I Am the Coy Mistress

She is sitting in the chair at her desk, the blue, fleece blanket a friend made draped over her knees. Her desk is an array of items: an empty bottle of Mountain Dew, the keys to her car, her wallet, highlighters, and a dishwasher-safe cup from students representatives of "Avoid the Stork." Her hair, wet from a recent shower, is pulled back into a ponytail, and she dons her glasses. Elbows on the keyboard tray, she rests her chin in her hands as she reads seventeenth-century poetry.

My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on they forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest:
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.

Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" plays through her head, the gentle compassion of the notes lightly grazing her senses. Her hands move to the keyboard, fingers poised as if the ebonies and ivories rest beneath them, rather than the alphabet. Dipping her head in rhythm with the imagined sonata, her fingers strike each key with deliberation.

"To His Coy Mistress..."

She inhales, sighing deeply. Beethoven isn't the only man on her mind. She is always thinking of someone else--a person whom she has been dating for nearly six months. Things moved quickly at first, she admits, laughing again at the idea of spending the night together after only eighteen days of knowing each other.

Now, however, when talk turns to commitment and marriage, she shies away from the subject. An innocent night spent together watching "Pulp Fiction" does not compare to Hedda Gabler's "everlasting train ride." She wonders how he can expect full commitment when dating itself is somewhat of a game. The phrases "playing the field" and "going fishing" had to come from somewhere. Furthermore, she realizes, it is difficult to commit herself to someone who has, more than once, lost her respect and trust. A paradox, perhaps? He wants commitment before he sacrifices something. She nods in silent agreement, distressingly gnawing on her fingernails. But what about trust? A relationship is a commitment, yes, but a relationship is based on trust. No trust equals no commitment.

All the same, that doesn't detract from the fact that, this past weekend, she spent three hours watching "Say Yes to the Dress" with her mother, discussing what she wants for her wedding. Black tie affair? Outdoor wedding? Location? Her mother even ventured to ask the when, where, who, what, why, and how of a potential union to A. Vague in her answers, the daughter somewhat skirts around the questions, anxious to respond. She is afraid; she struggles to even be honest with herself. Her mind blocks any acceptance of this notion at this time.

Not without trust. No more broken promises.

Successfully demolishing the nails on her left hand, she returns to Andrew Marvell's satire.

For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

The buzz of her phone interrupts the iambic pentameter. She stares at it, chin once again resting in her left hand. One sigh and two blinks later, she reaches with her free hand, fingers clutching the device and sliding it open to read the message.

I can't get you off my mind! I miss you so much.

..........................................she is at a loss for words.


It has been awhile, I will admit. Lately, I have found it difficult to visit my blog, let alone post anything amidst my midterm exams, theater productions, and "miscellaneous activities." It has certainly been hectic. However, being able to spend a few minutes and quickly compose this message does not mean that I am, in a sense, "back." Though I have several different topics I would love to bring up in separate blog posts, I am afraid that I do not have the time.

I never have the time.

Secondly, I haven't been "in the mood" for writing. I have lost my motivation. Part of this is due to the fact that I have, for the first time in seven years, received a "B" on an essay. What? This does not happen to me! I'm a perfectionist; I'm an English major! I'm a senior in college! What happened?!? I am desperately trying to keep a 4.0, but I feel as if my attempts at participating in class are pointless. My instructors seem to desire more from me--something I cannot supply them with. I am disgusted with my classes, sick of being discouraged. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that part of being an English major is learning about how to read, analyze, deconstruct, and interpret literature to your own--my own--personal understanding. Here, however, that does not seem to be the case. Rather, I should be on the same wavelength as my instructors--ones whose opinions I disagree with entirely too often. What further frustrates me is the fact that my instructor asks for ridicule and disagreement, questioning my opinions about the reading. When I begin to explain my understanding, she interrupts, saying, "Well, I don't think so. You'll have to convince me."

Yes--because I have to convince you. She flat-out refuses to understand. Only if I fully convince her to believe my argument will she consider my interpretation.

I am frustrated. I am tired. I am not happy.

I am...wishing for something more. Something better. I want to rationalize my faith and know, for certain, that my prayers will be answered. I can pray that I will make the most out of the time I left at Iowa. I can pray that my loan application will be accepted. I can pray for patience as I wait to hear about my loan. I can pray that I will go back to Indiana smoothly. I can pray for wisdom and guidance and understanding in my relationship with A. I can pray for my friends, who are struggling right now. I can pray for my brother and his new job. I can pray that I will have the time and strength to be able to go home this weekend for Halloween.

But that faith...? That faith isn't married to anything--the pillars of uncertainty remain standing for quite some time.

And, sadly, as I write this entry in a computer lab in the Main Library, I have tears welling in my eyes. "Why is that?" you ask.

I smirk, glance down at the table. What is there to articulate? There have been a lot of new experiences within the last few months, but there has been an equal amount of pain. In fact, since December last year, my life has dramatically--but not radically--changed. Like everyone has done, or will do, I have reached the point where, had you sat me down in a chair on December 19, 2008 and told me where I was going to be at this time, I would credulously laughed.

N. and I wouldn't be together anymore? No way--we've been dating for more than three years. Can't happen.

I'm going to be going to school in Iowa? You've got to joking me! I HATE the in-state universities!

A Theatre major/minor? Really? I have the gall to do that?

I finally start to realize what is wrong about myself and attempt to correct it? Unbelievable. Me-a stubborn illusionist that often paints false images much too well-is going to find some confidence?

I date a conservative Hoosier and allow him to call me Cornstalk? I innocently share my bed with him after only three weeks of knowing him--and weeks before we share our first kiss? I let him tell me what's wrong with myself and attempt to correct things, though I know I can always do better? (And, paradoxically, knowing that I won't be perfect.)

I actually look at wedding dresses for absolutely "no reason" and realize that I like lace?
Wow. Am I that serious? Must be; I just spent two hours talking to my mom Friday night about when/why/where/what/how I would like my wedding to be.

Can I articulate
anything? Somewhat, yes...but not the important things. Not the things that slowly eat away at my conscious, nibble their way into my dreams and cause me to wake up either gasping, screaming, or crying?

Sometimes in the middle of the night, amidst the noise of the drunken eighteen-year-olds stumbling down the hallway and into their rooms, I wonder what it is that bothers me so much. Is it the immature, drunken atmosphere? The "I'm-smarter-than-you-and-am-the-all-knowing-omnipotent-professor" learning environment? The fact that I have to split Thanksgiving and Christmas between two different states? The realization that the best friendships I had in high school seem to fade? The fact that I am afraid to tell anyone that I keep changing my mind--that I don't know what I want because I don't take the time to look deep enough into anything? The fact that, as much as I preach to others about not taking "the easy way out," I often do it myself? The fact that, even though I can--and do--get everything I want, that I feel lonely and unsatisfied?

That reminds me of the time when my mother told me about Marilyn Monroe. I was around eight or nine at the time, and had just seen her picture on television. I had recognized it, but didn't really know who she was. "She was an actress," my mom answered. "A very beautiful actress. I don't know if she was necessarily too smart, but she was beautiful. In a sense, she had everything going for her. She could have everything she wanted...but she was never happy enough." That thought haunted me for a long time; it still does.

No wonder I'm an insomniac. For those nights when I can't sleep, or when I wake up scared--afraid that I will end up alone, unhappy, and unsatisfied, I console the giant, red, annotated Oxford English Bible I keep next to my nightstand. I'll read a few psalms, calms my nerves with the Gospels. It's only when I turn my light back and settle back down into my nest of pillows that my thoughts come racing back. Unsettled, I sit up and flip over the pillow directly beneath my head. I bury my nose into the center of it, inhaling the cologne that A. sprayed there two weeks ago. Slowly exhaling, I flip the pillow back, wanting to preserve the scent as long as I can.

Sighing perhaps a little too deeply, I nestle in. Am I okay?

Jesse Morrell--Part 3

The next day, Wednesday, I passed through the Anne Cleary walkway again. I was, of course, on my way to eat lunch. It wasn’t incredibly busy that hour, and the path was nearly deserted. However, Morrell was still there, quietly pacing around the corner of the retaining wall. As I neared him, I slowed down to directly ask him a question.

“How long are you going to be in Iowa City?” I asked. I had taken the time to look at his website and had read that his focus for preaching was college campuses.

“Umm,” he looked up at the sky, the reflection of his glasses shielding his eyes from me. “I think until Friday night.”

“All right. Thank you very much,” and I was on my way. I had already begun formulating what I wanted to say to him.

Two days later—after a one-day hiatus because of the rain—Jesse Morrell was back at it, preaching against homosexuals and feminists.

"Why feminists, sir?"

"Because they are disobedient, rebellious women!"

