The Hustle

“I’m always so impressed when I see the breakdown of what you’ve done, the minutes, the hours. So just something to consider for your blog in the future is: Taking a screenshot of your week, broken down, so that you’re not just sharing these experiences, but this is evidence of the hustle. Cause it inspires us and I know it will inspire others.”

Thank you to the incredible Beth Pennington for inspiring today’s blog post. I have taken three screenshots of a typical week for me. In these pictures, you will see the work, the hustle. The work speaks for itself. I hope that these pictures will inspire artists to do the same amount of work (or more) because of the following, all-too-familiar story, that I’m about to share. The story that many of us have unfortunately experienced before. These pictures help me to combat the naysayers. These pictures are my weapons against the doubters and invalidators.

My fellow artists, have you ever been in a situation where someone has asked you, “What do you do for a living?” And you reply, “I’m an actor” or “I’m a writer”. And then the person usually replies with a fake response of like, “Oh, an actor.” Their subtext being, “Great. Another wannabe actor.” You hear their subtext and you start back
peddling your answer, “Yeah, I’m an…actor…you know, I act…sometimes…yeah…but I’m a really great bartender. I can make a killer martini!” You start feeling ashamed and embarrassed to be an actor or any other artistic profession you are pursuing.

Then, they continue their invalidating process with questions like, “Sooo, what have you done?” “What have you been in?” “Are you making money as an actor?” “What have you written?” “Have you sold one of your scripts?” “A screenwriter, huh? Are you with CAA?” And the artist starts to sink further and further into the black hole. They feel small and worthless and the invalidator loves that. I used to be that person that was ashamed of saying, “I’m an actor.” I used to believe that in order to be an actor, I had to be working all the time on a professional level. I fell for that awful perception that a person is only an actor if they’re on a TV series or acting in a studio feature film. And that’s just not true.

I have been fortunate and blessed to be with a teacher and school that has taught me about the bigger picture, how to administrate it and how to be the best actor and artist I can be (The Richard Lawson Studios) I am now confident in telling people that I am an actor AND a writer. I have no shame in telling people that this is what I do. Point. Blank. Period.

I have developed a clarity and a work ethic that allows me to treat my career as a business. We are a business. We need to clock in and out like any other profession and put in the work and the hours. We need to know what we want and go after it on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. We need to be about it. Then, and only then, can we have the confidence to say that we are an actor. Or a writer. Or a director. Or a whatever. Why? Because we now have the evidence, the proof, the statistics to back us up and give us confidence.

When someone tries to invalidate me or write me off as “another wannabe actor”, I quickly shut them down with charm, humor and irony. They’ll ask, “So, what do you do for a living?” I reply, “I’m an actor and writer.” Then, they’ll ask with their sarcastic, doubting tones, “Oh yeah. What have you been in? What have you written?” I give them my business card and say, “If you go to my IMDB page, you’ll see what I’ve been in.”  In this way, I’m directing traffic to my IMDB page and simultaneously raising my IMDB Star Meter 🙂 Then, I say, “There you will see the independent feature films, TV series and web series I’ve been in.”  I also continue with:

**I’ve also shot a handful of national commercials from Toyota to The Hartford Financial Services to Verizon

**I’m currently shopping two TV pilots

**I’m currently shopping one feature film and just finished writing another feature film for James Franco

**I’m in scene study class every Thursday night and the Professional Development Program 2.0 class every Friday morning

**I’m targeting different TV shows, show runners, producers and casting directors with tangible results

**I run a blog and post a new blog entry every Sunday morning

**I utilize social media on a daily basis and have lots of fun with it

**I acted in a feature film in April; I have another feature film receiving distribution in which I play a principal character in that; I was offered a principal role in another feature film that is in active pre-production

**I put in an average of 35 hours a week into my career, and that’s on top of my plan B job

**Ultimately, my goal is to be the next Tyler Perry, Lena Dunham, Cristela Alonzo, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Louis C.K….self-producing artists who create vehicles for themselves

People either shut the fuck up real quick because they see that I’m not just “another actor” or they get really interested and want to know more about me.

So, I’m sharing three pictures of what a typical week looks like in terms of my administration and the amount of time I put into them. Not to show off, but to hopefully inspire. And I’m not just putting in hours for the sake of putting in hours. Rather, every line item and every minute spent is to push a specific project forward. There are no arbitrary actions in my lists. In 2015, I have completed three projects on my plate and just started a new one:

Get a meeting with Creative Artists Agency and Anonymous Content.

