A day in Buenos Aires to remember the kitties I’ve met in South America.

In a cab in Buenos Aires, I stick my head out in the smoky air and am free to dream.

My heart is fireworks for this city!

The buildings look like Paris, the Spanish sounds like a song, the city runs on Erin Granat time: wake-up at 11am, start your day at 3pm, eat dinner at 11pm, stay up dancing, pontificating til 6am. Love!

I arrive at the Botanical Gardens, very leafy/green, stylized statues all around. I sit in the grass, in the sun. Next to me is a cat, a calico cat of black and gold (Theta colors!). I instantly am in love with this kitty and name him Palmito. I pet him and scratch his ears, hoping on the other side of the world in Los Angeles my fat fluff Chairman Meow isn’t jealous. Hopefully, Palmito won’t update his status in the international cat registry (Meowbook?) “Met an American writer. She had nice paws.” (Weird? Yes!)

Palmito and me--Botanical Gardens, Buenos Aires

I tell Palmito about his fellow cat brethren I’ve met on this tour of South America. There was Chino in Brazil, a severely cross-eyes Siamese I communed with at a nature retreat while drinking wine by a fire. I had confided in Chino how different Brazil was from my expectations, how nice the cars were, how much you could feel the economy on a boom. I told him how much I loved the juice in Brazil–watermelon with mint with honey and ginger.

Chino and me--Southern Brazil

Back to Palmito. I tell about the kitty committee I met in Montevideo. I was on a run by a lighthouse and was taking in the deceptively big skyline of this capital of Uruguay when I spotted two, no three, no DOZENS of meows living amongst the rocks below the lighthouse! There were too many to name so I sat silently instead, hoping they’d come say hello. They weren’t interested in me, sadly, so instead I took up a handful of pebbles and meditated on one at a time, letting each one represent something I felt bad about and needed to exorcise from my life (mucho mucho), then threw each pebble into the River Plata that separates Montevideo from Buenos Aires, willing my despair to sink with the pebble into the murky water. Then the lighthouse attendant arrived in a yellow rain slicker and asked me if I wanted to help feed the kitties and I said yes and they were adorable with milk all over their little meow faces and I was able to pet a few and was so happy!

Palmito goes off to chase a butterfly and I head to the Museo de Evita, because I like learning about powerful women. I admire her gowns and ponder why the museum goes from her childhood straight to her years with Peron, and learn later the beginning of their romance was shrouded in scandal so es posible que the museum conveniently skipped those years. But I smoked a joint before I left for the day so maybe I just missed a room.

Up to something--Evita and her man

Next I walk around Palermo, the hip/trendy/expensive part of Buenos Aires that’s even separated into a “Palermo Soho” and “Palermo Hollywood.” I buy many pretty things. It’s an unbelievable fact that this super cool stylish city is so inexpensive. I order a pancake in a cafe, it comes with layers of jamon y queso y cinco fried eggs! The waiter is blonde and tells me he loves me. I make a note to ask Chairman if he’d like to be an Argentine kitty meow.

Love my gypsy patterns--Palermo

I leave the cafe and find a cab within seconds. A mundane details, perhaps, but if you’ve ever spent ages trying to hail a cab in a big city you’d be pleased to learn Buenos Aires seems to have an abundance of available cabs. And these amazing cookies called Havannas! And Malbec! And dulce de leche! This trip has happily been a Tour de Fat. And with Palmito and Chino at the helm, a Tour de Cat. And word by word, pushing pebbles to make a mountain, I’ve been writing. And inchingcloseclosecloser to finishing my novel.

Tonight, tango!

 

 

Suddenly, I’m in Brazil.

A few months ago I went to a live jazz night in Hollywood with Beth. Sitting there in the dark brick club, Hollywood hipsters all around, I remembered something: I don’t like jazz. I like the idea of jazz, or rather, the idea that I like jazz, but I just don’t like jazz. I don’t get it. It’s chaotic and I can never find a rhythm and if you can’t shake your noodle to it what’s the point? On that particular night, jazz didn’t stand a chance, because the jumble of notes was like the chaos in my head, a particularly manic breed of discombobulation.

Let me explain.

The months since my 27th birthday have been tumultous. Actually, I wish there was a word like “tumultous” that also meant “emotionally hysteric” and “happycrazysad.” And in times of stress, I clam up. I don’t want to talk. Definitely, I don’t want to b-l-o-g. But, I find that I miss you, I need you as an outlet. So here I am, and I will try to give an account of what has transpired, ending with me writing this from a hotel suite in Brazil.

