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Complete Honesty!!!!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t know what I’m doing. Now I’m going to get a little more real:

I’m a huge introvert, and part of that means that it’s really hard for me to post things online, especially something which seems self-serving (like promoting a TV project). I’m afraid that everyone will hate me and think my writing is terrible, and believe it or not, that doesn’t sound appealing.

So why do I have a website? Well, because I really love writing, I really, really love this project, and I really want to make something happen with this if at all possible. But I’m still learning how.

So here’s what I’m planning to do: Share my writing process and what I’m working on BEFORE IT’S PERFECT. I guess that’s necessary, because nothing is ever perfect. But I want so badly to be perfect, (not unlike Captain Hook).

Long story short, I won’t ever feel like what I do is good enough, so I might as well share my “shitty first drafts,” and even my shitty second drafts!

I want to invite you into my process, rather than focus on product. It may be slow going, because it’s not really in my nature to post what feels very private. But it’s also really important to me to share, because I do want to make something of this, and at the moment I feel very isolated.

I’m trying to find a community of writers, as well as connect more with the queer community, and—of course—queer writers.

With that in mind, here’s something I’ve been working on:

As a queer person, it’s not unusual to have struggled with depression or suicidal thoughts. I certainly have. Because of that, I have what I like to call an “intimate relationship” with Death. We’re on speaking terms. A first-name basis.  We sometimes meet for tea and scones. Conversing with Death

I’ve always thought that death is something not to be afraid of, but to be curious about. Death is a very curious thing, and something we will never understand fully.

To make sure I’m not confusing anyone, within The Gay Adventures, Neverland is a type of purgatory, full of queer people who have murdered or committed suicide.

I know, I know…it sounds cliché. Ever since Lost, it’s been a big trend to have the super-mega-twist be “And they were dead the whole time!” It’s become so common that it’s not surprising anymore. Parks & Rec could very well have ended that way.

But for the story I want to tell, and how I want to tell it, it actually makes sense for them to have been dead the whole time. So I’m not going to change that plot point. I will, however, change HOW the story is told.

First off, it’s a comedy instead of a drama. A comedy which takes death seriously, but doesn’t take humans too seriously.

Second, within the first few episodes the audience will probably pick up on the fact that they’re dead. It’s never going to be a secret (or “What a twist!”). What will make the show interesting to watch is the character arcs and relationships, as well as the unique perspective of observing the behavior of someone you know is dead, but who himself is unaware of that fact.

One of the topics that fascinates me within the show is: what happens when the characters inevitably suspect and later realize they’re dead? How did they react? What do they do? How do their priorities change? Does it immobilize or motivate them?

This, of course, got me thinking about what might do if I suddenly noticed I was dead.

I started writing an intimate scene between Hook and Smee, after they know they’re dead. I don’t mean intimate in a romantic or sexual way, I mean intimate in an emotionally exposed way. What’s more intimate than being honest with someone, especially concerning the things you fear? And no one’s better at being afraid than Captain Hook.

A scene like this would not happen until much later in the series:

EXT. PIRATE SHIP DECK – DAY

The sun sets on the horizon. Hook stands, straight-backed, watching the sun disappear. Smee approaches, and stands by his side.

HOOK: I’m afraid, Smee.

SMEE: Afraid of what, Captain?

HOOK: And if there’s nothing? Nothing at all?

SMEE: What do you mean, Captain?

HOOK: After this? Suppose we just go to sleep and then…nothing? Only darkness.

Smee comes to Hook and puts a hand on his shoulder. Hook doesn’t move away.

SMEE: I don’t think it’ll be so bad, Captain. Look what you got the first time.

HOOK: What did I get, Smee?

SMEE: Sandy beaches! Beautiful sunsets! (then) Me.

HOOK: No, Smee. I got mildew. Pythons. Just more uncertainty.

SMEE: Think of it this way, Captain: if what comes to you after your after-death is nothing, there will be no more uncertainty.