(Thank you to the amazing Lindsay Hopper for pushing me to create this project and reach for the top!)

Earlier, I said that these pictures are my weapons because the work doesn’t lie. The stats don’t lie. I can show you everything I’ve done since the first week of January 2015. The invalidators can’t argue against that. They can’t put that down. Every strategic line item of work speaks for itself.

So, fuck the nay sayers. Fuck the doubters. Fuck the invalidators. Fuck the people who want to put you down because you’re doing what they’re too afraid to do themselves. Or because they’re jealous of you and want to bring you down to their level. Fuck them. Don’t let them make you feel bad about being an actor or a writer or a director…a FUCKING ARTIST.

But you will have a better chance of standing up to them when you’re putting in the work and can back yourself up with actions. At least that’s been my experience. When I’m walking the walk, creating the evidence, being about it, putting in the work on a
daily basis, going to class and staying sharp with my craft, and most importantly, HAVING FUN, then nobody can take that away from me.

Before we jump to the commercial break–I mean, the pictures below–I leave you with this amazing quote from Madonna. This was her response to all the critics who continue to write her off:

“It makes me realize how miserable most human beings are and how instead of celebrating that someone could come from nothing and do something with their life, they have to try to tear you down. Because ultimately, people don’t want to be reminded of how little they’ve accomplished in their own lives.”

Let’s continue being the amazing fucking artists that we are! I would love to hear your experiences!

Please scroll down past the tags below to see the three pictures. I’ve taken out the names of some people and some TV shows on purpose. And you can click on each picture to enlarge the text:

Advertisements

Being Myself & Finding My Voice

“Thank you for always being you. It’s refreshing.” This was said to me by casting director and human being extraordinaire, Twinkie Byrd, on July 16th, 2015. When she said that to me, I felt really good. It also made me pause for a second to reflect on how much I HAVE changed as a person. To take stock on the journey that I have taken to become the person that I am today. “Thank you for always being you.”

Because there was a time where I wasn’t being me. At all.

I was born and raised in the projects in Brooklyn, NY. Let me be more specific: I was born and raised in the projects in Brooklyn, NY as a gay man. Not an ideal scenario. Growing up in the dangerous projects, and knowing that I was different since the age of five, I was afraid of being killed. So as a result, I shut down and became incredibly shy. I had no voice growing up. No point of view. Whenever I DID speak, I had to be really careful how I sounded. Too feminine sounding? Death.

I was also the fifth child out of six children. My older brothers and sisters didn’t want to hang out with me because they were all teenagers or young adults by this point. They did not want to be seen hanging out with a kid. And so I felt that being me wasn’t valuable or worthy. The only way I could stand out and be seen and heard was to act out. To be somebody else. I think that’s part of the reason why I became an actor. To be seen. To get attention. To feel worthy.

Having no voice and pretending to be somebody else became a recurring theme in my life and it got progressively worse. I desperately wanted to fit in and be liked in elementary and junior high school. I wanted my classmates to see that I could be a cool straight kid. I failed miserably. Students would tease me and not be friends with me. I ended up doing school plays because it gave me a voice. It gave me an opportunity to be seen and to be a star in a way that I couldn’t be at the school cafeteria or on the school playground.

Going into high school, I kept pretending to be somebody else because I still desperately wanted to be accepted and to be validated. Being ME was never valued and high school is all about appearances and all this other ridiculous peer pressure. I wanted to be cool. I wanted to be popular. I wanted to fit in. So much so that I even denied where I came from. Up until high school, I attended an elementary and junior high school that was within walking distance of the projects. So the majority of the school population was made up of students from the projects. We all knew we lived in the projects, so whatever. There was no need to pretend we were rich.

But high school was a different story. I had to take a train into a better, residential part of Brooklyn to attend school. I went to a really good public high school that wasn’t a block away from the projects. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by white students. And these white students came from middle class to upper middle class families. Many of these white students lived in houses; had working parents who owned one or two cars; had material things; had intelligence; had an outlook on life that was more positive and abundant vs. my projects outlook of negativity, scarcity and death.

