Sunday, June 26, 2016

Making Money and Making Choices

Greetings Pups,

Funny the things you just come across and get enthralled by. The other day, I found a video wherein lottery winners were discussing the good that came out of their unexpected windfall, not just to them, but what they ended up doing for other people. It was kind of lovely. Very lovely, in fact. They gave back to their community in so many ways, and thus, they were pretty happy with what had happened to them. My heart was so warmed that I looked up some more stories about lottery winners who have great stories to tell, and there are quite a few. Interesting, considering how much talk there is about the supposed "lottery curse".

If you don't know what that is, it's just this theory that bad things happen to those who possess a piece of paper with some lucky numbers on it. Whilst there have been some bad stories I've heard about, I wondered how much of that an be attributed to some curse and how much to the not so great choices some of them made. Don't get me wrong. I know tragic things can happen to anyone, but sometimes, we choose to go down a bad path and can only blame ourselves for where we end up. And that goes for lottery winners, too.

My point is that, no matter what hand we are dealt in life, good or bad, it's up to us to take it and then make decisions for ourselves. It's something that a lot of people lack nowadays, I think, this ability to take responsibility for their own lives and choices. But really, who can take us where we need to go other than ourselves? Sure, others can help, or even hinder, along the way, but we have to make every ultimate decision.

So, should you or I ever be blessed with a nice, huge pile of money (here's hoping!), I say we all look long and hard at the choices we make in the time that follows. It could make all the difference in the world. Like I said, I know bad things can befall anyone, but doesn't that just mean that we should all try our best to lead ourselves away from them if we can? We are in control of our lives if we want to be. And choosing to be wise and generous, especially when we're doing well in the money department, can go quite a long way.

What with the size of Powerball and the MegaMillions, I thought this might be a good thing to write. I am so good at this being topical thing!

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Monday, June 20, 2016

Dealing with Unhappy Inspiration

Greetings Pups,

Have I ever mentioned how much I love working on more than one book at a time? I hope not, because I flippin' hate it. Unfortunately, I am tasked right now with having to do just that. Or...multi-tasked, I guess. That's one of the reasons why I've lacked a bit on this blog recently. Anyway, about those books, one is a novel and the other is yet one more book of poetry. I like the latter more, because they come to be written much more quickly and easily. Not to say I'm lazy. I just like to get things done, and the poetry collections tend to get themselves done more often. It's no wonder this upcoming one will be my fourth in five(?) years. But all that is a bit beside the point, and I want to speak about the joy of inspiration where the poems are concerend. Oh, did I say "joy"? I meant, joy not so much.

Here's the thing. When someone says the word "inspiration", I can't help but think that a lot of people, by default, imagine something beautiful and wonderful and dreamy. While those things are a possibility when it comes to being inspired, they are certainly not alone. In fact, many things that have inspired me, as well as other writers, have been not so pleasant things. No lie. Have you heard the Jagged Little Pill album? And it just so happens that, recently, my mind has been inundated with a crap ton of cringe-worthy things about which to write. It has not been that easy dealing with this situation.

Look, I'll be the first to say that being a true artist means being honest, and after the fact, you can see the results of doing such. However, the process can be a bit daunting, and perhaps even annoying. I'll let you decide which is worse. The truth is, as I look at the world around me, but up close and not so personal, I have much by which to be aggravated, and of course, it is seeping its way into my work. I am not a fan of this process right now, though I know once I'm done, it will be for the better. It's just one of the pitfalls of being a writer, particularly one that takes a lot from real life. But good news. It's going to be okay.

Thinking back to my first book, which had some of the most "revealing", albeit cryptic, pieces of writing I've ever done, I recall having a difficult time sifting through those dark places again. It's not easy to do that, and it is certainly not fun. But now I see what I was able to do and share and work through, and I'm actually proud of myself a bit. I'm glad I chose to take a tough road, because it can lead to the creation of something good.

So, to all my writer friends out there, even if what you're writing about in the moment is annoying or depressing or just plain crappy, keep at it. You are the filter between what it is and what it can be. You have the potential to turn something that's not so great into something amazing.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Touched With Fire - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

There are a lot of movies that I like. There are fewer that I love. But there are a mere handful which I can say had a deep effect on me. I had been anticipating seeing the film about which I will speak for a very, very long time. From the moment I saw the trailer, I was drawn in to what I thought the story might be, and it was a story I felt may hit extremely close to home. For so many reasons, it did. Everybody, Touched With Fire.

Touched With Fire is the story of two poets, Carla and Marco, who meet whilst spending time in a mental hospital as they both deal with their bipolar condition. At first, they are not exactly fond of one another, but soon they make a connection. And rest assured, this is not done in the typical, tropes-y rom-com way. In fact, everything that could make this film predictable, somehow does not. Perhaps, because the subject matter is one that needs to be approached from a near fearless perspective.

Once Carla and Marco start to really see one another, in ways that only they can, their feelings begin to grow, but due to their illness, they push each other to become manic and things begin to spin out of control. They have no desire to take their much needed medication, because they believe, I think, that their "cure" is each other. Their families want them to recover in a conventional and proven manner, but they feel as though no one can truly understand them, except for, again, each other. As their story progresses, they begin to be forced to make choices that they fear could destroy the creativity and passion that they love, but choices that could ultimately save their lives.

This film is an adaptation of a book also called Touched With Fire, but it is not a typical adaptation. The book, written by Kay Redfield Jamison, is a nonfiction that explores the relationship between bipolar disorder and artistic creativity, citing a staggering amount of writers and artists who are considered geniuses, but who also dealt with this illness somewhere on the spectrum. The writer/director of this film, Paul Dalio, took his own history with the disorder and melded it into what the book was about to develop this screenplay. Both Dalio and Jamison have cameos in the film, the former as a patient and the latter as herself, trying to convince the couple that taking the medication will not destroy their creativity but help them to channel it, to focus it, and to get the work done, something she herself has experienced.

