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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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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 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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I’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.
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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. Geek and Sundry. Summer Glau. The angels have the phonebox. Chris Hardwick. 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. And I like you, readers. No getting your heart ripped out. You need to come back! (And that’s a whole other show anyway…)
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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In my recent post In Case of Natural Disaster, 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. Now I never have to think about that story again, and I free up just a tiny bit of brain space that will hopefully be used for something else better tomorrow.
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.
I actually don’t think I could live without them now. Plus — when I’m really desperate on my worst days, the days where I wonder if I really can keep writing as a career — they’re an amazing way to procrastinate and yet still be productive in the long run.
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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(How’s she going to tie those two together??? I know you asked.)
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 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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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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