The bad/sad: My relationship of the last three years ended, a beautiful, deeply supportive relationship that had a lot of love and a lot of respect. It seems a sad, sad fact of life that all good things must end.

The amazing/incredible: Numero uno wonderful event…I have a literary manager and agent! The first major hurdles accomplished! I’d like to write more about how this came to be, but I’m hesitant to let the steam out of the proverbial pot….don’t want to blab too much too early….but point is I’m now writing writing writing to finish my novel and so the agent can get it to publishers and hopefully/finally/fingers crossed–make my mark and make my livelihood.

The other special/happy event I’m also reticent to reveal….a beautiful new relationship with a brilliant man who’s an accomplished director who has brought me to Brazil with him for a month while he’s on a shoot. Also don’t want to talk about it too much too soon, so instead here are a few observations of Brazil: with the upcoming World Cup and Olympic Games you can feel the economy booming….Brazilians have so many different faces, not one specific look or coloring…..the theatrics of a film crew are as entertaining as the actual actors….and something that distinguishes 5-star hotels from the 0-stars I’m used to is this: the towels are much more absorbent.

As for my writing….it’s rather a shit sandwich right now….the tedious revision process where every day is dealing with my bad writing from the past. Dealing with cliches. Sometimes it’s fun. Yesterday the cliche “voice cut me like a knife” became “voice stung me like a thousand inebriated jellyfish.” But in general, revision is facing how much your writing can suck.

And so….there you have it. A blog to get back into the blog. Heading to a small town in northern Brazil for a few beach days, then Buenos Aires, then Uruguay.

Thank you for your time and attention.

If I was famous I’d be dead by now.

It was my birthday this week! May 11th, 1984 until May 11th, 2011 (oh shit just realized this was my only year of 11-11…somehow this feels significant?) were quite the barnburner. But I feel like my life is just beginning! I know who I am and what I want and how to get it (I am a writer/I want to write/I will write). And considering a life is only as rich as the people in it, I’m a fucking billionaire!

Birthday highlights include: a solo May 10th in Malibu frolicking in the waves, stomping on seaweed poppers, spotting a seal AND a dolphin!, falling asleep in the sun, and reading A Practical Guide to Wicca hoping someone would notice how weird/intriguing I am (fail); that night many friends from my many L.A. lives rallied at Canter’s, the most Jewish and retro deli ever, where I ordered Thanksgiving dinner, took too many whiskey shots, and danced for/sang with the ragtag AWESOME cover band that plays the deli on Tuesday nights; a family-filled May 11th, Grandma ordered me Chinese food for a bday dinner (I told her I don’t like Chinese, I’d rather have Thai–she said “too bad”), my aunt and uncle gave me a new litter box (score!), and Beth, Jen Birn and I hit up the Roosevelt for Beacher’s Madhouse (Leo DiCaprio was there…so nice of him to join in my festivities!).

Here’s my official 27th birthday portrait, with a panda from Beacher’s:

I might grow older, but I refuse to grow up!

The exquisite liberation of being really, really poor.

Today I got a letter in the mail that the City of Los Angeles is charging me $604 in taxes for “operating a business without a certificate.” I promptly called to clear it up and was informed that an independent contractor (I file all 1099s) is considered a “business” in L.A., and yes I’d have to pay the $604.

This is in addition to the $573 I have to pay on my tax return (majority of which is H&R Block fees), the $220 I owe to Kaiser for a trip to the emergency room last week, $700 in rent, $111 to the Dept. of Water and Power, $59 for missing a toll driving the wrong way on the freeway, an additional $59 for driving back through the toll once I was heading in the right direction, my cell phone bill, three credit card payments, and two student loan payments.

These bills were all due by March 22. It is now March 25.

And I have no money. Absolutely none to speak of. Given the nature of L.A. jobs, I’m waiting on several paychecks that the employer has 30+ days to process, despite the fact that I’ve been working all around this damn town.

I know it’s considered bad form to air financial grievances, but I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not the only one who has fallen on hard times. And to be honest, I think the puke stain that is my current financial situation is funny. Downright hilarious. Because all these companies/institutions want money from me, but they ain’t gonna get it.