One of the best things about the film is how visuals were used, particularly colors. Marco is someone who loves the nighttime, calling himself Luna, surrendering to his manic state, and his scenes are drenched in shades of blue and gray, like the moon. Carla loves the light, finding herself lost and panicked when night falls, and her scenes are filled with shades of orange and yellow, like the sun. This theme is used to show the journey of their relationship, and it's done in a brilliant way. Brilliant because, as I watched the film, I could sense a difference between them that was not being expressed only with words, but I didn't know exactly what it was. After hearing Dalio talk about how they had done this thing with the colors, it become wonderfully obvious. Artistic decisions like this should be subtle initially and blatant afterward. Mission accomplished.

Another thing that helped this movie soar was the acting. Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby were amazing in the roles of Carla and Marco. Their chemistry was some of the best and believable I have ever seen, and that was incredibly important when telling the story of these characters. These two actors were heartbreaking, in the best way, and practically transcendent. But they were supported by some other great actors as well, particularly Christine Lahti and Bruce Altman as Carla's parents and Griffin Dunne as Marco's father. They beautifully portray the effect that this illness has, not only on the afflicted, but everyone around them, trying desperately to help, understand and just survive. Again, heartbreaking, in the best way.

And now to speak on a more personal note... As I mentioned, this film had a deep effect on me, as did the book from which it spawned. I can relate to Carla and Marco very much, albeit not to their extremes, but somewhere in their vicinity. I know the feelings by which we are overtaken as we're drawn into another world that seems so much greater than the real one. I know the highs we get from seeing everything with a vision that was not gifted to everyone. And I know how other people who don't understand us look at us, judge us and make assumptions about us. Some of them see a mess that can never be cleaned up, but we know it's pieces of chaos just waiting to be used for something greater than itself. And being the ones to make that happen is a job with which we are tasked. It's a difficult way to live at times, but it's our life. We find ways to live it, to survive, and to turn whatever darkness that crosses our paths into something beautiful.

So, let me finish by saying that Touched With Fire is a wonderful film. It can be arduous to watch in some moments, but it can serve a purpose to help people be understood, and for some people to understand themselves. It shows every one of us that we are all capable of taking control and leading ourselves done paths where we can breathe, where we can create, where we can live.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I Have An Idea For An OWN Show!!

Greetings Pups,

The other day, I was surfing the web, as the kids say, and I found myself on Oprah.com. I go there sometimes to see what she's saying about the book world and what have you. Well, as I was exploring the site, I found something interesting pertaining to her OWN Network. Something very interesting.

Apparently, random folks, such as you and I, can submit ideas for shows on said network, in a place called the "Submission Portal". Nice! That sounds like it could be a show right there. Anyway, at first, I just gave it a glance, thinking, "Well, that's cool." Because I still say "cool", if only internally. Then, once I was away from my computer, I thought about it, and I decided that I had a good idea for an OWN show. Unfortunately, for me, the nice people at this network are actually good at what they do, and they need an official pitch and a "treatment", whatever that is. Yeah, I am okay admitting that I would not know where to even begin with something like this, and unlike some people, I do not want to act as though I am knowledgeable about something when I am not. However, this idea of mine is still lingering in my head, so I figured, since I have this blog, I may as well share it, even in this casual way. So, off we go. Here's my idea...along with some back story. Because of reasons.

As I may have mentioned, I am a self-published author. These days, trying to get a book deal with a major publishing house is as difficult as it has ever been, so many writers have chosen to go the way that I have. When I decided to do this, I had no idea what I was in for. Turns out, many places that let you self-publish also require you to buy a certain amount of your books, and you have to just hope and pray that you can sell them. Well, for many of us, we don't know hundreds of people who will buy our books, and even if we could eventually move them, trying to scrounge together the cash to buy them in the first place can be near impossible. Thankfully, though, I found a place to go wherein I am not required to pre-order as they print on demand. So, I put in pretty much nothing but my hard work.

Of course, finding a place that will print your books, or...e-reader them?...is only the first step. Now we have to market ourselves. Emphasis on "ourselves", because we usually have to do it all on our own, without a big house to back us and put money into promotion. It can be quite discouraging, and we all just hope that something we post on Facebook or Twitter or in a blog will get noticed by someone who can help and spread the word about what we've done. And I know that there are many wonderful writers out there who are patiently waiting for that moment. So . . . the idea . . . finally.

I think it would be amazing if OWN had a show that spotlighted lesser known, self-published authors. They can be interviewed or visited in their hometowns where the audience can see where they do their writing and find inspiration. And they can share their personal stories and struggles, the ones that may be able to help other people, in general, and other writers, specifically. All of the effort that goes into what they create can be seen and appreciated in a way that it, otherwise, may never be. It can bring attention to great but unrecognized authors who are, perhaps, only separated from the success they want by mere steps. The authors who just need someone to show the world who they are and what they can do.

And there you have it. Yes, I did this in the simplest way I could. Frankly, I'm happy to light the spark and then hand the reigns and credit over to someone who knows what they're doing. Like a television network. Especially one that's run by someone who seems to be fond of books and writers. I'm taking about Oprah. Who did you think I meant? Also, if they insisted on paying me for the idea, who am I to say no? Yeah, I'm not too proud to admit that, given my current financial situation, I could use a few bucks. But thus concept and who it might help is really what matters.

Look, my point is this. I may not have the skills to do a big pitch, but I do have the skills, I hope, to come up with a few good ideas. And I believe that good ideas should be shared. Because you never know.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer