Let’s Talk about That Game of Thrones Episode

A.K.A. Bad writing is sexist writing is bad writing, GoT edition.

Spoilers for GoT through Season 5, Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.

If you spend any time on the internet, you have already heard of the horrible events of the latest GoT episode. The GoT showrunner’s D&D gave us extra servings of their favorite topping– gratuitous rape.

In the interest of everyone’s sanity, I’m not going to catch us up to this episode. Take my word for it–poor Sansa Stark has been suffering for nearly four seasons now. She has been humiliated publicly by her ex-fiance (the king!), almost raped, threatened with rape, forced to watch her father beheaded. Most of her family is dead. The family members who are alive are presumed dead. It’s not a good time to be Sansa.

Unfortunately for those of us who hate sexism and poor writing, D&D, our resident cackling villains, have taken Sansa on a journey of suffering where everyone is acting either illogically and/or out of character. All so that we can get poor Sansa to the point where she is raped on her wedding night by her new sadistic fiance, Ramsey Bolton.

Take creepy, flesh peddler Littlefinger. A bad guy, absolutely. But thus far, he has proven himself a shrewd and savvy manipulator. He has spies everywhere so he always has the 411. And he’s eeirely obsessed with Sansa. It has something to do with his love for her late mother and how he could never have her. Nevermind that. He would not marry Sansa off to a sadistic creep like Ramsey unless it was for truly great political gain. And he would absolutely know that Ramsey is a creep. He knows everything.

Take the creep Ramsey. He’s been a moustache twirling sadistic villain for a good season or two now. Not at all an interesting character. No shades there. He’s pure evil. We got the point when he tortured and mutilated Theon. And again when he sicked the dogs on his ex lover. There may have been a third or fourth time. I really don’t recall. Evil, we get it. Evil and sadistic. That’s about it. We don’t need the rape scene to teach us he’s evil and sadistic. We know. Sansa knows too– she got it during the awkward family dinner where he reminded her how she was surrounded by people who literally killed her family. Even his dad (the guy responsible for killing Sansa’s mother and brother) told him to STFU and show some manners.

Now, here’s the thing. It doesn’t make sense for Ramsey to rape Sansa. Yes, he’s evil, but he’s been respectful to Sansa so far. He seems to convince Littlefinger that he won’t hurt her (and lord knows Littlefinger would see through a lie). But even if is heart is full of evil, Ramsey is in a tough spot. He needs to stay in line. Once a bastard, now a Bolton, Ramsey is heir as long as he’s the only son around (and as long as he isn’t renounced). But his new step-mom is preggers. Oh noes! The sexist, lackluster writing requires that he ignore any bit of sense so he can rape Sansa on their wedding night.

Bad writing. Sexist writing. They’re all tangled up in each other and there’s no way of telling what came first. One doesn’t excuse or explain the other. Not really. The showrunners made a conscious decision to ignore internal consistency in favor of adding a rape scene that serves no narrative purpose. Bad writing all around. Sexist writing all around.

It’s that same chestnut we discussed many moons ago. Sexist writing is bad writing. Bad writing is sexist writing. Instead of doing something interesting with Sansa’s story, GoT subjects her to horrors we’ve seen before. We know women on the show are raped. And we’ve seen poor Sansa tortured by her sadistic fiance. This was lazy, uninspired writing. It was also sexist. Or maybe it was sexist and lazy and uninspired. There’s no telling which came first, really.

We know Ramsey is evil. We know Sansa is made to suffer. We know Westeros is not an easy place for a lady. There’s no reason why Ramsey needs to rape Sansa. It’s not new information and it doesn’t advance the narrative. It’s not as if the plot the put Sansa in this predicament is interesting and well constructed. It’s like the plot is written around the damn rape scene!