This photo was taken by a friend of friend who also attends the University. She allowed me to post it here.

It was Friday, and I knew that it was going to be his last day on campus. As such, I had decided to speak to him directly, and for two reasons: one, Morrell would find it encouraging and accomplishable, and two, it would put my mind into a state of dispassion.

Luckily, as I strolled through the walkway, there was not a plethora of fellow students. Morrell stood with his back to the walkway, conversing with the man in the red sweatshirt who still donned sunglasses, despite the patchy rain. Anxiously, I crept around them, turning to face Morrell, who smiled invitingly at me.

“Hi,” I said a bit nervously. “I guess I...” I laughed a bit nervously. “I guess I just had something I wanted to say.”

“All right then,” he said, avidly paying attention.

“I just...I just wanted you to know that, even though I disagree with a lot of what you are teaching, I really appreciate you coming out here and actually evangelizing.” The smiles on both of their faces grew wide as I continued. “I mean, that is what the New Testament teaches, so I give you guys a lot of credit for doing that, so thank you for getting the word out to people in some way.”

“Why thank you,” Morrell said, bowing his head to me.

“And...yeah. And I hope you guys have a nice day and a wonderful eternity.”

“Well, thank you very much,” he said eagerly. The man in the red sweatshirt gave me a curt nod, but also smiled. “And you as well.”

Jesse Morrell--Part 2

Uninterested in listening to Jesse Morrell preach about the sins of gays and lesbians, I joined a small group that had managed to collect just to the right of him. The small circle was gathered around another man—one in a red sweatshirt and sunglasses who, when asked if he was “with him,” nodded.

Spending time with this man was not necessarily more enjoyable, but it was easier. I could pitch questions to him that he would respectfully answer. Any student who disagreed could then debate with him; sans having to scream vulgarities to get attention. What struck me the most about the conversation we had, however, was the concept of sin—something that, apparently, this man and Jesse Morrell do not have.

As the Bible teaches, as Urban explains, and as I believe—salvation is received by grace from faith alone. I do not believe that I will be given salvation for the things I do, but rather for what Jesus Christ did for me. He died on the cross for my sins, purchasing my redemption in the process. All I have to do is full-heartedly
believe. Urban elaborates. “We can be saved by believing in Him with a true saving faith in our heart and upon believing, our sins forgiven and receive the perfect righteousness of God.”

Salvation is, by far, the greatest gift that a Christian could receive.

According to Morrell, however, salvation is conditional—it is achieved only in a state of sinless perfection. As Urban phrases it, “one has to completely stop sinning in order to be justified before God.” Sounds like Moral Government Theology to me.

“Wait,” said a young black man in the circle. “So...you don’t sin?”

Morrell’s comrade shook his head. “No.”

Bewildered, the rest of us in looked at each other. “Aren’t we all human, though?” I asked tentatively. “Don’t we all sin?”

Another fellow student joined in. “Yeah, I mean, aren’t we born as sinners? We’re natural; it’s bound to happen. That’s why we ask for forgiveness. That’s why Jesus had to be sent to earth to die for us; he had to die in order for us to receive redemption for all the sins that we commit.”

The guy shook his head. “No. We are not born as sinners—it’s not natural to sin. We are born in a neutral state. Any original sin that existed died with Adam’s sin in the beginning. Sin is a choice.”

We disagreed. “Okay, well, yeah, sin CAN be a choice. However, there are some sins that you don’t recognize until they’re over with. That’s what grace is for. However, we are naturally born sinners.”

The man in the sweatshirt shook his head again, but remained calm. “Why would you choose to sin?” he asked. “Why? I’m not a sinner. I choose not to sin. Therefore, God finds me righteous. A man is only moral perfect when he decides to stop sinning.”

“So why was Jesus crucified?” someone inquired a bit too loudly.

Morrell picked up the answer. “Because,” he proclaimed in his vexatious, tenor voice, “JESUS...is the SAVIOR! He will judge us all!”

Another random person from the crowd yelled back. “But what about you? You’re terrible! You shouldn’t judge our beliefs! And I’m Jewish, by the way!”

Morrell laughed. “No, no, no! It is not for YOU to judge ME. However, I can judge YOU!” A loud echo of ‘boos’ rose up. “I am not a sinner, therefore I can judge the rest of you homosexuals!”

That was enough for me; I stood up from the concrete ledge I had been sitting on and began to walk away from Morrell and his—what I considered to be—blasphemous statements.

