Pirates without Mothers

I’ve been absent for a while– trying to focus on writing ūüôā but I thought I’d post a little excerpt from one of the episodes I’ve been working on. Nothing fancy…just Hook and some of the other pirates discussing their woes about being ‘Motherless.’

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Two quick notes:

  1. The word mother is capitalized throughout because in this case I’m using ‘mother’ as more of an¬†idea¬†than a person…
  2. The beginning scene is largely transcribed from JM Barrie’s original work, which I then took in a slightly different direction from the original. A big part of the reason I want to make this a TV show and not a movie is the opportunity to really expand on the central character’s lives and motivations that Barrie hinted at,¬†especially¬†the complexities of Captain Jas. Hook of¬†The Jolly Roger

 

Check out the pdf here:

Motherless Pirates

 

“Hook’s Mother”

Lately I’ve been working on Episode Two of The Gay Adventures. Hook has just come face-to-face with Wendy, and although she’s roughly 30 years younger than him, she is the first “female” he’s seen in two hundred years, and he immediately projects all his ideas of¬†Mother onto her.¬†

Unable to return to or even fully remember his real mother, Hook is desperate to get Wendy to fill the void his real mother never filled.

This episode is not only inspired by text from the book¬†Peter & Wendy, but also my research into JM Barrie’s own past, and his eternal quest to get love from his mother which she never¬†quite¬†gave him.

[note: within the script I’ve capitalized the word ‘mother’ every time, since it’s representing the IDEA of Mother, rather than a specific person.]

Check out the first few scenes here [which includes excerpts from Barrie’s writing]:

“Hook’s Mother” – beginning of episode

 

Finding Neverland lyrics

I like to listen to music while I write. And while I still don’t agree with what the story of Finding Neverland did to Peter Llewelyn-Davies, I did kind of fall in love with the soundtrack of the musical adaptation:

It’s also rather inspiring to hear some of the lyrics while I’m working…

Song: Believe

  • “It’s so frustrating when no one else sees everything you see.”
  • “Prefix ‘ordinary’ with ‘extra’ “
  • “Our life’s calling was never meant to be boring.”

Song: We’re all made of Stars

  • “If I could write ev’ry single day I would write all my cares away!”

Song:¬†When Your Feet Don’t Touch The ground [I would HIGHLY recommend listening to this song]

  • “When did life become so complicated?
    Years of too much thought and time I wasted
    And in each line upon my face
    Is a proof I fought and lived another day.”
  • “When your feet don’t touch the earth
    You can’t feel the things that hurt
    And you’re free! There’s no need to come down…”

***

On a slightly separate note, in the song The Circus of Your Mind, Barrie’s financial backer, expresses his deep dissatisfaction with the play Barrie is creating:

“You say I will adore it, but I’m paying for it
A little more reality and less of this insanity.
How am I gonna to face it?
Such a disgrace, yet
Here we go again and again and again!”

It’s a good reminder that sometimes when you’re trying something new—something that means a shit ton to you—not everyone is going to think it’s a good idea. Some may even think you’re off your head…

Nearly everyone involved in the original staging of Peter Pan thought is was going to be a critical and financial flop. Even the actors.

How wrong they were.

 

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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 clich√©. 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 I 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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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.

drag-race-2017-billboard-1500

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…

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‚Äôs 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‚ÄôD)¬† 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‚Äôd 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.

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…

Conceptual image of human brain in colorful splashes

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!

Peter & John

Within The Gay Adventures, Peter & John are two people who annoy the hell out of each other, whose relationship eventually blossoms into an awkward prepubescent romance. Together, they will be living proof that opposites repulse and infuriate, but also kind of intrigue, attract, and obnoxiously force you to grow if you stick it out.

***

Sample Scene, Peter & Wendy [with minor changes]

PETER:  Would you like an adventure now, John, or would you like to have your tea first?

JOHN:¬† What…What kind of adventure?

PETER:  There’s a pirate asleep in his pajamas just beyond that tree.  If you like, we’ll go and kill him.

NARRATOR:¬† John looked, but he didn’t see anyone.

JOHN:¬† I don’t see anyone.

PETER:  I do.

JOHN:¬† Suppose…he were to wake up.

PETER:¬† You don’t think I would kill him while he was sleeping!¬† I would wake him first and then kill him.¬† That’s the way I always do.

Peter waits impatiently.

PETER:¬† (cont’d)¬† Well?¬† What do you say, John?

JOHN:  (after a moment)  Tea, please.

***

Sample Scene, The Gay Adventures

NARRATOR:¬† Peter and John were making out.¬† It was nice, thought Peter, to make out with someone like John.¬† For one thing, he was attracted to John, and that caused sexual arousal.¬† If there had been something else, he couldn’t remember.¬† It was nice, thought John, to make out with someone like Peter.¬† Peter is kinda cool.¬† Plus, he tastes like pine needles.¬†cThat’s when Peter broke away.

PETER:  I have a confession.

JOHN:  What is it?

Peter looks down at his hands.

PETER:¬† I’m attracted to you.

JOHN:¬† (taken aback)¬† Oh.¬† That’s fine.¬† I think I knew that, anyway.

PETER:¬† Really?¬† You don’t think that’s gay or anything?

Beat.

JOHN:  What?

NARRATOR:¬† John was taken aback.¬† He had always known that he wasn’t gay, but to hear his boyfriend say that he might be was concerning.