Brief silence.

HOOK: No more uncertainty…

***

Within the series, I’m not, nor will I ever be trying to provide answers. What I will be supplying are questions and wonderings, because I have a lot of those.

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Amateur (& loving it)

I am not a professional screenwriter. I am a self-taught (aka internet-taught) screenwriter who loves what he does. What’s more, I don’t plan to pretend to know what I’m doing.

How does one get better at something? Obviously, by sitting around and thinking about how great it would be to be really good at something.

The word amateur has negative connotations in our society. For many, ‘amateur‘ means unskilled and shoddy. It certainly can mean that. But I know plenty of professionals who do shoddy work. Much worse, they don’t care about what they do.

The root of the word amateur comes from the word ‘love.’ The true meaning of the word comes from doing something because you love it, not because you have to, not for monetary gain…

Amateur, definition: A person who engages in this study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial or professional reasons.

I’m proud to be an amateur. I’ll continue to write for the rest of my life, whether I get published or not. Whether I get paid or not. Because I love it.

And since I love it, I’ll continue to get better at it. I’ll take classes, read books, and most importantly, I’ll write. And write and write and write.

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So be proud to be an amateur. And go out and share your love of what you non-professionally do with others!

Why I Don’t Identify with “Gay” TV

This is a personal thing. I’m most definitely NOT trying to say that all TV made by queer people for queer people is the same, or that it’s not good or not worth watching.

I’m really glad it’s out there.

But you know how sometimes one extreme leads to another? I think queer people feeling the need to HIDE who they were from society for so long made our TV shows into a kind of one-trick-unicorn.

At the moment, it seems like Queer TV can–for the most part–be broken up into two categories:

  1. Over-the-top reality shows (contests, drag race, hunky hunks, etc.)
  2. Ensemble casts in the big city having-lots-o’-sex and dancing at night clubs

I don’t happen to identify with either of those types of shows. I’m sorry to say it, but glitter gets everywhere. And one of my favorite colors is gray.

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I’m not really interested in sex, and would much rather spend the night in, reading a book, rather than going to a club. As a not-very-sexual (or romantic) person, I find myself thinking “Isn’t there anything else in the world we could focus on right now?” There’s more to the queer experience than relationship drama.

Isn’t there?

All I’m saying is that I wish queer TV embraced variance among queer people a bit more. We’re not all the same. Shocker.

My whole life I’ve felt like an outcast both with the popular kids and the outcasts. And that’s still true. That’s why I want to make a show for us betwixt-and-betweeners.

I didn’t fit before and I don’t fit now, and I’ll probably never fit.

I’ve always wanted desperately to make the kind of media I want to see. And what I’m most fascinated by is the human experience as a whole.

I want to write about the experiences we humans have which make us feel the most alone, yet which are arguably the most universal:

Why does no one love me?

Why do people seem to like me better when I don’t act like myself?

Why is every single person in the world happier and more successful than me?

Why do I feel so alone?

What is the meaning of it all?

As I’m writing these down, I’m realizing you need to have a certain amount of luxury to worry about these things. I’ll definitely take that into consideration.

I also realized that I might be trying to make entertainment for the introspective. The overly-introspective. The introspective-to-a-fault types. Which is most definitely not everyone.

I love the idea of making mindless entertainment which is not mindless. You can enjoy it without thinking, but if you want to think, there’s plenty to sink your brain-teeth into.

What’s more, the highly dysfunctional characters remind you that you’re not alone. If you can learn to love and empathize with characters who are so imperfect, maybe you can empathize a little bit more with yourself.

So let’s keep being ourselves, in our many, many forms. Let’s begin to recognize that while it’s absolutely fantastic to embrace our sexuality, there’s also people out there who don’t really relate to that.

Yes, I did take time out of my usual gay agenda to complain about the overuse of hunky, shirtless men on TV.