So not only did I hide my sexuality, I also hid where I came from. I became Molly Ringwald’s character in “Pretty In Pink”. Molly played a high school character from a working class family who falls for and begins dating an incredibly wealthy student (played by Andrew McCarthy) She was ashamed and embarrassed to reveal to him that she came from the poor side of town. He would give her a ride home, but she always had him drop her off somewhere else so he wouldn’t see where she lived. She always had an excuse as to why she didn’t want him to drop her off at home. Finally, when he insisted on knowing why he couldn’t drop her off at her home, she exclaimed, “Because I don’t want you to see where I live, okay!” She bursts into tears, and even right now, I’m getting emotional writing about it. Damn muscle memory! So, I didn’t tell anyone where I lived.

I even started acting and speaking “white” because I feared that my Latino heritage wouldn’t be valuable. I had an uncle who called me “Kunta Kinte” when I was 12 years old because I’m the darkest in my family. So, I thought my skin color, my Latino heritage, was a bad thing. Till this day, I find myself managing the muscle memory of that (e.g., I currently use sunblock with an SPF of 100.)

It got even worse in college. I went to Vassar College. Vassar College! A Sister Ivy League School! Vassar declined Yale University’s invitation to merge with them back in 1969! That takes balls to say no to Yale! Vassar is currently ranked #11 amongst colleges in the United States! Vassar had even MORE white people everywhere and a higher economic status: upper middle class to wealthy individuals. On the extreme side of the economic spectrum, I knew a guy who drove a luxury car, who would fly in and out on a private jet and who would wear Gucci, Armani and Valentino as CASUAL wear to CLASS. Girls would go clubbing on the weekends at our underground dance bar in designer dresses, purses and heels during the middle of winter in Poughkeepsie, NY. It is FREEZING cold in Poughkeepsie during the winter! Hell yeah, in this environment, I ran for mayor big time and became Molly Ringwald’s character times a hundred. Ironically, I became open about my sexuality when I went to Vassar, but I sure as hell didn’t say where I lived. I acted and spoke even more “white”. I would say I was Puerto Rican, but not Dominican as well. Why? Because my older half-siblings, who are Puerto Rican, would sometimes make derogatory remarks about Dominican people when I was a kid. And because I wanted to be accepted by them, I believed that the Dominican side of me was wrong. So, I denied that part of me.

So, there was always this sense of incompletion and not really being me at any given moment. You always got a percentage of me, but not 100 percent of me. I could be gay in certain situations, but not in others. I could be from the projects in certain situations and around certain people, but not in others. I could be Puerto Rican, but not Dominican. Fuck me with a mental spoon.

Pretending to be someone else was about survival. Literally and figuratively. Both just as terrible. Literally surviving from being killed in the projects. Figuratively surviving from being humiliated and ostracized by my friends, colleagues and peers.

It has taken me a long time to be the person I am today. When I sit down and take a look at myself, I really enjoy my sense of humor, my sense of subversiveness, my intelligence, my wit and my point of view. I’m proud of my sexuality and my heritage. I’m grateful for all the wonderful blessings that I have and that I’m able to share with the world. I’m happy that I’ve gotten to a place where I really don’t give a shit what anyone says about me. The moment I stopped running for mayor, the moment I stopped caring about what other people thought, the moment I stopped wanting to be everyone’s friend for all the wrong reasons (for THEIR validation), is when I truly experienced freedom. What you see is what you get and that’s it. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m done growing and evolving. After all, my intention is to continue becoming a better form of myself, a better version of who I was yesterday. I still have things to work on. This will be a life-long journey to continue being the best, most evolved version of me I can be.

Here are some turning points that were instrumental in helping me get to a place where Twinkie could say, “Thank you for always being you. It’s actually refreshing.”

**After I graduated from Vassar College, I met my best friend Geri at work. We were customer service representatives at the Metropolitan Opera House in Manhattan. We were required to do two weeks of training before we could officially start. On the first day of training, she arrived two hours late and she marched in like a grand diva wearing big sunglasses, high heels, and a huge purse dangling from her arm. My first reaction was, “Who the fuck is this bitch arriving two hours late?” We eventually warmed up to each other and hit it off within a couple of days. She later admitted that her first impression of me on the first day was, “Who the fuck is this yahoo wearing a cowboy hat?” Hey, Madonna’s “Music” album was all the rage at the time and the era and imagery was all about urban, modern cowboy culture. So when the Queen of Everything speaks and begins a trend, I comply.