However, once back at my dorm, I contemplated Morrell’s motivations. Though I did disagree with practically everything he preached, I admired him for standing up in front of the crowd, actually evangelizing. Though I found several fallacies in his argument, I understood that, for whatever reason, those were his beliefs, and he was doing his best to bring Christianity to unbelievers. He was trying to promote the word of God and bring people closer to personal salvation.

He just had an...interesting...way of doing it.

Jesse Morrell-Part 1

A week ago, I cut through the Pentacrest on my way to lunch. Just as I was about to cross Jefferson Street, a fellow student slowed his bike. "You guys have to check out the crazy Christian guy," he said, peddling past us--five strangers--in the opposite direction. We all looked at each other strangely, craning our necks to look down the Anne Cleary walkway. At first, I only saw a middle-aged man passing out flyers for a Japanese restaurant downtown. I took a flyer from the man as I neared him, absentmindedly thanking him for the paper that I would, ten seconds later, toss into a trash can. It was then I heard him.

"I don't want you sinners in my church! Or you Jews! I only want Christians!"

There he was--Jesse Morrell--standing upon the concrete wall that separates Calvin Hall from the walkway. I drank him in; critiqued the argyle sweater, acknowledged the Bible tucked into his belt. His right hand clasped a banner supported by a holster he wore. It proclaimed in alarmingly yellow letters that "JESUS CHRIST will cast ALL SINNERS into the LAKE OF FIRE on the DAY OF JUDGMENT."

It was the lunch hour, and so the walkway was filled with passing students who yelled insults at Morrell as they walked, or snapped pictures of him. Many immediately pulled out their cell phones to text the absurdities that Morrell had directed at them.

"Why don't you do something productive with your existence?" a young man yelled out from down the walkway. Laughter echoed throughout the buildings, mine included. This guy is nuts, I thought. I know he's evangelizing, but he's...not so nice about it. A resounding, "YOU'RE GOING TO HELL!" echoed behind me in response.

That's one way to bring people to Jesus.

As described by Josef Urban on the blog, Grace in the Triad, Jesse Morrell is "an open air preacher and campus speaker who travels around the USA preaching everywhere. He writes somewhat extensively on theological subjects and operates under the banner of the ministry he founded, 'Open Air Outreach'. His influences seem to span wide and far as he is constantly on the move and preaching his version of what he calls 'the gospel'."

This "gospel" that Urban refers to are the "four vital aspects" of Open Air Outreach's evangelism: prayer, tracts and bible distribution, one-on-one, and open-air preaching. The website goes on to explain that "although [they] may also be a part of food and clothing ministries, working on the front lines sharing the unadulterated message of repentance towards God is [their] TOP priority."

Yes...which is why Morrell's zeal for evangelism is frightening. I witnessed him employ un-Scriptural tactics of "shock and awe" preaching. His primary method seems to focus on shouting insults at students, then employing appallingly offensive statements in hopes that a crowd will gather. I give him credit, though; it worked.

The next afternoon, on Tuesday, I deliberately changed my route to pass through the Anne Cleary walkway again, where Morrell was still preaching. I first took the opportunity to snap a few pictures of the situation, as a crowd of about fifty or sixty people had gathered. After a few minutes of pretending I was more than an amateur photographer, I stood a ways off from the crowd, next to towering, blond guy in a blue, button-down shirt.

"What do you think of this?" he asked me point-blank.

I laughed and shook my head. "I don't know," I said. "I give him credit for coming out here and evangelizing, though. I mean, that's what we--Christians--are supposed to do. So kudos for that. But I don't think this is necessarily the best way to go about it."

"You're right," the guy said, adjusting his messenger bag. "It's one way to bring people to Jesus. I mean, this is what he wants; he wants a crowd. He wants his word out."

I squinted into the sunlight as I spoke. "I absolutely agree! This is what he's aiming for. That's probably why he hits up all the college campuses--wants to get his opinions to the most people possible. I just think he could find a better tactic."

"Yeah, yelling out insults is certainly not a good one." A fresh dose of laughter from the crowd proved our point.

"Now," I said to the guy, "I don't think that what he is doing is bad. However, I do disagree with about everything he says. I mean, earlier, I was here for about five minutes, and I left after he mentioned that there were 'No orgasms in hell.'" The guy's eyes boggled, and I smiled. "Yeah," I sighed. "I just think it would be more beneficial to sit down with him, one-on-one, and just...talk. I want to see what he believes and why. I don't want to be condemned by him."