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I hope I’m not alone here, or the show I’m developing will have no audience whatsoever.

It’s a very tricky task to represent everybody. And there certainly are shows out there which portray a variety of queer identities and types of people, and do an amazing job with it.

But I want more…

“It’s so Ass” part II

This is a follow-up to my previous post, when I overheard a 12-or-maybe-13-year-old describe something as “so ass.”

Out of curiosity, I looked up “That’s ass” in the Urban dictionary. What I found was both beautiful and compelling:

“That’s ass: Basically meaning that’s really shit, or that isn’t good, that’s ass is terribly underused in modern day society. People who do use it, use it to express their anger or sadness for a certain event, like running out of beer.”

So I guess the boy from the coffee shop doesn’t like sports video games after all. How sad.

But not NEARLY as sad as running out of beer. That is super-mega-ass, a phrase which I will be using relentlessly from now on, until my friends move away and my family disowns me.

“It’s so Ass”

You know when an old white man tries to write a script where the protagonists are teenage girls? It’s unintentionally hilarious. And I’m now following in those footsteps.

Even when I was a teenager I never understood what people my age were talking about. I’m currently trying to write a bunch of child characters, and I want to try and capture that beautiful mixture of imagination and self-centered-ness. Unfortunately, I never spend time with kids.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now and two teenagers (I’m guessing they were 13?) sat down next to me. Just for kicks, I took off my headphones to see how they talked to each other.

I heard a lot of words I didn’t understand. Let’s face it: I’m 25 now. My glory days are over.

That’s when one of them said that sports were cool, but sport video games were “so ass.” First, I tried not to laugh, and then I thought, Wow. I have no idea if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. 

“So ass” could mean something is “shitty,” or it could mean, “it’s the shit.”

In conclusion, I will never be cool. Ever.

Betwixt-and-Between

JM Barrie described Peter as a “betwixt-and-between”…not quite a bird and not quite a boy.

As of yesterday, it occurred to me that this description also makes a nice gender identity.

However, I don’t subscribe to the belief that there is merely ‘male’ and ‘female’ at two extremes. So when I say betwixt-and-between, in my mind I’m seeing layers and folds and colors and a variety of dimensions. As opposed to:

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Between doesn’t have to mean between two. Why do humans tend to view complex topics like gender, politics and morality this way? Even cats and dogs, soft and hard, red and green, should not be done the disservice of being viewed simply as “opposites.”

So celebrate your betwixt-ness with me!

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P.S. The quote “betwixt-and-between” is not from Peter & Wendy but from The Little White Bird, the first time Peter appeared in print.

asdfsIn the book, Peter is confused why he doesn’t seem to be like the other birds. He’s an “awkward shape.” Naturally, this strikes a cord with me, having grown up feeling very  awkward in my own body and not understanding how others could have a body they felt so free in.

I think there’s a lot of power to be found in reinterpreting the classics in a way which empowers those who have been underrepresented for so long.

A lot of people complain about queer people “reading too much into” straight relationships in books, movies, and TV. I think all that means is that we’re HUNGRY. Hungry for characters who are legitimately written with our experiences in mind, not characters which we have to tilt our heads sideways and squint to say “I can see myself.”

We’re so hungry that we’re willing to ship characters played by sexist and homophobic actors just so we can pretend we have representation.

Obviously, there are queer characters on TV. Many more than there used to be. But, unfortunately, they are still betwixt-and-far-between.

 

Good Morning, You Are a Racist :)

I am white. If you are also white, this post is for you.

You might be one of those white people who knows that you’re racist. Or you might be one of those white people who desperately doesn’t want to be racist, and loudly insists that you aren’t. You’re the “good kind” of white person.

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But I’m here to tell you that you, indeed, are racist. And yet, in a complex way, (admitting to) this fact is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.

But wait a minute…

How could I possibly know you’re racist if I’ve never met you??? I am judging you so unfairly without knowing your personal experience or getting to know you! If anyone’s being judgmental it’s ME, right?? Well, yes, but I’m also being logical.

