Sunday, June 30, 2013

Update on Writing a Play: Thoroughly Enjoying Myself

Link to the previous posts here.

Well, I did it. I am done with my short stage-play, Favorite Color. I rewrote it thrice, went back to my original draft, edited it as many times as I could stand, and finally e-mailed it off to The Words Players community theater!

This is cooler than finishing NaNoWriMo, because someone could potentially PERFORM my play!

That's pretty exciting to me. That would make my play the first thing I've ever 'published'. I don't know if it will be selected, but I know it will be considered, and that means everything to me. To have people who really know performance arts read a play that I've written is one of the greatest opportunities I've ever had.

I am very proud of my play, and I think it's beautiful. It ended up being 8 pages long (I'm pretty sure it would take about 10 minutes to perform, but that's only an estimate), and I managed to incorporate the box of crayons, just like I wanted to. And, best of all, I thoroughly enjoyed myself writing it.

I, of course, cut it very close with submitting it: The deadline is tomorrow. Procrastination will be the end of me.

I probably would have finished sooner, but it was a rough editing process. I waited until this past Thursday for my usual editors, my mom and my sister, to read my draft for me. My sister hated it - I don't think there was a single original component she deemed worthy of preserving. My mom had a million suggestions and ideas, all completely different. That was great, but overwhelming. And my dad thought it was amazing and I didn't need to change a thing about it.

This mixed bag of editing feedback almost drove me to abandon my endeavors. I wanted to hide under a blanket and cry and forget about ever writing anything ever again. I mean, come on! Less than 72 hours from the submission deadline, and I was standing on square one.

Until I realized that I would not enjoy rewriting the whole play. I would not enjoy scrapping the simple, beautiful, and surprising plot I'd been carrying around in my head for years. And I would definitely not enjoy trying to start over and inevitably running out of time and missing the deadline.

Unlike the many great writers who have worn themselves down into the dust, I am not willing to do things that make me unhappy or even downright miserable just for the sake of great writing. I write because when I was 9 years old, I wrote a story. I kept writing. I have not stopped writing since.


Because I love to write. I love to create stories. I write because it makes me happy, not because I want to be great. If I stumble upon some greatness in the process of thoroughly enjoying myself, that is not really up to me. I want to write for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others.

Most importantly, God made me with a heart that takes joy in writing, so I will write for Him. The play, in particular, I have given to Him. He can do with it as He wishes.

So, whether or not my play is accepted or rejected for performance sometime in October, it was worth writing. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rome Bucket List #1 - St. Agnes of Assisi

In exactly 6 months, I will be going to Rome, Italy for the second time, and this time, I get to go with my younger sister! I am ridiculously excited, so I'm starting a bucket list of things I would like to do to make this trip even better than the last one. 

Number 1 on the bucket list is very important to me, because I totally missed it last time.

A few months ago, I learned that there is a saint called St. Agnes of Assisi, who was the youngest sister of St. Clare of Assisi. I was shocked and wondered how I'd never heard of this before. I mean, I love St. Clare and St. Francis! Worse, I was IN Assisi, and I pretty much walked right past St. Agnes' tomb! She's buried in the Church of St. Clare, along with Clare and their mother, Blessed Hortulana and their other sister, Beatrice. 

St. Agnes was one hardcore saint. Sixteen days after Clare left to form a new order of nuns, Agnes (who was only 15) followed her. Well, her relatives were not pleased about this, so they went after her to carry her home by force. But when they tried,  her body became so heavy, they couldn't move her. The family decided this must be a sign from God, and to let the girls be. But you can read all about it here!

When I go back to Assisi, after I freak out over seeing the incorrupt body of the saint I'm named after again (St. Clare is seriously very beautiful), I am going to find St. Agnes' tomb. I am going to kneel in front of it and pray that nothing will keep me from following God's will for my life. She fought for her vocation, and I will fight for mine. Although I'm called to marriage, not religious life, and I think its unlikely that my family would come after me and try to carry me off on my wedding day, I really admire St. Agnes and I want to imitate her. She followed the holy example of her sister, and wouldn't let anyone pressure her into doing something God didn't want her to. 

That can be very hard to do. 

