Live Long, and Prosper…

Leonard Nimoy

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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Je Suis Charlie

pencils

 

This was supposed to be another blog post.  It really was. It was going to be all about London – and all about next adventures that are coming in my life.

Instead, I’m sitting here staring at my computer… my heart and thoughts and prayers firmly in Paris.

Je suis Charlie.

I’ll be honest. Until a few days ago, I’d never read Charlie Hebdo, with the exception of a few cartoons of theirs that went viral and made the news.  I disagreed with some of them. I thought some of them were hilarious. But every single one of them made me think.

And I think that’s the point of art.  Good art, anyway.  (Bad art is a whole other ballgame… something I’ll talk about in a future post. Stop with the bad art, people.) Sometimes we find ourselves wrapped up in a tiny safe art/life bubble where everyone agrees with us on every point. It’s lighthearted and pretty and fun. It’s nice. But sometimes good art is meant to be subversive. It’s meant to make you think. It’s meant to make you uncomfortable. It’s meant to bring light in the darkness.  It’s meant to bring hope to the oppressed, to draw attention and bring hope to the worst places on earth.

It’s meant to be a voice in the wilderness. 

I write for tv. I write for the theater stage. I am a songwriter and performer. I paint on occasion.

And today, my heart is in Paris. Not because I am a comedic, incisive cartoonist with a seriously political bent.  But because I am an artist.

For good art and good conversation and a better, more full world — and a reminder that we are not alone in our creative endeavors to create a more hopeful place to call home… It may be a completely uphill battle, a Sisyphean task of epic proportions — but that does not mean that we should ever stop trying.

Je suis Charlie. 

(Art credit: Lucille Clerc)

  

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My 36-Hour Day

the sun will keep risingI’ve said it over and over and over… mostly as a joke — but seriously, if someone can figure out how to do this, could you let me know?

I wish I had more hours in my day!!! 

But there it is, 24 hours, day in and day out. (Except for the day you take Virgin Atlantic’s awesome London-LA flight after a kickass round of meetings. Then your day is 35 1/2 hours long and you STILL don’t get everything done you wanted to get done.  I think there may be a life lesson in here somewhere…)

The days and weeks and years will go on regardless of whether we are hopeful or hopeless, whether we are patient or impatient, whether I write or do not write. And on one level, that feels completely suffocating — time will go on whether we want it to or not. But at the same time, I think there can be great freedom in that — October and November and December are going to come, 2015 and beyond will come — and maybe I’ll be really glad that I wrote that one page all those months ago, because TODAY, it matters. And I guess today that it did matter.. and I hope that somehow, in some weird way, that this is encouraging for you as well… time marches on, but what you’re doing MATTERS.

Keep going…

 

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The World Cup and Life Off-Planet

(How’s she going to tie those two together???  I know you asked.)

world cup

I seriously love today.

Just a few miles from my house, the LA Kings are gearing up for their Stanley Cup victory parade.  I will forever and ever be a Colorado Avalanche fan (you can take the girl out of Colorado…) but there’s something fantastic about being in my adopted home city, celebrating together like this.

And I’m curled up on my couch writing today, the World Cup playing in the background. The world is watching and celebrating. And I’m really sure that if I wanted to, I could walk down my street to one of our local sports bars at noon and watch the game with a bunch of people I don’t know, but who would immediately become great friends.  But I should probably eat lunch before I hit a sports bar, you know?

I’ll be the first person to admit that I am not the most sports-inclined of us all. 

I broke my hand playing soccer when I was younger.  I tore tendons running across a level floor.  God did not grace me with the athletic gene, it would seem.

But I am all about the stories that come out of events like the World Cup.  It’s like the Olympics all over again.  These athletes have been preparing for this moment their entire career – their entire lives.  They have nothing to lose and everything to gain — and they play like it.  Now is not the time to hold back — now’s the time to run that 4 minute mile they’ve been dreaming about their entire lives.   (Mixed metaphor? Maybe.)