And if this is what the dregs looks like, it’s not so bad. I might be using coffee filters for toilet paper and borrowing gas money from my 95 year-old grandmother, but at least I have the filters and the grandma. A lot of people have much less. It’s quite liberating, being at this place. I understand with perfect clarity “When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.” So I just keep on writing. Keep on planning films and projects and photo shoots with Beth. There’s this weight off my shoulders. I can’t go out because I don’t have any money. Can’t go buy food or concert tickets or make-up or anything. Life is very, very simple.

I must admit this financial insecurity has been my life for going on three years, since I kissed my conventional life goodbye for good. But if this is what everyone is so afraid of, being really poor is what everyone shapes their whole life around not being, to the tune of going to school for something they aren’t interested in, then getting a job that bores them, then building an entire life around not losing the illusion of “success” they’ve built…then I want nothing of it.

I might be broke, but when I wake up every day I’m the captain of my own fucking ship.

Bring on the coffee filters.

Just found this paragraph I wrote in 2009:

New York City, night. It is July 2004, and Beth and I are at a club in the East Village. I’m still not used to the muggy air of a Manhattan summer, the reek of garbage bags on the sidewalks. This little Dorothy is not in Nevada anymore, and I’m more conscious of it than ever amongst the skinny, sleek kids in the club. We are 20 years-old, but New York has proved easy on IDs. I sit in a booth watching “True Romance” projected on a giant screen above the bar. Maybe it’s the wine I drink too fast to quell my nerves–I’m not cool enough to really be here, I’m not smart enough to really be interning at Rolling Stone–maybe it’s the Tarantino, maybe it’s the girl desperate for experience, but I’m one hour away from cheating on a boyfriend for the first time. It’s also three weeks after I almost won a chance to compete at Miss America, one day before my dad calls to say I have to cut my internship short and come home, and five hours after the last conversation I’ll ever have with my mom.

An hour a day…

Spent the weekend getting my novel broken down onto index cards, so I can see the whole kit and caboodle spread out. This is a fun and challenging stage of the writing process–keeping track of the octopus arms of plot and making sure the story is developing at an even rhythm. I’ve officially switched on my tactical brain. The General has come for an extended stay, the items inside her sturdy luggage arranged in orderly rows. She has gathered the colorful belongings of the whimsical Early Artist and shooed her gently down the path, to be called upon again at the drafting stage of my next writing project.

Just an hour a day writing towards the scenes and ideas I still need to work out. Just gotta keep on myself to do an hour a day, and should I be able to bring this puppy home within the year.

Yesssssss.

 

Blogging, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.

I think about you all the time. I scribble ideas for posts on parking tickets (I have lots of those). I think of snappy titles and ongoing themes. I see something peculiar or adorable during my day and I plan to rush home and tell you all about it. But I don’t. I think I’ll try writing lists instead of posts–lists on jobs I’ve had, songs I’m listening to, books I love. But I don’t.

Part of the problem is I’m not used to this sort of casual short form. I write things that are long and outlined and worried over. I strive to develop ideas, tease out themes, discover the perfect word choice. In theory, I should find blogging to be a welcome relief.

The other problem is I’m cheating on you with my other projects. Much of January was devoted to bringing home “Loop Holes,” which is turning out to be quite the delightful little short film. Editing with the fearless Megan Miller has added tremendous depth to my filmmaking education, and hearing how weird and wonderful the original score the Brothers Cox have made makes me want to puke with happiness. February was about the novel. I found my way through a second draft and started sharing excerpts with my writing group. This would be nerve wracking, a real nail biter, if they weren’t a talented and witty bunch who give excellent feedback and seem to genuinely like the story.

The final problem is this weird way of talking about myself and my projects in a way that seems off-hand and not as shamelessly self-promoting as it really is. And who’s even reading this thing? And how can I finally move past worrying about what other people think? And why is it so hard to find parking in Koreatown? And does my new gig as a fitting model mean selling out? And how can the one true thing in my life continue to be a fluffy ball of mischief known as Chairman Meow?

And how did I just write an entire blog post about not writing blog posts?

Quite the January

A blog posting in which I incorporate images and video.

In 2011 I have committed to dancing around my apartment for at least twenty minutes every day. My soundtrack tonight was as follows:

“Nothing Compares 2 U” -Sinead O’Conner

“Cocaine” -Eric Clapton

“Dreams” -The Cranberries

Recent events of note:

–I got the most amazing camera! A Canon Rebel T2i. I’m taking insanely gorgeous photos with my 50mm lens. Videos too. It’s my first DSLR, and I can’t believe such sophisticated technology is on the market. Keep scrolling for images from my new baby.