The guy nodded, and we both turned our heads back to Jesse, half-listening to him, half-listening to each other. We spoke of our beliefs in Christianity, the churches in Iowa City, and our purpose at the University of Iowa (he was a graduate student in communications). While we talked, a man in the crowd asked Morrell a question, who responded, "Yes, I will answer that; but too BAD you are MISTAKEN!"

"Hey! Why don't you just answer his question instead of insulting him!" someone in the crowd yelled back. Morrell paid no attention.

"LOVE," he preached, "is NOT an emotion! It is a CHOICE!"

Protests rang out. "What? How can you not feel it?" "You can't choose who you love?" "Did you have to choose to love your wife?" "Shut the hell up!" "What? No! If GOD is LOVE, and LOVE is a CHOICE, then GOD is a choice! Maybe I don't want to choose God!" "What about your wife? What about marriage?"

Morell, well-practiced in the art of ignoring inquiries, directed his answer at only the last question. "That’s the problem! People just want to marry for sex! You ask someone, ‘Why are you getting married?’ and they say, “Oh, well, he makes me feel so good,” or “I just love spending time with her.’ And it’s selfish! It's self-centered!"

More protests rung out, but Morrell ignored all of them, moving on to what is probably his favorite topic: homosexuality.

Earthwords Literary Salon--Part 2

One of the most interesting topics discussed, however, was the idea of "plot;" something that I have been over-discussing in both Introduction to English and Playscript Analysis. Teal said that there are several writers today that come up with a simple plot and repeatedly stick to it. "Dan Brown is one of them," he said. "He comes up with the idea that, Character A must accomplish THIS or else character B dies. And then he fits in some things around that to tell his point. And that's basically what all of his novels are."

Honestly, I would have to say that I would agree. Now, I do enjoy Dan Brown novels, don't get wrong. The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons are two of my favorites, and I have read a few of Brown's other books. However, his plots are similar--they are always filled with impeccable twists that carry the conception that "I must do this or else something BAD happens."

Teal elaborated. "Stephenie Meyer does the same thing--she is focused on plot. On story-telling. There is no characterization, there are no symbols, and it certainly isn't good literature. It is a good story." (Something I avidly agree with, and also came to the conclusion of after I read the first Twilight book.) Teal went on. "Essentially, all four of her novels are the same. All of them. It's just fluff; that's all."

"So what does that have to say for the people that read those books?" someone asked.

Our heads eagerly turned back to Teal, who explained that books by Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer have a certain audience in mind. "Those novels are written for certain groups of people, and they are geared to market in large quantities. Twilight wouldn't be what it is without throbs of teenage girls. Dan Brown books wouldn't be what they are without easily pleased readers looking for something exciting, but not 'deep.'"

And, once again, I would have to say that I agree. Yes, I have read Dan Brown books. Yes, I have read the entire Twilight series. However, those books aren't considered as high literature caliber. They certainly are not short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, or even novels by Alice Sebold. Rather, those types of books are the McDonald's of literature. For example, do I really love McDonald's? No. Is it enjoyable to eat there every once in awhile? Yes. Sometimes I find myself craving one of their grease patties (hamburgers). Essentially, books by Stephenie Meyer (and like authors) are junk food. Convenient, but not beneficial.

Teal also added a good point. He said that we should NOT be like Dean Koontz and Danielle Steel; the authors who sit down at their computers and pump out a new novel every few months. "They set up a formula for their novels, and they're sticking to it. All they are doing is plunking in new character names and different settings. I mean, look at their books. They are basically all the same thing, and that is because they know what they're doing. As a writer, you guys don't want to know what you're doing. You always want to try for something new; you want to venture out into the deep and explore ideas and concepts that you're not entirely sure of. That's where creativity comes from."

As much as I would have liked to continue listening to Teal, I had to leave early for another meeting. I had been at the literary salon for a little over two hours, spending the first forty-five minutes nibbling on the food provided and receiving feedback on my poetry. Though I was not able to stay the entire length of the salon, I was very glad to received the feedback I did. I was able to speak to a poetry editor who told me that she really enjoyed my elevated use of language in my writing. I smiled in return, well-aware that that element is my poetical trademark. Lines like "cauterize the ordinary," "crinoline of branches," and "territorial yet benign" are just a few of the lines that she pointed it. "I really like these lines," she said. I just thanked her, proud of myself for trying to remain humble. Two poems, "He" and "Necking in the Ford" need a little work; one requires more distinct characterization, and the other requires a stanza to be rewritten to retain the smooth flow. However, she felt that one poem, "A Sense of Shelter" was a finished product, which thrilled me. Leaving early with me, I thanked the editor for her time. "I really appreciate your criticism," I said. "Thank you so much for reading my work."

