I HAVE A STORY
I’ve given a lot of thought to what I should address in this weblog (that’s where the word “blog” comes from by the way) And I’ve pretty much decided that it will be whatever strikes me as essential in giving the reader what will help you the most in realizing showbiz dreams. In my case, movies are my stories.
Since I didn’t start out to be a writer or director (always wanted to be an actor) I look back at the choices and decisions that I made – and others made for me – and how they landed me where I am today.
As I pointed out last week, the decision to fire me from my job in local television certainly wasn’t my idea. But it has turned out to be one of the the best things that ever happened to me. I began to think about how many “unanswered” prayers have done good things for all us down the road. At the time it seemed like the end of the world. And I was embarrassed.
As I explored this line of thinking I kept coming back to one thing — I’ve really always wanted to tell stories. Maybe you have too. When I was a kid sitting on a 1947 International Harvester “H” tractor mowing endless fields of hay and alfalfa (and with no radio or any of the other devices modern tractors have today) to stop from going crazy with boredom I started making up stories in my head to pass the time.
As the 200 acres of hay loomed ahead I found that the more intricate and layered the story I made up — the better the story was. Never wrote them down at that point. Just kept them in my head and I got fairly adept at making up a story with three acts (although I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at the time) and full of characters which eventually became more three dimensional and richly layered.
Why am I telling you this? Simply because if you ever thought of writing for film, or doing a film or acting in a film or anything with film you must prepare first by understanding story. That’s what we do in this life, we tell and live stories. Ours and other peoples’. Stories that are ultimately compelling (if they’re good) and impelling pushing us want to do something more than just repeat the story.
I’d often heard that a good writer “turns the mirror of life back on the world.” And that’s true. But also, a good writer turns the mirror of life on himself (or herself) because that person is the one who will ultimately relate the dramatic retelling And every time that mirror moves, even a little bit, it reflects a ‘different’ aspect of the “holder.” In this case you, the writer.
I know, you’re not even a writer yet. Or you just started. Or have decided you don’t have it… or a million other excuses for not continuing to be the creator. But that’s what we are — creators. I think that’s why I like writing screenplays so much. It allows me to be like Godlike. I decide who “peoples” my story. I decide what they think. I decide what they say and what they do.
Can you grasp the power in that? It’s really very egocentric I know — but also it is a way to reach other human beings with a story or scene they feel but could not write on their own. How many times have you read something very moving and thought… “gee, I wish I had been able to express that feeling like they did?”
Well you can. Do what I did. Start. That’s all. Just start. Maybe it isn’t screenplays. Maybe it is just a character sketch of someone who’s moved you. A teacher or friend or passenger on a flight you never saw again. Doesn’t matter. You are now telling a “story.” And in the telling you are also telling about yourself and part of your personal story. As writers that’s what we do — we mirror ourselves, the world… and then tell the story.
Only hard part? Lifting up that mirror for that the first time and really seeing what’s there.