The scene itself doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Sansa enters the room steel-eyed, understanding the expectations of her wedding night. it’s not like she’s excited to have sex with a weird stranger, but she knows it’s expected of her and seems perfectly willing to go along with it. Ramsey acts respectfully toward her. He asks if she likes the way the room is set up and seems genuinely concerned with her well-being. For no apparent reason, Ramsey questions Sansa’s chastity (she was technically married before. How is it she’s really a virgin?) There’s no sign that her answers push him to a breaking point. That they bring out his inner evil or something. That would be bad writing but at least there would be an effort.

There is no narrative reason why Sansa and Ramsey couldn’t have consensual sex. She seems perfectly willing to go along with it until he orders Theon/Reek to watch. And even then, she starts taking off her clothes.

But, for some reason that is not at all apparent in the scene, this is not good enough for Ramsey. He rips off her dress and orders Theon/Reek to watch Sansa become a women. The camera cuts to Sansa’s face for a few seconds then to Theon’s horrified reaction.

This is the worst of it yet.

His reaction becomes more important than hers.

What. The. Fuck!?!?!

That’s bad writing– plot doesn’t happen to main characters to motivate side characters–and it’s really, really sexist. We’ve all seen movies where the wife is killed to motivate the hero (better known as fridge stuffing).

The plot went through a lot of terrible contortions to put Sansa in a situation where she was at risk of sexual assault. All of these things were decisions on the parts of the showrunners. That is how fiction works. Writers make decisions and those decisions shape the plot, the characters, the world. GoT is not based on real life. It is not based on history. There are ice zombies and dragons and 800 foot tall walls. All of these things are DECISIONS. There is nothing inevitable about Sansa’s plot. This is not about her becoming a woman or a player in the game. She doesn’t need any more motivation– she’s surrounded by people who killed her family. That’s plenty motivation. The only possible narrative reason for this scene was to motivate Theon. That is not okay.

That’s bad writing.

That’s sexist writing.

This plot was boring. It was predictable. It was repetitive. And it was sexist.

Unfortunately, GoT has been all of the above.

(And before anyone tells me not to watch if I don’t like it. Well, one that’s a stupid argument. And two, I watch so I can take part in these conversations and because the hate coursing through my veins makes me feel alive).

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17 Again

Sometimes, I think I’m living in a dream. I think I’m going to wake up any minute, still in college, done with the horrible nightmare that was the last four years of my life.

Because, there is no way smart A (okay A and B) student Fiona Fire has become this. There is no way she failed so hard at living up to her potential. There is no way she’s so far on the path to becoming her mother.

Sure, I wasn’t the hardest working high school student. I opted out of most activities. I got a lot of B+s in classes I could have easily aced. But I did well. I had potential. Excellent writer, great critical thinking skills. Hell, I was just as good at chemistry and math. I got a 5 on that AP test and it was easy peasy. I could have become a chemist, whatever the fuck chemists do.

But, no, I am here. I am not about to wake up. I am not going to do anything to erase how much I’ve failed to support myself the last few years. This is what I’ve done, and I have no excuses for it. Yes, I have a job. I work. But I don’t work enough and I don’t make enough. Tutoring sounds a lot snazzier than waiting tables, but it’s just as dead end. Maybe more so.

I saw an ad for Californiacation today. That show is the greatest masturbatory fantasy of all time. A good looking novelist turned screenwriter whines about being a sell out, is constantly propositioned by women, and stays in the good graces of his ex-wife and daughter despite being a terrible influence on their lives.

Sometimes, I think I am living a just as maturbatory fantasy. I spend my time writing, or whining about how writing isn’t supporting me, when other people learn real skills and take real jobs.

Sometimes, I think I am going to snap out of it and wonder why I wasted so much time “chasing a dream.” I will wake up and learn to code or get a teaching credential or get some shitty entry level job.

Sometimes, I think I am deluding myself about writing. Do I really love writing or am I just lazy? Is this simply my excuse for working part-time and writing 20 hours a week? Am I looking for writing or am I looking for a job that allows me many, many hours to watch Seinfeld reruns?

Am I looking for something to feed my depression– some excuse to stare at the computer with my heart torn from my gut?