The next day, Friday (yesterday), I went ahead and submitted "A Sense of Shelter" to Earthwords, which is currently looking for submissions up until the fifteenth of this month. I also submitted four photographs, as encouraged by a friend who also happens to be an editor at Earthwords.

Overall, I was thrilled to receive outside criticism, and I was glad to hear that I was, for lack of better terminology, "on the right track." I was given specific advice of things to work on, and I am eager to aspire to two more finished poems. I plan to work on them soon, hopefully submitting them to another literary magazine that runs out of the University.

Earthwords Literary Salon--Part 1

On Thursday, I attended a literary salon hosted by Earthwords, the University of Iowa's original undergraduate literary review. Today, Earthwords showcases the literary and artistic work of undergraduate students in an annual literary magazine. Their website also states that the "Earthwords editorial board changes every year and with it the content, style, and length of the magazine, but its dedication to showcasing the best undergraduate work is apparent in every issue..."

Though advertised as an opportunity to have editors critique my work, there ended up being a speaker, Nathaniel T. Minton. He is a recent graduate of the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa and spent some time in Hollywood as a screenwriter. Now, he has returned to the University of Iowa as an instructor, currently teaching Creative Writing for New Media. He describes the class as "a course [that] will compliment the Creative Writing Department's fiction and poetry courses by helping creative writers prepare for the rapidly evolving marketplace of electronic text. It will broaden the scope of the University's current new media courses by concentrating on creative writing and content creation. With practical approaches to creating work for electronic media, this workshop oriented course will focus on student writing in various mediums such as, internet, e-books, video-games, mobile devices and emergent social narratives."

Speaking with a small group of students, editors from Earthwords, and his parents, Nathaniel (whom I believed preferred to be called "Teal") spoke of his experience with creative writing and personal habits. For instance, he spoke of sitting at his computer for two hours, not even completing a single sentence.

"In order to get over this, I look at my watch," he said. "I time myself. I say, 'Okay, for thirty minutes, I'm going to write fifty words a minute without stopping. And I go for it. Sometimes it is complete and utter crap, and sometimes it is something I can work with." We nodded as we listened to Teal, who went on to say that sometimes he has arguments with myself. "I address that inner voice when I'm writing. 'No, you can't do this.' 'Yes, yes I can.' 'NO, you can't.' 'Yes I can. See? I'm writing this. I'm proving you wrong now.' I laugh to myself when I do this, but it works. I do it because it gets me over that block."

And, speaking of writer's block, Teal does not believe in it. He doesn't think that it is some big, mythical beast that comes in and carries away all inspiration. Rather, he thinks that is fear. The author, whomever he or she is, is afraid of something--whether it be characterization, the length, the depth, or indefinite focus. "There should be nothing to fear when writing something," he said. "That's why there is always editing at the end. Don't be afraid to write 'crap.' It happens; you can always go back and fix it later." He then went on to talk about his novel, which was originally longer than 1,000 pages. "It's down to about 600 now, but I won't show it to anyone until it's under 300." Teal stressed the importance of doing whatever it takes to get something out onto the paper. After all, it is not immediately intended for another reader, so we don't have to worry about what someone else will think; we can always refine our work.

Teal also spoke of his experience in Hollywood as a screenwriter. He mentioned that several dozen scripts will be reworked and rewritten before reaching a finished product. "And then," he said, "the director is always going to change things anyway, so you never actually see your work in black and white." One major point he made was that, as a screenwriter, he didn't own anything he actually wrote. "You see, there's a union for the writers in Hollywood. It protects us and our work...but only if we don't publish it. So, for instance, we DO NOT own our writing. The company who buys our scripts owns the work. So, essentially, as long as no one wants to read your script, rewrite your script, buy your script, copyright your script, or film your script, it's yours. For instance, I can remember going to a bar one night and having a conversation with a more famous screenwriter. He asked what I did and I told him, adding that I also do some creative publishing on the side. 'Oh! he exclaimed. So you actually OWN your writing!' I'll never forget that."
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