Onward and Upward

This weekend we finished post-production on a short film, No Time for Romance. It’s a fourteen minute short about a pregnant wife who must decide to stay with her live-in boyfriend or prepare for the end of the world. It’s really about much more than that though: the rising nuclear tensions and the effects it has on a relationship with differing views.

My producing partner and I shot the film earlier this year. It’s been a long time coming. The production didn’t go as planned and the audio was a mess. There were disagreements on the script (that never fully felt complete by the time of filming). In short, we learned a lot.

Upon finalizing and exporting the film, my partner expressed how much he liked it. How good it felt to be done. I felt the same way, but differently.

I replied, “No one will watch it and we’ll make more. Onward and upward.”

He agreed. This might sound complacent but it’s the opposite.

The film won’t win Oscar. And it most likely won’t launch our careers into quitting our jobs and becoming full-time moviemakers. We had a story and we wanted to tell it. Did it come out EXACTLY the way we wanted? No. But that’s okay. Few things do.

I have boughten into this idea/advice from filmmakers like Mark Duplass (and others) whose motto of “just make movies.”

Every project is another lesson for the next one. We have other projects in the works, both together and separately, my producing partner and I. Writing is the same way. With every project you learn something, you get better, you home your voice, your practice.

And as much as we’d love the fame and attention for our projects, the likes and the shares and the views—we know it’s not about that. It can’t be. If it was, we would have quit a long time ago. It’s about the work, the process, the collaboration, the storytelling.

Just write. Just paint. Just workout. Just sew. Set your goals but know it can’t be about the outcome. It has to be about the work.

When facing that lurking feeling of creative self-doubt, born from resistance, waiting to devour all of your dreams and ambitions—Theo Roosevelt said it best:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Come join us in the arena.

This isn’t our first film and it won’t be our last. The next one will be better, and the next one better than that. Fail again. Fail better.

Check out the film here:  No Time For Romance

Thanks for reading. Always be writing.

 

-REH

The couple across the room, don’t know each other’s secrets yet.

She’s a pretty girl. He appears to be a nice guy. I’m sure they met in class. He then went and found her on a social network and liked some of her photos and then she messaged him. The next time in class, he asked her out for ice cream and to go see the latest Adam Sandler movie. She apparently was willing.

And now here they are. I sip my coffee and make assumptions. I give them a back story and guess their names: Barry and Danielle. Those are the first two names that come to mind. They hold hands discreetly. He talks too loud and dominates the conversation. She laughs and enjoys his low-brow humor. Me not so much. I sip my coffee some more and try to concentrate on my reading that’s due in an hour. I can’t help to listen. I can’t help to watch.

They don’t each other’s secrets yet. She hasn’t seen his penis, I’m sure of that. That’s when things get real. That’s when he can stop talking so loud. That’s when he can start feeling comfortable. That’s when they don’t have to hold hands sitting only a foot apart. That’s when they don’t have to look into each other’s eyes when the other is talking. They say sex changes things. I suppose this is a fine example. Sure, they look comfortable. Maybe even slowly falling in love, but they aren’t there yet. It hasn’t gotten real.

But this is when it’s fun. This is when the pressure is on and they’re both trying. This is when he takes her to dumb Adam Sandler movies and buys her ice cream. This is when he goes on tangent about how talented Michael Jordan is. This is when she’s still interested in listening. It will all change. They’ll tell each other secrets. She’ll see his penis and he’ll notice the ugly mole on her neck. The pressure is off. They’ll be revealed. And then suddenly Adam Sandler isn’t funny and Michael Jordan isn’t that talented.

These are assumptions. I sip my coffee. She puts her coat on. They exchange a soft, awkward, and discreet kiss.  She goes away. He sits down and looks into his phone. I turn to my reading and I’m confident they’ll both be just fine.

-REH

Sometimes I have dreams.