I don’t know. I’m having one of those days where I just feel exhausted. I’m trying to cram a rewrite into one week, and I’ve been tearing my hair out trying to maintain focus. This whole book publishing endeavour has been as painful as it has been pleasurable.

My expectations were too high, sure, but I’ve never felt as fucking devastated as I did that first month.

I feel like my only chance at ever being successful is by writing. And, right now, it is. I’ve got no other fucking skills. So, every time my writing fails to live up to its potential (ugh), I feel both the sting of disappointment and the sting of OMG I HAVE NO FUTURE.

Maybe I’m melodramatic. I don’t know. Maybe I need to bite the bullet and get a day job. I have six or seven months until I’m finished with my tutoring commitments. That’s plenty of time to learn a skill, intern, get a portfolio in order. Something…

It would be easier than writing, honestly.

And I’d have a steady paycheck. I’d have a career path. I’d have a future.

The thought of it makes me sick.

But so does the thought of continuing like this. I’ve almost completely lost the motivation to write any screenplays. I can’t believe it took me film school and four years to realize how fucking hopeless it all is. I can’t even work on my super awesome, super fun idea. And it fucking kills to keep writing this romance series when I know nobody fucking cares about it. My reasonable self tells me I can make some changes to make it a little more palatable to readers. My reasonable self tells me I didn’t get enough exposure, that I gave away over well over a thousand copies during a five day promo with no advertising, that people will want to read it once they find it.

But that other part of myself screams that I am a stupid failure, again. And why do I bother working so hard when A) no one cares and B) I don’t make any fucking money? Really, why? I could invest so much of myself if I did something different. Sure, I would never really be excited about my work. I wouldn’t feel that passion. But who needs passion? Passion is a curse. Passion is a roller coaster. It demands all of your time and energy.

Maybe life would be easier if it were flatter. A train ride instead of a train wreck.

But, every time I try to talk myself into quitting, I get all sorts of ideas about a character at a turning point, thinking of abandoning her passion… and, of course, being reminded that she has to hold onto it.

That’s the narrative of art. Of course it is. It’s made by artists.

But, my imagination always runs away with all sorts of possibilities. I’ll win Nicholls, Jennifer Lawrence will star in my movie, I’ll win an Oscar (Jenny will win one too), Roger Ebert will come back from the dead to give me 4 stars, I’ll write a bestseller, earn a thousand five star reviews, have a rabid fan base who constantly asks me when my next book is coming out. I’ll be so rich, I’ll have a house in NY and a house in LA, and hell, why not one in Portland or Seattle too? I’ll travel the world. I’ll finally have the wardrobe of my dreams, and I’ll looks awesome at all times. No jeans and baggy t-shirt bullshit. I’ll have all sorts of friends. My life with be full–hobbies, an active social calendar, better relationships with my family. And I will look at my bank account and feel safe, because I have more money than I can spend. And I’ll fall asleep content, finally.

It’s all bullshit, I know. Back in high school (and even middle school), I was chubby. I daydreamed about the life I’d have once I lost weight. Things would be perfect. I’d be popular, stylish, cool. My grades would be better. I’d be prettier. I’d finally have a boyfriend.

And guess what– I was never more miserable than when I got down to 125 pounds. (I’m 5’10”, okay. That’s quite thin). I’ve never been more lonely. I was bulimarexic and depressed and the only reason why I’d even eat my fucking lunch was so I could get through my work out. I thought about driving into freeway dividers. I thought about swallowing bottles of sleeping pills. I lied in bed all afternoon crying to songs about suicide.

And I was only 17. Fucking 17.

It’s so easy for those of us that call ourselves artists to glamourize this pain. Oh, we’re so fucking deep and insightful because we hurt so much. And maybe there is some truth to it. Maybe we do have a better understanding of life, knowing how easily our brains can lie to us, knowing how hard we have to fight to even feel normal.

Or maybe we’re pathetic, whiny losers. Maybe we really can suck it up and get a job and contribute to society.

