Genius, Power and Magic in it….

I just read this quote today for the first time – though I’m sure there are a million literature buffs all around me going – What??? You’ve never ever heard this before?    

Yep.  

I love this quote so much I just had to share… 

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”

                           – Goethe

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Made-Up Stories Can Matter

Life has been totally crazy lately (hence the serious lack of posts here!)

So – in protest of the craziness, and honestly a bit out of self-preservation, I bought a book just for me, just for my own heart.  It has nothing to do with research for my show.  Nothing to do with things I’m writing.  I don’t plan to write anything similar to it.

I just want to read someone else’s story and disappear into it.

fault in our stars

Enter John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. 

I haven’t even started reading yet, but I am already in love with Green’s words.  This is his author’s note at the front.

This is not so much an author’s note as an author’s reminder of what was printed in small type a few pages ago.  This book is a work of fiction.  I made it up.  

Neither novels nor their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside a story.  Such efforts attack the very idea that made-up stories can matter, which is sort of the foundational assumption of our species.  

I appreciate your cooperation in this matter.

Made up stories can matter… 

What a revolutionary idea.

We spend our growing up years with questions papering over our hearts like an interior decorator gone bezerk. Will you tell me a story?  Will you read me a story? Tell me about the time when this happened to you.  Why?  When?  What did the strawberry chiffon cake taste like?  Do you think time travel is real?  What would you do if you had a pet dinosaur.  Can I watch a movie?  Will you read me just one more story? 


And why is that?  When you’re 8 – the whole world is new for you.  I’d never been to Africa, but I remember learning about ancient Egyptian culture.  I remember going to the zoo and trying to imagine  what it must be like to be a lion in the jungle. I remember trying out a British accent at 10 and wondering what life would be like if I sounded like that.   When you’re so small,  life isn’t old and average yet.  It’s new and scary as hell and different.  Every day is a new story.

But you still want to hear more.  

I read the Little House on the Prairie books so many times my mom finally took them away from me so I would read something different.  I read all the Nancy Drew books.  I wrote stories of time traveling teenagers and strange alien spaceships and a girl who was in love with a boy and she could never tell anyone about it at all.

Those made-up stories mattered.

Every once in a while I get asked why I decided to be a tv writer instead of going off and becoming a doctor (blood and math. seriously?) or lawyer (arguing for a living? pass.) or businesswoman (I could have survived.)

I want to take this quote and just superglue it to my forehead so everyone who wants to know can read it.  Made-up stories can matter.

And maybe my stories aren’t going to matter in the grand scheme of the world.  I’m not going to cure cancer or solve an international crisis.  But I’m sort of going after the smaller moments anyway.

There’s a Star Trek: TNG episode where the Captain has a chance to re-live his life making the ‘correct’ choices.  He undoes a crucial risk he took – stupid youth gotten way out of hand – and in a flash, he ends up being some a mousy no one on his ship.  I was 16 or so the first time I saw the episode, and I don’t know if it was just the moment I saw it in my life or what – but it sparked something deep and lasting in me.  I was the quiet little wallflower who just wanted to stay out of everyone’s way.  But I wanted SO much out of life – and up until that moment, I lived in fear that I would miss it all.

I suddenly saw my life as if I was headed into those sort of big crucial decisions – and I decided right then and there that I was going to make the big choices and take the big (dare I say stupid) risks and see what would come of it.     My life has been scary as hell some days – but I don’t have a long list of What ifs?

That was a made-up story that mattered.  

One of my favorite college memories is sitting in a friend’s living room with 10 other friends watching Triplets of Belleville. It was a moment in time where I felt safe and surrounded and like maybe – at least for the moment – everything was going to be all right.  We laughed and talked and paused the movie to admire the artistry in every frame.  We drank a good bottle of wine and bonded over our complete inability to cook dinner that night.

In it’s own way, that was a made-up story that mattered. 

A little over a year ago, my best friend and I sat in her living room, painted our nails, ate dinner and marathoned 6 episodes of Dawson’s Creek. And it led into a whole discussion of life in junior high school and all of the fears and weirdness that came along with that time in our lives.  We laughed at the horrible fashions from back then – and cringed when characters had to live through a moment we totally remembered from being that age.  it was a beautiful reminder that we’re not actually alone in any of this thing called life and every bonkers moment we have – someone else has probably been exactly where we are. Today is not forever.

That was a made-up story that mattered.

And it’s true that maybe I would have grown up and become a less-wallflowery type of person.  Maybe I would have taken the risk to be brave after listening to another song or after reading another story.  Maybe my friends and I still would have had an amazing night without watching Triplets.  And surely – my best friend and I could have found a thousand other things to talk about instead of Pacey (*thirteen year old swoon*)

But in those moments, those made-up stories made up precious moments of life I’m talking about and thinking about a year later, five years later, a decade later.

Those are the kind of smaller moments I’m after.  

The kind I wouldn’t trade for anything.  +


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Creativity When It Hurts

I woke up last Monday morning and thought I was going to pass out right there.  Oh lord… I am so not getting out of bed this morning!  

I’d managed to miss the worst of the flu epidemic that had raced through LA – but whatever I’d caught was clearly not going to play nice with me.  The war was on. 

Ugh.  Can I please just crawl back in bed, only to emerge when I want to have a chicken soup and Gilmore Girls marathon for the day?  

Sadly, that’s not the way the world works. 

This is what my desk looked like for 4 days:

So how can you be creative when it hurts? 

As much as we artists would love to live in a world where creativity just falls from the heavens at random intervals, the truth is sometimes creativity is on a schedule.  I have deadlines to hit. 

Sometimes – you gotta just suck it up and keep going.  With a full year’s supply of cough drops and Pressed Juice.  (Have I talked about Pressed yet?  It’s the world’s most pricey juice, but I am in love.  Grapefruit mint?  Spiced almond milk?  Come on now!  I need to invest in a juicer.  But that’s another blog for another time. Where was I?) 

One of the many secrets of creativity is that it comes in bursts.  

I’ve woken up  having dreamed my next pilot teaser.  My record for first draft of a pilot is 7 hours.  The story was just there.  It ended up being one of two pilots that got me signed with my manager.  YES!  I completely live for those moments!  But you know what?   Those are two of a handful of times that has happened to me.  Ever.  

The rest of the time, creativity is work.

I read, absorb, imagine, dream.  For hours and hours and hours.  Sometimes I love it.  Sometimes I want to throw my computer out a window.  I can work for an entire day and come up with nothing.  I can work for an hour, smooshed in between meetings, and come up with an entire storyline that gets written in the next two days.   

As a creative artist – everything you do informs everything you write.  You just have to keep doing it, day in and day out.  I always joke that I need to write all the bad stuff first – just as a way of getting it all on the page so I can get to the good stuff I’m going to keep. 

Creativity is an investment.  

I don’t always want to spend a Saturday sitting at the coffee shop working through yet another script.  Sometimes I want to just go to the beach with friends instead!  But the truth is – if I don’t practice good creativity habits now, I will totally break down later.  But a couple hours traded in for an awesome idea or line or future script idea?  Totally worth it. 

And at the end of the day – I love writing so very much that I can’t imagine doing anything else.  It’s not always easy or fun.  But it’s my heart and the thing that I love to do most of all.  

So – what am I trying to say? 

I think – at the end of the day – this is just a reminder to all you creative types out there.  Keep going.  Keep writing and singing and acting and dreaming.  Invest in your art. Even when you’re sick, even when it hurts, even when you’ve barely slept for a week because you’re staying up all night to get through everything. 

Do it.  

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