06 May, 2020
Redecorate vs. Renovate I have a screenplay I wrote that I’ve gotten great feedback on. It’s about suicide. I’m having difficulty getting anyone to say yes to it. Today I took a long, hard, critical look at it and I found what it needs. The only problem is, it doesn’t need to be redecorated, it needs to be renovated. You know those home improvement shows where they sand and stain or paint kitchen cabinets because they’re solid and only need surface work? That’s redecorate. That’s not this screenplay. My screenplay is like when they take a crowbar and rip the cabinets off the wall. Then they rip the drywall off and you’re left with the studs. You have to renovate, gut, the entire place. That’s where this screenplay is. It needs to be gutted down to the studs so I can put the best drywall and cabinets in. Life can be like that too. Don’t confuse a paint job with a need to do a total renovation. Put in the hard word and rip everything out. Then build in what is truly unique to you. Your writing and you as a person will be all the better for it.
23 March, 2020
Don’t give up on your Dreams. With the pandemic going on, the world has found itself social distancing and staying home. In our 21st century society, we have more choices for entertainment than there are hours in the day. We can fill our minds with endless TV shows or hours of opera or theater. Or...we can take a few hours today to reset. Are you living the life you always wanted to live? If so...congratulations. If not...it’s reset time. Take some of your quarantine time today to reflect on the life you truly want. If you’re at home with others, go to a separate room or even a closet. Take pen and paper, or jot your answers down on your phone. Here are your prompts: 1. I always wanted to be a... 2. I always wanted to live in/at/on... 3. My one (or however many you have), regret is... 4. Today is a new day. I can start living my dream(s) by... 5. I will stop listening to fear and do something bold today by... 6. By June 1st of this year, I will have done...towards my dream(s). Set a reminder on your phone to revisit your answers at least once a week. I plan on posting mine on my bathroom mirror so I am often reminded of my dreams and action steps. And at the top of you page write: BE BOLD. LIVE FEARLESS. Know that I am rooting for you.
09 March, 2020
What kind of writer am I? 2020 is turning into an interesting year for me. I’ve written and submitted poetry and essays. Yet I’ve always considered myself a fiction writer. Time is a funny construct. It gives us room to shift and grow and change and be re-formed into something completely new. Time asks nothing from us but that it be used. And used well, until there is nothing left in the vessel of time but empty space. If you’d asked me three years ago what type of writing I do, I would have said, “YA SciFi and Horror, novels and screenplays”. I never would have said, “I’ve been exploring the depth of the kaleidoscope of color on the end of a grain of sand—in words and harmony through poetry.” I am still hard at work on my adult horror novel (another new thing for me), while I explore this new person I’ve become who pulls back the petals of a fresh rose to show the world the delicate workings within that brings life to the bees. 2020 People say it’s synonymous with perfect vision. I tend to not see perfection in anything (except Twinkies). Even nature throws a slight curve into the symmetry of a butterfly’s wings. I think 2020 is the beginning of near vision. And as I continue to dig deeper into my writing (I’m preparing to undertake a huge research project for a book), I am reminded to see beyond the first glance. Dive deep. Tell it true. And tell it with heart.
03 February, 2020
I’m looking at my list of potential nonfiction books (don’t worry. I’m still at work on my fiction novel), I’ll be writing a proposal for, in order to submit to agents this spring. The topics are areas I am qualified to speak on. For me, “qualified” isn’t enough. I’m qualified to explain the kinetic theory of matter or stoichiometry, but my desire and passion are writing-—which I’m also qualified to do. The difference is in the D & P. Desire and Passion. Just as there are people in the business world who toil away their Monday - Friday in jobs they feel nothing for, there are screenwriters and authors who churn out work(s) they care nothing about. It pays the bills. Is that now the standard to hold our lives up to? Paying the bills? As if desire and passion for your work won’t? Guess what? The soulless work standard is a lie! That knowledge, to focus only writing that which I am passionate about, helps me whittle down my list from an oak tree to a toothpick. I can work with a toothpick.
27 January, 2020
Break the Mold Last night I painted. I haven’t painted in over ten years. It was past time. I broke out my watercolors and acrylics. The first painting I did was horrible. Why? It was confined. Restricted. See, my high school art teacher would correct me whenever I tried to draw or paint abstract. Even in advanced art honors classes she would continue. I was never allowed to unleash me. Now I won lots of awards for my scenes of wildflowers and farm life, but there was something inside me that wanted to break out of the “expected of me” mold I had been shoved into. Last night. I took a blank sheet of mixed media paper, acrylic paints and watercolors and placed them before me. I turned up the cello music. Closed my eyes and let myself feel. Opened my eyes (sometimes). And I painted. I haven’t thought of a name for it, my painting, but a family member saw it and was amazed by it. Said she could see raw emotion in it. Today I got back to writing poetry. And I decided to do what I did for my painting. I chose to not write in the confines of stanza and line breaks and iambic pentameter. I wrote from my inner core. Five poems. My fiction writing has changed as well. My adult novel is full of hope and despair; love and perseverance. I don’t flinch from anything in this novel. I hope to finish it in March. Whatever is holding you back. Break out of it. Be free.
20 January, 2020
MLK Day is just another school holiday By Desiree Middleton copyright 2020 I was going to skim the internet and copy and past another banal platitude to MLK that ended with “black power”, or “Happy MLK day”, or “Black lives matter”, but the state of the nation and the world made me question what the point was. Why does anyone celebrate MLK day? Is it just another school holiday, or should it still matter? And if it should matter, why should anyone care? At least a dozen times a day, I hear the N-word used by students. Casual banter with their classmates. Hurled at each other as insults. When corrected by myself or other students, the perpetrators usually apologize. But in ALL cases, an hour later, a day later, they are back to using that word. I’ve erased the N word off of tables and out of books. Sometimes my name and a not nice picture of me is attached. Sometimes students erase it before I see it, warning me to stay away while they erase it—telling me after what it said. “I want you to understand the history of that word”, I’d say to the perpetrators. Or, “Here is why that word is offensive to me”. Social media and television continue to paint a picture of African Americans as whores and gang bangers. “Say something ghetto,” a student once told me. Now, today’s youth are not the only ones who have a skewed sense of what an African American is. My own culture group does as well. “Ugh, she’s at the beach sitting in the sun. Doesn't she know she’s black?” “Why do you talk like white people?” “Why don’t you write about (anything related to slavery), instead of this horror stuff?” Or what I heard growing up: “Why do you read so much?” So when it comes to MLK day do I go to the African American museum and read aloud, I have a dream, because it’s expected of me as an African American? The affluent African Americans from Beverly Hills will make their appearance at the museum and at parades. Shake hands. Even have a repas with middle and lower socioeconomic African Americans. Then the economic classes will divide like the Red Sea. Those affluent folk will get in their Mercedes while the others will hop the blue line or bus (or Prius), to go home; never to mix again until next MLK day. That’s the real tragedy. Or do I take what MLK stood for, and others after him, and put it into practice? As I write this I am listening to an African American cellist. Ooh he’s doing a non-African American thing. Watch out! I’ve seen enough in this world in the time I’ve been alive to know that equality is a moving target. That African American women have suffered atrocities so horrifying, reading eye witness accounts of them will make you physically ill. And I’ve seen hope. Hope is like a wildfire. It needs only the tiniest spark and breath of life to become alive. I choose hope. MLK had a dream. Along the way this country lost sight of that. Let MLK day be your reminder. Move past retweeting or posting an MLK speech. Do something to uplift someone.