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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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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4 AM. Let’s Do This Again!

It was a late night last night — a long-planned fancy dinner with my love. (Unsolicited restaurant plug — seriously check out Scratch Bar in Beverly Hills. *Swoon*)

And yet at 3am, my eyes popped open. Good morning, Monday! 

After half an hour of realizing that there was no way I was falling back asleep, I curled up on my couch, staring out at the orangish Los Angeles sky above my apartment. The streetlights are alive and well in my neighborhood. And the silence feels physically tangible. I haven’t even made it to my coffee yet.

Everything in me wants to rush past this moment. 

Dear Lord, can’t I just go back to sleep?  Who should I start emailing?  What can I start writing? I could call Laurie — she’s already awake on the East Coast. Hell, there is a Good Wife episode sitting on my DVR that apparently I’m supposed to watch RIGHT NOW.  

Sometimes a voracious appetite for anything other than my own thoughts can expertly masquerade as ‘creative inspiration’.  

And yet, at least in my experience, learning to live in the quiet is just as essential — if not possibly even more essential — in the creative life.  Boredom is my friend. Silence is my friend. The vacuum left when there is no immediate input is also my friend.

It creates balance.  It’s permission to stop and thrive, rather than survive. It’s space for my soul.

Today, my quiet moments came early. Very early. And there was space to stay there for a while.  Sometimes, those moments come in just that — moments. Two or three minutes in between phone calls and meetings.  But they are equally important for my writing life. The quiet is allowed.

Where are you allowing the quiet in your own life?  

And now the sun is rising… and I think it’s going to be a beautiful day.

 

Early morning sunrise...

[EDIT: Shortly after posting this, I did end up watching that episode of The Good Wife… My thoughts are here if you dare.]


 

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Go Right. And Left At the Same Time.

So. One of two things is happening here.  Either I’ve been pondering this whole idea of a set purpose in my life and so I naturally notice quotes and lyrics that have to do with this,  or God and the universe are trying to tell me something… 

Very, very loudly.  

I’m a writer, a creative professional of sorts.  And stories, by their very nature are slippery and easily changeable, especially in the early drafts when you’re trying to nail this nebulous thing of yours down on paper.  Maybe it’s going to be good, maybe it’s going to be the worst thing you’ve ever written.  But the point is that you can’t actually know until you sit down to write it. 

It’s the adventure and the terror of writing – to know where you’re going, with singular focus and determination,  but be flexible about getting there.  The road may lead away from where you originally thought it might go. And you just follow along. 

Yeah, I know that totally sounds like I’m saying Go right. And left at the same time.

Welcome to humanity.

But… I thought I’d share wise words from two very different sources and see what you think: 

‎”Continually restate to yourself what the purpose of your life is.”

-Oswald Chambers

and…

But, oh Lord, we pay the price

With the spin of the wheel with the roll of the dice

Ah yeah, you pay your fare

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

– George Harrison

image

imageLife. Stories.  It’s all the same thing, really.  

If you don’t have a really solid core, you’re going to get swamped by life and immediately overwhelmed.  And then your life is going to be a giant mess of too many choices and not nearly enough direction or action. The world’s full of a million choices a day.  Regular Coca-Cola?  Diet? Cherry Coke Zero? (Death soda, just my thoughts.)  What’s my major going to be?  Which job to take?  Grad school? Get married?  Where should we live? How many kids?  What’s my career going to look like?  What should I have for dinner? 

What’s going to be important for me? 

It’s kind of ridiculous that we live in a world where the sheer number of choices could doom us to immobility if we let them.  I’ve definitely been there before. 

But you know what?  Writing brings the exact same problem to light.

Late last year, I wrote a feature script (L’Enchanteur!  You know you’re interested!)  And I thought it was going to be a certain kind of story.  A boy meets girl and they fall in love sort of story.  But the deeper I got into the story, the more I had to realize – Maybe that girl isn’t going to fall in love with that boy.  Maybe he’s going to make stupid decisions or she’s going to meet someone else.  And, even though it felt like cutting off my own arm, I had to let go of where I thought the story was going to go.  

But in that case, the point I was trying to get across wasn’t revealed through the exact storyline I was telling.  I was writing a vast world that could get boiled down to a single sentence – True sacrificial love brings life.  That idea never wavered.  But maybe my girl didn’t end up with the boy.  Maybe the true story came when the boy chooses to go a different way. 

I never would have written it like that in a million years.  But there it was.  I went left and right at the same time.  

But if I would have lost that core idea – Sacrificial love brings life – I would have lost my story completely.  It would have turned into something else I didn’t intend to write – and not in a good way.  The heart and passion behind the story would have faltered and fallen apart in that ugly way that haunts the dreams of storytellers.  

It would have become a lie.  

Life is kind of like that.  

