A Woman’s Advice to Hollywood

Hollywood Sign
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Hollywood is guilty of committing many offenses. Among them is their idea of what women want to see in movies. Following is number one of perhaps several bits of advice an average woman such as myself would like to pass along to those that make movies:

Stop trying to inject love stories into action flicks!

As with many women, I like a good romantic movie and even partake of the occasional “Rom-Com” now and again. I do not, however, appreciate what promotes itself as an action movie attempting to shove a romance down my throat. There is a time and a place and personally, I prefer to keep my action movies and my romantic movies separate.

I think this is one reason why I like the film “Equilibrium” more than “The Matrix.” The relationship between Trinity and Neo in “The Matrix” feels forced to me and I think the movie could have done well without it. Granted, this may be because I can’t conceive of anyone falling in love with a Keanu Reeves character. Yes, my bias against this is strong and may be why this relationship seems unnecessary to me. Bias or no, it also raises a question: Is a romance something Hollywood injects into an action movie to increase the chances that women will buy a ticket? If so, they underestimate women I think.

Take the film “Equilibrium.” Grammaton Cleric, John Preson is intrigued by Mary O’Brien which leads him to stop taking the numbing Prozium. This act propels the plot forward and while the female character inspires feeling in the protagonist, the two do not engage in a romantic relationship. It was a choice I found refreshing as the audience was left to enjoy the action flick without suffering through a forced romance.

As a woman, what I would rather see in action flicks is what I encountered in the film “Alien vs Predator.” Here a strong woman takes control and kicks much ass when she finds herself in the middle of the battle between these two Sci-Fi power-houses. The male predator creature that she encounters during battle RESPECTS her instead of trying to seduce her. That is what I would like to see Hollywood attempt with more women in action flicks. Take the Ripley in “Aliens” route, not the Jordan Tate in “Under Seige” path…that way lies discontent for female viewers. So Hollywood, save the romances for the “Rom-Coms” and stop ruining our action movies by giving us what you think women want.

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Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop Out: Timothy Leary’s Advice Twisted to Talk to Writers

Okay, “Turn On. Tune In. Drop Out.” Is the correct phrasing but while trying to get to sleep the other night, it occurred to me that if we tweak Leary’s counterculture contribution, we can use it to help us as writers:

Turn Off: One of my New Year’s resolutions was to keep the television off until 7pm at night. Granted, I would have to give up my precious after school A&E American Justice and Cold Case Files routine but I felt that I could dedicate that time to other interests such as working out, reading, and writing. So far, this has been one of the best resolutions I have ever made. It is amazing how much more writing I am getting done. My biggest excuse had always been that I just didn’t seem to have time to write. Duh! By turning off the “opiate of the masses” I have created so much more time to be creative and have even started dabbling in poetry again!

Tune Out: Rejection is difficult for anyone and it has often been the excuse I used not to share my writing with anyone. The advice here is to tune out or ignore those that do not offer constructive criticism. Not everyone is going to like what we write, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t someone out there who will. Even if you send out piece after piece of writing only to be rejected every time, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep pursuing publication if that is your dream. Tune out those negative voices (including your own) and just keep writing.

Drop Out: I admit, I am not a big fan of social networking but about a year ago I signed up for Facebook so I could keep in touch with my family back East and so I could satisfy my voyeuristic inclinations by reconnecting with old friends from high school. Just before the holidays, I deactivated my account. For me, personally, dropping out of the social networking scene (such as it was to me) was the best thing I could have done for my writing. I found I spent way too much time messing around on Facebook and ignoring not only cleaning my house, folding my laundry, and grading papers, but also the ideas in my head that might have produced some interesting writing. Since committing “virtual suicide” I have done more reading and writing than ever before and even managed to lose five pounds.

I’m not saying this advice will apply to everyone. Surely, there are writers out there that don’t have such an addictive personality that Facebook and other such sites get in the way of their progress. I just know that the distortion of Leary’s statement made a lot of sense to me as I tossed and turned in bed the other night and maybe it will for someone else as well.

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Research and Writing

Recently, I had the interesting task of researching Amsterdam brothels for a piece…I was writing. I found a lot of useful information and even considered a career change after seeing how much money one could make in the Red Light District (joking). Over the past year I’ve researched psychic children, moonshine, gardening, name origins, serial killers, soiled doves, and romance novels all in preparation for producing my own writing. It strikes me how much writers must research in order to produce their material and how enjoyable the research process is when it involves an area in which you are interested. Even if you aren’t initially interested in the subject, venturing into the unknown is stimulating to the imagination.
Back in high school everyone dreaded the research paper, including myself. Now, as a grown up (I use the term loosely) who engages in the writing process I see how important research is to the writing process. Part of me thinks that the research process is so much more appealing these days because it is so simple; with a click of a button we have access to all sorts of information. Today, knowing I had to do a little research on Amsterdam brothels, all I had to do was type those two words into Google and click on a link. All of a sudden I had information from prices to hottest escorts, to different types of brothels in Amsterdam. Before the Internet I can imagine that the research process was a bit more difficult. Personally, I remember digging through books to write a paper on Scientology back when I was in college. It was a little like slogging through thick mud in that the process itself was so slow, but I enjoyed it (as those who know me know I enjoy mud in general). I think researching topics of interest is a great way to expand my knowledge base and I think one of the best things about being a writer is digging into material, such as brothels and moonshine, that I might never have subjected myself to otherwise. So a question to other writers out there is: What have you researched that you found fascinating or that sparked a great story?