There’s also something glorious about a world at war, pausing to play beautifully together.

Just for a brief moment, we are all humans together. 

Just humans. Together.

I think it’s this same feeling that’s drawn me to all things NASA– and space-related.  I dream about off-planet colonies, and Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin have always been two of my heroes. They are stories of great adventurers, of men and women the world over — living at the very top of their skills, miraculously accomplishing the thing that was impossible yesterday.  The most recent episode of Mad Men totally nailed the excitement of the world coming together to watch a beautiful leap forward. And even though I know that story backwards and forwards — I was totally in that moment.

We come together around our common stories.

I wake up every day dreaming about the possibility that I’ll actually see a Mars landing in my lifetime.  (Seriously. Every day.  It’s one of my many obsessions.)  I’ll never work at NASA.  And I seriously doubt I’ll ever walk on the moon unless somebody totally rocks out space tourism like, pronto.

But I am a storyteller.

I write for TV and tell stories of a world further along than we are — where humans live off-planet, where they’ve already accomplished the things we can only dream of.  Where we’ve come together to make something beautiful and bigger than ourselves.  But one day, I’ll tell a story that will inspire someone to GO. and DO. and CREATE.  A story that makes the world wonder: What if??  Those are my favorite stories.

Maybe we’ll actually start chasing our dreams out into the stars.

And for that moment, we will all be humans together.

 

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I Would Have Died…

LA

 

I moved to this beautiful, brutal city in February of 2008. 

Luke and I had no jobs.  No apartment. Nothing, really, besides a U-Haul truck full of everything we owned and the absolute know-it-in-your-soul certainty that Los Angeles was exactly where we were supposed to be.  We’d come out to LA at the end of January for vacation and “just to see” if maybe one day we might be able to pull off living here.

The sun. The ocean. The farmer’s market. The hint of promise in their air.  The sense of We are home. 

We flew back, quit our jobs and moved to LA three weeks later.

—————————————

I was 8 when I came home from school and announced I’m going to be a writer when I grow up.  

I was 18 when I realized that I wasn’t going to have to give up writing like some sort of childhood habit I was outgrowing. I am going to be a writer.  I am a writer. This is actually going to happen.

I was 28 when my first episode of television aired.

And that is a hell of a lot of in-betweens.

—————————————

When I first moved to LA, if someone would have told me that it was going to take five years between driving across the California state line and the first time I wrote a script that got shot — I would have died.  Five years is an eternity. An absolute, unending eternity when you’re standing at the beginning. It would have felt like the insurmountable challenge of my life.

When I was 8, I couldn’t even comprehend the idea of 28.

I had so many in-betweens, eternities and a half in the moments ahead. 

But that’s where all of life was lived — one day at a time, in all of the moments that fed into my stories to make them real.  Journeys are always the scariest at the beginnings. Projects are always the most overwhelming when you’re cracking the very first book for research and thinking Six whole months here?  It’s true — I probably would have died if someone tried to explain 28 to my 8 year old self.

But I wouldn’t trade all that time for anything.


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Who Are Your People?

best friends

It’s all about COMMUNITY.

No, not that one. (Although — while we’re here: #sixseasonsandamovie!!!!!  Netflix, seriously — it’s your move.)

Who Are Your People? 

It was after midnight here, which means it was just after 3am where my BFF lives.  It had been a really brutal day, and I’d been meaning to call her all.day.long.  And I picked up the phone and started dialing before realizing 3AM.   I decided to call her in the morning because I really just wanted to chat about random life stuff, not anything crazy and worth a 3AM phone call.

But the thing is I know I could call at 3 in the morning and she wouldn’t miss a beat.

I go on girls trips with my two best friends — and they are some of my favorite moments in the entire year.  Lots of laughter and awesome ridiculousness and “Oh my… Do NOT put that on Instagram. Or Facebook. Or Twitter.” This is what happens when you’ve all been dear friends for 10+ years.  But I also know that at some point, the real conversations are going to begin.  The ones that start with them calling me out on the lies I’ve believed, the fears I’ve let myself live with, the risks I’ve totally shied away from.

