I’ve been spending Camp NaNoWriMo writing and revising my outline. Wait, what? If you’ve done NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month every November), or Camp NaNoWriMo (the April & July sessions which are more open to different kinds of projects), usually you plan the month before you participate in this challenge. That usually helps me to make progress with novels and novellas. Sometimes I’ve done poetry challenges during camp sessions, which no planning is involved (unless you count some NaPoWriMo [National Poetry Writing Month] prompts). This camp session was different.
I began seriously thinking about writing my first TV pilot in June. I’ve been wanting to write for TV for much longer. I got inspired with an original idea and I wanted to learn more of how to make it become a TV pilot. Thanks to a TV writer friend, I was able to find a way to read TV pilot scripts. She also suggested in the past to read Blake Snyder’s ‘Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need,’ which I did, but didn’t lead me to do much with it, as Jamie Nash’s ‘Save The Cat! Writes TV.’ The first book did give me a good background to view Jamie’s book. It made more sense for me to explore Blake’s film beats in context with TV. It dawned on me that it’s because it’s the most familiar medium after books for me. I’ve seen more TV than movies and theatre. Though I wouldn’t mind learning how to write for those formats too, especially theatre. I needed this research time with my new idea to get a better sense of what I wanted to do, but I found myself writing out scene descriptions as quickly as they came to me.
Later I made my notes look more professional (and legible) to send out to my TV writer friend, but she couldn’t look at it right away, as she was really busy with her writing work. She gave me some suggestions that I could work with until she could spend a good amount of time looking at my outline and eventually give me feedback. So I worked on those homework assignments (including a Story Area, which describes the pilot through themes and character growth) to help me develop my idea more. I ended up expanding the outline before I received feedback by mid-July. After feedback, and reading, I felt confident that I had a good story. I still had work to do because I skipped a step in the process.
I had looked at the standard beats for film and TV (the important points of the story) when writing out my outline, but I didn’t really write them out. So my writer friend suggested to write them out and place them on a board. I thought about how I could do it, and realized that I had been using Google Jamboard for teaching my ESL classes, and maybe that could be a good way to electronically board the beats. It worked! Plus my writer friend was amazed that she didn’t know about this tool and how it could work for story beats. Anyway, in this process, I could visualize my story overall and what I was missing. Afterwards, I added also what could be possible season 1 beats, just to see how it could go. Throughout this I’ve been doing notes in my physical notebook, which seemed to work for my planning this project as well. As it was easy for me to let my ideas flow as they came to me or when I pondered.
Then I went back to the outline, I had more to add and revise. While I still have more to finalize this outline, I really feel like I’ve made progress this month in figuring more about my TV pilot. That’s important because the outline has to be at its best before you move towards writing out the script. It’s all part of the screenwriting process. A lot of this planning is necessary to do, especially if you’re working on finalizing an episode with others involved. Normally, there would be others viewing the story area and outline to finalize it before the scriptwriter can move forward, but since this is a pilot, feedback from at least someone, especially if you can find someone familiar with industry, helps. The planning also helps you have a better idea of how you could present your idea when pitching your TV pilot when you’re ready, and I’m not there yet.
Trust me. If you read the book, you’ll get a better idea of the process. I’m just trying to write out my process as best as I can. Plus you might find your own way through reading as well. Just don’t forget that feedback. That reminds me, I’m using recent feedback on my novel to make it better for publication. It wasn’t ready yet, but querying was still worth the process. I just needed a bit of a break from it as I’ve been editing it a lot. I’m glad I had this TV pilot to work on. It brought back my creativity, as well as my hope. I’ll keep working on my writing projects moving forward. It just will take time for you all to see them. They do say dreams take time to come true. I know they will.
The future is very bright. I’m also excited and slightly bittersweet to work on this TV pilot project while the Supergirl series finale finishes filming. It’s one of many TV shows that has made me want to be a TV writer. I can’t wait to see what happens at the end of the series, returning August 24 on The CW. This show also led me to some of the best opportunities and memories. As well as my top favorite local actor Jeremy Jordan (plays Winn Schott on the show). He actually mentioned in an interview earlier in the year that he wrote a TV pilot (during down time of the pandemic) just to see if he could do it, and he could. He continues to inspire me in many ways, including my writing journey. I also want to give thanks to my writing friends, including my TV writer friend. She knows who she is. I also thankful to all my friends, family, and coworkers who support me with my writing. While I didn’t write a script this month, I still feel like a winner. I know I will keep working on improving and developing my writing craft. If you’re a writer, keep writing and learning.
