Wednesday, May 27, 2015

When The People You Love Don’t Support Your Writing Career

Previously published last year on and then removed from Persona Paper.

From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t know I could make a living by writing, because I was guided down a different path, but from the moment I could hold a pencil in my hand, the urge to write was overwhelming. And when I got a typewriter for Christmas one year (some of you are probably asking, “What’s a typewriter?”) I was elated. But Mom and Dad didn’t encourage me, because, according to my mom, writing wasn’t a secure profession. Secretarial work, on the other hand, was a worthwhile profession, so though she told me I could be anything I wanted to be, even president, she pushed me toward secretarial work, because it was more secure. 

I hated being a secretary.

Eventually I worked as a designer at a newspaper and I was given an opportunity to write my own column, but I still longed for some kind of acknowledgment from my mother. Dad never read anything I wrote. I never even thought to ask him to read my work, but my mom didn’t like anything I wrote. She preferred fiction and I wrote nonfiction. She always told me I should write children’s stories because of my vivid imagination. I should have been J.K. Rowling, I suppose, but I doubt she would have read those types of books, either.

Interestingly, she forwards nonfiction emails to all of her friends and family members; however, when I asked her to send my blogs to her friends, she refused, because she didn’t want to “bother” them. My fiction, however, didn’t work for her either.

My screenplays were fictional, so in the 1980s when I had written what I thought was a humorous screenplay, I let my mother and two of my friends read it. My friends laughed out loud in certain parts. My mother, on the oner hand, found not one sentence funny. She even said out loud, “I didn’t find it funny at all.” I found her comment weird considering that when I worked for several hours on my 4th grade homework assignment, after my mom read it, and while she was reading it, she laughed so hard she cried.

When I read that same assignment years later – 5 chapters of words scrunched into 5 paragraphs – I could see why. I was a child who took everything literally (I still do), so when my teacher instructed me to write one paragraph using every single word in the spelling chapter, and she had taught me that a paragraph was one central thought, I forced a relationship between words that were so different, I called upon every creative faculty in my brain to force them to connect. The results were hilarious, but not intentionally so. I found out later that the teacher meant to say “paragraphs” – plural.

Having no emotional support forced me to rely upon myself. But how can anyone accurately assess themselves by themselves? Friends would tell me I was creative and talented, but I found it hard to believe them. So I attended college in my late 30s – not to get a degree, though I got one – but to find out if anybody there thought I had any writing talent. 

When I received glowing comments on all of my assignments, I felt that maybe I really had some talent, and when my assignments were chosen by the instructors as examples for how the class should write them, I beamed. When I became a tutor in the English lab, I felt that maybe I was worthy of calling myself a writer after all.

But I still didn’t have the admiration of my mother. My sisters were more supportive. I don’t think my father ever knew I wrote anything, and unless I wrote encyclopedias, which were the only books I ever saw him read, he wouldn’t have been interested anyway, but I wanted, and never got, the support and encouragement I needed from my mother. I vowed that when I had my own kids I would encourage them to become whatever they wanted to be and I would help them in any way I could. 

So when I asked my oldest daughter what she wanted to be when she grew up, I was surprised when she responded, “A mom.” She got her wish – she had five children. My next oldest daughter wanted to be a fashion designer. She works for an engineering firm, but she still has her eyes set on fashion. My son had no idea what he wanted to be, so in March, 2001, he joined the Marines. My youngest daughter decided to open an upscale consignment boutique and is doing very well. I still think kids flourish when they get support and encouragement from the people who matter most to them. 

I’ll be 63 in 3 days (remember this was written last year). I have written hundreds of blogs and have received thousands of views. I’ve received numerous compliments on my writing ability, too. And I have received awards, so why is getting some encouragement from my mother so important? Why can’t I just let it go? 

I’ll tell you why. Because no matter how old we get, we still long for acceptance, specifically from our parents or maybe from a mentor. If you write and you don’t get the support and encouragement you need from the people who love you, where can you find motivation to continue writing?

For me personally, my need to write surpasses my need for acceptance, so I’ll continue to write and will probably die wishing I still had my mother’s support.

Afterword: Over the past year, on a couple of my blogs, my mother has commented. Above all other comments I receive, I value hers the most.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Want to write a movie or TV show, but can’t afford to take a class? Watch this one video and you might not need a class!

The basis of any movie or television show is the story. I think we can all agree on that. But what makes the story compelling are the characters in the story. We want our audiences to be able to identify with those characters and root for our protagonist. We want believable characters that audiences care about. We want an emotional response from our audience and we want to see physical manifestations of those emotions – from tears to laughter. Above all, though, we want audiences to walk away from our story with a sense of awe and a desire to share their thoughts and emotions about the movie or television show we wrote with their friends and family members and even with casual acquaintances. 

So how do we create characters and story lines that audiences love? 

We may have studied a lot of screenplay writing techniques and read a lot of information about how to make an outstanding movie or TV show, but what we’ve written so far can’t even win us a contest or a few minutes with a producer to explain our movie or television ideas. 

Well, here’s help for all fledgling television or film writers. 

When I watched the video I’m about to present, I felt as if I could have gone to school for four years and not learned as much as I learned in this one hour and sixteen minute presentation offered on Larry Brody’s TV Writer web site.  What the video on the page linked below explains are the most important basics of television and movie writing. In a condensed version of what could have been an entire semester’s worth of classes, you will learn how to capture an audience’s attention and create lovable and empathetic characters audiences will love. TV Writer, by the way, is packed with useful information about television writing.

Because I feel so strongly about this video, I could go on and on about it, but why not just send you right to the source? I think you’ll agree with me that this video is packed with important information any writer venturing into the television or movie industry would need to know. Have a pad of paper and a pen within reach! And ENJOY!



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