Thirty Day Trial Challenge – April

The inspiration for this month’s challenge is yet again derived from Jack Kerouac, and I’m not ashamed of it. I spent the majority of this month re-reading Kerouac’s Big Sur, partly in conjunction with the project I began working on in January. It goes without saying that the beatnik poetry and philosophy spark my creative imagination. For those that are unfamiliar with his work, all you need to know is that Kerouac and his buddies founded what they called the Beat Generation, the post-war literary movement in the 1950s that sought to reject traditional values and replace them with spiritual exploration and other modes of uninhibited human expression.

Though often criticized for being a pseudo-intellectual and drug-induced endeavor (something which I don’t necessarily dispute), the Beat Generation did leave behind some poetic treasures that I find particularly raw, human, and beautiful. My favorite passage from Big Sur is as follows:

“But I remember seeing a mess of leaves suddenly go skittering in the wind and into the creek, then floating rapidly down the creek towards the sea, making me feel a nameless horror even then of ‘Oh my God, we’re all being swept away to sea no matter what we know or say or do’ – And a bird who was on a crooked branch is suddenly gone without my even hearing him.”

Needless to say, I ate this passage up and have been fantasizing about writing my own poetry. This is something that I have dabbled in before, but it will be nice to dedicate time this month to write my own excerpts about life, nature, and whatever else happens to come to mind. I plan on sharing four original short poems – check back in at the end of the month to see how I did!

1. Nonsense (a Limerick)

There once was a man full of nonsense                                                                                    Blah blah blah was his correspondence                                                                                  There then came a day                                                                                                                       He had nothing to say                                                                                                                            The world waited in silent suspense


Thirty Day Trial Challenge – January

Okay yes, I will admit that I got started a bit late on my 30 day trial for this month. Regardless, I am excited to start this project and explore new skills.

As you can probably tell from my work on this blog, I like to write. However,  I am very analytical, logical, and <insert boring adjective here>, so I feel that it is a lot easier for me to write about my observations and recently acquired tidbits of knowledge rather than creative fiction.

Because I love movies (and often dream about making a movie one day), I decided to try my hand at writing a screenplay. With only 30 days, I’ve committed to writing a screenplay for a short film. I am using an app called Celtx (yay, technology!) which provides screenplay templates and has a bank of screen directions to choose from for lay people such as myself.

I have found it challenging to visualize every aspect of a scene in my head while also experimenting with a new story, dynamic characters, and the proper dose of suspense. I’m a murder-mystery-plot-twist kind of girl, so that should give you an indication of the genre I am writing for.

I’ll update this post periodically with my thoughts, obstacles, and other interesting discoveries as I write – and if someone out there has experience with writing screenplays, I’d love to hear from you!

January 30 Day Challenge – Update

I’m slightly hesitant – but also a bit giddy – to share the outcome of my 30-day attempt to write a screenplay for a short film. I’ll cut to the chase and eliminate the building suspense – I didn’t do it.

Well, sort of. I tried brainstorming ideas for an exciting and shocking screenplay with the simplicity of American Beauty, the creativity of Inception, and the perplexity of Memento. Obviously that proved to be a lofty goal, and I realized that I may be aiming too high. After suffering from writer’s block for about a week, I remembered a vision that I had a couple of years ago for a similar project.

I had fallen in love with a song by Death Cab for Cutie called Bixby Canyon Bridge. The song, written from the first-person perspective of vocalist Ben Gibbard, chronicled his attempt at introspection while isolated in nature. Ben modeled his isolation after author Jack Kerouac, who wrote about his own individual journey in On the Road and Big Sur.

Upon listening to the lyrics and reading Kerouac’s novels, I felt compelled to bring the story in the song to life. Instead of writing a screenplay for a short film, my new task become to write a music video shot list. Using a template from Studio Binder, I created a script with the visuals on one side of the pages, and the lyrics on the other. It was actually really fun to write, and the ideas flowed.

Without saying too much (as I’m now going to work on getting this thing filmed), the premise of my story is based on the last lyric of the song:

“And then it started getting dark/I trudged back to where the car was parked/No closer to any kind of truth/As I must assume was the case with you”

I interpreted this closing statement to mean that Ben, in his quest to find some answer or purpose for his existence, came out of his isolation disillusioned and possibly more confused that when he started. He can’t help but take a small jab at Jack Kerouac, whom he criticizes for being shallow, hypocritical, and basically full of sh*t. Can you blame him – Kerouac’s life was cut short at the age of 47 from an abdominal hemorrhage caused by heaving drinking.

Still, I think we as humans try to find answers for the unknown elements of existence and often find ourselves going around in circles. In my personal experience, descending into the rabbit hole of “why am I here”, “what’s the meaning of life”, and other philosophical questions usually brings about negative emotions such as sadness and apathy. I’m not saying that we should never think about these things, but I’ve found that acceptance of the unknown has relieved some of the tension in my life.

The protagonist in my music video story embarks on a similar journey, only to find out that she has been prisoner to her mind all along. I can’t wait to share it with you.