For my next blog post, I hope to write about the new Kindle Vella (including writing opportunities with the format as well as a review of my friend Christina Farley’s ‘The Dream Heist’). Stay tuned.
UPDATE 8-3-21: I’ve recently published my first Kindle Vella serial novel, ‘Liberty Calling.’ I’ll be discussing about this in my next blog post.
As Mental Health Month wraps, I feel like it’s a good time to discuss how much we need to focus on mental health throughout the year. It something that really is valuable for writers (as well as other artists and art workers) and educators. Before I start, I also want to bring forward the importance that we should also provide necessary funding to support the Arts, and education (including Arts education). It might seem minor for others, but this kind of funding will benefit with growth in these areas, but support for those involved.
It isn’t all about concern with finances, even though that is important. It’s also working towards providing the tools and support we need to make and do things that matter. We can’t pour from an empty cup. We can’t write on the empty page if we don’t take care of ourselves. As an educator and a writer, it’s something that impacts me every day. These are the words I constantly want to say.
Let’s focus on education first. Especially since that’s where everything starts. So shouldn’t education have more priority and more support? Teachers are struggling to get by financially, and they still put everything they can to help their students succeed in school for their lives, including their careers. Arts, in many cases, get cut when they inspire students to be creative and succeed in school and beyond, including impacting our economy.
The hardest part is that teachers are taught before they step into the classroom that they are suppose to expect that they will have the hardest first year ever. Instead of focusing on the skills, tools, and supports they could use to make the first year better. The community matters too. You have to have a good set of administration and fellow teachers that understand that we should empower beginning teachers. I was given everything to deal with my classroom management, except how to deal with my mental health relating to it.
It took being forced to leave my first teaching job and eventually find my current teaching job to realize that I was meant to be an educator. I needed a different environment. Somewhere where I have more time to grow, but also receive the support that I need in the classroom and beyond. I hope new teachers to know that there’s another option. One could be teaching adult literacy education, and/or we can all work towards improving the culture and support for educators. Retention and mental health should go beyond the students. We can’t teach our students and support them without caring for our own and ourselves.
Next, let’s focus on the main things can we do. Provide educators the training that goes beyond teaching students about mental health and noticing the vital signs for those who need support with our students. If we get continued training and counseling to help ourselves and our students, we will be able to retain more educators as well as students. The training and counseling should also focus on our work as educators. We should have opportunities for self-care throughout the day, week, and monthly. Including journaling that helps us express our feelings about work. Finally, we should create a culture from top to down with understanding and support for each other. We can learn the tools on our own, but it can take more time. Valuable time that we need.
Now let’s move towards writers. In many cases, we argue if writer’s block exists or not. We need to move pass the idea that we’re all procrastinating because we can’t put the words onto the page. As I’ve discussed before, I’ve read recently Shana Ronayne’s book, Writing Through The Fog: Techniques for Outwitting Brain Fog and Reclaiming Our Writing Lives. I can’t stop recommending it. In the past year, I kept hearing about brain fog (relating to COVID-19) and it led me to wonder more about it, especially with writers. In searching, I found this book. When I read it, not only did it help me understand my re-occurring health struggles, but strategies how to move forward. As well as realizing that many throw “writer’s block” around, suggesting that many are just procrastinating, when there are many writers that want to produce work, but struggle to do so.
I’m the kind of person that likes a schedule and a plan most of time, while I can be spontaneous in some cases. So it can be frustrating when I have lots of expectations on myself as a teacher and as a writer. I want to do my best, and that can lead to me being a bit hard on myself. It’s something that I’ve had to learn, but also that I can’t always be productive, even when there’s so much that I need and want to do. I’ve been working on it, and other things as well, but if I didn’t have the support that I have now, along with this book, I think it would be like when I first started teaching or when I struggle to write for periods of time. I still struggle, but it’s a bit easier. As always, we have to be life-long learners, not only for our craft, but also with our mental health. It won’t always be easy, and that’s okay. We have to accept that, but we can make things better.
We all have to find our way to do self-care, therapy, and learn what works best for us to produce and be more productive. It’s just like when we have to learn our craft. Each of us have our own process and it always continues through out our journeys. Shana Ronayne suggests that too. Not all of her advice will work, but she hopes most of it will. Just as I hope to do so here. We got to make changes in different ways through education and the writing community (including publishing). We all have our ways to make waves that will make impact. Some can be small. It might not be seen right away, but it will.