Geri and I are still very close to this day. She’s beautiful, smart, funny, has great taste in style and has such a foul mouth–which I love. We would hang out often after work, and sometimes, she would drive me home. And yep, Molly Ringwald’s character possessed me once again. I would have Geri drop me off in a good part of Brooklyn, and then I would walk several blocks home after she drove away. This charade kept going successfully until one night, she asked me if she could use my bathroom because she really had to pee. I could’ve died right there in the passenger seat. I started to panic. I started thinking of alternative bathrooms that she could use instead.

But I couldn’t say no to her when I failed to think of alternatives. I didn’t want her to pee on herself. So for the first time in my life, I came clean about where I lived. And after I was done apologizing for where I lived, and then expecting her to throw me out of her car, she looked at me and said, “Jorge, I don’t give a fuck where you live. That’s not why I’m your friend. I’m your friend because I love you. And if anyone is going to judge you based upon where you live, then they’re not your fucking friend.” In that moment, I finally knew what a real friend was. I knew that I had a friend for life. That moment was instrumental for me. I wasn’t ashamed of being from the projects anymore. We parked in front of my building, she met my mom, my mom loved her and probably thought there was still hope for me (Oh snap! More on that in just a second!) Geri got to pee and the rest is history.

**Another turning point was moving to Los Angeles. I now had to become an adult and support myself. To make my own rules and live by them. As soon as I moved to Los Angeles, I had the blessing and honor of studying with and being influenced by two incredible acting teachers. First and foremost, Richard Lawson. He has been INSTRUMENTAL in my journey of self-discovery and empowerment. I always speak about Richard and how he has changed me. But I also need to acknowledge my very first LA acting teacher, Gary Imhoff.

Gary started my LA journey of being myself and finding my voice when about a year into my studies, he told me to connect with my sexuality and to put it up in class as a personal monologue. He recognized that I was acting through a filter because I was afraid of being discovered or outed. So my work was not as rich and fulfilled as it could be. I would act cautiously and carefully. A year later, he told me to reconnect with my roots and put it up in class as a personal monologue. He recognized again that the denial of my heritage was causing me to act through another filter. How could I be personal and real with my acting if I was drawing from a fake place? Connecting to my heritage meant connecting to me, to my home, to my history, to my genetic make up. Drawing from who I REALLY am and not who I was PRETENDING to be. These denials were not only negatively affecting my work as an actor, but they were negatively affecting my life as well. Both personal monologues became these John Leguizamo-inspired, mini one-man show extravaganzas that received standing ovations. Turning points indeed. Shortly after the second personal monologue, I put up a scene for Gary and during his critique, he said to me, “You sound different. You are more grounded and centered. You even look more black.” I laughed out loud, as did the class. Gary got the ball rolling for me accepting my sexuality and my Latino heritage.

**The community of true friends I have built and nurtured out here has been another turning point. Pulling in the right friends based on love, respect, integrity, drive, passion, fun, no judgements or criticisms, but willing to express tough love to help me get to the other side and be all that I can be. I love you all.

**But the biggest turning point was in December 2009. I came out to my mom…again.

LOL!

I was in a relationship that I was happy with. He was someone that I knew I wanted to introduce to my family. My mom’s birthday was coming up in February and I thought that would be a great opportunity to introduce him to everyone. Only one problem: I needed to make sure that my mom knew I was gay. I first came out to her the summer after my sophomore year at Vassar. She was completely shocked. She was trying to comprehend my sexuality and the Catholic guilt flowed through her: “God made it to be man and woman. Not man and man. God does not want it this way.” After that conversation ended, my sexuality was never brought up again. Neither by her nor by me. And so for years afterwards, I continued living in a blur, in a fog, in front of my mother and in my life in general. Even though I made steps forward in the area of sexuality with Gary Imhoff and Richard Lawson, I was still incomplete and hiding somewhat. This time, however, I wanted to make sure that she was crystal clear about my sexuality. I was prepared and willing to lose the love of my mother so that I could be ME.