It was a dim morning. The time of the year when the sun starts coming out a little bit later, in the last part of summer. It’s an odd transition and noticeable to someone who wakes up as early as I do. The pain came with force, right to my head. It happened so quickly I thought I was dead. When I came to, a bright light shined in my left eye — a police officer, with a mustache and an earring in his right ear. I remember thinking, police officers aren’t supposed to wear earrings. Blood trickled down to my chin; it crossed my lips without entering my mouth. The blood wasn’t warm, but cold, and the stiff early fall breeze only emphasized its journey down my face.

I woke up when I knew it was safe. A fuzz of blankness was the last thing I saw. Like when the TV signal goes out, and you’re left with just noise.

Always be writing.

-REH

It’s a wild ride from sun up to sun down.

It’s a wild ride from sun up to sun down.

I don’t where to begin this story. So I’ll start where I think you’ll enjoy it the most.

My brother, the recently divorced, alcoholic, with rotted teeth, and a receding hairline, rented a Dodge Viper. Classy, I know. Our mission was Las Vegas. I’ve never been, he has, on his second and third honeymoon.

I was hesitant at first. Never really digging the slots or a game of black jack, but I accepted through guilt, after his recent bout of depression, how could I say no? Here I was, in a Dodge Viper, with my oldest brother, smoking a blunt on the highway, just outside Vegas in the scorching heat of Nevada. He still drove like he did in High school. Like a maniac. I would grab the handle above the passenger door. I think he enjoyed watching my face tense, when we would pass a semi. It didn’t take long for him to open up about Stephanie. She was a young girl, too young for him. She had three kids to a prior man, who by chance, was a trucker. They had been married in March and separated in August. It finalized earlier this year and it was short lived.

I felt bad. My brother was a hard worker; he loved his job at the local plant. His main weakness was for desperate woman who were willing. She baited him like a fish. He bought her a house, put in a new deck, and added a room for the kids — all this in a matter of three months. When he was done, came the fighting. I guess he was out of something to do. He expected attention from her. She didn’t realize how needy he could be. I’ve heard him on the phone. I know.

This weekend will be good for him. It will be good for the both of us.

To get away and meet new people. Because that’s what life is about — the people.

(Sometimes I write short fictional stories with no ending in sight)

Always be writing.

-REH

She Came Late at Night

She came late at night, with a dozen roses and a bucket of water.

At first, one can assume the water was for the roses. A bucket is an odd choice, but what else could she have it for?

I didn’t ask right away, as it was so late. I had to be up early. She had to be up early. I let her in and I rubbed my eyes dry. “What are you doing here?” I asked.

She responded after a long pause and told me to follow her upstairs.

The water shook with her steps. A trail of water was left behind. At this hour, I couldn’t find the energy to complain. So I didn’t. We sat on my bed and she handed me the flowers. I soon realized the flowers were the exact same ones I had given her three weeks ago. See, three weeks ago was our four-year anniversary of dating. Naturally, I got her flowers — It’s what she expected. It’s what everyone expects.

“Are these the same flowers?” She nodded yes. “But how? How are they still so fresh?” I asked.

She replied, “It’s in the water.”

(Sometimes I write short fictional stories with no real ending)

Always be writing.

-REH

The day I broke the chain.

2 years, 3 months, and 13 days.

It was a Monday. April 14th.

When I started this blog more than two years ago, I blogged about something called “Don’t Break the Chain”. It was a writing technique practiced by comedian Jerry Seinfeld. It was simply a promise to oneself to write every day. Using a calendar and a red marker, you cross days off that you wrote, creating a chain… Hence DON’T BREAK THE CHAIN.

And on April 14th 2014, I simply forgot to write. And now the chain is broken.

I woke up that morning I realized what I had done.

Before I get into what followed, I should put some context into why I think I broke the chain.