Why does it matter as writers? Our mind needs to be at its best for us to produce our creativity. We have to be inspired by living our lives and exploring our communities’ work. It might be that we have busy lives, and/or struggling with our health, and it affects our work. We need energy and inspiration, and many cases planning, to make progress. We have to understand that for others, and especially for ourselves. We have to have self-compassion as well as self-confidence when needed. That has to be taught to us. Notice that? Everything is connected. Although there are times when a deadline or a challenge can push us to do what we never though we could. Don’t let everything be on deadline.
I hope by the end of this you feel that mental health matters. Especially for educators and writers. It’s important for everyone. I don’t mind talking about mental health and my journey. I hope you will share yours when you’re ready. Take care everyone. We can do this.
As you may have noticed, I’ve recently completed my third NaPoWriMo during Camp NaNoWriMo – April 2021. I was able to write 30 poems in 30 Days. As they have been published on my blog, I’ve been able to get feedback on them in different ways from viewership to comments. Even though I have them on here, I hope someday to create a chapbook of my favorite poems from these challenges, with some revision and edits if needed, and more of my original photos. That’s something that I can do with self-publishing. While I could try to traditionally publish my poems, they would have to be ones that I haven’t posted, but I really feel like my poems are something that I can and want to self-publish.
Whereas some of my other writing, I’ve been trying to work towards traditional publishing. While I want to see what my options are, I’ve found that the process has provided me opportunities to receive necessary feedback. First through querying, I learned about my first pages and the order of my manuscript wasn’t quite the right order. Next, I received the opportunity to get a bit of novel editor feedback, through #RevPit. I had received feedback before querying, but it wasn’t from professional novel editors. In this process, even though I didn’t win #RevPit, I received some feedback on what needed to be improved in more micro level. It also made me realize that I still have more left to go to revise and edit my manuscript before I can continue on the path of publishing.
I’ve continued to ponder the self-publishing path. I know that I could do it, but would my writing be good enough to publish? This is one of the reasons why I keep leaning towards traditional publishing because I need to make sure my novel work is done well. I don’t want to publish too soon and then it doesn’t go well because I published too soon. Some might say that I’ve queried too soon, but I needed feedback, and I needed to learn the traditional process. I wouldn’t change that. Now where is my next step? I need to revise again, but in the micro level. Macro was making sure everything was in the right order, and seeing what I could expand in the overall plot. Now I need to expand with description as to provide a bridge to my future readers. Remove words that tell versus show. It’s things that I’ve struggled with my writing.
Now I know the steps to move forward, and to improve my writing skills, I’m researching on how to improve in these areas. I hope it will benefit me beyond my hopeful debut novel. In the process of researching, I’m finally reading Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. As it has been recommended to me countless of times, but I finally got through part of it and realized that there are some things that would be helpful for me. I still feel like there are better writers that could provide better guidance than Stephen King. I’ll continue to go through his book as it was recommended to me to improve my writing, but I still search else where for more information to improve as well.
I’ve recently received opportunity to work with a professional editor. Her first step is to submit my first pages revised to her, as to get a better idea of her editing services before moving forward. So I plan on revising those pages first. Then I’ll see where it goes. Either way. I will go through my manuscript in a few passes to work on each areas that need improvement, and then move towards publishing.
Besides this, I also hope to work on more short stories and poems this year. Maybe some script writing. No matter what, I want to make sure that I keep working towards sharing my writing in some way. At the same time, I need to take care of myself. It’s been tough lately to write with my health, but thankfully I’ve done steps to improve my health as well as what I can do to improve writing progress, thanks to Shana Ronayne’s Writing through the Fog: Techniques for Outwitting Brain Fog and Reclaiming Our Writing Lives. It’s a process that I need to keep doing to stay on track with my progress.
Even with all that, I need to keep reading. As a writer, I’ll improve more as I read, and support fellow writers, but also remind me why I write. I hope to read more the rest of this year. My current reading list and to-read list continues to grow. So you know I’ll be reading as much as I can. Including finishing reading Paula Yoo’s From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry, and Tashkent Bhuiyan’s Counting Down with You. I need to schedule my time to do everything I want to do with what I need to do, including my part-time and volunteer work.