I once got into an argument with a friend over a Blink 182 song. He was annoyed by the singer whining about his hard high school life. Now, my friend is a rather self-centered person and he seems to believe that because he works 60-70 hours a week (when he’s employed, works in *shocker* the VFX industry. Shocking that a job in the film industry sucks) other people can’t have problems. But I told him I suffered more fucking pain in high school than some people suffer in their whole lives.

I feel like an asshole for saying that. Who the fuck do I think I am, claiming all this pain like it makes me special? But it’s true. I feel like I’ve had so much pain in my life, and sometimes I wonder if I can really add any more to it.

Can I really take yet another disappointment?

Can I really suffer any more pain?

It might be better to say no now. To get a job, work 40 hours a week, and stay too busy to realize I’m not fulfilled. Maybe I would be fulfilled. I don’t know.

I don’t even know what I’m saying.

I started getting really serious about writing in high school, back when I was feeling all that pain. All that honest, raw emotion. And, really, journaling constantly was the only way I could keep it from rising up and swallowing me whole.

Maybe it would have been better if it swallowed me then. I wouldn’t have wasted so many years of other peoples lives dragging into this black hole. I wouldn’t have spend 100 grand of my dad’s money on a useless film degree.

But what good does that do me now? I know I’m a depressive. I have fucked up brain chemistry. I eat right. I exercise. I’m in therapy. It only does so much. I’ve tried pills, but I don’t like them. Sometimes, I feel like I have to devote all my mental energy to keeping depression at bay, to keeping it mild. It comes back no matter what, no matter how good things are.

It can be the tiniest thing, the tiniest disappointment.

My pain doesn’t make me more real or more authentic or more worthy. It just makes me another whiny, entitled brat.

And nobody wants to read some depressed bitch’s depressing shit.

I had this moment a few years ago. I realized that it would hurt too many people if I did kill myself. And I realized that the great challenge of my life would be making it to the end without committing suicide.

It’s exhausting.

And writing is exhausting.

And failing over and over again is too fucking exhausting.

Maybe I just need to pick up the pieces and accept mediocrity.

The truth is, I haven’t changed that much since high school. If I look at my high school journal, my thoughts are exactly the same. Sure, they sound a little nicer now. The polish is better. The writing is better. But it’s the same shit, over and over again.

I’m still melodramatic.

I’m still in my room, crying by myself.

I’m still incapable of getting thoughts from my head to my mouth.

An eating disorder was the only thing that got me through my high school depression.

If I’m being totally honest, nothing has felt right since. I’ve lacked that purpose, that reason to wake up every day.

So I think I will wake up from this dream and be 17 again, trapped in that ugly gray life, pouring thoughts onto my drab gray blog (Diaryland, of course).

But at least I will have eight years of potential I’m yet to waste.

I’m a logical person. I can see the results of my actions. I put so much time and effort into my writing and the net result is pain. The opportunity cost is so high. There is some fulfillment, yes, but it comes at such a heavy price.

Is it better to cut my losses?

I don’t know. I wish someone else had the answers. I shouldn’t be responsible for them. I barely have any mental energy left. I used it all up trying not to slip into another fit of depression. Again.

I swear. I don’t even know how I’ll manage to have a job. I really don’t.

I kept a lot of journals in high school, online and on my computer. Xanga is down. Diary x is down. So many of my thoughts have turned to cyber dust.

It means something, but I’m not sure what.

I can’t think of an apt metaphor, but I have to wonder… what will happen as all these disappointments add up? At some point, where my heart just break?

Maybe that would put it out of its misery.

A Passionless Marriage

It’s funny. A few days ago, I was getting ready to write a post about how I’m not quitting writing. But, now, I’m unsure again. No, scratch that. I am not quitting. Not right now at least.

But it’s starting to feel like it’s all work and no play. I don’t mind work, and I expect writing to feel like work some of the time, but I’m starting to dread it.

I’m not excited about my projects anymore. They feel like time and energy sucks instead of artistic fulfillment.

I guess a side effect of trying to make money off of something is that it becomes work.

But let me back up.