I’m NOT saying that you’re racist, therefore you’re evil. There’s a big different between conscious and unconscious racism, and liberal or “good” white people are far more often guilty of the latter.

What I AM saying is that if you were raised and socialized in a racist society you have internalized racist messages and racial prejudices which affect your thoughts, speech, and actions whether you know it or not.

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This is a false representation of how the world currently works, which, instead of moving us toward equality causes complacency

You did not have control over this. What you DO have control over is what you do now: do you plug your ears and hum because you’re scared of your own shadow, or do you begin the slow and painful process of unearthing your internalized prejudice, having difficult conversations which make everyone uncomfortable, and pathetically try to be a better human being and help the world?

Hmm. I know one of those options looks a whole lot harder, but stay with me:

Being the “non-racist white person” is not only a crutch (and a false one) but it’s an active HINDRANCE when it comes to dismantling racism.

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If you refuse to acknowledge what is there, you’re free to pretend there isn’t a problem and continue on with your biases nicely intact. What’s more, you’re far less likely to enter into a real conversation about race because you’re so afraid of how you’ll be perceived.

And so, I humbly ask you to stand and say with me, “I, ___________, am a racist. Because how could I not be? I grew up literally surrounded by racist messages, no matter who my parents were, no matter what neighborhood I grew up in, no matter who my friends were, no matter what media I consumed. It was always there. And now that I am willing to admit it I can begin to notice, question, and uproot my subconscious and unconscious racism and actively engage against racism instead of burring my head in the sand so I can feel good about myself.”

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Ok, now say that 10 times fast.

I Recently Got Back into Writing…

For the past several months, I had a lot of difficulty getting myself to sit down and write. A big part of that was dealing with the rejection after attending conferences where you can pitch your TV Show ideas.

But I’m happy to report that I recently got over myself and started writing again, encouraging myself by remembering that no one else cares. Essentially, I’m pretty sure the people who didn’t like The Gay Adventures most likely forgot me (and my project) five seconds after reading it.

I remember them, of course…but they’re not welcome to be a part of my writing process. That’s for me, thanks.

Here’s an Excerpt from Episode Two, which I’m writing now:

EXT. PIRATE SHIP DECK – DAY

Hook and Smee stand together by the railing. Hook holds a battered pistol with gold detailing.

HOOK: …and if Peter still refuses to take me seriously, that’s when I fire the warning shot.

Hook aims, then hesitates.

SMEE: Go ahead, Captain, I’m right here.

Hook misunderstands, and aims the pistol at Smee.

SMEE: (CONT’D)  No, no, Captain! I mean to say that I’m here for moral, emotional, and physical support.

HOOK: Oh, of course.

Hook aims towards the aft of the ship. Pause. He lowers the pistol.

SMEE: Is it the loud noise, Captain? I know you have sensitive hearing.

HOOK: (who wasn’t listening to Smee)  I’d plug my ears myself, Smee, but last time I did that I ruined my sensitive hearing.

Hook glances down at his pointy hook, which does not make a good earplug.

Smee Smew

Once upon a time, when I was looking for pictures on Google Images for people who looked more or less like the characters I was seeing in my head, I simply could not find anyone who looked like Smee!

This was surprising, since my picture of him was similar to the “Smee”s I’d seen in the movies. But nothing I found felt quite right.

That’s when I stumbled upon Lars: a man who embodied Smee not only in face & beard, but in spirit:

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This sweet, ginger-haired man jumped into freezing Norwegian waters to save a duck which was trapped under the ice.

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I asked myself, what kind of person would do that?

Well, Lars, of course, but also…Smee.

A large part of what defines Smee’s character is that he’s the type who would help others before himself, almost to a fault. It’s why he’s put up with Captain Hook’s antics for so long with a smile on his face.

