The Teresa Jusino Experience

Create Like An Activist

Tag: writing life (Page 2 of 10)

5 Reasons to Be a Patron #3: Monthly Limits

Incredible Girl is one of the many projects your patronage will be supporting!

My upcoming digital series, Incredible Girl, is one of the many projects your patronage will be supporting!

If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that I’ve already given you two great reasons to consider becoming a Patron of mine at Patreon:

5 Reasons to Be a Patron #1: You Want My Work to Continue

5 Reasons to Be a Patron #2: As Much or As Little As You Like

Today, I wanted to bring up one of the biggest reasons why Patreon is such a great site, and it has a little something to do with Reason #2. In addition to being able to set your “per story” patronage to whatever amount you’d like, you can also set a Monthly Limit! 

A Monthly Limit means that, no matter how many stories I create on Patreon, once you set your limit, you’ll never have to pay over that. So, let’s say I start out with creating 4 stories a month, and you agree to be my Patron for $1/story and set your Monthly Limit for $4…if I suddenly become more prolific and create 7 stories in any given month, you still only pay $4.

But you remain a Patron and still have access to all of my Patron-exclusive material! 

What’s more, your monthly limit can change. You’re never locked into any amount. Ever! Pretty damn cool, huh? 😉

Now, I’m currently at 3 Patrons as of this writing. I would love to get to 10 by the end of this week. Are there 7 of you out there willing to step up? The stories will start coming next week, and I’d love for as many of you as possible to have access not only to the stories I’ll be releasing to the general public, but also to the Patron-exclusive short stories I’ll be writing. Join me!

Check out my Patron page by clicking HERE. And thank you!

5 Reasons to Be a Patron #2: As Much Or As Little As You Like

Me, after FINALLY having a shower after pulling an all-nighter preparing my Patreon launch. Oh, the glamorous life of a writer. ;)

Me, after FINALLY having a shower after pulling an all-nighter preparing my Patreon launch. Oh, the glamorous life of a writer. 😉

It’s difficult to be friends with lots of artists, I know. Because they’re all always doing something, and chances are, they’re going to ask you for money to help them make that something. Deep down, you’d love to say yes – they’re your friend after all, and you love good art – but where do you draw the line? You can’t very well give to everyone’s film or go see everyone’s play or help fund everyone’s album.

Well, to set your mind at ease a bit, here’s the great thing about Patreon: you can give whatever amount you like. Literally, any amount. Being a Patron doesn’t “start” with a particular amount, you can just type one in. Like, I recently became someone’s Patron for $0.50/month. You can become a Patron with $0.01/month! Sure, you might not get any rewards at that level, but if there’s an artist that you want to show support, those pennies add up (especially if you can get other people to join you!), and I can’t even begin to express how your moral support bolsters a creative person, who really just wants to know that they’re not screaming out into the void!

But even better? If for some reason you’re really strapped that month and can’t part with that $0.50 (and believe me, I’ve been there! Sometimes getting myself ramen is more important than supporting other artists. I get it!), you can cancel individual pledges if you do it before the month is up! So, you remain a Patron…you just forgo that one payment. And it’s fine.

Artists aren’t trying to bankrupt you. But they are trying to get paid for their job the way you get paid for your job. And I tell ‘ya what – you try pulling this “flexible payment, whatever-amount-you-want, cancel your payment anytime” thing with your mechanic, and see how far that gets you. 😉

But seriously, Patreon is designed to be as convenient and easy financially for you as possible. So, if there’s an artist whose work you enjoy (like, oh, I don’t know, me?), know that if you give through Patreon, you’re not making a life-or-death commitment. You’re just supporting art you enjoy when and as much as you can. 🙂

Check out my Patron page by clicking HERE. And thank you!

5 Reasons to Be a Patron #1: You Want My Work to Continue

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This article by Ann Bauer at Salon, posted by a writer friend of mine, Jennifer K. Stuller, on Facebook today couldn’t have come at a better time! As I reach out to readers today in launching my new Patreon page, it’s important to understand just how much writers depend on others just so their work can exist. The world isn’t designed for most writers to make a living wage – even the “successful” ones. And very often, the writers who “make it big” are the ones who had huge amounts of outside support – from spouses, from rich families, or from being born into families that already had literary connections. Or, they were able to tap into an audience through grassroots hustle, and that small but mighty tribe supported that writer consistently enough that they were able to get to a place where their writing career was sustainable.