–Beth and I danced burlesque in Las Vegas this week. Yep. That happened. At the Palazzo, at club Lavo. It was very…spangly. Felt good to get my body in shape, felt silly backstage in my rhinestones, practicing my moves with the dishwashers walking by. Good experience to add to the life resume.

–Finished all the re-shoots and pick-ups shots for my short film today. We shot an American Beauty like dream sequence of my character Johnny getting showered with money. The DP Jimmy set up a fog machine and I danced around in a vintage costume, paper bills all around me. We also shot a scene of Beth’s character Priscilla getting flour dumped on her head. Fun stuff. Very, very fun.

–Took my grandma to PF Chang’s for dinner last night. As per usual, she was my favorite date. We got deep into conversation, our elbows touching on the table, our heads leaned in towards each other. Her 95 years old, me 26 years old. She’s my favorite human being.

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The Chilean miners in Hollywood makes me sick.

My education on Hollywood is beginning to plateau. It’s been a steep learning curve since I’ve been out here–how does “the industry” work, what are the different possible paths to success, where do I want to fit into the puzzle? After a year and a half, I finally feel like I have a grasp on this whole crazy circus. And it kinda makes me sick.

It started with watching the Golden Globes. For the first time ever, the stars were removed from my eyes. I saw the ceremony for what it was: a mutual admiration society that’s about box office, not art. This makes me feel rather dejected, as watching the awards ceremonies has always been a favorite pastime of mine. I guess living here, seeing behind the velvet curtain to how it all really goes down, removes some of the glitter.

Then I was listening to an interview on NPR with the lawyer who’s representing the Chilean miners who were stuck underground for all those months. He said something like how they were sticking together to sell their life rights, with the hope of selling to the highest bidder who could on to create the most mileage out of the story–movies, television shows, video games, etc. Video games?! The turnaround time from when an event goes down to when it’s regurgitated to us in the form of some entertainment has shrunk so much it’s impossible to hold anyone’s attention. It’s futile to even try and capture the imagination of the people. They’ll be satiated for a nanosecond, until the next Jersey Shore gang of caricatures comes along.

I don’t know what to do with these feelings. They’re freaking me out. Working in this business is what I’ve had my eye for as long as I can remember….but now it’s just wearing me out.

I think I need to go on a trip. Or spend some time in nature. Better yet, I’ll get back to some art that meaningful and lasting.

Time to pick up the novel.

 

The New Yorker saved my life.

I’m feeling very disconnected with my inner artist. Julia Cameron, please forgive me. I still haven’t had a “real” writing session. I’ve been busy making a living, which frustrates me. I know I’m a writer. I real writer, because I do the damn thing compulsively. But really, let’s be honest. I can’t get past the idea that you’re not “really” a writer until you’re getting paid for it. So the things that do pay me take precedence. Since I’m not “really” a writer, after all, I say snidely to myself. Sorrow descends. Agony ensues. The tortured, wasted heart of an *blocked* artist. Julia, I hear ‘ya girl!

Then, incredibly, I get a letter in the mail from The New Yorker. Would I like to get a year’s subscription, usually costing $281.53/year, at my special discounted rate of -$252.53? Why, YES I would! Holy crap what a deal! The letter proceeds to tell me, along with a Guaranteed Low Rate, I should keep in mind The New Yorker is a collection of intelligent, penetrating, and funny voices. Every issue informs, entertains and enlightens you. And I feel delighted, and humbled, in remembering that publications such as The New Yorker are out there, and they’re really fucking good. I’ve never regretted a few hours spent digging into those black and white pages. And no matter how discouraged I get in this first serious thrust to achieving my creative dreams, the end result of all this struggle could be the pages of The New Fucking Yorker.

I read the perforated part of the letter. My total bill for a year’s subscription is a beautiful $25. A happy, unassuming $25. The cherry on top–Would you like to: 1) Enclose payment? or 2) Bill me later?. Could life get any sweeter?

Bill me later bitches!

More “heels” than “hippie”…?