It’s never easy to have your soul exposed like that. 

But it’s always good.

So — go. Be brave. Take risks. Be willing to let yourself be known. Because I promise, you’ll never be the same.

 

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The Art of Being Rejected Without Dying

drafts and drafts

No, thanks.  It’s not for us.  We’re going to pass. 

Life as a writer is a life of rejection far (FAR) more often than not. 

These are things no one tells you before you start.  Or – they do tell you, and you think: Oh, not me!  I’m going to sell the first thing I write! For a million dollars.  Because I am that awesome. 

You will be rejected —

— if not that first time, then another time.  Or another time after that. Even though you really, truly are awesome.  And every. single. time. it will hurt like hell.  When you’ve poured your heart and soul into a project, spending countless hours staring into the unforgiving face of your laptop, missing out on friends and family (or let’s be honest — even an uninterrupted marathon of Orphan Black) — to have someone read what you’ve written and not be equally enamored with it can feel like humiliation of the highest order.

Maybe I shouldn’t even be a writer… you quietly think. I just want to die. 

Sometimes that rejection is all about you and all about your project.

If you didn’t take the time to make it truly excellent — then why on earth would someone else take it seriously?  Don’t put junk out into the world.  Or — maybe you did take it seriously, but there are technical issues with it.  You forgot to be original and created a carbon copy of something that already exists. Maybe you still haven’t quite figured out Final Draft. Maybe you did sell something, but there are still issues with it.  So you’re going to get notes that don’t mince words: We think this part sucks. Fix it.  

So, be a better writer on the next draft or the next project.  Grow from this experience of utter and complete rejection.  The first pilots I ever wrote (including the ones that got me signed with my reps) are buried in a password-protected folder on my laptop.  They will never sell. They will NEVER see the light of day again. Because I’m a better, stronger writer than I used to be. We’ve all been there. And we’ll all continue to be there for the rest of our careers. There’s always a way to get better.

But sometimes that rejection has absolutely nothing to do with you at all.

For instance, I have a kickass pilot that I am completely in love with.  Along the way, a company passed on it because they were looking for female-driven relationship dramas.  So, my male-led sci-fi thriller was never going to make it on their development slate.  It was a bad match. So, maybe the company you’re pitching is the wrong company for your awesome story.  Maybe they already have another Lawyer-By-Day-Shark-Fighter-By-Night project in the pipeline. Maybe you caught them on a bad day, and they read through page 5 of your story when 6 is where it really gets started! Maybe the executive really doesn’t have any time over the next two months.   None of these make you a bad writer.

It just means you’re playing the ever-popular game of Trying to Sell Something.

Rejection feels like death, no matter the reason behind it. 

Every writer has days where they just want to crawl in a hole and die. This is part of the story and part of the life of being a writer.  Get used to it, or seriously — get off the roller coaster, for your own safety and sanity.

But if you can take every No, thanks. and find some little piece that will help you move onto the next awesome thing (that will still have a 99% chance of being rejected)… one day, you’re going to hit it.

We love it. We’d like to sign on. Let’s go make a movie. 

One day…

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The Whiskey’s Mine

fancy heels...

It happens all the time.

Luke and I went out for a fancy dinner a few nights ago,  and I ordered my drink to go along with my roasted brussels sprouts,  chipotle hummus and kale salad.  (It’s more amazing than it sounds. Wood & Vine knows how to do things right.)  Another waiter brought our drinks and without blinking an eye handed my old fashioned to Luke.

Because girls don’t drink whiskey, you know.