In the Salon piece, Bauer is up-front about the fact that the only reason she is able to have a career as a writer, is because her husband has a stable, well-paying other job, and he supports her career despite her being able to contribute less to the household. She believes this up-front-ness is important. The piece goes on to illustrate that there’s this illusion that writers (and, in my opinion, other artists) put forward that they owe their success entirely to hustle and grit and determination while obfuscating any privileges they might have had. From the piece:

I attended a packed reading (I’m talking 300+ people) about a year and a half ago. The author was very well-known, a magnificent nonfictionist who has, deservedly, won several big awards. He also happens to be the heir to a mammoth fortune. Mega-millions. In other words he’s a man who has never had to work one job, much less two. He has several children; I know, because they were at the reading with him, all lined up. I heard someone say they were all traveling with him, plus two nannies, on his worldwide tour.

None of this takes away from his brilliance. Yet, when an audience member — young, wide-eyed, clearly not clued in — rose to ask him how he’d managed to spend 10 years writing his current masterpiece — What had he done to sustain himself and his family during that time? — he told her in a serious tone that it had been tough but he’d written a number of magazine articles to get by. I heard a titter pass through the half of the audience that knew the truth. But the author, impassive, moved on and left this woman thinking he’d supported his Manhattan life for a decade with a handful of pieces in the Nation and Salon.

Now, when she discusses privileges, it isn’t just about being born into a rich family. There’s the privilege of having a spouse who supports you, or someone else having grown up with connections in the industry, etc, etc. This isn’t to begrudge anyone their success, nor is it to say that these people who have gotten to the point where they can support themselves exclusively through their writing got there without talent. All the privileges in the world won’t help if you’re writing is complete garbage and unrelatable to anyone.  But to never acknowledge those privileges is a mistake, and often causes many writers, who don’t see themselves stacking up against these people with huge advantages, to just give up and do something else, leaving the world without their unique voices forever, simply because no one provided them consistent support.

I was so glad to read this piece, because for a long, long time I wrote “on the side” or wrote as one of a million other freelance gigs, and it’s frustrating to look around, as someone who doesn’t have the resources, and be made to feel like you’re doing something wrong, or that you’re lazy, or that there’s something wrong with you if you’re not on the same level as other writers when the truth is, writers generally don’t get to “hustle” the way they need to in order to build a sustainable career, unless they have their lives taken care of in other ways. 

My bff in NYC, Robin, baked me a cake to celebrate my first publication in a print anthology! Support of all kinds, emotional and financial (and edible!) is so important.

My bff in NYC, Robin, baked me a cake to celebrate my first publication in a print anthology! Support of all kinds, emotional and financial (and edible!) is so important.

Now, here’s where I’ve been lucky: I’ve never been unemployed. So, even when I’ve written “on the side” I was able to pursue freelance writing gigs in the evening while working a day job during the day. The down side? Very often, after working eight hours at an office job, you don’t really have the energy to come home, switch gears, and spend another couple of hours in front of a computer to do your writing. So yes, I wrote, but progress was slow. I’ve always had good friends and family who’ve supported me, both emotionally and financially, when I’ve really needed it. I’m so grateful for that! The down side? They have their own lives to deal with! It’s unreasonable to expect the support of the same few people (and only those few people) to be sustainable for the long haul. Unless you have a really rich relative who doesn’t mind paying your rent, buying you food, and paying for your transportation for years, the fact is, this alone isn’t enough, and it also fosters a feast or famine roller coaster that’s just super-unpleasant. My current partner, who is also a freelancer, but whose work (production sound mixing) generally pays more per gig than writing gigs pay, supports me tremendously both emotionally (especially emotionally) and financially – allowing me to pay my share of rent on my own pay schedule, doing a majority of the grocery shopping, and driving my carless butt around when I need to get somewhere important. I wouldn’t be able to do anything I’m doing now without that support, and I love my partner for it. The down side? As I said, my partner’s also a freelancer, meaning that my support is coming from a source that’s only slightly better off than I am. Also, see above re: support from family and friends not being sustainable long-term. Couple that with the fact that I’m a fiercely independent person and hate the feeling of dependency this engenders, and it’s not an entirely pleasant situation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m immensely grateful, and I know that my partner wants to support me in this way and is a grown-up capable of making decisions about how money/time is spent. But just the same, there’s a strong feeling of ick about it. 

Here’s the thing. I know that people outside my immediate circle of family and friends read and enjoy my work. I have the blog stats, the credits, and the online comments (not to mention personal emails and private messages on social media) to prove it. I also know that all of those people buy books, purchase digital media, and go to concerts and films all the time!

Supportive peeps at a Moffat's Women panel I was moderating at GeekGirlCon two years ago.

Supportive peeps at a Moffat’s Women panel I was moderating at GeekGirlCon two years ago.

Those are the people whose support I now need, and Patreon is the easiest way for them to show that support right now, in a way that will sustain my work most directly. If you’ve ever read my work and liked it – if you think that you’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg as far as what I can do, and you want to see what I’m capable of with just a little push – become a Patron.