I’m feeling more “heels” than “hippie” lately. I judge this feeling as being a negative one, yet it is the other side of me, the other side of my life, and so I should be equally embracing. Thing is, a girl’s got to make money. And commercial modeling is alive and well in Los Angeles, and I’d be fool to turn down paychecks when they come my way. Yet–I haven’t written in 34 days. I confess this to you now, unwillingly. I haven’t had a “chance” to. Which is bullshit. Every stray thirty minutes is a chance. To do something creative. To jot down a few ideas. Thing is, I’ve taken a gig with a spokesmodel agency. Hooray for actually making ends meet. Boo for all the time literally in heels, mourning my inner writer who wants to play in the dirt and write poetry. I know, I know. Poor me. I realize what a ridiculous complaint this is.

I had big plans to write these last 34 days. So many blog posts got started in my mind. I tossed around opening sentences to a “Year In Review” sorta thing. I scribbled words towards a “Reflection on being home in Nevada for the holidays.” I even considered writing my yearly Christmas Eve letter to my mom as a blog post. Something I’ve tried to do every year since she died (and often only got down a few sentences). But I never wrote these jaunty little ideas. They’re floating in the abyss with all the consumed eggnog, funny Reno moments, and gazes out steamy car windows at sparkly, snowy ground.

Until last night. I picked up my screenplay for the first time in two months. And I reveled once more in the glorious brevity of screenwriting. Its sexy, punchy dialogue.

It all came flooding back to me–what I’m doing here in this crazy town, what I really am. Which is a writer. Which is a job, but also, unequivocally, me.

So many parties, plenty of time.

I went to no less than four holiday parties last week, and two festive holiday dinners. I am quite pleased to report this, as last year I was invited to exactly zero holiday get-togethers of any kind. I’m filled with happiness to know in a year in Los Angeles I’ve made that many friends.

Highlights of the holiday festivities include:

–The holiday pub quiz at the Treehouse, the Burbank home of my friend Tedd and his equally funny/smart friends. The quiz included categories in basic knowledge of Christianity, holiday movies, and name that holiday song. Jared and I scored a 5 out of 25, but I swear it’s because of the distracting video on repeat of a guy dressed in sexy santa garb licking a candy cane. I’ll try to find the link and post it here. We took Petey (the dog) to the party and he was a big hit in his little Santa hat.

–Chatting with Eric and Stephen and Michelle at the UTA trainee party, at which I met not a single person who actually worked at UTA.

–Dinner with Berliner friends Lisa and Michael, who are the most interesting artistic funny cool friends ever. In L.A., I feel like you have to pursue friendships like you do dating, and I’m glad I kept after Lisa until we were going steady. 🙂

–Tea and cookies with my Uncle Jimmy and his friend/partner Marcus. They embody the true spirit of Christmas. They don’t have much, but they gave us a bag full of presents–a lot of little things, including an awesome coaster set of wooden cat faces from the thrift store, which Jimmy spruced up and added new felt pads to. Marcus made us little origami models of their miniature schnauzer, Maggie, and we also got matching light-up Santa hats! Their love and thoughtfulness was in every gift, and we ended the evening with a little mary-jane. Truly a great holiday get-together!

Now gearing up to head home to Reno/Tahoe/Gardnerville for Christmas, where there is tons of snow, should be good for a head change. Have to admit I’ve been taking time off from my various projects. Trying to spend the end of the year reflecting on all I accomplished, and get ready for revise mode next year. I’ve got a screenplay, novel, and short film to shape and sculpt and whip into shape, all in their second or third drafts. At least my brain will be in the same mode of editing rather than drafting. Just got back from showing the second rough cut of the short to the brothers Cox, my buddies from Animus who are going to compose an original score for the film. It’s always intimidating showing your work to people when it’s not in a polished form, and two of their friends who go to UC Santa Cruz and USC film school where there, but revising isn’t for sissies so I swallowed my nervous tendency to talk too much and just let it roll. Jim Beam on the rocks helped.

Dispatches from the homeland coming soon.

 

Recently met: Sofia Coppola, Halle Berry, Helen Mirren

Now that’s a braggy title if ever I’ve seen one!

But it’s true! The holiday season in Los Angeles is alive with parties and events where mere mortals (such as me) can rub elbows with the goddesses of cinema. Especially now that Write a Novel in a Month is over and I once again have a life.

The only problem is I seem to have developed something I’ve coined “Reno Tourettes.” This happens when I’m in a particularly swanky situation and I feel out of place. Even though one of my personal mottos is “Fake it til you make it,” sometimes my country roots get the best of me and I can’t help but point out how new I am to all of this Hollywood stuff.

