Friday, June 10, 2005

Of scripting and expectations.


Okay, so here's the deal:

I can't stop writing. Even when I'm talking I'm writing in my head. This has translated into writing stories, poems, columns for the paper, columns for online magazines, scripts for a small cable show and my most recent discovery: Screenplays.

I started last September and since then I've started 15 and finished 2. Actually, one because the other one is still under construction. Screenplays never end the creative process; you're always fixing them and doing retouches. But when you 'finish' one it's like giving birth. Not that you start dilating and screaming 'give me the drugs!' or anything, but you feel a motherly pride that can't be matched. A story is your baby, your legacy.

I'm trying to get my script out there but it's difficult considering that:
a) I'm from Chile.
b) We speak Spanish here.
c) The script is in English.
d) We don't speak English here. And those who do won't make a movie in that language.
e) I want to play one of the roles.
f) What are my chances?
g) If we got to a reason 'F' there's no need to emphasize on how difficult it is.

What to do, what to do? Axl Rose said it better: 'just a little patience, yeaaaahhh'.

Don't you hate being patient? I mean, I'm known around the world for putting up with everything and everyone and I don't complain, I just don't make a big deal out of it, but in this particular issue (scripts) I get very impatient. And frustrated.

When I'm feeling pessimistic I came up with a spirit-destructive theory (you know, those you know are no good for you but you can't help coming up with them) : to avoid frustration don't get any expectations. Example: you take a test. You expect the lowest grade you could possibly get. They give you the results and it turns out you got a mediocre, almost decent grade. You are the queen of the world because you expected an F but you got a C-. But that's just wrong.

Without expectations, how are you supposed to improve yourself? And that's precisely one of the topics in my script. But your expectations have to be realistic. I mean, let's face it: I'm not going to fly just because I set my mind into it. (Speaking of flying: make sure you read 'Mr. Vertigo' by Paul Auster.) But what is the limit? Isn't it a contradiction to say expectations have a limit? I think not. If there's something we lack as human beings is the ability to be rational. But that's also the beauty of the human mind. We're naïve, we daydream even when we reach adulthood and we keep those fantasies and illusions to ourselves. I'm not scared to say I daydream like a spoiled brat. But the rational side of me keeps me grounded. You could say daydreaming is my hobby. And it's fun.

Back to the expectation issue. I don't know what to expect of my writing, of my skill as a writer, of my ability to be a good person. Every day I wake up and I think how I could be better and I try to do it. Because in the end it all comes down to being the best you can be for yourself and for others. It's like Nash's equilibrium applied to humanity. In the end I don't care about my scripts or any material things I could create an attachment to. It all comes down to how good of a person I really am. And yes, my hopes for the future and for my future as a writer are also part of who I am, but that's a personal goal. My ultimate goal is selfless and at the same time selfish: I want to be as good as I can be. I think we should all do that or at least sleep on that thought. Who knows? Maybe the world will be a little better.

I think expectations are fantastic as long as they are ethically and morally correct. But then wouldn't that be a restriction? How far does our freedom go? The misconception of freedom is, in my opinion, one of the greatest problems in the world today, particularly in our youth. And I'm talking revolutionary, 16-years-since-the-end-of-the-dictatorship, let's-take-over-the-campus liberal youth I see every day in college and on the street.

The University of Chile is an institution that is always in struggle with their students. Whenever the government makes a new move - one that the students don't find very appealing or fair to their standards - they take over the campus, close the doors, hang posters and never-ending banners from the windows, camp in and outside the building and protest. Then the cops come and they get it on: smoke bombs, water from the police truck, bottles, Molotov bombs, injured people from both sides and just a 5 minute mention on the news, which seem to repeat the same footage over and over again. But no, it's new footage showing more of the same. True, we all have voice and the right to speak our minds, but there's a way.

Maybe it's because of our government. It's just like every government but it's here. So when something happens they blame it on the army (because of the military coup that took place in September 11th of 1973) and the right wing blame it on the Marxists and then everyone takes out each others dirty laundry and horrible things are revealed. So where does this leave us, the youth of a country trying to grow and expand its horizons? It leaves us absolutely nowhere. We're lost because we don't know in whom to believe anymore. Half of Chile hates the army, the other half supports it. We're a 50-50 country.

As a young person, my expectations for my country are realistic, doable and yet utopic. I just want the stupid fighting to end; enough of the "he said-she said" crap because it's starting to sound like a bad soap opera. How are we going to gain credibility if we can't get our act together? And this is where frivolity pops up: investors and other governments don't care about the social issues. They just care about the money. Cuba Gooding Jr. immortalized the line "Show me the money!" in Cameron Crowe's "Jerry Maguire" and we all seemed to have adopted it, not to fool around, but as our motto. Maybe not 'we', but our state leaders.

