“I must write it all out at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh
In the fall of 1988 I took a Freshman English class in college. I was majoring in Elementary Education at the time and this was a class that everyone took during their Freshman year at Cal State Northridge. It was a class that fulfilled a requirement, nothing more. We had to write in a journal for the first few minutes of every class, something that I started looking forward to as the semester progressed. In that class, in that journal, my writing journey began.
At the end of the semester my professor put that note in my journal. (Betty is my other name. And that’s a story for another day.) She also pulled me aside and asked me about taking a Creative Writing class. It had never crossed my mind that writing would be something I would or could do. But her praise and encouragement motivated me to look into writing classes. That curiosity led me to enrolling in a screenwriting class in the Film Department, “just for fun”.
Through screenwriting I found an interest in story telling, in writing about life and in taking myself on a journey. After that initial class I ended up changing my major to Radio-Television-Film with an emphasis in Screenwriting. I took an adaptation class, an advanced screenwriting class, a comedy writing class (taught by the creator of Bewitched) and an independent senior project that pushed me to the limit of my creativity. It was the scariest and most fulfilling thing I had ever done. I was encouraged by my teachers and then I was hooked.
The biggest thing I learned was that writing is hard. The second biggest thing was to be aware of life, all the time. To see moments that are worth remembering and write them down so you don’t forget them. To be aware of conversations; what people say and how they say it. To look at different perspectives and to find the conflicts.
There are always stories in my head. I think about writing all the time, almost to the point of getting anxious or feeling troubled if I can’t get them out. I can feel the tingling in my fingers and my heart racing and that’s when I have to sit down and write.
Writing helps me think. It’s how I process and organize all of those things that get stuck in my head. Sometimes it helps me say things that I would never actually say. The words have a chance to get out, then I crumple them up and throw them away. I have written many letters and emails that will never be sent, but they may be material for a future project. Writing is my therapy.
My husband reads and writes for a living. We met at CSUN in a Film Production class. As two creative people we are constantly bouncing ideas off of each other. One of us will have a spark and share it with the other. Then we go back and forth unravelling the story, the characters, the conflicts, the resolutions. And we always end it by saying, “It writes itself.”
One of the funnest jobs I ever had was working on a (very) short lived TV show. I got to work in the writers room taking notes. Except for being a mom, it was the most chaotic and creative experiences I’ve ever had. The writers would throw out jokes, scenarios, one liners. They would talk about anything but the script. They would work until 2 or 3 in the morning and not get one thing that was worth writing down. They were having a blast everyday and I was a witness to it. Many of those writers went on to work on successful tv shows – too bad this wasn’t one of them.
I am constantly writing. I document my family life and write down the everyday stories that happen – and there are plenty in a family of 5. I am often inspired by a photo. You will always see me taking out my camera and capturing a moment. I take those photos and use that as a starting point for a story, a journal entry, a blog post. Capturing a moment and then telling a deeper story pushes me to find meaning in the everyday.
I write for this blog which helps me practice and stay on schedule. I have written for my own personal blog since 2007 (it’s neglected right now but I will get back to it eventually.) In my current job I write press and marketing materials, and website and social media content. It’s the only thing I know how to do, and it’s the only thing I want to do.
I recently read over every journal entry in my battered up notebook from my Freshman year. Mental Note: Keep those kind of things for the kids. They will cherish them when they get older. Not every piece was great, maybe not even good. But there was something there that made my teacher think, I’m going to encourage that. And she did. I am developing that talent, everyday. There may be a script in my future or maybe a book. There will certainly be a lot more blog posts. I’ll keep writing and learning and practicing and remembering. It’s all I can do.