I wrote a book. I didn’t have much of a plan when I wrote it. I wanted to try out this whole novel thing. I did a little research and learned that romance is a popular genre. And, hey, I always write romanceish screenplays, so why not a romanceish book? And why not a sexy book too? I’m always taking stuff out of my scripts because it’s too sexy.

Then, I did a little more research, and I bought a cover and paid and editor and I published the book as the start of a trilogy. I failed at some marketing stuff, and I totally failed to move any copies.

Apparently, this is normal for most. But it’s still depressing.

You’ll notice that I failed to accomplish a critical step in this process–to properly understand the genre. I never read romance until I got the idea to write this book, and I only read a dozen or so books. Certainly not enough to give me a feel for what the readers want.

And, well, the thing is… I might hate what the readers want. It’s mostly alpha males and billionaires (no, really, it is) and I fucking hate alpha males. Just. No.

No, no, no.

And, now that I’m finally doing some proper research, I’m realizing exactly what this book publishing endeavour might entail. I’ll need to publish 3-4 books a year, in a series, that really cater to reader’s expectations. A breakneck pace that would surely leave no room for screenwriting (not that I’m particularly excited to do that either).

No room for enjoyment really.

I get so caught up in making these writing and publishing plans. My ambition skyrockets. Then, it all crashes around me and I have to ask myself–would I actually enjoy this life?

And, at this point, I just don’t know.

Maybe I’m just in the downward part of the swing, but I’m starting to feel like it’s just not worth it. It’s too many compromises.

Yes, I want to be a writer. And, yes, I’m willing to mold what I write to some degree in order to appease whoever…

But sometimes I get the distinct sense I’d have more luck if I tossed my integrity out the window and just copied what’s popular.

And that’s depressing.

Or maybe I’m just depressed and nothing would really stimulate me.

This time, I mean it

Something inside me snapped last week. I’m not sure exactly what it was or what it means, but I feel myself pulling further and further away from writing.

The more progress I make, the farther away I feel. 

It hurts too much to put so much of myself into my work only to have it fizzle. It hurts to much to work so hard for nothing. And it hurts to much to feel like I’m not a productive member of society.

Once upon a time, I felt like I have so much potential. Now, I feel like I’m squandering it.

I’m increasingly unhappy by the products of my efforts. Not by the actual act of writing, though that’s never really been about being happy, more about being fulfilled. But by what comes after the writing and editing and perfecting.

And the problem is that so little comes after it.

The last few months were, arguably, my most successful ever, but I’ve never felt more like I’m wasting my time. Screenwriting is so whatever. And my novel is so not getting the response I hoped for.

It’s not that no one likes it. It’s hovering around a solid three and a half stars on Amazon, is (barely) scraping by at 3 on Goodreads (I gave a way a bunch of copies in exchange for reviews on Goodreads and using a Netgalley co-op)… but so many members of my intend audience are simply not interested in something anywhere outside of the contemporary romance box.

You wouldn’t believe how many reviews basically amounted to — It’s not exactly what I expected, I hate it. The characters aren’t likable enough. I hate it. The main character thinks too much (it’s too literary). I hate it.

I mean, it’s possible I’m making excuses for my own failure, but I don’t think I’m too far off base.

I’m proud of my work. I worked fucking hard to write something that is a great fucking book about fascinating characters and not just another formulaic, mediocre romance. An interesting fucking book, not interesting for a romance.

You know, the standard advice–write the book you want to read that doesn’t exist yet. And this is what I want to read– a contemporary romance with 3-dimensional characters, plenty of sex, and literary appeal.

And I think I succeeded.

But, apparently, I’m one of the only people who wants to read this kind of thing.

So many readers (apparently) just want the same damn thing. Over and over. I feel like they would have liked my super tropey first draft more than the polished, insightful draft I published.

Like I’d be doing better with something that, by my standards, is crap.

So, it’s not that I feel like I’m not good enough. I’m getting there. But I feel more and more like it doesn’t matter that I’m good enough. Trying is pointless.