I'm getting too dense. My next post will be something really freaky and trivial. Don't you love babbling about nothing? I do. A lot.

Okay, here goes nothing: does any of you know a producer by any chance? And while you're at it, ask him/her if they know of a short, thin, pretty, talented brunet actress to play the lead in my movie. And make sure you ask the producer if they know about a good director. Mike Nichols would be fine. Or Chris Columbus... Or Luc Besson... Or Cameron Crowe... Even the Governator. Actually, I'm not that desperate, thank you. And tell the producer that my script is a "dramedy". Actually, it's sort of a smart comedy with a dramatic background. Not dramatic as in Shirley MacLaine's "My daughter is in pain!!" performance is 'Terms of Endearment'. It's more of a contemporary 'Rainman' but with sisters and none of them is retarded. And they don't go to Vegas and they're both under 30 and it all happens in New York. Anyway, it would be great if you did that for me.


P.S: Am I pathetic or what? Don't you love to be pathetic? It's fun. At least when you think it's fun. Funny.

My brothers, my sisters and my nanny. I'm the one wearing the red/orange turtle neck sweater. Yes, my sister's tan is fake. Posted by Hello


There’s a song by Damien Rice called ‘I remember’ which reminded me of an article by a psychologist who sustained memory is one of our greatest – and most underrated – gifts. I totally agree with her. I think memory is fascinating. Who or what decides what you remember and what you don’t remember? Why do we hold on to certain events or words or images or sounds? Is it all part of a plan? Is it that maybe all those little things we have in storage will gain importance in time?

I have a pretty darn good memory myself. Whenever my brothers and sisters get together for dinner at my mother’s or at my father’s house we start reminiscing about our old house, our old neighborhood, the funny stories that we all starred and every moment that seemed to have some significance to us. I’m the sixth of seven children and the oldest ones are amazed by how accurately I recall details and situations.

I can remember the house where I was born, the place I called home until I was 4. I remember the kitchen tiles (which happen to be exactly the same color and size as the ones in the house I live now), I remember the study, I remember taking ‘Flintstones’ shaped vitamins that were on the bookshelf, I remember rolling down the stairs. I even remember looking up from my white bed/corral at the white wooden bars and thinking why couldn’t I be downstairs. I remember asking my brothers and sisters to stand in the hall outside my room so I could count them.

I remember the day we moved to our new house. I remember getting out of the car with my Fisher Price barn in my hands and walking through the threshold. I remember watching the Berlin wall falling on the 9:00 news in my parents’ bedroom. And I’ll never forget catching a small glimpse of that devilish clown peeking through the gutter in ‘It’. That scene kept me awake for weeks. I don’t know if you should call that a ‘good’ memory. It’s more of a large garage. A wider range memory, I don’t know, call it whatever you want.

I also remember much darker incidents but I don’t recall the aftermath of those incidents. Why is it that I kept the tragedy but not the solution in my mind? Well, maybe it wasn’t a solution by name but it was the next best thing, the moment that indicated that it was over. Is it because we become attached with the tough stuff? And I don’t mean just the bad moments, but also the good ones. Those strong, undeniably meaningful events that seem to pierce our minds and carve themselves in our psyche for good. But there are also the apparently trivial things, like the little girl who turned around and smiled at me in the bus six years ago, or the store downtown where we used to get our school uniforms when I was in first grade. Why do we – or I – block the outcomes, the aftermaths?

There’s all this tragedy and drama and glorious moments that stay with us forever but those things you really want to keep… you just can’t grasp them. I search my mind looking for them but they don’t appear until someone else reminds me of them. Memories by stimuli. Maybe that’s why my family and I reminisce so much. We stimulate whatever recollections we hold of our innocent, more careless time: childhood.

This brings me to another subject: age. The most painful and seemingly unforgiving age we ever live: adolescence.

In Spanish adolescence is ‘adolescencia’; it comes from the word ‘dolor’ which means pain. But I’ve always thought that pain comes from adolescence. Real pain, the one you are fully aware of. Adolescence is the space between absolute innocence and full awareness of our lives. We’re not young but we’re not old either. We’re in a place where we feel misunderstood and lonely, because the ones who are going through the same disappointments as we are bring no solace. We feel understood and gotten, maybe even related, but the mind of the youngster is a complex cave where different voices tell us to trust no one. And loneliness just adds more to the bag. Young people are lonelier than the elder. They always will be. But that's meat for another grill.

Even though I try to separate them, memory and age go hand in hand, but I really wanted to discuss the memory issue.

Memory is so important to me. It gives me a sense of who I am. Memory is identity, or part of it, or a fundamental part of it.

And I hope I never lose it.


Introductions first:

My name is Sofía. I'm 20 years old and I'm from Chile, so forgive any grammar mistakes you might find in my writing.

Stay tuned.