I've always been resistant to attending the Screenwriting Expo, because it just always seemed like another one of these cheezy events where the "gurus" give you purported shortcuts for great storytelling. I once sat in on a David S. Freeman seminar, and found it to be somewhat ridiculous. It's like, 36 plot points, 29 character types--I walked out because it was just over the top. The Screenwriting Expo had the potential to be just as lame, so I resisted going for years. But I decided to go this year, and I have to say that I was quite impressed. I think it's all about which speakers you choose to see, and I think that this time, I made some good choices. Steven Barnes blew me away with his discussion of characters--he uses a lot of yoga principles and Eastern philosophy to delve into character motivation and types. In general, he just has some wonderful ways of looking at human psychology, something that interests me a great deal. I've been reading some psychology books lately, and it's so funny because my freshman year of college, I was either going to major in English or psychology--I guess things come full circle. Anyway, I also saw Linda Cowgill speak, and her discussion of plot problems/issues was so, so, so helpful. She goes through a number of common plot problems and how to solve them. I think what really sets the pros apart from the amateurs is flawless plotting--a story that moves forward without getting bogged down in details and events that are implausible. She gave a great list of things to do to clean up plot. I also checked out Michael Ardnt, the writer of Little Miss Sunshine. He did a really excellent dissection of what makes a great movie ending--his discussion was also quite helpful to me. I feel like beginnings are my strong point, but endings, ugh. Overall, I took away a lot, so now, back to writing! It's great because Raspberry Magic is out to a number of people, and it's always so great to hear what people have to say. Everyone's opinions differ so much, but ultimately, it's up to me to decide exactly how I want that story to go.
My college years were the best of times and the worst of times, as I'm sure is the case with many people. I met my husband, Ameet at the ripe age of eighteen and my very close friends Robin and Neelesh. I didn't grow up with any family besides my parents and sister in this country, and though my parents had friends in the community, there was always a distance that pervaded those relationships. I always felt this strange tinge of sadness when we'd go traveling during the holidays, just the four of us, because it always felt like something was missing, like it was just us in the world. The worst part was that inevitably, my parents would get into some horrible fight, and things would go from being already stressful to even worse. I think this is why my sister and I are so close, because we often had to learn to function in a home with lots of love, but an air of unhappiness. But as I've gotten older, I've been very lucky to develop a close bond with so many friends--friends who I could call in the best or worst of times. I think Robin, Neelesh, Ameet and I have supported each other through some crazy times in San Francisco. We've seen each other go through layoffs, and breakups, addictions and debts. Inevitably, we've had lots of fun and lots of memories. But in the end, I think having those memories it's what's most important. This is an old photo of us looking very constipated, going to a wedding.
With digital photography being so prevalent these days, I often wonder how well we'll store photos to document the past. For example, this is me and my 1-year-old niece--so adorable! But seriously, when she's 30 or even 15, will I still have this picture to show her? I can barely keep track of my important files, much less all of the photos we constantly download on our computers. And to top it off, it seems like every three years, there is a new computer, new drive, etc. in the picture. I love old photos, like this black and white of my parents' wedding. It's pasted so neatly in one of those wonderful old albums with the wax paper. There's something really refreshing about crackling old photos in the sepia tones of the 1970's. Even if we back up all our pictures onto a CD, how will we look at those twenty years from now? It's an interesting quandry, but I'm sure some genius out there is working on a solution.