun don’t shine.' Obviously I’m exaggerating, but in the heat of his 45-minute meltdowns of late, it has certainly felt that way. The even more maddening part was that the King, in his shrewdness, saved this metamorphosis for my husband and I alone. Out on the streets, he knew well enough to remain the happy go lucky kid, so as not to ruin his reputation. (Their sagacity is so underestimated). 

As any parent will attest (if they’re being honest), the love you have for your kid is unwavering, but the like, well that comes and goes with the wind – I’m thinking this really kicks in when one’s child becomes a teenager. So, at the moment, when the King is flipping his lid because he wants to ride home from school in a taxi (AS IF. No self respecting Londoner takes taxis, unless its on someone else's dime) or he doesn’t like how I’ve cut his apple (I never said his requests were rational), I think to myself, you know what little person, you’re not exactly my top choice of people to hang out with right now. The worst part about this is like any phase you think, this is it; this is your kid from now on. Gone is the sweet, tactile, goofy kid I once loved to saunter down the street with and in his place is the Tasmanian devil jacked up on testosterone and sheer blinding preschooler will.

The other humorous thing that begins to happen is that no matter how much you dig your heels in as a parent (and trust me, I’m of stubborn stock myself) so that these little despots don’t completely take over, you find yourself walking on egg shells just so you don’t step on a landmine. Often my husband and I will usurp the other’s authority just to keep the peace (note to self: a united front is the ONLY way, the King is far too smart for this and will divide and conquer). “Oh come on, just recut the apple into a C shape, please, can’t you see he’s going to blow!!” This of course is not the best course of action, but to avoid a tantrum that will make that one hour feel like four, sometimes you find yourself caving to the capricious whims of these little creatures.

So at the moment, I am deep breathing, reminding myself that no phase lasts forever, and am desperately trying to find the humor in all this, like the King clearly does. The other day after a 45 minute crying fest over…that time I think he didn’t like how I put the corn on his plate…he looked at me, having collected himself, with dry, smiling eyes and said, ‘Mummy, I was just pretending to cry….can I watch my movie now?’

Ah, the King, such a likeable little despot.