May 2, 2011

Best Laid Plans . . . Cracked and Scrambled

The pictures are actual item listings on Etsy from some extremely talented people. Simply click on the picture to view its Etsy listing.

I've had quite a month, as expressed in my cryptic (or painfully obvious, depending on who you are) treasury in my last post. To help explain some of it, I have a stubborn 3 year old I'm trying to potty train, I was a dance coach for a cultural celebration for the rededication of the LDS Atlanta Temple, my family traveled to Atlanta for the Temple Open House, Easter, I have IBS which flared up big time (probably in the face of so much stress) and I was trying to write a screenplay in 2 weeks to make a contest deadline.

Everything surrounding the temple was a success and worth all the work. The kids danced beautifully at their program last night and the temple is beautiful.

My IBS is just something I have to live with. I have good days and bad days. I'm juggling a lot of medication which I don't like but at least I have insurance and some sort of treatment to help with this horrible condition. I can at least be grateful for that.

The screenplay thing is a little more complicated. The contest I planned to enter was the Nicholl Fellowship Competition. It's done by the Academy (the "Oscar" people) of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences every year. They award 10 amateur screenwriters a $30,000 fellowship and even better than that, comes the prestige with the title. You're guaranteed an agent (the Holy Grail of wannabe screenwriters) and your script has a much bigger chance of being sold and made into a movie. Both "Finding Forrester" and "Akeelah and the Bee" were winning Nicholl scripts, for example.

Even if you don't win a Fellowship, being a finalist has its perks as well. Your name, script name and genre and contact information are put on a list that is sent all over Hollywood to agents and producers. I was a quarterfinalist in 2009 and was approached by about 12 different agencies. I sent my script to only 7 or 8 (some of them seemed shady). I haven't heard anything back but it was still such an honor. So, I sent in the same script from 2009 in again this year. I'm hoping it'll go farther in the competition . . . you never know.

I pray about a lot of things I think most people would find strange. Heck, I'm a Mormon and most people find that strange! I believe that when I pray, I'm heard and I get answers. They are not always immediate nor are they always what I want to hear . . . but I do get answers. So, I was praying saying that I sent in my script and that the OTHER script I'm working on I'll submit next year. Well, I immediately had the thought, "Don't give up." It sort of threw me for a loop for two reasons: one, I had only half of the treatment (a basic scene-by-scene summary of the script) written; two, the deadline was two weeks away.

What hit me the most was the last time I prayed and got the answer "Don't give up." It was two months after I opened my Etsy shop. I had almost no traffic and no sales. I felt humiliated and frustrated. I prayed saying I just wanted to quit and it was a waste of time. Then I felt someone tell me, "Don't give up." Less than one year later, I have almost 40 sales. I knew that if I was supposed to get that script in that contest, I would happen!

I talked with my husband and arranged for the most childcare I could get so I could write. I decided to put my Etsy shop on vacation the week before the deadline with the message, "My shop is on vacation until May 3rd while I try and finish my screenplay in time for the Nicholl Fellowship Competition deadline. Eek! Wish me luck! : )"

The first week went pretty well. I was able to finish my treatment (it got up to almost 40 pages which is about right) and write 7 pages of my script. That weekend we went down to Atlanta for the Temple Open House as a family. It was very important for us to do that and I'm glad we went, even though I wasn't feeling the best. My doctor had just prescribed me a new medication that made me very nauseous but I was able to get through the trip anyway.

As the days went by, it was obvious my IBS was out of control. I was in constant, intense pain. I knew in my heart there was no way I could finish the script when I was this ill. I prayed about it and felt like it was the right thing to do. There's no sense in killing myself over a script when I'm ill and have a child to take care of. At first I was really disappointed. Why in the world would I need to go to the trouble of trying to write a script in 2 weeks only to have to quit because of illness? I got to thinking about it and realized a few things:

1. By cleaning out my schedule and arranging for childcare, I had the time and help to rest and get better.

2. By closing my shop I was able to relax a little and take the time to reassess my shop. I've been able to brainstorm and create goals for BiblioBags with a clear head.

3. I was never keen on sending in a first draft of a script anyway! I mean, people have won fellowships on first drafts but I was super uncomfortable with that notion. Despite my messy blog, I'm actually super meticulous with my writing and it would KILL me to think of industry professionals judging me on a first draft.

4. I only wrote 7 pages of that script but it got me hooked. I got the writing bug again. I always believed in this story but actually writing it grabbed me and now I'm so excited to keep going. Those of you who write know what a struggle it can be to get yourself to do it. You may love it and writing may even give you life (I feel that way) but sometimes, you'll do almost anything to avoid writing. But now that I got a little taste, I'm begging for more. Maybe I needed that kick in the pants to get me writing again.

Even though things didn't work out the way I thought they would, maybe they worked out better for me in the end. Heavenly Father knows me better than I know myself and I've learned a lot from this experience. So I guess I'll make an omelet out of these broken eggs . . . with lots and lots of cheese. (That's metaphorical . . . I can't eat cheese in real life. I eat it rhetorically as much as possible, though.)

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