And it hurts too much to see your marketing effort has created no sales, that you’re asking the wrong people for reviews, that so many people don’t actually want something thoughtful. When I saw my Goodreads score fall to just under three, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck.

And it only makes me feel worse that Bared to You has a better rating than To Kill A Mockingbird (insert other classic here). Are the readers as tasteless (no offense to Bared to You, it’s good for e-rom, but it’s not TKAM) as everyone suggests? Is romance a crap genre? Is writing a more literary book a big fat waste of time?

By all accounts, it’s looking like a yes.

I spend half my weekend actually thinking up an alternate career path.

I could never give up writing. I love it too much. But I’m starting to feel like all this time in front of my computer is only making my depression worse. That throwing myself out there in the world to be torn apart is too fucking painful.

See, in college, I took a lot of animation classes. A big waste of time, but studying film was a big waste of time. Back then, I was vegan and very passionate about animal rights. (Long story). In one of my classes, I spent the entire semester on a painfully earnest project about a guy adopting a pig. And, after I presented my final, my teacher made a joke about how bacon is tasty.

I never took another animation class again.

I was just done.

I’m starting to feel done.

Not with writing, but with ever trying to make anything resembling a career out of it.

I think I’ll be happier if I get a 9-5.

I’m not ready to call it quits just yet. I’m going to see my(school) year of tutoring and my trilogy through.

I’m going to keep writing in my spare time.

But, sometime in the next year or two, I’m going to be learning a new skill or going back to school. I’m going to work towards an actual career. (Probably teaching or programming)

Writing for a living is a pipe dream.

But worse, it’s stressful and depressing and utterly suffocating.

(Of course, there’s a good chance, I’ll be making this claim again sometime next month. Hope is a real killer).

Tomorrow Never Comes

Things haven’t changed much in the past year. I’m still not pulling my weight. I’m still not seeing the fruits of my labor. I’m still languishing in what the fuck am I doing ville.

Only, a year ago I believed I could make tutoring into a legit gig. I’d still be part-time, of course, but enough of a part that I’d pay my share of the expenses. I had this idea that maybe I’d write a novel, but I still clung hard to the I will be a successful screenwriter thing.

Okay… my first statement wasn’t true. Things have changed.

I published a book.

I made quarter (but not semi) finals in the Nicholls fellowship after two years of nada (not even one positive review).

But, mostly, I lost sight of where the fuck my life is going. A year ago, I had a clear end point. Now I don’t even know. I don’t feel like a novelist or a screenwriter or even a functional adult. I don’t want to keep delaying having a J-O-B, but I’m terrified of what would happen if I actually looked for a 9-5, legit adult job. I don’t have any skills.

(I actually can’t look for a full-time gig at the moment as I’ll need to help take my mom to chemo treatments in the next few months).

It’s not the job I want. It’s the sense of satisfaction from taking care of myself. I’m tired of relying on other people, but I have no freaking clue how to stop. Writing is the only thing I’m halfway decent at.

And, I know, I know, in both the case of screenwriting and novels it takes time to build a career, but knowing doesn’t help. My mood is a fucking roller coaster, plummeting with every perceived setback. I compare myself to other people, over and over, completely sure that I will never be successful the way I’m doing things. That I will never be successful unless I publish a (shitty) book a month. I obsess over these shitty books’ 4 star ratings. How can such utter crap receive such high praise?

Is it possible I know nothing about writing? Nothing about what people want to read? Is it possible all this I need time to write stuff is just laziness?

And then I convince myself that no one wants a well-written book about actual characters just like no one wants a weird comedy screenplay about dysfunctional women with dysfunctional sex lives.

Of course, with screenwriting, I have some idea of what I need to do to be successful. I don’t need to sell to the audience. I need to sell myself as a writer with ability to the people with writing assignments.

I don’t know how to do that, but I have some ideas.

I know my niche.

I know how to sell myself.

I’ve had zero success, but I have some idea (or I’ve deluded myself into this) of what the people want.

