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Two loves. Two cities. One dream. One life somehow stitched together between the two. And the ever-popular question I always get: WHY???
A few years ago, Krista Tippett (amazing author/podcaster) & her guest were talking about using writing/words/conversations to find your own sense of belonging… and they were saying “A simple, simple exchange of words can give you a sense of gravity. I’ve always loved the definition for contemplation: a long, loving look. And when you take a long, loving look anywhere, you feel sort of more bonded with whatever you’ve looked at. You feel as if you recognize it. You see it. Maybe it sees you back. And you’re participating in a world where it exists. And so feeling that sense of gravity and belonging everywhere is very important to me…. Writing is a way of having a conversation between those different selves inside you…
“My life will forever be a conversation between different places.”
I think that’s how I feel about London and LA.
I find myself equally at home and adrift in both cities, dreaming and inspired and wondering what’s coming next, and somehow — I step effortlessly between my two lives in my two cities, as though no time has passed at all. I recognize London and Los Angeles on a deep soul level as the two places I belong most completely.
I am myself here.
I think — regardless of whether or not I can explain the why of it all — that my life will forever be a conversation between London and Los Angeles. That I am lucky enough (or doomed? I suppose it depends on your perspective and general hopefulness in the moment) that I will always have two lives, two cities, two loves with writing being the thin, beautiful string stitching all of the disparate pieces together into one whole.
I am always missing the place that I am not, but always overwhelmingly glad to be in the place that I am.
And isn’t missing something recognizing its value in your life? And doesn’t that mean that I always, always have something to look forward to?
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Seriously. Don’t miss it.
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So, 17 year old Marty McFly is out there… somewhere… TODAY!
I was probably 10 the first time I saw Back to the Future, some summer day in the late 90’s, and I was hooked.
My day has been completely filled with all things Back to the Future. Several channels (including Amazon Prime) are running all three movies on a loop all day. And why is that? Why am I watching and re-watching a movie I’ve seen so many times I could quote the entire thing? Why has the world been counting down to today — simply because it’s fun?
We crave stories. We crave connection. We crave hope and a promise that the future will indeed be there for us. (Preferably with a real hoverboard, thankyouverymuch.) And brilliant movies well-told connect us with those stories and connect us with our fellow humans.
The girl at Starbucks – who knows nothing about me other than my name and the fact that I drink tall hazelnut americanos – wished me a Happy Back to the Future Day. No explanation, no backstory. Because of course I’d seen the movie. Why wouldn’t I?
There’s something beautiful about the lifelong power of a good story, don’t you think?
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I was eight years old when I came home and announced to my parents that I was going to be a writer when I grew up.
For years after that (admittedly crazy) statement, life as a TV writer was nowhere on my horizon. (Any childhood dream of moving to HOLLYWOOD!! – fearsome land of the flashing lights and brilliant stars — was definitely more predicated on the idea of growing up and marrying Leonardo DiCaprio vs. any actual thought that I could grow up and actually write for the small screen…)
See, I grew up without watching much TV. I Love Lucy and Leave it to Beaver were usually playing at my grandparents’ house, and my fam watched Lois & Clark like clockwork. A few later years, my deep and enduring love for Smallville could not be overstated. But outside of that? I was much more of a books girl.
But there was a show — The Show.
On weekends, whenever we could find reruns, my dad and I would sit and watch Star Trek.
I had no idea in those random moments how much my entire future was getting laid out before me — a future TV writer of the sci-fi persuasion. I just knew that I loved hanging out with my dad and watching A City on the Edge of Forever, The Trouble with Tribbles or Mirror, Mirror. We watched that show for years together — and still do. (The last time my dad was in LA, we sat and watched City for probably the millionth time.)
And so tonight, sitting in London on the writing adventure of a lifetime, I find myself sad.
Leonard Nimoy has passed away…
Even typing that feels just a little impossible. I’m sorry — that makes no sense. What??? Decades before I was born, he was creating this weird little show with so many others, imbuing life and humanity into this odd, seemingly emotionless creature. He was the other, the outsider, the one who just didn’t understand. He railed against our emotions, against our seeming lack of logic, against everything that was wrong with the way we humans went skipping about the galaxy. And we loved him for it… he was our voice of reason in this new world we so desperately wanted. He was Mr. Spock.
And it was this weird little show that made me love sci-fi. It was this weird little show that made me feel like maybe I wasn’t alone, that even if all my friends hated all things sci-fi and nerd-culture while I loved it, that I’d be all right. I could be me, and let them be them. It was the beginning of Lynn The TV Writer, and I didn’t even know it yet.
So tonight, I’m a bit quiet and a bit reflective, thankful for all of the people who created the worlds that inspired me to create my own. We were never meant to make it alone — we are all here because someone else went on ahead of us and said — The hell with convention. Let’s make it awesome.
