Monday, March 9, 2015

Not Writing

The winter months involve a different way of life for my household compared to the spring-to-fall months. As Joel and I are both in seasonal lines of work, we can truly hibernate from Christmas until almost April.

Every year, as soon as Christmas is over and we settle into January, my mind goes into overdrive. All the thoughts and issues and ideas that I must have pushed to the back seat and stuffed in the trunk begin to hop into the passenger seat and/or slide onto my lap, pushing me halfway out the window, so I imagine myself like someone’s dog, enjoying the wind in my face but also feeling awkward enjoying it, since I’m human and am supposed to be driving in a composed manner, without all these ill-treated thoughts fighting for a spot on my lap.

Regardless of how I feel, as soon as the temperatures drop and the snow falls, so many thoughts are unleashed about so many topics. What am I doing with my life? What should I have done? What should I continue to do, and what things about myself should I improve on? What challenges should I be throwing down for myself and my household? Am I a good mother? Am I a good wife? How can I improve my life? What are the things I love to do but am not doing enough of? What will this year bring? What can I do for others? Who can I be for others? (I basically question everything about myself and my life.)

Probably the worst offender is the pressure to write (this is positive pressure, I should stress). I love writing, and I always feel like I should be writing more. From April until December or so, I might think of things to write about, or feel that passion booting up inside me that urges me to “just write something!” but the passion usually gets trampled by more urgent matters such as [at night], “My body is insisting I need to sleep by pushing my eyelids down in slow motion; it’s weird” or [in the morning], “Oh no; I didn’t lay out my clothes last night, and I have no idea what to wear; therefore, I am either going to be super rushed or I am going to feel mentally uncomfortable in an outfit I don’t love today. (Which is worse?) Finally, [during the weekends], “Finally, the weekend is here! Screw everything else! I’m going to put on cartoons for the kids and sit on the couch with coffee and a book, and—[flash, a poof of dust explodes and my alarm goes off Monday morning—what kind of dark magic is at work here?]”

Anyway, all of these more urgent, time-is-of-the-essence moments end up pushing the passion to write into the very back of the trunk (of the car I am apparently driving on the road of life) during the warm months. You know, where the umbrella that doesn’t open and the poorly-stocked First Aid kit are. Back there. That the passion to write jumps into my lap during the winter and distracts my driving really is not surprising.

Probably more frustrating than wanting to write something and not having the time or energy to do so is wanting to write something and having ample time to do it, but being hit in the head with a writer’s block. That hurts, emotionally. Think of the bricks that Kevin threw at Harry and Marv in Home Alone 2. You just can’t think straight enough to come up with something inspirational or meaningful after being hit in the head with a writer’s block.

Look out! Writer's blocks are flying!

I think of a topic, I think about the topic, I like the topic, I fold it up and unfold it like a piece of paper, several times, and eventually it gets dirty and worn out and I don’t think it’s good enough to write about. I do this several times about several topics in a week’s time, and each time I think of something to write about and then don’t like it, I feel worse and worse about my abilities as a writer. My mind feels like a messy room, cluttered up with crumpled pieces of paper. Seriously, where is the trash can?

I can basically slam almost every idea I have, and sometimes only moments go by after I dismiss the idea and then I am in the middle of a random daydream such as imagining giving the kids in Emmett’s class an inspirational pep talk or making a mental list in order of priority of who I would call if I accidentally cut my finger cutting up vegetables for dinner and Joel can’t be reached. (There is clearly no shortage of thoughts; just focus and direction.)

Then I think maybe I really should “just write something,” no matter what it is, for the exercise.  It would be like my creativity going out for a run. My creativity’s muscles need to be kept strong so that it will be ready for the big race.

Big race.

[I imagine myself running a race, breathing in the dust of an old track and breathing out things like frustration, but unfortunately, I am wearing basically a retro running outfit with tall socks and short shorts, and I worry about whether I am running in a manner that makes it obvious that I am self-conscious about my knobby knees. I reason that if I run fast enough, none of that matters. By the way, what does it feel like to run Olympic-runner fast? Does it feel...easy?]’s almost mid-March, the snows are beginning to melt, my many extra hours of available writing time are running low, and so here it is...a piece about not writing. At least it’s something!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Review: The Den

About ten years ago, a talented friend of mine, together with a crew of local actors, friends and family, made a low-budget, dark comedy "creature feature" called The Den. Here we are, ten years later, and the creature has been revived in webisode form: the movie is now being released by Eclipse Media Productions in a six-part web series on YouTube. Episode 1 was released yesterday, and the following five episodes are to be released weekly.

Upon watching the trailer for The Den and seeing the word “horror” in brackets after the title, my shoulders tensed up and I thought, “Oh crap.” I don’t like dark and scary movies because I don’t like to be scared. It’s just not fun. Years back, I watched The Exorcist, and I remember that by the time the movie was over, I was sitting on my neck, and I was doing neither Yoga nor Pilates at the time. That’s what watching scary movies does to me (although, I guess at least I was just sitting on my neck, not spinning my head around in circles).

 Anyway, thankfully, the other adjective used to describe The Den is “comedy,” so I figured that even as a dark comedy, as long as there’s some lightness within the darkness, I should be able to handle it. I’m an adult!

Episode 1 was a perfect helping of gritty, dark suspense with a nice side of comedic antics, and at just over seven minutes long, it was plenty long enough to draw me in and leave me with that “aaaahh!!!” (tense-up-your-arms-and-make-half-hearted-jazz-hands) combination feeling of anticipation and frustration that you get when you’re in the middle of watching something, just getting to a good part, and then it stops and you have to wait until next week for the next episode. I generally have so many questions about so many things on a daily basis, and now these seven minutes of viewing time have effectively sprinkled even more questions on top of my ever-present Question Heap: questions about clan dissension, the characters, the mysterious battery waste, the backwoods setting and of course the creature...and I’m happy to report that I sat on my couch as a normal person would (so far).

One more notable item in this first episode is the guitar shredding in the background soundtrack at one point, playing up the backwoods characters’ edge and lending some intimidation to their grammar-slaughtered speech. This cover of “Stairway to Heaven” is courtesy of Cole Rolland, a talented guitarist who is definitely worth checking out on YouTube.

I really like the way that this movie is being released, in episode form. During these next weeks, anticipating the next section of the story will be fun. I subscribed to the channel, and I am really excited to keep watching because doggonit, I wanna see how this here story’s gwine t’ end!

To find out more information about the original release and making of The Den (an interesting read), follow this link to Eclipse Media Production’s blog.