But in bookville, I’m going crazy, worried I’m not selling what the people want. And, well, I knew some people wouldn’t like my book (not everyone likes everything), but I didn’t realize the doubt it would strike into my heart.

With screenplays, I sort of expected that nothing would ever come of them. They are samples at best and files on my computer at worst. But I have screenwriter friends who encourage me, talk to me, commiserate with me.

I didn’t realize it, but I put so much hope into this novel. And it’s not like my hope has been dashed against the rocks. I know that self-publishing is a slow road. I know not to expect too many sales until I have a few books out (even with a few promotions), but I don’t know how to freaking deal with that. I don’t know how to convince my feelings that this is okay. Because they are not happy. They are riddled with doubt. They are agonizing over how hard I worked on this book (six months, at least), and how other people publish first drafts they wrote in a month and sell more, get better reviews, whatever.

And, sure, I know that it doesn’t matter what other people do, but try telling my feelings that.

Because they are convinced I’ll never be successful writing a book every six months, that I’ll never manage to make ‘dem benjamins writing stuff I actually believe in.

That I would be better off peddling crap.

Or at the very least, devoting all my time to straight up erotica.

And the thing is, I know my self-esteem and happiness can’t come from external forces. I know I need to feel comfortable with myself and my life regardless of whether anything I write ever makes a freaking cent.

But I still keep telling myself I’ll feel better after my promos, when my sales improve.

I’ll feel better when I finally have some validation that I’m doing the right thing.

And I will.

But what if that validation never comes?

Rollercoaster

After making it into Nicholl quaterfinals last week, I got a 4/10 in a Blcklist.com review this week.

Now, I can and will go off on how incompetent this reader was. The 4/10 is one thing, but the person wrote a convoluted coverage. It started with a generic “this script needs more development,” and did not get any better.

Trust me. I know bad reviews. I go and read one star reviews of my favorite books on Amazon just to rile up my anger. My favorite was the person who went on a three paragraph tirade about why The Hunger Games was bad for its use of first person, present tense.

(The best person/verb tense IMO. But, even if you don’t like first person, present tense, that’s the STUPIDEST REASON IN THE WORLD for a one star review).

I’m not interested in revising this script, but, if I was, this review would be ABSOLUTELY NO HELP.

I want my $50 back.

I’m in an awful mood. It doesn’t shake my self-confidence really. It’s fine if someone doesn’t like my script. OBVIOUSLY, some people did like it because IT IS IN THE NICHOLL QUARTERFINALS (not to brag or anything… but it is IN THE NICHOLL QUARTERFINALS).

And, quite frankly, I know it’s not a 4. The guy–let’s face it, he was probably a guy what with the convoluted comments he made about female sexuality–gave the dialogue a 4. Plot a 4–sure, whatever. The plot is just okay. But the dialogue is FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC.

A lot of people liked it. I know BECAUSE THEY TOLD ME. And I know they weren’t just saying that, because these people have read other things I wrote, and they did NOT tell me they liked those things.

I’m not upset in a oh no, am I a good writer??? kind of way. I know I’m a good writer and I know my script is good. And, I know, from this coverage, that the reader paid little attention (the location is mentioned in the first five pages and the reader didn’t know what city the script took place in. Even if the script totally sucked, the reader should have paid attention for the first five pages). I wrote coverage for a while, and I had to read other writers’ coverage and, quite frankly, A LOT OF THEM WERE IDIOTS.

It’s just… after getting the quarterfinals email, I was starting to get back on the screenwriting train. I was like Hell Yeah, I’m the shit. Top 2% in the most prestigious screenwriting competition around. Maybe there is some way I’ll become successful. Maybe I should spend some of my writing time on screenplays.

And I started thinking that I actually missed screenwriting. I missed my silly comedy. And I missed using sex as a punchline. And I missed formatting my dialogue in lovely centered blocks without quotation marks.

