Saturday, September 29, 2007

13 Reasons I Have Been Absent in Blogland

I missed the last 2 Thursday Thirteens. I've barely had time to check my e-mail in the last 2 weeks, let alone post a TT. A few of you sent private e-mails to see if I was okay, that was sweet, thanks! I'm fine, just busy. :-)

1) Baby and I finally took our (mini) summer vacation to the SUNSHINE COAST. This is where we've decided we will live some day soon. We left our computers at home.

2) While on the Sunshine Coast, we took a hike to SKOOKUMCHUK NARROWS. This is NOT a river. The rapids are created simply by the rising and falling of the ocean tide through a narrow area that connects two inlets.

3) I aided in organizing the PLEASE ADJUST YOUR SET Campaign Launch, which took place last Monday night. This is the culmination of a three year study on the status of women in film and television in British Columbia. The results... things haven't changed much in over 20 years. It's the same all over the world. Women are still not significantly represented in "above the line" positions (i.e. those with creative control over content).

4) Women in Film and Television Vancouver hosted our annual opening night party for the 2008 Vancouver International Film Festival, MARTINI MADNESS, this year held at the elegant Macaroni Grill:

5) And speaking of the Vancouver International Film Festival... I went to the opening film ATONEMENT, a British film based on the Ian McEwan novel. Run, do not walk, to see this film if it comes to your town. I'm sure it will have a theatrical release, just don't know how it will do competing with all the Hollywood blockbusters.

6) After the film, I attended VIFF's own opening Gala Event. They had yummy food and a fashion show. As the night progressed, the models wore less and less clothes. At the end, they came out in tops and underwear. I am not exaggerating.

This is me with actor Mackenzie Gray (a wonderful supporter of Women in Film) and production coordinator / fellow Women in Film boardmember Robyn Wiener

7) During this time I was also teaching classes in the writing department of Vancouver Film School. I have a new class this term that I just love. It's a feature film workshop. Basically, we read student's scripts and discuss them. How fun is that?

8) I rode my bike to the doctor. I got a prescription, which I still haven't filled.

9) I attended the Telefilm reception for the Vancouver Film Festival. I started to lose my voice from all the receptions and galas.

10) I've been promoting and working on WIFTV's own film festival, which takes place in March. I'm the festival chair. We're now accepting submissions. Tell all your female film-making friends.

11) I've been working on getting my short film Make up the Dead out of post-production. We're getting there... it should be done by mid-Oct. Yay! That's me in the blue cap looking directorly. Sitting next to me is fabulous DOP Kelly Mason. Let's hear it for camerawomen!

12) Took a shift Friday at the Women in Film booth at VIFF's annual Trade Forum. Unfortunately, I didn't get to attend any of the forum talks! But I did have a good time chatting with participants as they came and went.

13) And, don't laugh... amid ALL of this, Baby and I have been house-hunting. Yes, in our spare time. We even made an offer on a house last week. We didn't get the house and are still hunting... tomorrow, I'm going to buy a bigger gun.

And yes, I still wrote every day, even while on vacation (by hand).

So, what have you been doing to occupy your time? Can you believe how busy our modern day lives are? Do you look at your own schedule and want to pull your hair out?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monday Poetry Train (a delinquent #7)

I believe it is still Monday somewhere. Probably Hawaii.

I have been inspired by the PT to write more poetry. Aside from our annual August romp, poetry and I had gone our separate ways several years ago, wishing to see others. We had been together for 20 years and needed a break.

We have slowly started to see each other again, and are testing the waters. We'll see how it goes.

petitio principii

I exist
therefore I am

I write to you in your existence among plums
a creation of my existence
this is a material fallacy
I love you
therefore you are
the existence of love
among plumes
as hope is a thing with feathers
but without the rest of the bird
will not bring you home

my heart hears
through doors
my dreams leap like disasters
once there, you kissed me
it was all me, on the outside
I think
I look up words in dictionaries
the task of domestic animals
leaning into drunk-with-love ears

I love the way you love me
with anger
it begs the question
as love exists to prove love

Take a ride on Rhian's Poetry Train.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mid-Week Writing Workout #3 - How to Unstick your Stuck

Yes, my workout is a little late. I'm giving you a large dose, though, because I will be out of town Thursday night through Monday. Baby and I are finally taking our summer vacation... haha.

