Time in our suburbian Westwood abode is running out. We have 1.5 weeks before we start a more permanent life in Hoboken.
A few activities have given me a sense of purpose here. In contrast to Alex, who had tasks waiting for him from day one, I had the burden, and privilege, to line up my own. So I signed up for Tuesday night screenwriting class, joined the gamelan group that takes up my Saturdays, and continually plan weekly nature walks, with location and days being mood and weather dependent.
Fortuitous is the fact that my pastimes complement each other. The walking helps the writing and music making. Firstly, as soon as I am outside and moving, I am in a good mood. And a good mood makes everything easier. And, there is something about the pace of walking that stimulates thinking and concentration; there’s even been research done on the subject. At any rate, walking works for me. New ideas often come, unbidden; some are even worth paying attention to.
This week’s first walk was on Monday, when the forecast promised – and delivered – a sunny day. I went to the Palisades again because it’s a short 20-minute drive. Right by the police headquarters, where I normally park, is a wooded trail that leads almost all the way down to the Alpine Boat Basin. You can then choose to head either north or south at the junction. I usually go south, because you get to see the cute house and the boats, etc., but on that day, I wanted to head north.
The first thing that came into my mind, as I stepped underneath the iridescent foliage at the top of the trail was – my heavens. If God had a living room, I thought, it would look just like this. Colorful, light, warm, inviting. The trees were swaying in the wind, saying their hellos, and between their green, yellow, red and orange leaves, and the clear blue skies, was the entire spectrum of the rainbow.
At which point, another thought popped – now why in the world would heaven be all white? Who came up with that idea? Evidence, on earth at least, strongly suggests that God is not a minimalist. Surely, in her heavenly realm, she’d want to show off a bit of color. My God, at any rate, would definitely have the temperament and sensibility to appreciate chroma.
While we’re on the topic of God….I get to play one myself the next weeks.
In the screenwriting course, after a couple of weeks of watching films and reading scripts, we were told to start on our screenplays. Choose your character, write the outline, then sculpt the script.
Now that – is – fun. My characters live in worlds I invented, say things I want them to say, and do things I think they would naturally be doing. I choose the country, the city, the room, the time of day. I choose the furniture, and even what everybody’s wearing.
I’ve picked a protagonist, Chris. That is a nickname, and which version the long one is, I haven’t yet decided. Chris will eventually fall in love, which will be really sweet. She will also get her heart broken, and that, will be bitter. But she’s tough and life will throw her other, more pleasant surprises along the way.
It feels like screenwriting comes naturally to me. Which, you know, who knew? In Munich, while sorting through our things, I found some old school work from El Rodeo, which was quite a trippy thing. I wrote a short play – in 7th or 8th grade – about Mozart, for music class. Surprisingly, 30 years on, the dialogue still reads pretty well. Spot on, actually. Now, this is not to say that I’m a great screenwriter. But I do enjoy doing it. I love coming up with dialogue and (what I hope is) witty banter. Conjuring up characters out of thin air and thinking about their lives is enjoyable, not laborious.
What is hard work, I find, is to write articles about things like supply chain optimization in a high-complexity, high-tech industry. Or reliability and maintenance on an offshore oil rig. Or to edit really really bad English. All of which I’ve actually done to make a living.
I purposely chose screenwriting to steer my writing career down a more creative track. One where I can spend more time exploring the emotional, as opposed to the intellectual. When I look at the job ads here, though, the ones where I might have a chance, they are all about complex products, processes, and profits. It’s hard to resist the temptation to apply to those because I know that given my past experience, the chances of me being considered and getting an offer are higher. And isn’t that just easier?
I don’t have a clue about what it’s like to be a professional creative writer. I do know that there are thousands of people lined up in front of me who have experience, published work, and connections, and therefore have astronomically higher chances of getting paid work in those industries than me. It’s daunting.
The question is, should I really go out on a limb trying to find something that makes sense for what I want to do in the future? Or should I go down the road well-traveled and do the fun stuff on the side until I feel that I’m ready? And, is there such a thing as a good excuse?
Besides wondering about the color of God’s living room, these are the things I think about on my wanderings. I’m really hoping that future walks will yield more answers, and fewer questions. I am anyways counting the itsy bitsy eggs before they hatch. It’s silly to complain about crossing the finish line when I’m not even at the start yet.
Focus, Write, Create. Practice Patience and Perseverance. And the rest, they will come as they come.
So… I think that’s enough philosophizing for now. Adieu my friends, till the next time!