The Writer, the Bully, and the Really Puffy Jacket

image Tonight I’m looking for a particular YA novel. I know the first four words in the title, “The Dark Side of”. So I do what any avid reader does in a town with an impressive public library just a bike ride away…I google the book. Here’s what I find…

The Dark Side of The Moon
The Dark Side of Disney
The Dark Side of Love
The Dark Side of Men
The Dark Side of Women
The Dark Side of Family
The Dark Side of Religion
The Dark Side of Hope

I close the laptop and stuff a spoonful of sorbet into my mouth. Then, I ask my poodle, “Does everything have a dark side?” She doesn’t know. I google “the dark side of poodles” and the screen fills with stories of designer dogs gone bad. I move away from the laptop. And the poodle. [Read more…]

Cinestory: Go Sell It On the Mountain

I clutch the steering wheel until my poor writer’s knuckles crackle. Glaring at the rental car’s GPS, I yell, “You’re insane. I can’t possibly go up there!” The moonlit mountain before me is so large, its peak exceeds my windshield’s visual capacity. I fervently repeat my latest mantra from Ralph Marston, “Excellence is not a skill. It’s an attitude.” The stubborn GPS counters with a mantra of its own, “Continue…continue…continue.” I recognize the simple wisdom in its command. If I want to achieve new heights in my screenwriting skills, I must follow this terrifyingly twisty road up the side of a mountain…in the dark. I double-check the seatbelt holding my laptop bag in the passenger seat and get back on the road.

Like all of history’s greatest gurus, the coveted Cinestory Writers’ Retreat in Idyllwilde, CA requires a pilgrimage cross-country, through the 405’s gauntlet of unforgiving drivers, and up a narrow mountain road that would make a goat tremble. Tracy King-Sanchez, a writer/director that I respect as a real warrior in film and life once told me if I want to master my screenwriting skills, I must “go cry on the mountain”. And cry I did, but that came later.

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