Sometimes I'm writing "hot" and completely in the flow. Other days the writing is sluggish and it's challenging to get into the story. This often happens if I take a few days off from the writing. I need to get refocused. But sometimes, my mind just isn't there.

When this happens I always turn back to my old stand-by. This exercise always manages to push me through my writer's block and launch me into the work. I'm sure I've used versions of these in the "Start to Finish" Assignments. Of all my exercises, these are the ones I come back to the most.

(These exercises were inspired by Jack Remick and Bob Ray over at The Weekend Novelist. They were two of my mentors in the University of Washington screenwriting program.)

1) Set your timer for 5-7 minutes. Pick one of the following start-lines. Write in short sentences, using repetition if necessary. (i.e. This is a story about love. This is a story about revenge. This is a story about a girl who grows up too fast.) Keep writing, do not cross out, do not edit your work.

This is a story about...

The story I'd like to write is about...

The scene / chapter that needs to be written is about...

(if I'm in the middle of a screenplay or novel, I tend to use the third line, because I usually know what needs to be written next, but starting with the first two are equally helpful)

2) Go to the middle of that piece of writing and pull out a line. This will be your next start line. Using the CHAINING technique (the last word in one sentence is the NEXT word in the following sentence), write for 7-9 minutes.

i.e. Brigitta thinks the faeries are being frivolous. Frivolous because they are more interested in parties than the decisions the Elders are making behind their backs. Backs turned on history and lineage. Lineage that dates back 1000 years and is written in secret books kept...

3) Go to the center of the exercise from #2 and pick your next start line. This time, write in ONE LONG SENTENCE using conjunctions to connect each thought instead of periods. Set your timer for 10-12 minutes. Keep writing!

Now write your next scene! You'll find your thought are much looser now.

BONUS exercise

Write your next scene twice. Once in SILENT MOVIE fashion, meaning, only what you would see if it were on screen. No thoughts, no dialogue, just description and action.

Then, write it only using the dialogue. See what kinds of conflicts you can create this way. Write it in quick one-two rhythm, back and forth. Stay off the "nose" - meaning, don't have the characters say what they mean. Have them cajole, dodge, bribe, exaggerate, seduce, or manipulate instead.

Have a great week!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #6

Since Susan requested to see the rest of this poem, I thought I would oblige her.

This is from a small sequence called "Winter Sonnets," which had no particular rhyme/meter, they were all simply 14 lines long, which many contemporary poets consider "modern sonnets" (sometimes referred to as 14ers). I don't recall any publishing any of them.

Bernadette and Phil are Bernadette Mayer and Phil Good, two poets who were visiting from out of town. This was originally written in late 2001.

moth storms

bernadette and phil watch the
women cooking in the night across
the yard single window lit three sisters
without any love but their own and strong
cooking is intimate sustenance and
bittersweet rosehips drying on the table
waiting for tea the mountain ship of white
in the distance like us luxurious spies
with red wine and a back porch

i have taken shelter of poetry for
granted and forgotten to remember my
dreams but as winter hibernation
introverts my guilty pleasures
bend to let the moth storms in

Have a great week, y'all!

And don't forget to drop by Rhian's Poetry Train.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #10 - 13 LAST lines from 13 poems

13 Final Lines from 13 Poems

I figured you might be getting tired of my 13 first lines from 13 poems routine, to I mixed it up a bit. Here are 13 LAST lines from 13 original poems. And I'd be happy to share any of these whole poems on my next Monday Poetry Train. If memory serves, only one of these is a published poem, the rest are simply hanging out.


my guilty pleasures

bend to let the moth storms in


escaped from cages after stoned nights of apathy

when things fell unclean around us


every other thing

is a holy relic. and i am the suffering christ.