Finally, I want to add, I watched Jeremy Jordan’s streaming 54 Below show, ‘Carry On,’ yesterday. His personal truthful storytelling through words and spellbinding music really inspired me not only personally, but as a writer. If he can share his truth in such a way, I can share my work and make it just as an incredible experience for others. I’m excited for his future work, and can’t wait to see what else he inspires me to do. He’s one of the people that I wouldn’t be who I am without. He continues to make me proud to live his hometown.
I’ll continue to do my best to update my blog as much as I can. I hope you’ll keep coming back to follow my journey, and any writing I feel like sharing. Thanks for all the support, especially from my family and friends. I will always love to write, but you help me keep going beyond my writing. That will always matter to me. I hope to support you all, as much as I can, when I can.
I’ve gone the four cardinal directions: North, South, East, and West.
I’ve gone four ordinal directions: northwest, northeast, southwest, and southeast, and the two vertical directions: up and down.
As well as two relative directions: in and out.
I’ve flown and driven to travel and move. All changed me for good.
If you want to find me, or most of all, my heart
You don’t have to look to the western sky
I’m everywhere I’ve been and dream to be
Start with the city at the center of Texas, at least to me
Move to two states unwillingly as a child
Traveled to three states, one is my favorite, another comes close
Travel to U.S. territories and out of the country
Many times to Mexico, but hope to expand horizons
Set sights to Europe, especially an island of Greece
Live in five cities, but visit more
Travel to Mexico City, but maybe someday Washington, DC.
There’s many cities, states, and counties left to explore
While there’s magic in Florida, do you know my favorite cities are?
First where my family lives and where we came from
And most of all, within New York and Texas
Focus south, that’s where the stars are,
Where I came, where I live, and the place of my past, present, future
The first started my story, with a wonderful riverwalk
The second makes my dreams come true, by the bay, the sea, and islands
And the third changes me always, build on islands
To unlock why, you have to read my words
Someday everyone will
By Christy V.
You see her watching through the window
A rescue kitten that arrived a month ago
No one knew where she came from
No one came for her, only you
She enjoyed her new small home for her reign
A warm bed, fresh water, food, and toys
At least that’s what you thought
So why is she watching through the window?
There’s nothing special outside, no one’s walking by
No birds in the growing oak tree, no cars driving by
The street is empty, but she staring right at it
Is she expecting someone to come by?
Aren’t you enough? Or does she want to leave?
You’ll stay waiting along with her
Until one day, you both find a cat appear
Through the window, she scratched to get closer
The cat looked like a future version of her
Is it her mother or another?
You take her outside and they meet in your yard
They touch their furry faces together
She looks back at you, is it time for her to leave?
Eventually she returns back to you, and the cat too
That’s when you realize you have room for another
Now your rescues are not alone, neither are you
By Christy V.
What makes a superhero?
Is it their suit or cape? Is it their pose during chaos?
How do we find these heroes?
Are they on the front cover of a newspaper?
Do we only see them in stories?
Where can we find them when needed? Will we know who they are?
Will they fight for truth and justice?
Will they stand for hope? Will they help when they can?
Will they have compassion for all?
Do they remember every save? Are they as smart as their powers?
Do they focus also on caring for their minds? Do they see the future bright?
How do they learn to be superheroes? How much work is it?
How can they do everything and live their lives? Are they talented?
Do they always work together with friends and sometimes family?
Do they change others lives with their words and actions?
I have so many questions. Can you answer them all?
The only answer you need is. Superheroes are within us all.
By Christy V.
Sometimes I imagine my perfect writing place
With no interruptions or concerns
Where words always flow no matter what
Not even illnesses or pain can bring me down
The place is a small beach house walking distance
Early morning I walk along the island beach
The rest of the day I find myself in three spots
Making meals and snacks in the kitchen
My window reading nook facing the bookshelves
Where I read and explore my writing ideas
The writing desk that includes all my supplies
Where I weave words and revise in scheduled time
At night, I watch my favorite shows and movies before bed
Start all over again the next day, with a bit more nature
I imagine that I’m on that Greek island, a writer’s dream
Then I remember, I’ve made dreams here
In the sparkling city by the bay
Where the ocean is a car ride away
By Christy V.
The busy bee works almost every hour,
He gathers honey from flowers for his Queen
He uses all his skills and labor to build each cell,
All the sweet food is stored with wax quite well
I relate to the busyness of the bee,
Not matter the skill, there’s work to do
Self-care is needed for each of us
To make more of our precious honey
Let’s give our best every day for honey
By Christy V.