I do this in the form of spouting nonsensical facts about Reno. I suppose I’m trying to be funny, but I kinda just sound lame.

Like the time Beth and I ran into Shannyn Sossamon at a coffee shop in Silverlake. This was exciting because 1) Shannyn Sossamon is super hot, and 2) She grew up in Reno, so she’s proof it’s possible. Beth and her have a mutual friend, so Beth struck up a natural, nice conversation with her. I stood there with a frozen smile, arms stiff at my side, trying to think of something clever to say. They wrapped up their little chat, then I blurted out: “Do you miss Reno?” She looked at me like I was Beth’s mentally challenged friend out of the institution for an afternoon visit, then said in a flat tone: “Uh, no.”

Reno Tourettes struck again a few weeks ago, during my first visit to the illustrious Chateau Marmont. I was having a late dinner with Jen Birn, my new friend from NaNo class who’s one of the coolest chicks I’ve met out here. She used to be the editor of OK! Magazine, and she’s really awesome, so in turn her friends have cool jobs and are awesome too. And there I was, unable to stop pointing out how Reno I am. “Where I’m from, the drinks are way cheaper.” “Where I’m from, the only people who live in hotels are prostitutes and crack heads.” Etc., etc. I was really broke that night (Erin, be honest, you’re always broke), so to finish my Reno Tourettes with a bang, when one of Jen’s friend left behind a half-eaten plate of paella, I made sure no one was looking, then I dug right in. And then I drank the remnants of his martini. Classy.

I know why I do this. It’s the zit effect. I feel like it must be so obvious I’m new to this whole kit and caboodle that I should point it out first, like when you point out a pimple on your chin even though nobody probably noticed it in the first place. But I’m getting better! I force myself to think about what I’m about to say, and I’ve made a 70/30 rule. I permit 70% of what occurs to me to say to come out of my mouth, and a general 30% is not allowed.

I put this into practice last week when Beth and I went to a screening of “Somewhere,” the new Sofia Coppola film, which happens to be about an actor who lives at the Chateau Marmont. So you’d think I’d have something relevant to say! After the screening, Beth marched right up to Sofia Coppola (she’s so good about introducing herself!) to tell her how much she enjoyed the film.

I stood there, making an effort not to be slack-jawed. Trying to burst out of my mouth was something along the lines of “I liked when Stephen Dorff had the strippers in his room…because I’m from Reno…where we have strip clubs.” But I applied the 70/30 rule and it was Reno Tourettes be gone! Instead I shook her hand and said simply, “Great movie.”

As of this morning, I think I might have banished Reno Tourettes for good. Jen Birn asked me to be her guest at the annual Top 100 Women in Entertainment gala, where Halle Berry was presenting Helen Mirren with an award, Katie Couric to speak as well. Um, yes! I sat through the whole glorious morning without so much as an overly self-deprecating peep. Halle Berry was exceedingly charming, and Helen Mirren brought down the house when she said “Hollywood still worships at the altar of the 18-25 year old male penis. I’ve seen it. And it’s small.” Amazing!

I suppose if one had to have tourettes, Reno Tourettes aren’t all that bad. In a way, I like my little disorder. It’s like my subconscious is reminding me where I come from, so I don’t let all this go to my head. Heading to an industry thing at Voyeur tonight, we’ll see if I can keep my R.T. under control.


DAY 28…The end is nigh.

I’m ending today’s writing at 46,524 words. That’s 166 Word doc pages. Been dancing around my office to get the blood flowing. Been listening repeatedly to Miike Snow, The National, CCR and Black Keys. There’s a good chance I’m going crazy. I left the house for a few hours the other day and came back with a medical marijuana card and a gold nose ring. Despite the insanity, I’ve been loving novel writing. Especially because I fucking love my story. I find myself wanting to live in my story world, that it’s at easy access to my fingertips typing. Writing at this sort of pace everyday keeps the story close at hand. Because it’s already so familiar. The novel is pageants and Reno and Big Life Questions like identity, family, passion. The daily commitment of 2,000 some odd words of writing doesn’t feel cumbersome or tedious–it feels natural, compulsive. And like it’s what I was put on this earth to do.

Novel writing DAY 18…pageants and Reno!

Now that I’m well into week three of this novel writing insanity, I can look back at week two and realize it was ROUGH. I just felt like everything I wrote was a lame regurgitation of other things I’d read, that my ideas were stupid and my prose completely predictable. That all might be the case. But now, in week three, I don’t care. I’ve stopped caring about a lot of things. If this is a waste of time. If I’m “good enough” to think I can write a novel. All that matters now is just doing the writing every day, and saving the judgement for later. Or never.