Where would we be without them?
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This is one of my favorite paintings on earth.
Meet Monet’s The Beach at Trouville, currently hanging in The National Gallery in London. It’s a painting of Monet’s wife and a friend of theirs, sitting on the beach and enjoying a leisurely afternoon.
And you know why I love it?
One of my favorite things to do here is wander the halls of all the amazing art museums here and live in the past for the briefest of moments. I admire brushstrokes and color choices, the way the light plays across the surface, the texture of the oil paint long since dried. I wonder if the subject ever imagined that this painting they were sitting for would ever be hung in a museum three centuries later. I laugh at these stunning “unfinished works” and “studies” — these painfully beautiful paintings that the artist dashed off in an hour or two one day, prep work for some bigger and better piece of art — the art they completed in a hurry, the kind that’s still leaps and bounds over anything 99.9% of painters could ever hope to accomplish.
And I wonder how the artist — Monet in this case — got inspired to paint a specific scene… what piece of his life — his dreams, his hopes, his terrors — he decided to save for us. Because life, your real life, in all its weird absurdities, always gets reflected in your art.
Which brings me back to The Beach at Trouville.
It’s one of my favorite paintings because there are still grains of sand and bits of seashell from that day — so long ago and so far away — embedded in the paint. Monet was really painting in that moment. It wasn’t a revisiting, it wasn’t a memory. It was now, this moment, right in front of me. Real life saved in the paint.
Metaphor become real. And our world is all the more beautiful for it.
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I wrote this after Comic Con 2012, and it only seemed fitting to bring it back for today. Enjoy!!!
First time at Comic Con? I can help!
Comic Con 2012 was a smashing success!
There are things no one tells you about Comic Con, because it’s kind of like asking about details of Disneyland. No one tells you about how long they stood in line or how much time they spent staring at the map when they should have been sprinting to make it to yet another showing of Abraham Lincoln. Because who wants to hear that when you can talk about Space Mountain and pizza in Tomorrowland or Indiana Jones and your third Dole Pineapple Whip of the day? (Just me? Where was I? Back to Comic Con…) So I’m going to try to help you out here.
1. You are going to stand in line. For a LONG time. It’s worth it.
This morning, Luke and I (and friends) stood 4000+ people back in line for Hall H – home of fantastic panels like FRINGE… and most importantly… DOCTOR WHO!
There were people who camped out overnight. Our 3+ hours in line = a cakewalk. It’s just par for the course if you really want to see specific panels or exhibitions or film clips or you just want to
stare at Matt Smith see your geek favorites.
Get used to the lines. Love the lines. It’s worth it. Seriously, though. You’re standing next to people who love exactly the same tv show/movie/comic book that you do. Make a new friend! Bring a backpack and snacks to share. You’ll totally be the cool kid in the lunchroom whose mom packed the good desserts while everyone else is stuck with squishy day-old turkey.
2. Accept that you won’t get to see everything you wanted to see. It makes you love the things you do get to see.
This is coming from the girl who couldn’t make it to the Firefly panel. It just happens sometimes, and that’s okay. Plan as best you can, and just run with it. Make better plans for next year. And take tons of pictures in the panels you do get into. Enjoy it!
3. Sit in on random panels. You might be in for a surprise or two!
Now, stopping for another moment of truth. Sometimes, in order to get into a later panel in the day, it means you have to sit through the three panels beforehand. (They don’t clear the room in between panels at Comic Con. Once you’re in the room, you’re in.) Yesterday, while waiting for the Alphas panel in the shiny and beautiful Indigo Ballroom, the moderator got up and announced the TV Guide panel. Thrilling stuff. But there was no way on earth I was missing Alphas, so TV Guide it was. (Is there even a TV Guide anymore? Does anyone still watch that channel?) And then Joel McHale of Community and The Soup walked in. And Liam McIntyre from Spartacus. And Maggie Q from Nikita. And Sarah Wayne Callies from The Walking Dead. And Jasika Nicole from Fringe. And did I mention Matt Smith and Nathan Fillion? It was a fantastic panel and I am SO glad that I just happened to be there.
And today, I was in Hall H for the Fringe panel at 10am. And I have been waiting for a year to get into the Doctor Who panel at 12:30 since I couldn’t make it last year (again, see #2). I wouldn’t have missed either of those panels for the world. But, in between was the Supernatural panel, a show I just haven’t had a chance to watch. But after today’s panel, I’m seriously going to get Season 1 and start watching. The panel was hilarious, and it made me want to give the show a try. I’m so excited for it!
See? You never know…
4. “Cosplay” = all the awesome costumes around you.
That’s like Comic Con 101. If you have to ask someone what ‘cosplay’ means, you’ll definitely get the “Who are you and why are you at Comic Con?” look. So now you know. You’re welcome.