People look at me like I’m a bit crazy.  You work how many hours a day???  You do what for a living?   I’ve made a lot of life decisions that don’t always make a lot of sense from the outset.  I’ve gone on wild adventures in my career – in traveling – with friends. (My friends are my heroes, by the way!)  I’ve interviewed for jobs and started them the next day.  Right now I’m at the beginning of a show – so I know what my daily life will look like through September.  But beyond that?  It’s a huge mystery.  To someone else – my life could look like the most unplanned, crazy thing anyone could possibly do.  (And there’s a very strong argument to be made that my life is exactly that.)  

But at the end of the day, every choice I make comes out of an unshakeable core place:  

I love Luke.  I am created to tell stories.  I am created to sing. With everyone I am lucky enough to meet and live my life with, I hope my life reflects that there is hope and life and a safe place for them.  Everyone is welcome in my living room.  

I don’t need to know more beyond that.  It makes my life a beautiful adventure I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.  I’m still figuring it out every day as I go along.  Sometimes I make stupid choices that don’t line up with my core.  (If you’ve somehow read my blog and think I have it all figured out… um, let me just fix that accidental impression.  I don’t.)

Figure out your center, unshakeable heart’s core.  In life and in your art.  Find people in your life who are going to love you and walk with you and remind you every single day of your core – and hold you to it. 

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Look at your core heart as something you carry with you, clasped in your hand at every turn.  You carry it along with you. 

And then it doesn’t really matter if you go left or right, does it?   

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Dear Thirteen Year Old Me….

13

Dear Lynn,

You’re thirteen right now.  I’m sorry about that. I really am. It’s hard.

Really.

But you survive.  That I can promise you.  In fact, I wanted to share a few tips and thoughts in the meantime, just so you make it to 25.

  • Coffee will always, always be awesome.  It will not stunt your growth.  You grow up to be 5’6”, and the world looks pretty good from there.  In fact, when you’re 18, you’re going to follow your love of coffee right into a fantastic job. And then when you’re 20, a really cute boy is going to buy a cup of coffee from you.  Marry him immediately.
  • Superman birthday cake.  No. Just, no…
  • There’s a lot you hate about yourself.  Things you get picked on for.  Things you wish you were better at.  Things you wish were different.  It turns out those things that make you weird in junior high actually make you who you are as an adult.  Hang on to that love of writing, of time travel stories and space operas.  It’s going to come in handy in a few years.
  • Oh yeah… you move to LA.  You’re not crazy for dreaming about it. For reals.
  • I still haven’t met Leonardo DiCaprio.  Sorry about that one.
  • Your parents kind of sort of actually know what they’re talking about.  I know – it just blows your mind.  But listen to them.  They have some good stuff to say.
  • When you grow up – you’re actually going to watch The Sixth Sense. For the love of God, have some perspective.  Don’t let your cousin tell you the ending because “your parents are never gonna let you see it.”  Sigh.
  • Seriously.  That whole perspective thing.  There’s a whole world out there.  There’s a lot of really beautiful things.  A lot of wonderful people who are going join you in life, who are going to shape you into the person you’re going to become.  You haven’t even met most of your life’s most influential people yet.  (Awkwardly worded sentence for the win! But it’s true.)  There’s another world out there as well – one that’s harsh and broken and scary.  Pop that safe little bubble as soon as humanly possible, but understand that there are certain things you can never unknow.  You’re going to have to find that balance between the two worlds – the beautiful and the broken….
  • so don’t be afraid.  Fear is the thing that eats you up from the inside while it’s claiming to protect you.  It will destroy everything you hold dear.  It will destroy everything you wish for and hope for, because it holds you back and makes you doubt everyone and everything.  It comes dressed up as pretty words, words like safety and Are you sure that’s what God’s telling you to do in life? and I stayed, so should you and white picket fence. The first one’s a lie, the second one comes with the very loud answer of YES! and the third one comes with this question – wouldn’t you rather live an adventure? and the fourth one… well, it turns out you still suck at all things gardening, and you’re not going to want a white picket fence front yard anyway.
  • Be bold.  Stop holding back.  You were meant for more than what you can see right now.  And that’s okay.  God has this extremely annoying habit of working through things in process, and you’re just at the beginning of yours.  Hold tight.
  • The day you get your nose pierced – Mom and Dad are both going to come to you separately and say they really like it.  Surprise surprise! You’re also going to have fire-engine red hair, pink hair, black hair, blonde hair and turquoise hair at later points in your life.  Chill out when they tell you not to perm your hair.  When you look back at your yearbook, you’ll appreciate it.  Trust me on this one.
  • Read Pride and Prejudice now.  It’s going to be your favorite book one day. Start early.
  • You don’t have to be perfect.
  • You survive.

I’m sure one day, 40-year-old Lynn is going to be writing a letter to her younger self just like this one.  It turns out I still don’t have things all sorted out, but I’m on my way. You don’t know it yet, but you are too…

Lots of love,

A slightly older and slightly wiser Lynn

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