I wrote a letter in which I came out to her again. I told her I was in a relationship with a great guy and how happy I was with him and with my sexuality. The letter was positive. It was not about blame or pointing fingers. It was not about dwelling in the past. It was my intention to clear up any confusion or ambiguity. I mailed out the letter and decided to wait at least a week before I called her. It was the holidays, so I took into account how busy the post office would be. When I finally called her, it was the most amazing phone conversation I’ve ever had with her. She told me she received my letter and that she didn’t care that I was gay. She loved me as her son and she loved me for who I was. She also added that she didn’t care what anyone else thought about me. That if they had a problem with me, they could go fuck themselves. She was very happy for me and my relationship and could not wait to meet him. She also said that she never forgot when I first came out to her. She said the reason why she never brought it up again was because I had never brought it up again. Since I never brought it up again, she figured I went through a phase (And that’s why I could see her excitement when she met Geri.)

LOL Jesus, Mary, Joseph, God! If only I had spoken on this sooner, I could’ve saved myself years of—Ahhh fuck it. No point dwelling on the past and what could’ve been. The point was that my mom and I were now on the same page and her unconditional love and acceptance blasted the door wide open! I immediately came into focus. I connected to who I was because I was no longer hiding. I was no longer pretending to be someone or something else. With her love and support, I didn’t care anymore what others thought about me. My brothers and sisters love me as well by the way…the gay AND the Dominican sides of me 🙂

The walls finally came down! I started settling into my body. My true voice started to emerge. I had a point of view. I expressed myself. My true being started to emerge and affected all areas of my life including my art: I’m a better actor, writer and dancer as a result. Other dynamics and colors came to the forefront and made me a complete, whole person. Being gay is just a wonderful part of my make up. It’s not my entire life. Or as one of my good friends, Lindsay, said to me recently, “You’re a power gay. You don’t show it off. You don’t make a big deal out of it. You just are and get shit done.” But I don’t apologize for being gay, nor am I ashamed of it.

Growing up in the projects is no longer a source of shame. Being Dominican is no longer a source of shame. I actually discovered last year that there is Middle Eastern lineage on my Dominican father’s side of the family. So if anyone comes up with a cute nickname for this fellow Dominican/Puerto Rican/Middle Eastern person, please let me know 🙂

I am me. I don’t apologize for it anymore. I inspire people. I make people laugh. I am handsome. I am dangerous. I make people uncomfortable. I am a listener. I am a rock. I am a leader. I am a lover. I am subversive. I am light. I am dark. I am tough. I am vulnerable. I am masculine. I am feminine, etc.

I am a HUMAN being living my God-given purpose on this planet: To be an artist.

I hope that this blog entry inspires you in some way. Perhaps someone out there is currently experiencing what I have experienced before. Just know that there is a light on the other side. When you find yourself and your voice, honor it and protect it! Or, if you are already being yourself, I hope you advance that further too because I’m on the journey of self-improvement for life.

I love being myself and my voice 🙂

Sleeping With James Franco For 8 Months

For the last eight months, I’ve been sleeping with James Franco (a.k.a. writing a screenplay in which I envisioned him at the antagonist.) Writing is an intimate, personal process. Just you and the computer. And so it felt like I was in bed with James Franco for 8 months. Keep reading, it gets better 🙂

That being said, with writing, there are times where I would rather eat glass. Or jump off a 100-story building. Writing is one of the most confronting things out there. So much more than acting in my opinion. I have decided to take numerous “power naps” when confronted with the arduous task of starting a writing project. The mere action of starting a new story with the famous/infamous words, “Fade In”, have led me to become an expert in many areas of life.

For example, I am now an expert chef. I am now an expert mechanic (although I still want to give a HUGE shout out to Sam and his crew over at Express Auto Shop on the corner of Pico Blvd. & La Peer Drive in Los Angeles!) I sit on the boards of 17 charities and I have raised millions of dollars in one year for various causes I believe in (Bill Gates has nothing on me) I have figured out complex mathematical equations for fun and read a book about the Higgs Particle in the area of particle physics FIVE times. This is one Latino who is definitely not mowing your lawns or cleaning out your pools.

Okay, okay, I embellished above…

…well, not really though, because it’s amazing how many things would actually “come up” for me to tackle or how often I would get engrossed in many other things the second the computer beckoned me to write on it.

Cut to (Get it? Cut to…) November 2014. Richard Lawson challenged us in his Professional Development Program 2.0 class to create a feature film treatment in two weeks and to use Jeffery Schecter’s amazing “My Story Can Beat Up Your Story” as our guide. This is a book that clearly breaks down how to write a screenplay from start to finish, from Fade In to Fade Out. Jeffrey uses plain old English and humor to explain things in a very clear and direct way. I love people like that. Richard gave us this assignment because writing is one of the dynamics taught at his studio. Understanding the structure of writing not only helps us to become better actors because we understand our function and purpose when playing a particular archetype within a story, but it also empowers us to create our own evidence and product in the form of short films, feature films, TV series, web series, etc. Richard’s assignment would push us to continue developing and growing as writers.