we lose touch with our feet

in the courtyard

beasts join us


praying that we didn’t ruin a good thing

praying that there will be good things to come


your laughing eyelashes

teasing angels as they plant cedar trees

in beaded robes


if he could be my body guard

I’d have another drink


round like a heart beat dangling in

the hopeful future


your pen is beautiful arrangements


your music too


i draw puzzles for words

and hurt all over like a woman


when we fall free and easy

into our

most memorable kiss


you are inside

on a fine christmas shopping day

tender butterfly taking off

and landing


I love my love it is what I have

when your heart is missing the point

Most of these were written in 2001 and 2002, when I was a better poet then I am today. It was in my life more often. But I seem to be coming back to it.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #5

I am almost finished typing up the last of my 3:15 poems. If you get a chance, check out this year's 3:15 Experiment website. So far, only five poets have posted their work as it usually takes a while to type them all up after a month of writing. Heck, this is the earliest I've had mine typed up in years. Ever, maybe.

In any case, my 3:15's pale in comparison to the other poets up there right now and I'm not being modest. I'd give mine lukewarm applause this year and I'm not sure why I was so uninspired. I like last year's much better.

In any case, this is one of my favourites, I think, because it is so wonderfully 3:15ish. It's got a quote from a book I was reading that day, a list of things I saw on my bike commute, some dream images, and then a complete surreal left turn at the end.

August 29

Magical flight bird like
bicycle across the deep
horizon whirlwind of days
paper boats in the hands of men
dangling construction toys for
a growing generation

Albino Chinese girl w/ sunglasses
strolling with mother gleaming skin
white the absence of colour
white the total completion
of love - expelled
expressed two-thousand miles away
by phone - by thought - transportation
of deities in small things
chocolate bars or hoop dreams

I am a writer because the story is me
waking up in the White Forest the
characters of my own subconscious
cast spells say
make it so
every story is a living intelligence
D said
Just because it was all in your mind
doesn’t mean it wasn’t real

My mind saw ships today
raindrops on the steps of the library
closed for the strike
matching footsteps to heartbeats
twirling baton eyes made to
dance on demand
you can’t frown if you’re skipping
down the street, try it – I say to K.
Testing reality is like building
a sandwich. All aboard and
don’t forget the cheese.

JUMP ABOARD Rhian's Poetry Train.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Weekend Writing Workout #2 - Who's Got The Power?

When I write screenplays, I naturally break up the script into scenes. Any time there is a change of time and/or place, that's a new scene.

A man and a woman argue over breakfast, she runs out of the house. End of scene.

The woman cries in her car on the way to work. End of scene.

In the bedroom, the man packs his belongings. End of scene.

Just think of the editing and if the scene "jumps" it's probably a change of scene. Sometimes we follow the characters, though, like a fight in the house could end up on the lawn.

In any case, I think novels happen in scenes, too, we just don't really talk about them that way. But if you think about it, it makes sense, we often jump in time and place (we don't want to write every single detail of our protagonist's life). For instance, in the 7th Harry Potter book, there is an opening scene with Voldemort and his Death Eaters. After that, we "jump" to Harry Potter's house.

I often tell my writing students to think about who has the "power" at the beginning, middle, and end of the scene. If the power never changes, the scene might lack conflict and drama.

Let's go back to our fighting couple. At the beginning of the breakfast scene, she confronts him about evidence she has that he is having an affair. She's got the upper-hand, she's got the power. She's going to get this information out of him if it's the last thing she does.

But he's good. He manages to turn it around on her. She works too much, she's frigid, she's jealous, whatever. By the end of the scene, she's flustered, she can't remember all the things she was going to say to him. She runs out of the house, deflated.

Weekend Workout:

This weekend, think about a scene you are about to write. If the "power" lies with one character at the beginning, shift it to the other at some point, you can keep it there or move it back again. Perhaps the woman storms back into the house, grabs a knife, and stabs the guy. (not a recommended way to get your power back, but works in fiction)

Set your timer for 5-7 minutes and go through the startlines below for the scene you'd like to work on:

1) At the beginning of this scene, ___________ has the power because...