And part of what draws Smee to the Captain is that Hook is, in many ways, a duck trapped under ice. The only difference is, a duck knows when it’s drowning, and Hook doesn’t.

But the similarities didn’t stop there!

On a completely separate occasion, I was looking up if the word “smee” meant anything. It wouldn’t have surprised me if JM Barrie gave him that name for a reason, and since those who arrive in Neverland don’t remember their own names, I needed that reason.

Well, I’m not sure if the one I found was the one Barrie intended, but I did discover that a ‘Smee’ or ‘Smew’ is a type of duck not dissimilar to the one Lars saved:

Smew_duck_ma

Wouldn’t it be beautiful if Smee was nameless for longer than average in Neverland (because no one cared enough to name him), until one day he saw a duck struggling in the water—trapped somehow—and jumped in fully clothed to rescue it, without a second thought?

Smee_parrot_crop

 

Then, of course, he would be named after the type of duck he saved, and keep it as a pet and let it ride on his shoulder.

 

Naturally, Hook would disapprove, since the proper pirate shoulder decoration is a parrot.

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If this isn’t classy, I don’t know what is

This is my Therapy

Why do I write?

A HUGE reason why is too process what I see, what I think, how I feel…

And The Gay Adventures of Peter Pan is my therapy. I project myself onto on my characters (hopefully in a healthy way), and allow them to act out my own unhealthy habits. My insecurities, impulses and secret thoughts…

So I thought I’d share some of what I work through with my characters:

Captain Hook – I love Hook and find him the easiest to write for. Having Hook take his denial to an extreme (literally burying his head in the sand or refusing to believe there’s a boulder in his path), allows me to see and express my tendency to plug my ears and hum when there’s something I “don’t want to know.”

Hook allows me to express my denial, my fearful choices, my lack of self-esteem, my tendency to cling to the past and over-analyze, my desire to be seen in a positive light even if I’ve done something incredible stupid, and the list goes on and on and on.

Hook is a way for me to view how past experiences can strongly influence current life decisions. The reason Hook’s choices are often so backwards is because he’s forgotten his past and therefore re-written his memories to be what he wished they were.

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Peter Pan – Like Peter, I often wish I could just run around and climb trees. He’s a good way to connect with the id and stay in the moment.

But he also provides an outlet for the part of myself which tries to wall off my emotions and unwanted thoughts. His strategy? If it makes you feel bad, block it out.

I was cut off from my emotions for years and only recently began opening up more and practicing my vulnerability. I think it also helps to write for someone who’s such an extreme. In comparison, I feel a little more grounded.

John Darling – John is my geeky and socially anxious side. He doesn’t fit in at school (and neither did I), but he doesn’t know how to “fix” that. When I write for John I get to let out the part of myself that wishes I were more easy-going, but in the end wants to control everything. “If I could just control myself more, then I could be more easy-going!!!!!”

John has to suffer through everything he hates so he knows he can survive it. A large part of social anxiety comes from mental exaggeration. You go over and over the same thing in your head and create a story to go along which can make even the tiniest thing seem insurmountable:

A pause in a conversation is the scariest thing in the world. And don’t even get me started on public speaking…

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Smee – Smee is my shadow (the part of myself I’m not in touch with). Smee gives and gives with no expectations. He trusts people implicitly.  I have trouble trusting people, and learned to give so I could get something in return.

Writing for Smee, I feel like I’m finally beginning to understand what it feels like to view the world through a lens of love and trust. And I have to say, it feels pretty good. It’s not like Smee never gets hurt or taken advantage of, but his general experience is joyful and my general experience is one of anxiety and suspicion.

***

I’m basically “writing what I know,” but metaphorically.  I’ve never lived on a tropical island or been a pirate captain, and I haven’t yet learned to fly. Instead, I’m writing from my many years of experience of being imperfect.

A special thanks to my anxiety, depression, and negativity for being both my inspiration and an endless source of new ideas!