However, the first reaction I had when Richard gave us the assignment was to throw myself out of a window. The last thing I wanted to do was to create an entire feature film treatment. But a few seconds later, I got over my initial reaction and I was excited to tackle the assignment. It was an opportunity to create a story from scratch. When I got home that day and started going through Jeffrey’s book, I started to hate the assignment again: “I can’t believe I have to create a whole treatment from scratch. This is so much work!” Ahhhhh, there’s that beautiful word again, “work”. “Fine. Fine! FINE! I’ll continue moving forward with this assignment.” Although, to be honest, I did so with some hostility and a “whatever” attitude attached to it. The premise I created for the treatment was ridiculous because I just wanted to fulfill the assignment and return to my life.

At the time of my treatment, I had a crush on James Franco. And so I made him the antagonist. God honest truth. I wish I had a more profound reason for my casting choice, but again, I was just throwing in these arbitrary elements just to fulfill the assignment. I was blasé and had no attachment to it. “More explosions! We need more explosions!”

But ironically enough, this attitude allowed me to construct a fully-realized treatment in a few days time. Because I wasn’t precious with it, I wrote out the following components with ease: The four stages the protagonist goes through (orphan, wanderer, warrior, martyr), the formula/log line, the four questions and the central question for the protagonist, other character archetypes and 44 plot points. In a few days, I completed a treatment for a horror comedy. And when I looked it over, I realized I had something potentially viable and delicious over here.

Two weeks later, I presented my treatment to class and they loved it. They loved how it was a departure from the dramatic, edgier stories I normally write about. The loved the premise and the fun of it. They loved that I had James Franco as the antagonist. And they loved WHY I made him the antagonist. They loved that a WOMAN was the protagonist. Fueled and inspired by their support, I started writing the dialogue for Act 1. I was on a roll. I was on fire. The dialogue flowed very easily. I posted updates on Facebook and Twitter. My affair with James Franco began and it was hot and sexy. I knew a lot of people were jealous of our explosive relationship and I didn’t care.

However, by the time the holidays rolled around in December, I stopped writing. 2014 was a very challenging year for me and by the time December rolled around, I was burnt out. I spent the last two weeks of December not wanting to do anything for my career. I had no desire to act. I had no desire to write. I had no desire to dance. I had no desire to create. James would call me to join him in bed and I would always say, “No”. I felt awful because I knew we had incredible chemistry. We even talked about remaking the television series, “Moonlighting”. He would reprise the Bruce Willis character and I would reprise the Cybill Shepherd character. But I had to be strong. I did not want to be an artist anymore for the rest of 2014 and beyond. So I walked away from James Franco.

Even when I watched his film, “The Interview”, on Christmas Eve 2014 at my best friend’s place, I could feel him staring at me from the computer screen. I could see him looking into my eyes and begging me to get back to my script. Even when he sang “Firework” by Katy Perry in “The Interview”, he was singing to me. I mean, come on, read the lyrics and tell me he wasn’t singing about me:

“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?

Do you ever feel already buried deep six feet under?
Screams but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there’s still a chance for you
‘Cause there’s a spark in you?

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

‘Cause, baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go, "Aah, aah, aah”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y"

And right as I was about to join him in an orgasmic-filled second verse, I exclaimed, “No!! Now hurry up and kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un!” When the movie ended, I walked back home. It was a chilly, windy night and not a soul was around. Just a white plastic bag being blown around in the distance. Wait, are we still talking about Katy Perry’s “Firework” or the white bag in “American Beauty”?

Cut to January 2015. Class was back in session from the holiday hiatus and I was re-injected with a new fever to create…on the acting side. Fuck writing. I was done with writing. However, by May 2015, I had amassed and completed a series of wins on the acting side and I was hungry for James’ big white–errr, to write again. I was hungry to WRITE again.

So, I located the latest Final Draft copy of the script and immediately got back to work again. I had stopped near the end of Act 1 and had to create dialogue for two or three more plot points before I would launch into Act 2. I could hear James speak my words and I became a giddy school girl again. James and I were back and our relationship was re-kindled.

