Thursday, December 31, 2009
In the summer of 2007, I attended a program at CalArts entitled the CSSSA-Innerspark (California State Summer School of the Arts) as a creative writing student. There, I had a teacher by the name of Zay Amsbury, who had one year decided to embark upon a mission: he would write a scene every single day for a whole year. I immediately decided that I would do the same. This project lasted a grand total of one week before I realized that I was completely out of ideas.
That was then.
One day, I was walking to the Foothill Dining Commons with my dear friend Nick Haley, quite perturbed because I had lost my student ID. This circumstance has little to do with anything, except it was on that walk that I mused aloud, “Perhaps I should try this again.” Nick immediately told me it was a really great idea.
And so, I am going to try.
The basic rules are:
1) They have to be at least one minute in length,
2) Monologues count,
3) Posting pre-written material counts, as long as I’ve edited it that day
4) Critiques of theatre I’ve seen counts
5) It doesn’t have to be good, but
6) I have to try
My friend Evan says I’m crazy. And most people I’ve told don’t think I can keep it up for a year. But I want to see where this goes. And maybe something fantastic will come out of it.
But first, a note on the name of this entry.
I’m very jealous of people who know exactly what they want to do with their lives. I’m very jealous of people who have an inkling of what they want to do with their lives. Whenever I talk to the pre-med kids, or the engineering majors, or the guys striving to get into Haas, I feel so jealous: how can they know this far in advance that they want to pursue these fields? How did they know in high school, while filling out college apps? How did they have this sort of clarity all the way from the start?
On the other hand, I’m very jealous of people who never had any idea of what they wanted to do with their lives. People who have known from the beginning that there is nothing to know. People interested in everything and everyone.
I’m somewhere in the middle. I know that I will never pursue a career focused on stock portfolios, hours of integrals, or the insides of bodies. I’ve gone through phases of my life where I thought I knew what I wanted: half my high school career, I wanted to go to law school; the other half flirted with stage management and screenwriting. For about ten minutes, I contemplated punditry, then remembered how much I detest their patronizing interruptions during the news broadcasts. Bitter self-loathing did not sound like a pleasant life direction. Each of these goals provided focus, a sense of stability – and each phase has faded and reemerged, never becoming concrete yet never leaving. The only thing I knew was
A few weeks ago, I was mulling over my lack of life direction when I realized that there was only one thing I have consistently loved since I was a wee lass: love stories. And that was when I realized that all I want to do with my life is write love stories.
This relates to my basic philosophy behind story structure. I believe that, at heart, all stories come from love. This does not necessarily mean every single story is boy meets girl (though oh how I love that phrase). This abstract concept referred to as “love” serves as the basis of every single narrative, whether it be the pursuit of it, the absence of it, the abhorrence of it, or the consequences of it. The idea of love forges the greatest, tightest relationships, thus creating the highest, most dramatic stakes. If you examine any plotline, you will find love somewhere in it. Love for a boy can cause you to betray your family (Romeo and Juliet). Love for a father can make you go mad (Hamlet). Love strayed can compel you to commit murder (Woyzeck). Love denied can convince you to crash chandeliers (Phantom of the Opera). Love realized can oblige you to break into song (any number of Broadway musicals). Love can serve as an overarching theme to counter evil (Harry Potter) or a motivation leave your comfort zone (Legally Blonde).
Love isn’t always necessarily a compact with another individual. For example, in Catch 22, Yossarian strives to avoid death because he has a love for life. Other motivators include a love for abstractions like nationalism (Les Miserables) or childhood (Peter Pan). This idea of extreme attachment creates the ultimate dramatic circumstance, creating the framework for a compelling story.
This “ridiculous obsession with love” explains a plethora of my oft-mocked personality traits. Primarily, it relates to what my friends refer to as my constant crushes on less than stellar main specimens. While most of my friends sniffed their noses at our high school counterparts, I found several of them charming. I tend to believe every awkward boy is a Paulie Bleeker; every coarse comment comes from a Rhett Butler.
Often, this translates into me developing exceptionally adorable and elaborate circumstances under which these Prince (not so) Charmings will confess to me their undying love. At the same time, I also imagine a dozen situations in which they confess their love for my best friend, or my worst enemy, or their best friend, or any number of non-me entities. I discovered long ago that none of these scenarios actually ever occur; nonetheless, they provided me with ample daydreaming material and an amusing way to distract myself from less important things, like class. Combined with a tendency to write down my thoughts, and a long-standing involvement with theatre, I decided to write them all out as scenes.
Which brings me to the point of this blog. Everything I’m going to post will be a love story: romantic or platonic, pursuit or absence of, endearing or disgusting. So maybe for a year, my life will have a goal. Maybe for a year, my life will have a direction. Maybe for a year, my life will have an easy distraction from homework. In any case, I think I’ll have fun just writing my love stories.