Monday, May 24, 2010

All this negativity is making me more motivated.

Rant level: High

I can't go into details, but the last few weeks regarding work have been beyond terrible. The words, "no", "impossible" and "too difficult" keep coming up time and time again.

I had several long conference calls with my lawyer and a few good friends who work in the "industry".

To all this negativity I have one thing to say, FUCK YOU!

Really. I've busted my ass (at no money) for twelve years in this business. I'm well aware of the statistics regarding successful screenwriters, especially for black women. I'm not stupid. That I went ahead to pursue this career in the face of such discouraging stats either means I'm crazy or passionate. Or both.

I got up at 4:00 a.m. back in L.A. to write before I went to my intense job. Obviously I'm passionate about writing. I take it seriously. I love writing. I love movies. This is what I want to do. There's no plan B.

My industry friends don't understand why there's all this negativity AFTER I've sold a script. It's fucking bullshit. Throughout my film career I've had to deal with people constantly (mostly men) underestimating me.

Why does this happen? Is it because I'm short? Too nice?

All of this caused a minor set back. A complete lack of confidence. I was having a hard time writing and was staying up all night stressed out about my finances/future.

Yesterday was gorgeous out. I went on a three hour walk to Via Appia Antica. My mind was racing (as usual) and was I thinking about the past few weeks. I started to get angry. Why was I internalizing everything? I have a choice, I can accept the negativity, pack my bags and give up or I can keep writing, pitching ideas and working hard.

I chose the latter. My parents used to say I was "hard headed". When people tell me I can't do something that's an attainable goal, I love to prove them wrong. Another American expat told me it would be impossible for me to get my Italian license (she failed three times). Her comments pushed me to study harder. I passed the exams and got my license.

I'm reading "Tales From The Script". Fifty top screenwriters share their stories about the craft, breaking in, sustaining a career and the overall insanity of the business. It's inspiring. All these writers have written scripts that never sold, been fired off projects, been re-written etc. None of the stories of their success are the same. However, they do have a few things in common; discipline, love of the craft, love of movies, thick skin, sense of humor, an ability to see the big picture, etc.

Something clicked this weekend. I woke up today at 5:30 a.m. motivated like a mofo. I started working on my latest script immediately and had a very productive morning.

I need to listen to my gut more and negative nonsense less.

Soon my money will run out. Until that point I'm not going to think or worry about it. I'm putting on my blinders and focusing on the work. Stressing out about money is not going to make it suddenly appear in my life.

TRAITOR, the movie I was a producer on, has been playing on SKY Cinema lately. Working on the movie in Toronto was an incredible experience. I was surrounded by very talented people who clearly love what they do and do it well. It was on that movie I decided to leave L.A., move to Rome and pursue screenwriting full-time.

I'm going to make some changes that I'm excited about. Sometimes a negative can turn into a positive. I'm so focused now, it's a little scary.


Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

"I woke up today at 5:30 a.m. motivated like a mofo"


Go, mofo, go! Seriously, you're an inspiration and your dedication and passion is easy to see. Use the negativity as jet fuel. Who knows...maybe you'll write something spectacularly angry and it will be beautiful!

amber said...

Brava!! Keep at it!! Hoping only good things for you from a complete stranger!!

Simone said...

You art is writing. Your writing is your art. You Make art because you can not not make art. In an ideal world your art would support and sustain you in the way you would like it to but even those lucky enough to achieve that goal often feel unsupported by the people and situations involved in their industry (once our art makes money it is an industry)because they must see validation (show me the money and production) in order to be considered part of that industry. There is nothing wrong with that but before you give others the power to separate you from your intent consider why you do and continue to write. Consider who or the types of people/situations that derail you and distance yourself from their influence as best you can and continue to write with intent and purpose and keep putting it out there..

Michelle said...

You absolutely have the right attitude. When I didn't find representation for my book, I decided to put it in a drawer, use what I'd learned the first time around and keep the momentum going by starting on the second book. I tried not to let the negativity or all of the comments about how it's IMPOSSIBLE to get published today unless you are a reality TV star get me down. But I have gotten a bit off track with the second book...

And that's where you and I differ. You are still going strong! Keep being true to yourself, keep being prolific and nothing is going to stop you!

gibber said...