I wrote with intention and focus. I became an ambulance in emergency mode again, cutting through traffic with direct precision. Chasing The Ambulance. Chasing The George! Nothing stopped me from writing! For example:

**I didn’t have a computer anymore by the time I returned to my script. Luckily, one of my best friends bought me an iPad and I wrote on that…with one finger…agonizingly typing each word one. letter. at. a. time. Then I discovered that my iPad had a dictation function. Sometimes the dictation worked accurately, other times it didn’t. Either way, it forced me to speak much more clearly LOL. I even went to the App Store and found the app for Final Draft, but the less-than-stellar reviews did not leave me with the confidence to purchase it. So, I copied what I typed into my iPad and pasted it into the body of an email that was addressed to me. The following morning, I would arrive an hour early at Richard’s studio so I could copy the content in my email and paste it into Final Draft. Then, I would spend that time formatting the content according to industry screenwriting standards. I did this process NUMEROUS times. Every single time I came early to the studio to format new scenes, I wanted to pull out the little hair I had left because I was basically doing twice the amount of work. And formatting can take a while depending on how much I’ve written…and I tend to write a lot as you can see from this blog entry LOL. I sometimes joke that I’m from the school of Quentin Tarantino. However, sans my own computer, I still wrote.

**When I would take the train AND the bus to work on days I didn’t want to drive, I still wrote.

**When I came down with a fever that started on a Wednesday night and lasted till Tuesday night, I still wrote. Even at 11:30pm on Saturday night, at the height of my fever, with me nodding off in front of my iPad, I still wrote.

**After my required periodontal flap surgery and frenectomy, which left me with stitches in my top left gums, pain, occasional slight bleeding and a swollen upper lip that made me look like a reductive Kim Kardashian, I still wrote. Reductive Kim Kardashian? Isn’t that redundant or an oxymoron? English majors, where are you?

I kept writing because I felt I had something great and fun on my hands.

When I started writing Act 2, I studied specific trailers and films in the horror comedy genre in order to find the two films I could compare my film to. In this way, I could say, “It’s this meets that.” In my research, I stumbled upon the genius of Edgar Wright and fell in love with Simon Pegg’s character in “Shaun of the Dead”. My research list of films was specific to what I was writing about and the tone of humor I was using. I borrowed and integrated a few story devices that these films all used into my own script like voice overs, set up and pay off, and most importantly, their unapologetic sense of IMAGINATION. The writers of these films created their own worlds and rules within the horror comedy genre. Each writer had their own voice and take within this particular genre.

Doing this research, I loved how grand, how preposterous and how ridiculous my story was. As long as I created the rules of my world and the logic of what was going on, my premise was plausible. And by following the structure laid out in “My Story Can Beat Up Your Story”, it would keep me on track while also enhancing my insanely wonderful ideas and voice. I had the freedom to create the rules of my very own world.

By July 5th, I had completed the first draft of my screenplay at 109 pages. When I typed “Fade Out” on the iPad, I exhaled deeply and I felt lighter. A big smiled formed over my face and I did a dance of joy…naked. It’s better when you’re naked. For anyone who has written anything, you know what I’m talking about and how I felt.

Some things to leave you with:

**Write about things that interest you or that you have a passion about. And just write. Let it all out like vomit. Don’t get stuck in “it has to be perfect”. You can always go back and edit.

**Structure helps me to play, to have fun and to experiment within it so that I can enhance my own voice. Structure gives me freedom. By doing all the work in “My Story Can Beat Up Your Story”, I wrote with more confidence because I knew what had to be fulfilled and achieved every step of the way in my story.

**This is a first draft. A few scenes are not great and would make me question my abilities as a writer. But the most important thing was that I was on “go” and didn’t allow judgment or perfection syndrome to stop me and my creative flow. Instead, I created placeholder scenes that I knew I could come back to and flesh out later. In other words, I knew what I wanted to say and/or see happen in those particular placeholder scenes, but I just couldn’t articulate them at that specific point in time. So, I just regurgitated everything I could and will come back to them later and make them more crystal clear. And that being said, there are a several scenes that are really well-written!! Like “Hot damn! That’s good!”

**Yes, I wrote a part for myself and…spoiler alert…he lives!

**And yes, James and I make amazing lovers and are still very much in love.

“Moonlighting” reboot, here we come!