2) The power shifts when...

3) The scene climaxes when...

4) At the end of the scene, ___________ has the power because...

The advanced workout this week is to take a scene that you've already written and to do this exercise ADDING a power shift somewhere in the scene. If it starts with one person and moves to another, try moving it back again and see what happens.

Have a super weekend!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #9 - 13 Sad Monkeys

photo by Peter Luck

Thirteen Sad Monkeys

A while back I was doing research for my Howler Monkey screenplay and came across a photo simply labeled "sad monkey." I have always loved monkeys (I was born in the year of the monkey), and the photo moved me so much it haunted me. I kept returning to it and wanting to use it in a writing exercise. Eventually I did a search for "sad monkeys" and below are the results of that search.

I have given credit as much as possible and added links to the original sites. Please do visit the websites from which these came. I have put *'s by particularly interesting or topical sites.

#1 is posted underneath my TT logo. He may simply be contemplative and not sad at all. Hard to tell.

2. The ORIGINAL Sad Monkey. The one that got me started. Photograph by Micah.**

3. From a site called Paradox photos. It looks like a pouting monkey.

4. Photographer unknown. This monkey may be sick with Ebola Virus. I tried to find more info
and couldn't.

5. I love this photo by Pelle Einarsson, whose website contains photos from his work in a Wild Animal Park in Bolivia.**

6. Sad monkey in Panama. Photo by Urs Hauenstein

7. Taken at Toronto Zoo. This photographer's name isn't on his webpage. He has some fabulous images.**

8. How can you not be moved by this photograph posted on the Children and Animal Foundations' Website.*

9. Photographer unknown

10. More at the Toronto Zoo. Same photographer and website from photo #7

11. Posted by a
Wikimedia user known as Jeek C.

12. Posted on Flickr by
Major Clanger.

13. And to end on a semi-cheerful
note, a sad monkey clown. Don't worry - the monkey isn't actually wearing make-up. It's from a contest where artists made clown animals. Strange, yes, I know.

Cheer up and have a great weekend.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Bonus Poetry Train (on a Tuesday)

After reading through the first half of my 3:15's, I found this one that I kinda liked:

Aug 3

Poems require one to be
haunting. one star
in the window. home
star is what you thought.
Now time for the mind
reading part, after the
haunting, after the way
to rise above the
from the
poolside everyone stares
into the water.
where we all begin
Cats howling like
little sisters Begin
young ones, after your turn
in the water after
your turn in the window
young star after your
haunting song and dance
Begin to disappear the sign
of being past ones prime
the moon at 82% and

Monday, September 3, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #4

I've been typing up my 3:15 poems from this past August, so I thought I'd include one here. I wasn't really all that excited about my work from this year's 3:15 Experiment. A few lines here and there, but for the most part... kinda ordinary if you ask me.

The whole idea of the experiment is to write in a hypnopompic or hypnagogic state and NOT edit what you write before posting it on the 3:15 website. The idea is to find out what happens in that 1/2 dream state.

Here is a sample from this year. I picked this one because it is a great example of that 3:15 ness where it's partially about the day that I had and partially about a dream I awoke from. I also kinda like the ending (it's great to even have one because sometimes I fall back asleep before getting there).

August 9

The revelation at 3:15
depends upon your
understanding of the commitment
of it - I understand
moving forward in
baby steps - when don’t we
move we are tumbling
headlong into space - the least
you could do is get a job
we are spinning at several
thousand miles per hour
do your part for the good
of humanity
pitch in, clean up after yourself
satisfied the dishes and
laundry are done I can
sit back and enjoy the movement
of our home through space
my job, shall I choose
to accept it is to record my thoughts
my movement and those
of the things around me
Sounds like a big job
and important
I’ll check the weather
and get back.

Meanwhile, at the café
steel-toe boots are all the rage
and blue-teeth, hands free phones

At the café all writers
eat for free today
(as it should be)
move over and let me work:
free lunch
on the rock
hurdling through space
of smoked salmon