It had been two months since I had worked on a specific project. There were a lot of changes in life and for some reason I was hitting walls with creating anything new — thus I had very little inspiration when it came to writing. Early drafts of scripts sat on my desk, and I couldn’t find any ambition to do rewrites. Perhaps the two years of striving, had worn me down — that’s my excuse anyways.  Without the inspiration of a new fresh project at hand, I began to journal to continue my goal of writing everyday. But then one day, I forgot to. Writing seemly took a backseat — something that didn’t occur for over two years.

I woke up that morning feeling nothing by guilt. I began to over think the reason why…

Perhaps it was sign to give it all up. Stop all struggling and realize I’ll never make it. And that’s how I felt.

“What do I have now?”

There was a blank space on my calendar and I felt broken. The feeling didn’t last for long though. Because I knew, I had to be tough. It was just one day. I had still conquered quite a bit and achieved what I wanted for those two years.

I simply kept writing the following day. I started a new chain on April 15th.

I’m still struggling to get back in the groove of things — and quite honestly don’t know why that is. Some days I’ll work on the rewrites that I have put off for so long. Other days I’ll journal just to cross off the day.

Since breaking the chain that one time, I’ve done it three more times. It doesn’t hurt so much anymore…

And that hurts that it doesn’t hurt so much anymore. When did the writing become so stale and when did the dream of being a successful, working screenwriter become so distant?

It’s hard to say I suppose. But at this point, there is no turning back.

It’s like I’m waiting for that break and that inspiration again. I’m waiting for that moment of rejuvenation and reason to start working hard like before.

I don’t know when that will be, but I’m confident it will come sooner than later.

Or I could just not wait and make it happen myself…

We shall see.

But what I have is two years of major progress in my work. What I have now is another streak to continue, another goal to reach, and another reason to write more and better. I just have to sit down and do it.

Always be writing.

 

-REH

 

Don’t write to live. Live to Write.

It’s not easy to write. Don’t get me wrong…

But it is easy to sit in the chair, sip coffee, and type some dribble into a word document.

I think I’ve been in this desk chair for the majority of the last two years. Sure, my writing has improved and I’ve gotten a lot done…but I’ve also missed out on a lot. And I’m just now realizing this.

Some of the things, I’m glad I missed out on. Choosing writing was the right choice. Other things, I regret missing out on. Finding the balance between writing and life can be difficult. Both need effort.

Recently writing has become hard for me. I have hit more walls than I ever have. My routine has been off and my work has slowed.

BUT I still write everyday. And all those walls have forced me to approach writing a different way…

Now, I write on a whim. With no real schedule. Now it’s true, I haven’t gotten much work done. But the work I am getting done appears to be really good — for my standards anyway.

Let me go back to where I started hitting walls: Now I must state that I don’t believe in writer’s block — mainly because it has never been an issue for me.

I finished a first draft of a script in October. I usually always have another project to move onto next, but this time, I didn’t — that was my first wall. So I began to search out other alternatives for writing. I realized I was bored with writing screenplays, so I was open to anything — perhaps a novel. Or I was going to blog more. Writing short stories or opinion pieces…

None of which I did. Instead I began to journal everyday. And eventually through the journaling a new story started to appear. For the past two months I’ve been working on a new story.  Notes here and there — pages are starting flow and I feel good about it. But my approach is way different than my previous 17 screenplays.

Not only do I think the writing is good. But this is the most personal story I’ve ever written, and I’m enjoying the writing to the fullest extent.

I have changed my tactics for one reason. I was bored.

Now with this new tactic, writing on a whim and writing a story that’s personal and meaningful…I have more time to live. More effort is put into my life outside this desk. I feel alive when I write and before I write.

The work shows that.

Writing less. Writing better. And living to write. Not writing to live.

There was no doubt; my writing was becoming numb writing. It was a job and I treated it like a job. My passion was fading. And my change of tactics couldn’t have come at a better time.

The pressure is limited. The pages are slim. My routine is seemly fucked, but suddenly the passion for writing is back.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-REH