I tend to be the odd girl out in a lot of conversations and a lot of movie nights too. I’m a sci-fi and girl-with-gun writer, so in everything I write, at least one car tends to explode.  My Google history is full of searches like  ‘places to hide a gun in a car’ or ‘biological warfare in the future’ and ‘fuel types for long-term space travel’.  It also means that I’m usually the only girl in our group of friends who will happily go see Star Trek Into Darkness.  Hell, I’m usually the one buying tickets and getting the group together.  I write alien stories and time travel stories and futuristic tech stories.  These are my people! These are my kind of stories!

But those are usually considered ‘guy movies’. 

I absolutely love surprising people.  I walk into meetings in my girly high heels and get into deep discussions about the repercussions of time travel and why my characters tend to work for MI-6 with a gun strapped to their leg. I can’t count the number of times new friends have read something of mine for the first time and come back with:  “This is totally awesome!  And it’s sci-fi!  I had you pegged as a rom-com girl.” 

FYI: high heels does not equal rom-com writer. 

I started putting a red streak in my hair and got my nose pierced because when I walk into a room I want people to think “sci-fi girl” not “Oh, she must be lost…”  (And also because — fire engine red hair and a nose ring??? I love it!)   And you know what?  I’m me.  I’m always going to be me with my deeply held love of Doctor Who and cocktail dresses.  I am a whiskey girl who’s going to cook you a fancy dinner with Mozart and Frank Sinatra playing in the background, then curl up and watch Alien.  I subscribe to Fast Company and Wired and Real Simple and Relevant. io9 and the gallery of the Hubble Space Telescope and joythebaker.com are my go-to web browsing every day. My daily workout is ballet-based and killer.

I find my inspiration everywhere. 

I fit in a strange space. I think we all do, in one way or another… the trick is to own it and not be afraid of it.  I’m going to fit in places no one else will — and if I spent all my time worrying about trying to be someone else, I’m probably going to miss the places I’m actually meant to be. 

My name is Lynn, and I am a sci-fi & girl-with-gun writer. Hear me roar!

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My very own typewriter!!!

Luke surprised me with an antique typewriter over the weekend…

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I feel like I should start writing a hardboiled noir piece now.  The Lady of the Red Street Murders…

It was a rainy night when she walked into my life, cigarette in one hand and the last will and testament of Johnny Salem in the other. She loved him, that much was for certain. But everything else about her said only one thing: Don’t trust a word coming out of that pretty mouth. And here I’d been looking forward to a night with scotch on the rocks.  She smiled sadly.  “Make it two, darling.” This was going to be an interesting night. 

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Sit Down. Shut Up. Do It.

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Every day, I come up against one of those MOMENTS.

You know, sending the email I’m totally freaked out to write. Writing the scene that has been giving me the most trouble. Walking into the meeting I’m so excited about, all while inwardly thinking Oh, please Lord. Let my jokes be funny.  Actually hitting send on a project. Standing in a room pitching a project. My heart is on my sleeve — and my brain is coming up with eight thousand scenarios of how I’m going to crash and burn in the most spectacularly embarrassing fashion.

And you know what?  I’m going to fail some of the time.  I’m human. I’m a writer. I’m never going to be everything to everyone. Some days I probably will crash and burn trying to do the thing I’m totally freaked out by.

But in the middle of all of this, the best thing is for me to SIT DOWN. SHUT UP. And DO IT anyway. 

I constantly have to remind myself to do all of this. Take the giant risk.  Share the story. Send the email. The outcome may not be exactly what I’d hoped — but if I don’t even try, then 100% of the time, the outcome will be exactly what I feared: nothing. This isn’t some magic formula of overriding fear and killing it entirely. Sometimes I am afraid. But the more times I jump off the cliff standing in front of me and discover mid-air that I’ve got a bungee cord around my ankle, the easier it becomes to jump later.  I have to say YES with no promise that it will be echoed back to me.

The only way I have a chance of YES is by being the first one to say it. 

So today, what are you afraid to do?  What is the paralyzing uncertainty that’s eating away at your heart? What is your question?

Give it a whirl. The world may not come to an end after all…

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