(Sts. Clare and Agnes of Assisi)

Bucket List: officially started. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

My Top 5 Music Videos

I love music videos. If I like a song, I immediately wonder if there's a music video. Songs always paint stories in my mind, so I like to see stories paired with songs. As such, I have watched a lot of music videos in my life. I think the first one I ever saw was the Be My Escape video by Reliant K. And shortly thereafter I watched the Hold On video by the Jonas Brothers. No, I was not eased into the music video world gently.

Because I love music videos so much (I seriously want to direct one someday), I decided to post my official TOP 5 music videos out there in this world. These are the videos that I would watch (or have watched) a dozen times at once.

Voila. I realize I've posted two of these music videos before (here and here), but they are indeed in my top 5, so I'm posting them again. I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I do!

Mine, Taylor Swift

I'm not going to lie, there are SEVERAL Taylor Swift music videos I love (any girl who doesn't love the You Belong With Me video is lying to herself), but this one has to be my favorite.  I don't approve of every part of it, particularly how the song talks about an unmarried couple living together. But its a seriously romantic and beautiful video. The story portrayed, the imagery, the setting, and the two little adorable blonde boys put it at #5 on my list.

Just Haven't Met You Yet, Michael Buble

I had never even heard of Michael Buble when my older sister had us load this video on our glacially slow internet connection three years ago. It is the funniest music video I've ever seen. Ever. All the other funny videos try to be as funny as this one. And the song is pretty fabulous, too. I love how everyone starts randomly dancing in the aisles. And the ending is truly ironic. All that puts this video at #4.

Little Balloon, Jenny and Tyler

Yes, I know, I've posted this one before. But I still love it. I found Jenny and Tyler through an internet ad for a Christian music concert, so I decided to check out their website. The Little Balloon video had just been released, so I decided to see what it was like. I was drawn into it immediately. I love how its filmed, and I love how an entire video can follow one little red balloon as the wind carries it to a new destination. #3!

Youtopia, Armin Van Buurin Feat. Adam Young

Again, yes, I've posted this one before. Forgive me. I love this video for a lot of reasons. I admit, one of those reasons is because Adam Young is in it. But I love the mystery of it. I love how its set in flashbacks and memories evoked by a place. Having lived four states away from my best friend since I was 10, I can relate to the sense of wanting to turn around and see a person standing there who is, in reality, very far away. Its just a beautiful video full of color and emotion. So here it is, back on my blog once again at #2.

Her Diamonds, Rob Thomas

Here it is. My number one, all time favorite music video. I have loved Rob Thomas ever since I heard the song Little Wonders. I saw this video on Youtube one day and it intrigued me, but I didn't watch it at first because I had never heard the song before. When I did, it blew me away. It is absolutely incredible. The song has an eerie but hopeful sound to it. I love the use of light, how it slowly floods into the room as the sun rises. The imagery goes with the words like magic. And the special effects are just about the coolest thing I've ever seen. I mean, come on, there is a girl ENCASED IN ICE. 
Overall, I know its kind of a dark and metaphorical video (the song was written by Thomas for his wife who was suffering from an auto-immune disease), but I can't get over it. Its full of a passion and intensity that inspire me, and for the past year or so, it has held the honored place in my heart as my #1 music video.

There you have it. I hope your summer is going as well as mine!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Update on Writing a Play #2!

(The Previous Posts)

I am extremely proud to announce that I finished the entire body of the play! It is all physically in existence now! Even though its only the first draft, I am already really pleased with it and I can't wait to have a few people read it and give me suggestions.

Why this sudden burst of productivity? 

It might be that I finally solved the final remaining Big Problem I was having. I couldn't find a smooth and plausible way to introduce each new color into the dialogue. 

The solution?
An 8-pack box of crayons! My female character needed to be carrying something interesting and quirky, anyway, and the colors I wanted to work with all come in the 8-pack!

It was a stroke of genius.

Unfortunately, I came up with this idea rather late Sunday evening and don't exactly remember WHERE or HOW it formed. That's the way it goes a lot of the time.

With a convenient and believable carrier for the colors, I pressed onward to write down a complete short play of about 8 pages. Writing it was fairly easy and fun, but editing it has been tough. I have to constantly pay attention to how everything SOUNDS when spoken, because that's how it will be received by audiences. I have to pay attention to 'stage left' and 'stage right'. I have to make sure that all the action that needs to be specific is clearly explained for the people who could potentially perform it. 