Being a Writer’s Spouse

My husband is one hell of a writer and wants it to eventually become his full-time career. I support him 100%, but know that being the spouse of a dedicated writer is not easy:
1. He or she is going to have their quirks
It is important that you as the spouse understand what those quirks
are and how to deal with them. For instance, my beloved doesn’t
want anyone to read even a word of what he has written until he
feels it is finished. That means entering the den while he is writing
results in a lot of arm waving, hands trying to cover the screen, and
accusations of attempts to catch a glimpse of his story. Which
leads us to the next revelation:
2. While writing, the writer may no longer resemble the wonderful
person you married
My husband fully admits he is a prick when he is writing. Don’t be
surprised if your spouse suddenly grows fangs and horns and
projectile-vomits four-letter words, especially if you interrupt a
writing session. Let’s face it, being taken by the muse sure sounds
a whole lot like being possessed by a demon. Just know as soon as
the clicking of the keyboard stops, your loved one will begin to
shift back to normal.
3. Smoking and drinking are permitted whether you like them or not
Writers all have a process they go through to get into the writing
mindset. There is definitely a long, rich history of writers who indulge
in order to induce inspiration. It is perfectly normal for your partner
in connubial bliss to partake of ritual substances they might not
normally prescribe to. The occasional cigar and beer is nothing to
be concerned about really, even if you don’t like the smell hanging
on the curtains, but if your cutie-pie decides to pull a Poe and
and breaks out the Opium, it might be time for a heart-to-heart.
Remind them that a dead writer can’t enjoy the spoils of a published
novel, however, if history proves anything it shows us that a dead
writer has a better chance at getting published (might want to
leave that part out).
4. You are going to get a little lonely
If you are one of those high-maintenance spouses you may want to
reconsider being married to a writer at all. The bottom line is that a
good writer spends a lot of time trying to become a better writer,
not to mention trying to become a published writer. And really it
doesn’t do any good to fake a gunshot wound, or laugh loudly at
the television and exclaim “Honey, you gotta see this!” If a writer is
in the zone, he or she is going to stay there. You will just have to
find ways to occupy yourself and enjoy those times when they turn
off the computer and step outside the den into the light of day.

An Exercise in Voice

Welcome to Redemption, Texas population 687, well, minus one now. Let’s try that again. Howdy from Redemption, Texas, population 686 proudly known as the “Sweetest Rolling Green Hills Town in the Lone Star State.” But since that doesn’t fit on most license plates the people here call their home simply Sweet Rollin’ Redemption. And while Texas has many a small town inside its borders not one is as eccentric as the one you are right now standin’ in. Like as not of a sunny day you might see a small funnel fall out of the sky and take out a coupla trees. Not a one of ‘em has ever hurt anyone though. And standing here, if you look out…do you see how green everything is? And the sky so big and blue. It’s a wonder more people don’t come out this way and call it home.
But that’s not what you’re here for is it? I suppose it is the cemetery you’ll be wanting to see. Shame about what happened. Guess I do ramble a bit. I just want you to know that despite what you’ve read this town is as great a place to live as any, better than most even I’d say.

Slip aside the brambles and thicket and you can read what is the town’s last word on one John C. McRooney. Yes, that John C. McRooney. The one you read about on the front page of every newspaper in the area for about three weeks, I guess it would be about two months ago now. That’s why they hid his stone here behind all this brush. A town needs a little “outta sight outta mind” to get over something like that. Redemption has bounced back from it though but every once in awhile we get reporters or curious college students who missed out on the initial stir stopping by to snap a few pictures and ask questions.
You can pretty much tell how Redemption feels about John C. McRooney looking at his headstone. That says it all I think. He was a native son of sorts but once what he done got out, the family moved and left him behind. Redemption didn’t like what he did but they sure as hell weren’t going to leave a man unburied and unremembered. Plus for awhile there were so many people flocking into town to do stories and investigations and stuff that Curley and Sarah Drake, owners of Drake’s Café could finally afford to get the leak in their roof fixed and save up for a new truck. What he did was awful, just awful, but Redemption made a lot of money from it and I think that is why the Rotary held a bake sale to raise money for the stone. I’m not too sure who came up with the “:Dead:” idea but it does seem to fit, don’t you think?