But, this convoluted coverage and its mediocre score have reminded me that there is little merit to whatever you want to call “breaking in.” It costs me $75 to get one review and one month of hosting. Sure, I can pay another $50 for a review, and I’d be willing to bet I’d get a better score, but why bother if I might get another person who OBVIOUSLY ISN’T PAYING ATTENTION.

What’s the point in writing any more screenplays at all?

I don’t know anymore.

I might pay for another review. Out of curiosity. Honestly, I don’t see how anyone could give the script a four unless he was having a bad day. It has problems (none of which were mentioned in the weakness. It was only painfully generic things like “this character felt two different ways about something. Inconsistent. I do not understand subtlety.”), bit it’s at least a solid six.

But what if I get another four? I’d freak the fuck out to be honest with you.

Cheating on My Wife

I feel strange lately. I’m finally confident in my screenwriting abilities. I finished my latest feature and it kicks ass. I know I can write shit that rocks. I know I’ve finally started to figure it out.

And I am losing interest in the whole thing.

Now, this wouldn’t be the first time I lost interest in something as soon as I had a handle on it, but I don’t think it’s anything like that. I still love the act of screenwriting (and we are only talking about screenwriting here, not prose writing), but something about it has turned me off completely. Is it all the dumb people on the internet? The feeling of impossibility? The desire to change my life and get out of Los Angeles? The utter difficulty of a real job in the real world–working in a restaurant is fucking exhausting–making me flee to something easier? Is it all the stress about my mom/family problem? I don’t know… the best explanation I have is that I am tired, stressed out, and over-stimulated. The thought of getting off my ass and producing something is utterly exhausting.

What’s the point?

Am I too mercenary? At this point, I feel I am a good enough writer that I deserve compensation for my work. I don’t want to write things just for fun. I want to write things that will lead to me making a living. Because, now that I work 20-30 hours a week, and I have to give up work days to scurry my mom to appointments, I don’t have any time. And I want to use my time to build a career.

Will screenwriting ever be a career?

I don’t know. I do feel like there is a different part of myself who does screenwriting. The girl who writes comedy is different than the girl who writes drama. But they’re both me. If I gave up either, I would feel weird and unbalanced. And, to be perfectly honest, I’ve been drowning in drama world lately. It’s a little much, spending so much time in the head of a character with distorted thought processes…

I love my silly, weird, girl-focused scripts. I wouldn’t trade them, or working on them, for anything. Even if I’m usually miserable while I’m writing them because something is just not working. But that’s writing in a nutshell. When it’s working, it’s awesome. When it’s not working, it’s utter annihilation.

Maybe I am getting ahead of myself. Again. Just because I can no longer stomach even an episode of Scriptnotes or a few minutes on a screenwriting forum doesn’t mean I’m over screenwriting. It means I’m tired of hearing the same retreads of three-act structure and likable characters. And, though John and Craig seem like really nice guys, they are clearly out of touch with what it’s like to be broke and tired and trying to carve a career out of nothing… and, for my money, they take far too lenient of a stance on sexism/sexist tropes in movies.

Or maybe, after listening to 50 something episodes, I’m just tired of listening to them.

I don’t know. I’m going to publish my novel in about four weeks. I have a release date. A cover. It’s proofread. I still need to format it and do more press and do more marketing, but it’s quite the accomplishment. And I’ve never accomplished ANYTHING like this with screenwriting. Ever.

Now, being the mercenary girl that I am, I am more than willing to pull back on my publishing plan to take paying screenwriting gigs. Say, if my script was a finalist in Nicholl and I got a bunch of attention… I’m publishing all this stuff myself. I can put out a book a year and still do tons of screenwriting. But two books is another thing entirely.

Am I just sick of the entertainment industry? Unfortunate for me, cause my protagonist is a TV actress, and this book is only the first in a TRILOGY. Lord help me.

Am I just sick of Los Angeles?

Am I just tired? I feel tired.

I have to remember. I’m not even 25. I have plenty of time to build a career or build a second career. But, still, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m cheating on my wife. We don’t have the same spark we used to have, and I’ve turned to some new thing to wake me up.

Or maybe I am overly dramatic.