With that being said, I'm a little giddy with excitement. The deadline for short play submissions (July 1st) is fast approaching, and I hope I can be ready for it. 

So, there is my update, and here is an excerpt:

(Sophie sighs at his unwillingness, and switches the crayon again, this time for the brown one)

Sophie: This one is brown. Chocolate is the best way to describe brown. Its rich and dark and sweet.

Thomas: I hate chocolate. Besides, isn’t dirt brown, too?

(Sophie sighs again)

Sophie: Yes. Dirt is brown, too. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day 2013

I pray that God would give strength to all fathers today, but especially mine, to be able lead and love their families as they are called to. 

I love my dad. He has always been there for me. He has always prayed for me. He is so proud of me. He is my biggest fan. I have never doubted that I am precious to him, and that he wants nothing but the best for me in both this life and the next.

He is not perfect, and there have been times when I've been very angry and frustrated with him. But he is so good at loving me, and all my siblings. He has showed us, imperfectly, but genuinely, how we deserve to be loved and cared for. 

I stole this idea for a Father's Day card, and here's how it turned out --

Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you and I am so grateful for the ways you have helped to make me who I am. 

God bless you. : )

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Life Is Beautiful

I don't think my life has ever been quite this beautiful, and I can't wait to see where it goes. 

These are things that make us feel alive
These are the times that make us realize

Life is beautiful.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Update on Writing a Play

Writing Inspiration - Writers Write

As you may or may not recall from my previous posts on this topic, I am writing a play!

I can only just now say that with any honesty because today, FINALLY, I started writing it.

I have that terrible disease where you're convinced that the very important and awesome thing you're writing will write itself by virtue of how cool it seems in your mind. The technical term would be procrastination.

Fortunately, I want to write this play badly enough that today, TODAY, I wrote two very rough pages of the beginning.

I don't think anyone really appreciates how hard a stage play is to write. I mean, you don't just write the way things are typically written in a books or magazines. You have to format it so its not just a story, but a PLAY. This looks something like...

CLARE types ferociously away at her play.

STEVE walks into the room.

STEVE: What are you doing?

CLARE: Shut up I'm writing a play leave me alone bring me some coffee.

And that's just an example. There are several different formats for a stage play, but this is the one I'd say I'm most familiar with. 

Besides the funky format, you also have to think about an actual performance of your play in order to write it. Unless your play has an extremely omnipotent narrator, you can't just sit down and say: 

Clare was majorly stressed out by writing her play. She wanted it to be amazing. She wanted it to be worthy of being chosen and performed. But she was distracted by a few things: The cookies in her desk drawer, planning her graduation party, and the TV show she'd just discovered on Netflix. But she was determined  So she blocked out the distractions and went to write her play. Unfortunately, when she logged onto her laptop, she decided to write a blog post about writing her play, instead. 

That just doesn't work. Instead, you have to very clearly and concisely SHOW the audience, by the actions and dialogue of the characters, what is going on. 

Last Friday, I got to meet author, editor, and publisher Regina Doman, and I recieved one very vital piece of advice from her about writing my play: HAVE A PREMISE* THAT IS ABSOLUTELY SO STRAIGHTFORWARD IT CANNOT BE MISSED. 

She was even nice enough to listen to the general plot of my play and suggest a really good premise to me: HOPE vs. DESPAIR. 

Everything in the play HAS to serve the premise, or it must go. My two characters have to embody the premise and convey the message while being entertaining and (hopefully) heartwarming. Since I have a 'counterbalanced statement' premise, one character has to embody HOPE, while the other embodies DESPAIR. 

This isn't rocket science, but, no, a monkey could not do it. 

So, that's a little bit about procrastination, writing a stage play, and premise. I will hopefully have a more praiseworthy update on this within a week since the deadline for play submissions is July 1st. 

As I like to do, I shall leave you with the only notable quote from what I have written thus far. The character Sophie says this to the character Thomas. I can't guarantee this will end up in the play when its all said and done, but here you go! Enjoy : )

“EVERYONE has a favorite color, Thomas, even if they don’t know it. It’s the color that makes you happiest. It’s the color that you’d paint your bedroom walls if you had the choice. It’s the one color, that, if everything in the world were suddenly that color, you’d be okay with it,”

* A premise being what the story is about/the moral it teaches.