This isn’t charity, nor do I want charity. I want to create work of value, have people enjoy it, and have those same people repay me for enjoyment of my work by popping a dollar or two into the online tip jar to make sure I can continue creating the work they like so much. I want to give them special rewards for their Patronage. I want fair exchange. I want people who say that art is important to them to show it.

I wanna tell you stories.

Check out my Patron page by clicking HERE. And thank you!

2014 Year In Review

Sure, it’s January 4th – but you know what? I was having fun on a holiday trip on the East Coast, so I didn’t have time to blog. Know what else? I REGRET NOTHING. 🙂 But for those who are paying attention, you know I do this every year, so I’d hate to leave you hanging. So, here we go…

Previous years: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013.

Another year, another year to review! This year’s been a biggie, both in my personal life and for the world, which simultaneously became a little more evolved and a lot more insane. Two steps forward, three steps back. I suppose slow progress is better than no progress at all, huh?

May 2014.

PERSONAL LIFE:

I’ll likely remember 2014 as the year I started to tackle problems head-on, rather than ignoring them, and became more of the kind of person I want to be. I’ll also remember it as a year of a lot of change in my personal life, both good and bad. However, even when bad things happened this year, for some reason I was in more of a position to deal with things in a healthy, philosophical way. Sure, there were tears when needed, and there was even some full-on freaking out, but it all came from a healthy place of acknowledging my feelings, rather than trying to stuff them down. So, I’m grateful for that. Some highlights:

** It was an interesting year for employment. I left a day job I had for a little over a year that was burning me out and stressing me out disproportionately to what it was paying me. It was one of the best decisions I made all year. I got another part-time job that I stayed at for two weeks, because I realize that the amount they were paying me (barely minimum wage) did not warrant the money I spent on commuting. However, I did gain a long-term freelance writing client (which I’ll talk about in the Writing section below), and I continued on with a company that does work with background actors – a company that I like a lot, and my bosses there are pretty cool. 🙂 So, I’m ending 2014 with two long-term/full-time jobs and plenty of room for additional writing. Bring it on, 2015!

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** In the Tackling Problems Head-On department, I put a greater focus on three areas of my life: my health/fitness, my finances, and my emotional well-being. While I’m nowhere close to “perfect” or “done” (no one ever is), I have a better handle on things than I ever have before. In the realm of fitness, I discovered Daily Burn, which allowed me to work out more than I ever have before. I tried Orangetheory, and may be inspired to go there more regularly in the new year to work out (I’m also considering Nerdstrong and the local YMCA). I did some Couch to 5K (which I eventually stopped, because I realized that running is the most boring activity ever – to me), and I started riding my bike more, both to commute to my job, and to get to other things. In health news, I got Medi-Cal! Yay! So, now that I have some sort of health insurance, I’ve been going to doctors right and left – found a general practitioner, found a dentist (which I desperately needed after a horrible toothache ruined my experience of seeing Guardians of the Galaxy!), gyno, podiatrist…there are a couple of super-minor issues to take care of, but my physical came back completely clean, which I was really glad to hear. Especially given my family history of diabetes, cancer, and heart trouble. Whew! In my financial life, I started taking a closer look at ALL of my debt (which I’d been ignoring for years), tracking my spending, and keeping better track of the money that comes in. I’m starting the new year with a bit of an increased income (thanks, freelance clients!), and a better idea of my budget. Lastly, there’s the Emotional Well-Being front, which pretty much just means that I’ve been making time for myself to really sit with my feelings and process what I’m going through, rather than just rushing through life. Time and space are key, and I’ve been loving myself enough to give myself both in 2014, which has helped tremendously.

Dad the lifeguard

** April was a difficult month. On April 19, 2014, my father, Ramon Jusino Jr., passed away at the age of 78. This was difficult for obvious reasons. The only father I’ll ever have is gone. The parent with whom I shared the most character traits and common interests is gone. Yet it was also a relief in many ways. My father suffered from dementia that seemed exacerbated by my mother’s death in 2006. His health deteriorated, and we had to put him in a nursing home. In short, he hadn’t been My Dad for a long time, and while I miss him being on this planet, I also know that, as proud as he was, he likely wouldn’t have wanted to be seen as a helpless invalid for very long.

So, thanks to the help of my friend, Heather, and her wonderful mom, Lauren, who works for an airline, my partner and I were able to fly to NYC for the funeral. I was touched by the outpouring of support from friends and family. Friends I hadn’t seen in ages, like my friend Nippa from high school, came to the wake to show solidarity. Adam organized a dinner for me to celebrate my dad and “his greatest achievement” – me. (Those are Adam’s words, not mine) Long-time friends made it a point to be there for the wake, the funeral, and the burial, which was a military burial, to honor my dad’s Air Force service. And I took two weeks in New York to surround myself with loved ones and give myself time to grieve properly. I’m grateful for everyone who showed me love during that time – particularly Joanna and Chuck, for giving me a place to crash – and I’m glad that my mom and dad (and my dog, Scarlett, who watched over them when I couldn’t) are all at peace and together now.