My novel, as it’s unfolding, is a fictionalized account of my experiences competing in beauty pageants and living in Reno. Pageants and Reno. Two bizarre concepts with hearts of gold. So last Sunday I went to the Miss San Fernando Valley pageant in Canoga Park to refresh my memory. I took my friend Lisa, from Berlin, who wanted to experience such a “typical American event.” There was your usual elements of pageants everywhere: sincere intentions, terrible production value, that one contestant who’s so sweet but so not cut out for a pageant–this one was a girl named Stevie Boner (really), whose talent was Hawaiian dancing, which she started practicing in late October. Awww.

Now I’ve come home to Reno for an early Thanksgiving and to further research/refresh my image of this wacky tacky town. Going out on the town tonight, plan to end up at the casino to “research” the life of a professional gambler. The love interest in my novel is a struggling poker player, taking time in Reno to work on his game before getting back to the circuit.

A few other things that are making me smile:

Here’s an excerpt from an email from the NaNoWriMo people. They send us words of encouragement daily on this month long journey. I thought it would be annoying, but I’ve come to love procrastinating writing my daily 1,667 words by reading them:

You have likely reached the moment in this insane endeavor when you need a rock-solid answer to the question of why, precisely, you are trying to write a novel in a month. You have likely realized that your novel is not very good, at least not yet, and that finishing it will be a hell of a lot less fun than starting it was.

Here’s my answer to the very real existential crisis that grips me midway through everything I’ve ever tried to write: I think stories help us fight the nihilistic urges that constantly threaten to consume us.

At this point, you’ve probably realized that it’s nearly impossible to write a good book in a month. I’ve been at this a while and have yet to write a book in less than three years. All of us harbor secret hopes that a magnificent novel will tumble out of the sky and appear on our screens, but almost universally, writing is hard, slow, and totally unglamorous.

Now go spit in the face of our inevitable obsolescence and finish your @#$&ng novel.

And, for when I’m taking this whole noveling thing too seriously, I just think of Stewie making fun of Brian’s novel on “Family Guy,” and all my worries disappear:


The first “official” blog post (sorta).

Welcome to my blog! This moment has been a long time coming. I’ve been fiddling with the idea of writing a blog, I mean really and truly being a blogger, for about a few years now. Two things have kept me from starting:

1. A fear of sharing my thoughts with the world.
I have this weird paradox–on one hand, I want the world to know who I am. I know in my heart I’m not the type of writer and actor who creates solely for the pleasure of doing it. I do it to share in a moment with another person, and hopefully make them smile. On the other hand–I am intensely private and want to remain an observer. To be “observed”…will it mean I can no longer drink in the details of life around me in a veil of anonominity, snatch snippets of conversation and steal character details for future use? I also just have a plain old fashioned fear of being judged. Which takes me to numero dos:
2. A fear of buying into the Twitter/status update/blog delusion that others actually want to know what I’m thinking, doing, feeling.
But then I’m like…well, hell; in college, I wrote a blog while studying in Spain as a way to keep the peeps back home in the loop on my comings and goings. It was easy, and it was incredibly fun. And upon further examination, I realized that blog was the first long-term commitment I’ve kept to writing. I wrote regularly for six months–usually while drinking cafe con leche in cafes or hiding from my scary Spanish roommates in my apartment. Having regular writing sessions was glorious, and eventually the blog stopped being for the people back home and started being for me. I played around with word choice, storytelling style, and describing the characters I met. A certain voice, a style, unique to me, emerged.
Sooo…these are all positive revelations, right? And the blog format is a good challenge. Posts don’t have to be perfect, it’s a blog–a good lesson for any perfectionist writer. So, I’m getting past the fear of appearing self-obsessed. It’s the year 2010. We’re all egomaniacs. However, I do promise to try and write in a more narrative style than “OMG, just ate the best bagel ever!”
Did you notice that the word “fear” appear in both reasons I haven’t started a blog? Now, that’s no way to live!
Life is scary enough. I don’t want to have fear in my writing. Writing is my sanctuary. The only thing that always makes sense. (In the voice of the kid in the infomercial in “Donnie Darko”) I’M NOT AFRAID ANYMORE!
On with the blog!
This blog will also be a part of my writer identity, the only job I’ve ever been serious about. With that in mind, I’ve been thinking about all the random, strange, silly jobs I’ve held to pay the bills as I write my body of work.
Here’s a short list, and I invite anyone who reads this to respond with their own List of Random Jobs.
List of Random Jobs I’ve Held:
  • Instructional magician video studio audience member.
  • Toilet paper promotional model.
  • Miniature remote controlled flying helicopter demonstrator.
  • Body painting model.
  • Nightclub promoter.
  • Mexican yogurt sampler at grocery store convention.
  • Chewing tobacco promotional model.
  • Button hander-outer at insurance sales convention.
  • Go-go dancer at National Teacher’s Convention.
  • Guitar Hero demonstrator.
  • Free novel distributor.
  • Movie extra.
  • Top Gun pilot convention bartender.
  • Godard art gallery bartender.
  • Explainer of new policies at oil convention.
  • Intel chip demonstrator at technology convention.
  • Alpaca fur runway model.
  • Showgirl (rhinestone headdress and all).
And many, many more random jobs and short-term vocations…as I remember them (the ones I haven’t blocked from my memory), I will add to the list.
Thanks for reading this, my first blog post. Here’s to many more!
–Erin

