Mission? In progress.

The air around me is rife with people talking about their purpose. A couple of weeks ago my mentor Krista Foss encouraged me to write down my mission. I left our meeting thinking. As a writer, what am I passionate about? What do I want to achieve?

I, Claire would like…

  • To honestly discuss topics of my choosing
  • To uplift women, people of colour, and especially Black Canadian women
  • To promote spiritual healing

These three points are true to who I am. I look forward to seeing where they lead me.

Photo courtesy of CreateHER Stock Photography.

I’ve been working…

On my Tumblr.

Long ago a friend suggested create a writing portfolio. I’m still deciding where it will be.

As for this post, a few weeks ago I started studying copywriting via Skillshare. I’m behind–and I’ll post about why soon. 😉 But as soon as I started, I was inspired to create some fake advertisements.

Check them out!

Stretch Studio - Urban

I can’t take credit for the photos in either of these. I found them on Flickr.

a4gpa took the photo used for the ad above and shared it with an Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license. Just looking at it inspired me. I wonder if a place that’s as funky as Stretch Studio actually exists–even if it’s not in Toronto.

Toronto - 2

In this piece, I used a shot by Pedro Szekely, who presented his work under an Attribution 2.0 license. It’s such a gorgeous shot–it almost broke my heart to crop it.

Tell your tales.

If you haven’t watched this video, please do.

Chimamanda inspires me. She and I are around the same age. More importably, she’s had the courage to tell her stories, while I have not.

Over the time I’ve had this blog, I’ve wrestled with the idea of telling every random story that’s on my mind. Some of them seem like a departure from the pop culture/TV/spirituality paradigm that I’ve set up. Yet I know that silence has done me a disservice. There are too many singular stories floating around. By speaking, I know that I have the power to offer a new level of reality to the limited narratives that exist.

You can run all you like.

You can hide all you want. Your dreams, left unaddressed, will haunt you until you face them.

My advice?

Tend to them. NOW.

Do them justice.

Recognize that their realization requires the very work that you have been avoiding. Don’t be scared. Embrace the toil. They say that nothing worth having comes easily, and it’s true. Your dreamwork–whether you use teamwork, or go it alone–will be worth it in the end.

Believe it.

Then take steps to achieve it.

– Random Note to Self

So long, #TVschool!

You were good to me. Sort of.

thehollywoodstandardcover

What have I learned? What can I share?

I drafted this post last night, and my sense of pride has overtaken any fears I may have had about posting it. I’m a total n00b, but I know what I’m made of.

Ultimately, success in television writing, as with any field, is up to you. You get what you give. And if I want to have the career I dream of, it’s become more than apparent to me that I’ve got to work my ass off.

But what about you? What if you don’t want to go school for television or film writing but want to get into the business? Do I have any practical tips?

As a matter of fact, I do.

Among other things, I suggest you…

1. Get a life. The best writing comes from living. I’m a firm believer in making changes to make yourself happy. And I’ll tell you the truth, Dear Reader. A good 90% of the reason I wound up in TV school is because it was in Toronto. As sweet as my hometown is, my quality of life is different when I’m in an urban environment. Even when I’m doing next to nothing, I love the sights and sounds of the city. Overall, I know the type of stimulation that I need in order to stay inspired. As do you, hopefully. Don’t be afraid to do what it takes–go where you need to go, see what you must, just LIVE, dammit!!–in order to keep your motor running.

2. Read. Writers are literate people who possess sharp minds. Books and various herds of words keep our brains trained.

3. Get your formatting game tight. The structure people use to write scripts is different from what you’ve been using since 9th Grade English. Even before last fall, I knew that if a script reader so much as smells that your work isn’t set up correctly, it’ll wind up in the trash. Font matters. So do margins and rules on things like capitalization. Thankfully, script formatting software exists.

They say that Final Draft is the one to beat.

I also suggest books such as The Hollywood Standard. (There’s a pic of the cover above.) It explains certain things that Final Draft can’t teach, like how to handle quirky transitions and use foreign languages in your dialogue.

Of course if all else fails, there’s always Google. 😉

4. Consider more than just how your work looks on the page. Beware of other things, like how to pace your story. I once bought a copy of Your Screenplay Sucks. It’s a decent read—rife with common-sense advice on things to avoid when you write. Long ago I also picked up a copy of Lew Hunter’s Screenwriting 434, and one of my instructors swears by Save the Cat.

Mind you…

As often as I wanted to kill the cat…There are certain storytelling conventions that need to be followed for a successful script. Knowing what they are can only help you.

5. Learn about pitching and other demonic rituals. Do you know what a log line is? Do you know how to write a script outline? What’s a beat sheet? And what, pray tell, is a series bible? Know the answers to these questions. As a writer, I realize that sales might not be your thing. But if you want to see your stories on the big screen, you’ve got to be ready to hustle. Dare to tell the world about your work!

*stepping away from the podium*

What was my greatest lesson? Well…Professionally speaking…I am done with school. At this point I have no intention of buying another book on writing unless said purchase includes a guaranteed salary and writing contract.

I’ve known all along what I needed to do. The time has come to go and make it happen!

It’s OVER!!!

And I’ve got the selfie to prove it.

clairelastdayselfie

Shout-out to one (or more?) of my classmates for coming up with these shirts. “Zeitgeist” is one of our instructor’s favourite words. I’ve heard it more over the past eight months than I have over my whole life.

Earlier this morning, one of my fellow students asked what I thought during our first day of school. Back then, I was looking forward to getting started. Yet over the past few days I’ve been left thinking, “What the hell just happened?”

It took forever, yet it went by so quickly!

I look forward to returning to my normal habits soon and writing more. Stay tuned!

Mistakes make magic.

Over time in this life I have stopped and started. I have struggled with the desire to show myself, versus hiding until conditions are perfect for the wonder that is me* to be revealed. However, even as those words flow from my brain through my fingers, I know that they are flawed. For, as shy as I may be…As fearful as I’ve been, I know that I must persist. If nothing else, I know this: Mistakes make magic. They bring us closer to who we are and where we need to be.

*That’s not arrogance talking. I believe that we are all amazing.

Black comedy.

Recently one of my fellow students shared a great article with my classmates. It featured two talented actresses:

Black female comedians exist. They simply need to be appreciated.

More than that—they need to be acknowledged by key players in the entertainment industry.

When will folks’ ideas about what black people women can do change? This current controversy has affirmed something for me. I’m in the right place. The only way to improve the media is from the inside, through hard work.