So this is interesting. Fast forward a few months from my last post, and the script is not only written, but I shot the first 25 minutes and have a teaser, rough cut, a production company, fancy producers, and press. A thousand tales of challenges and overcoming obstacles to get here, but cool to know that in just a few months, you really can make your dreams a reality.
Here’s the article: http://theemeraldmagazine.com/2017/01/pot-fiction
So much to process right now, words about to rip out of me. Been a big month, you could say. Have a lot to share. But not ready to. Instead, going to write about rejection.
I recently received what I consider “positive” rejections from Short of the Week and Tin House, and it got me thinking. I’m good friends with rejection. We’ve met each other many, many times. In fact, rejection might be the most helpful feedback one can get on the path of art and life, depending how you receive it.
Short of the Week wrote they mulled over my film quite a bit, were very close to accepting it but ultimately felt it wasn’t what they were looking for. Considering this was the darkest and most edgy film work I’ve ever written/acted in/produced, I was nervous as hell to put it out into the world. Terrified of being judged as a psycho pervert, aka terrified of being rejected. The pass from SOTW felt like a win, because apparently they rarely give more than a “thanks but no thanks.”
“This was a really tough call for us. Considering the film is about such an intensely unlikable and awful character, it’s undeniably compelling. The lead performance is fantastic and the unconventional, yet strong shot choices help convey a sense of unease, unsettling the viewer. You really do capture the “seedy underbelly” of LA.”
Tin House, illustrious gatekeepers of literary merit, also rejected me. A much briefer “this doesn’t work for us, but please know we welcome reading your future work.” I’ve never been so excited to be rejected! Hooray! It means 1.) They actually read it, and 2.) As one of my mentors Colette pointed out “This is a definitely a good rejection, especially from Tin House. Believe me, they get scads of submissions. They only send “send agains” to people whose work genuinely impresses them.”
So what it does mean, getting close to acceptance but swallowing rejection? How many other times has this happened? The novel I wrote that almost got published, then didn’t. The original pilot I wrote/acted in that almost got picked up, then didn’t. Am I good, but not good enough? The guys I’ve liked who didn’t like me back. The jobs I’ve wanted but they hired someone else. For all my work ethic, commitment, continual work on my spiritual/emotional/physical self, maybe I’m good enough, but not “right” enough. In that moment. For that opportunity/person/acknowledgement.
Maybe I suck. But that’s not for me to know. For now, I’m keeping a note card on my desk where I keep a hash mark for every rejection I get on my current project (a new pilot). I look at it like wanting to rack up rejections, because it’s a numbers game, and eventually I’ll get the YES. And it only takes one yes.
And because not trying is the same thing as being told “no.”
And here’s a brain dump from my mind:
I saw an owl at the Renaissance Faire. He had fire eyes like the red flowers on the pomegranate trees in my yard. Looking at my face and seeing it get older. The shooting star I saw Saturday night. That time we gathered to watch the blood moon eclipse and it was foggy so we drank cactus instead and laughed and I ended up in a suite at the W Hotel. The loves I’ve had. The friend I’m not going to see for a long time. Lady Fluff’s cat kisses. Realizing she’s a feline Kathy Bates. My own near misses. Hiding from the lust demon, not eating sugar or dairy or starch for a month like a real LA girl. My former Reno self is embarrassed. But it helps me think straight.
Lately I’ve been listening to Chet Faker, reading about detachment, and trying to buy a car. Five months in Los Angeles sans vehicle has been 90% bliss (no parking tickets! snoozing on the bus/train/Uber/Lyft!) but it’s getting impractical. My heart wants an ’84 Wagoneer or ’78 Mercedes but living in Koreatown has seeped into my blood so I’ll probably get a Hyundai.
Tuesday I had a very good call with the studio that’s developing one of my projects (more on that soon) so I celebrated by doing my laundry then smoking some Maui Kush then journeying to the Last Bookstore in downtown for an impromptu photo shoot with a muse in the labyrinth of books upstairs (literally a labyrinth/maze of books…go there). Then I ate steak.
Yesterday I took myself on a writing date in Los Feliz. I worked on the rewrite of Johnny and the Scams and sent producer-y emails about the new pilot I co-wrote with the director Kris Krainock, called Fantasy Inn. It’s a creepy role for me and will probably freak you out. I ate an ahi tuna wrap at Fred 66 and then an entire plate of sweet potato fries. I sat in the same booth as the first time I went there, for my first meeting with my first literary manager when I first got to LA. I remember I wore a black blazer from Ross and pointy red shoes.
I went to Skylight Books next and became instantly devastated at all I haven’t written and all I haven’t read. I purchased Tom Robbins’ new memoir Tibetan Peach Pie then dreamed about writing a blog post about purchasing it, which you’re reading now. A quick look-a-roo in a vintage store uncovered a reversible sheepskin vest/purple jacket thing for $34 that’s so radical I just broke my oath to never blog about clothes.
As I took a Lyft over to Machete’s I thought about Paije’s dearly departed cat Zaazu, wondered if my grandma made it back to the gym this week, and fought an urge to travel somewhere internationally. Just clean your room, Erin. Then you won’t feel so restless. I got to Machete’s and hugged her for the first time since Lightning in a Bottle, which was an otherworldly swirl in the electro-hippie lake bed dreamland that crushed so hard it deserves it’s own post (my favorite sets were GoldRush, Pumpkin, Little Dragon, Quest Crew, Tokimonsta, Gaslamp Killer, sunrise Random Rab and our camp Bok Choy which for those lovely LIB nights was the most fun party on the planet). I’ll try to write that post. Yet I find, as always, trying to write about a festival experience is like (you know I want to say “catching lightning in a bottle”)…really hard.