 

 

Novel writing DAY 8

Things are looking up.

In NaNoWriMo class right now, and this is really the key, this class. I know I would have given up if it weren’t for this class. To have a commitment once a week, people to come in and tell your word count to, and a funny but strict instructor, it’s all a way to stay accountable and get those words in.

Just now, our instructor, Ian Wilson, challenged us that whoever got the most words in the following 20 minutes would win some swag from Sony Studios, where he works. I did 915 words in 20 minutes! Which was much faster than any of my other words have come. He played “Rhinestone Cowboy” while we were writing, and it went perfectly with my story, a Reno story.

Okay, back to writing.

10pm….1,784 words today, 11,030 words total.

Okay, I’ve embraced that writing a novel is really hard. And that inevitable I will feel like everything I write is crap, makes no sense, and is totally unoriginal. And you know what, that’s okay. It’s totally fucking okay. And, I accept that my wrists are killing me from typing so much, and my dirty dishes are getting moldy in the sink, and the dust balls are forming a small army in the corners of the apartment, and Chairman Meow is glaring at me from across the room for not giving him his usual 1,000 pets a day. Because my novel is taking.over.my.life, and I’d rather spend my time with the fictional characters on the page than in reality. And I’m starting to talk to myself. Hehe. Hahahaha. Bah ha ha ha ha.

But how fun is this: I’m working on the character in the story who’s the cause of the central conflict, the mother of the protagonist, and I’ve named her Moonflower and envisioned her as a this kooky, gorgeous gypsy woman, so for “research” I’ve been listening to Stevie Nicks all morning, and watching her old videos, and imagining what it would be like to have a woman like that as your mother….and damn it all to hell if that isn’t a better “work” morning that being in an office. Or promoting bacon-wrapped hot dogs.

 

A trifecta of cool Los Angeles things

1) I started receiving the Sunday LA Times! I feel smart. I feel very grownup. I feel like the newspaper can’t be a dying medium because it’s sooooo cool. I even like getting the ink on my fingers. I’ve been known to press my whole face into the newspaper folds upon opening. Can’t get enough of that scent!

2) Point Break Live! Went and saw this last night, a complete reenactment of the wonderfully cheesy movie “Point Break.” They pick someone out of the audience to play Keanu’s role, and the cast throws water and fake blood and all manner of gross things out into the audience, but don’t worry, they sell ponchos. Very fun! http://www.pointbreaklive.com

3) Business of Being a Screenwriter! This was a class I went to on Saturday at UCLA. It was fun and interesting, we got to practice our pitches, and the best thing was the guest speakers, including Dan Jinks, one of the producers of “American Beauty,” one of the best screenplays and movies of all time, in my opinion. I asked a question of Sir Jinks, and managed to slip my pitch in there. All in good time.

Also:

  • The Farmer’s Market at The Grove. Golden Crisp apples!
  • I found a free parking space that works 9 times out of 10. But I’m not telling.
  • Went to Voyeur last night, it’s still alive and kicking and very, very sexy cool.
  • The beach in November! Freezing cold water, but worth it. Also Cha Cha Chicken and the guava cheesecake. Yumsworth.
  • Boo: Chairman Meow ate my phone charger.