5. Doctor Who. TARDIS. Felicia Day. The Guild. Firefly. Star Trek. Tribbles. Star Wars. Buffy. JJ Abrams. Jane Espenson. Battlestar Galactica. The angels have the phonebox. The Nerdist. Lord of the Rings.
Comic Con 201. Learn, young Jedi, learn. It will keep you from asking questions like, “What’s a sonic screwdriver?” in front of 4000 Whovians who will eat your heart out if you mess with their show.
As seems to be the theme of this blog, you never know what you’re going to discover.
6. Be ridiculous. Wear the hat. Paint your face. Let your geek flag fly. Have fun!
Have a blast. It’s so worth it… The real world will be waiting for you on Monday…
I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
an incredibly exhausted and happy Lynn
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I made a passing reference to my 50-in-5 lists, a writing habit I created for myself a few years ago as I’ve gotten further and further into this crazy tv writing career. And the texts and conversations that poured in as soon as I posted it all tended to swirl around one question — What is this 50-in-5 thing? So, I thought it was time for some answers.
The Short Answer: A List. 50 Ideas. 5 Days.
Yep. You heard me. 5-0 ideas. 5-0 loglines. 5-0 characters and creations and complications. Fifty.
I give myself 5 days to come up with 50 ideas — written down and saved for future storyline ideas. Now, lest you think I am some sort of story genius with ideas just pouring out of me all the time… It’s true! It’s all true! I am a genius!!! (*goes mad with power*)
The Long Answer: 49 Terrible/Mediocre/Ehhh/Boring Ideas. Hopefully one good one. 5 days.
50-in-5 lists are messy, and that’s perfectly all right.
I’ve found that the easiest way to start a 50-in-5 list is to start a new doc on my ever-present laptop. There are other times I’ve put everything on post-it notes or handwritten the lists in my journal. But I’m at my most organized when it’s all on my computer. And post-it notes fall off the wall and get vacuumed up or tucked away in yesterday’s mail — and I for one hate the idea that my Emmy-winning idea is lost in the belly of my Roomba. That would suck.
But find a way to organize and keep these lists — whatever works for you!
The list begins, and every morning — before I do any other writing for the day, I come up with 10 ideas. I push myself until I hit 10. I’m not allowed to do anything else until I get to those magic double digits. If I have a spectacular idea day and come up with 11 or 13 or 15 off the cuff, so much the better. But tomorrow, I have to come up with 10 all over again. (No cheating or stockpiling today’s ideas for tomorrow. I’m onto you!)
10 ideas. Go!
Each idea has to be its own world or story. No cheating with half-ideas like — A girl named Ava. Or — The biggest apology in the history of the world! If that were the case, could just pull up a baby names website and a list of emotions and call it a day. That’s not going to be helpful when I need to have story ideas later. Each idea has to give a sense of the world or a complication within that world. The story of Ava and her career as a professional juror in this far-future world in which ‘trial by a jury of your peers’ is no more. Or: Aliens come to earth for the first time and are extremely apologetic. “We didn’t realize we’d left you off the list of inhabited planets for the last several centuries. Welcome to the New Republic!”
What stories do you want to see? What stories do you want to tell?
And the most important part: they don’t have to be perfect ideas, or even good ones. Most of the ideas from each day are going to be almost immediately discarded. They’re similar to something else that someone else has already written. Or they’re romantic comedy ideas that I will never, ever write. They’re not interesting to me. They’re utterly ridiculous. (My clown car cleaning shop idea stands out loud and clear here.)
Don’t be afraid of the bad ideas or get stuck on needing to have 10 amazing ideas every day. You’ll get stuck somewhere early on in your daily list and give up. If I can’t come up with three ideas today, how can I ever come up with fifty ideas by Friday??? It’s not easy. But keep going.
Why do I do this to myself?
I spend all day every day thinking about story. It’s the glorious life of being a writer. So I realized I needed a way to organize and hang onto the good ideas that pop into my head pre-coffee. I may not want to write that particular story today or any time this year, but if there’s the seed of a good story there — I can save it the day I’m ready for it.
I also need a way to get all of the bad ideas out of my head so I don’t have to think about them anymore. There’s something about seeing a really truly terrible story idea in black and white, unblinking on my computer screen. Beforehand, I think: Hmmm… maybe that could be something? And then when it’s in front of me, I can safely say: Wow. No. That’s like the worst idea. Ever. EVER. It’s okay to let it go.
The last five projects I’ve written – three pilots, one feature and one webseries – have all come from the best of my 50-in-5 lists.
And in my neurotic writer brain, by the time I’m done with the list, there’s a quiet voice in the back of my head that says: Yep. You can do this. Keep going.
I use my 50-in-5 lists for writing… but I wonder what else they could be used for? Ideas, anyone? I’d love to hear…
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