Machete saw the vintage-purple-vest-jacket-thing and freaked because she’d almost got it herself for LIB! Now we can share it. We watched the rough cut of a short film she directed, then took her dogs on a walk. As Dexter (the puggle) did his bizness and Ninja (the min-pin) sniffed a flower, Machete commented that recently she’d stopped rushing around so much, and found she felt much more at peace. In my head I sang the lyric from the 2003 Nelly song “Pimp Juice” You ain’t from Russia, so bitch why you rushin’. But I didn’t say sing it out loud because it’s kinda weird I remember it. Instead I breathed the warm, perfectly breezy night air of Los Angeles in June, and said “You and me, we’re going places.”
Want to bottle it/want to burn it/want to love it but haven’t earned it.
I wrote that phrase a year ago to describe the feeling of my different creative ideas noodling through my brain, clamoring to be expressed. I keep returning to the phrase, because although I’ve gotten better at channelling my ideas into projects, they still threaten to consume me.
A big problem is that I’m equally passionate about writing, filmmaking, and being on-camera. Breaking it down even further, I love the depth and freedom of prose, but have the most fun screenwriting. I love producing, really pulling a project together, but know ultimately I’ll want to direct for full creative cohesion. I still want to be the heroine/ingenue on-screen, but know I’m more of a comedic character actor.
It’s a good problem to have, being lit up by multiple mediums. But I’m dividing my creative energies, and to get anywhere I need to laser focus. But there are lots of successful “slashies” these days, Lena Dunham, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, David Lynch, Sam Shepard. So do I really need to pick just one?
I’m also just back from a camping and music adventure, been sleeping under the stars with the electro hippies. I’m always grumpy when I have to return to the grid. Always questioning my life and the choices I make.
The adventure was called Symbiosis, and many magical events transpired. I witnessed the first ever iamamiwhoami performance in America, she’s a Swedish multimedia artist and absolute inspiration. Saw my first Butoh dance performance, it was bizarre, chilling, terrifying, mesmerizing. I got a massage for my danced-out muscles, at the end I opened my eyes and realized I’d met the bodyworker a year ago in Bali. Leaving the fest, I picked up four hitchhikers, the kind of professional travelers who move through the world without money or a plan. An hour down the road I got tired and we all took a nap in the grass in front of a church. Two kittens appeared, my spirit animals. Cats always appear to keep me company.
Out at the fest it doesn’t matter what medium I’m pursuing. No one’s pursuing anything other than that night’s good time. Good friends, good music, a good buzz, a good life. All that matters is sharing a flashlight with my neighbor a few tents over, if the line for breakfast burritos is too long, that we’ll meet stage left if we get separated.
I stayed in this past weekend, since getting home. Working on these different mediums, listening to James Blake, letting his creative output dance with mine, reading through old notebooks, because reading old stuff is important, it’s staying in the swirl, the place where ideas are born. Muse/use absorb/be born. Writing at night is my truth. I like to take breaks and go outside, observe the electric streetlight competing with the moon.
I’ve been thinking about this blog, that I don’t want it to be generic, bland, or afraid to offend. It grinds my gears to reread something and find my writing is general. I do this when I’m suffering from I-want-everyone-to-like-me-itis. I don’t dig deep, I go for the easy out. Oh shit. Blogging is a whole other medium, ain’t it? And so I return to my original question, because sometimes this blog is a forum to set forth ideas, and sometimes it’s a place to receive answers. What do you think? Should an artist pick one creative medium?
When I’m feeling down that my career (as a writer/actor/filmmaker) isn’t “there” yet, Beth (my bff and partner in all crimes) tells me that we’re still putting in our 10,000 hours. As a reminder of how far we’ve come, we recently watched the first short film/video thing we ever made: us impersonating vikings for a contest to win $1,000 and a week stay at a Nordic resort back home in Tahoe.
This was in 2009, when I still lived in a brick apartment in Reno and was a bartender and Beth lived in her parent’s guest cottage and was a go-go dancer. We were staying at Sorensen’s, Beth’s family’s magical resort in the mountains, we were tipsy, and we decided to film an entry. Our imaginations went wild with everything we could do with $1,000, and Granlibakken sounded exotic and mystical, even though it was only a half hour from home.
We wrote our video in 20 minutes and filmed it in 30. Halfway through, the camera died and we filmed the rest on a phone. Our “swords” were made of tin foil, our mustaches were made of paper and taped to our faces. I had been taking guitar lessons for three weeks so there’s a musical interlude. We don’t know our lines, we’re wearing the pajamas we woke up in, and I look like Willie Nelson. But it’s my favorite thing we’ve ever filmed, and perhaps the funniest. Our first venture as Just B.E. Productions (Just Beth and Erin), early starts, earnest hearts, I present, The Hodge Podge Vikings!
This post would not be complete without mentioning Mike Geraghty, who also entered the Granlibakken contest. Mike is a Reno friend and one of the funniest human beings alive, and the reason I didn’t post his video, Lognard of the Lake, first is because his is so fucking funny you’ll die before you can watch Hodge Podge. It should be mentioned he was actually a finalist in the contest (and is currently killing it in the Chicago comedy scene):
I think the fun we had making these videos is evident. We did it because we wanted to make people smile, and we wanted to perform, and in the end it only takes a camera and a little time. Which is the spirit in which all art should be made–straight from the heart in an inspired moment. May all our projects be Hodge Podge!