Someone earlier said are an inspiration. You had the courage to follow your dreams. And it takes courage to see around the walls that our fellow human beings throw up. Sometimes they put walls up for no other reason than they don't want to see you succeed or take the time to see it through.

You live in (what I keep hearing is) an awe-inspiring place. Continue to use your surroundings to motivate you. Continue to tell the people who doubt you to fuck off. The path you chose isn't easy but I firmly believe it will be the MOST rewarding and will pay off in the end.

And of course, you know that you have a family that loves and supports you standing behind you, obvi.


nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

sara - I have A LOT of jet fuel now thanks to some no faith having peeps. heh

amber - grazie!!

simone - so true especially now with tent movies dominating the industry. It's hard to sell anything that's not based on an existing property. Hard but not impossible. I have to remember that as I keep plugging along. In the meantime, maybe I can get the film rights for the Easy Bake Oven or Slinky. j/k

michelle - don't even get me started on the fact that all these non-writing reality stars are getting publishing deals. One of my friends, a writer for one of the most successful TV shows ever, wrote a great proposal. One house said they loved her relationship advice book but already had one coming out...from a former pimp. sigh.

My first manuscript is sitting in a drawer as well. It was hard to get all those rejections and not to take them personally. I'm getting better at it.

gibber - awwwh thanks Swoopie. Seriously, thank God I'm not in L.A. dealing with this drama right now. Mom and Dad crack me up. Mom was not pleased by my news. She doesn't understand "such foolishness". Neither do I.

Diana Strinati Baur said...

Everything you say here is true. I love it when you're pissed :) :) :)

Keep going girlfriend. You are right about EVERYTHING!

Remember us little people when you get your star on the walk of fame though, or we're gonna be pissed.


glamah16 said...

Sometimes it akes a lot of BS to even get more motivated. Trust me Im surrounded by it daily.
I like to believe if we are true to our passions and talent, no one can tear us down.

GGirl2 said...

Stick to your guns girl and you will come out triumphant in the end and turn all those negatives into positive. Most importantly, stay true to you and your passions.

Viajera said...

No sense giving up on your path. More trouble that way, IMHO. Rootin' for ya!

Sonia said...

I love reading your blog.... especially when you use words that remind me of home. "mofo"! lol i think you're amazing for leaving everything behind to come to Italy and work on your writing. I know you'll great things will happen for you.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...


I'm really looking forward to the day when you see those people in LA while you're there attending Oscar parties...and you just flash the smuggest vaffanculo smile. Please take photos xoxoxo

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Diana - Back in the day my rants were more frequent. I think some of my friends used to say things just to get me started ala Julia Sugarbaker. ha

glamah16 - exactly. There's a difference between good advice and negativity.

gggirl2 - grazie. I'm working on it.

viajera - good point. I've gone too far to turn back now. heh

sonia - thanks. Unfortunately I've been saying "mofo" a lot lately. :)

michelle - I know I should be a better/bigger person but yes I do look forward to the day when the negative folks see my next script and/or project announcement in the trades.

C said...

Good for you!

This Time Now said...

Sending you more energy from Seoul to be the baddest, most energized "mofo" in the industry.


Felicia, This Time Now

milanese masala said...

You're in Rome for a reason. Just keep doing what you have to do. It WILL work out in the end.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

c - :)

thanks Felicia

milanese - grazie for the positive vibes.

Kim B. said...

Motivated like a mofo . . . Arlene, I envy you that you are hard-headed. That, along with your talent, is what is going to make you a success. It's so karmic too that you are reading the story of screenwriters' success and being reminded of the part that determination plays.

this comment was better when I was writing it in my head last night in bed, but please know that we are all pissed at the negativity and sending it big messages to BE GONE!! You deserve better. Glad you are powering ahead.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

kim b - grazie mille. this book is very helpful. It's so easy to get down and cynical. I need to develop thicker skin and roll with the punches better. In the meantime bye-bye negativity.

dalia said...

you are inspiring to me as a writer, whether you know it or not. i think of you often when i consider the possibility of writing full-time. i'm not yet sure what i want to do with my writing career (or specifically, what kind of writing will eventually call to me), but you make me believe that a little black girl like me can do it, too.

keep on, keepin' on.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

dalia - grazie!! Good luck with your writing. Keep us posted.

Gabrielle Clark said...

This is how I feel this morning. :)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

gabrielle - :)