Me and Heather (and my birthday flowers from her and Alexis!)

** I celebrated my 35th Birthday in July and had a great, warm night with friends. Jason and Mairghread came out with my partner and me for sushi at Midori, and more friends met up with us at Sardo’s later in the evening for beer and karaoke! It was a great time – and I was bought a lot of birthday drinks, including one from a generous guy from out of town. My little crew ended up closing the place down! Not a bad way to celebrate my mid-thirties!

My favorite photo of the night. Heather took this of me and Adam when I wasn't paying attention. Lurve.

However, my birthday weekend had another, more ill-advised component. I’d always wanted to go camping in Joshua Tree, so my partner and I drove out to camp overnight. It was beautiful, to be sure, and quiet (the quiet was what really astounded me), but between the insane heat (even at night!), the mosquitoes, and the uncomfortable car sleeping situation, we were really glad to get back to civilization! Next time, I won’t make the mistake of camping in the desert during the off-season. IT’S “OFF” FOR A REASON!

** I’ve always tried to do what I could to work toward equality in all areas for LGBT folks, but this year, with transgender people making themselves increasingly visible – what with Laverne Cox all over EVERYTHING, Transparent on Amazon Prime, and the impending blockbuster Jupiter Ascending (directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski) – it sunk in for me how often the “T” in “LGBT” has historically been either ignored, thrown under the bus, or misrepresented/despised both within and outside the LGBT and feminist circles in which I so happily travel. So, I’ve been a bit more vocal on that score. This year has ended with the tragic suicide of Leelah Alcorn in Ohio (and the subsequent removal of her Tumblr, which contained her suicide note and hopes for other transgender teens), emphasizing the fact that there’s still so much more work to do on this front – and I hope to use my platform to amplify trans voices in addition to feminist, minority, and gay/lesbian voices.

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** SDCC 2014. UGH. I’m grateful that I had a press badge, and that Jason and Mairghread were willing to share their hotel room with me, but on the whole, I could’ve done without the whole experience. There were a handful of cool moments: interviewing Nicole Perlman, meeting up with my friends Tara and Daniel, finally meeting my friend Janice IRL at the Grimm panel after years of commiserating over the demise of Caprica and the career of one Sasha Roiz, and going to SDCC’s first-ever transgender comics panel, but I spent most of the con hot and tired, standing in line, and just generally crabby about how long it took me to walk everywhere in the crowds. I’m in no rush to go back. Though I did end up at a party with George RR Martin. That was pretty cool. 🙂

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** The fall was all about going to see live music, and I got to see two of my favorite acts live! My partner and I went to see Pomplamoose at the El Rey theater in October, followed by going to Amanda Palmer’s book event for The Art of Asking at the First Unitarian Church in November. Both events were amazing for entirely different reasons. I’d never seen Pomplamoose live before, and going to see them makes me appreciate them SO MUCH MORE as musicians. They put on a really fun, kick-ass show, and if you ask me, I think the money they spent on their tour was money well spent! The Amanda Palmer event was amazing, because the musical performances were so intimate, and the evening was full of insightful, revealing, and nuanced discussion between Amanda, her guests, and the audience about what it means to be an artist and ask for help.

** Oh, and by the way, my boo and I celebrated our second anniversary in December, and we flew to the East Coast and spent a wonderful two weeks with our families for the holidays. It was a great way to end the year!

Chicks Dig Gaming cover illustration by the squee-worthy Katy Shuttleworth.

Chicks Dig Gaming cover illustration by the squee-worthy Katy Shuttleworth.

 WRITING LIFE:

** I was published, like, a crap-ton. 🙂 My first national print interview came out in the May 2014 issue of Latina Magazine, I had my first piece published on Jezebel in March, and an essay of mine is included in Mad Norwegian Press’ latest pop culture anthology, Chicks Dig Gaming, which was released in November! In addition to that, I was hired to write a pop culture column on a great site called Beacon, on which readers can subscribe directly to journalists whose work they love. While I’m no longer writing on Beacon, it was a great experiment, and there are several pieces up there that I consider some of my best work. Check it out!

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** One of the biggest things in my writing life also happens to affect my personal life, too. My friend and writing partner, Adam Hunault, finally made the big move to L.A, and I’m really happy about it! Not only because it’s really awesome to have one of my favorite New York peeps in town with me, but it makes such a difference in the way we work on our scripts and are able to pursue our joint writing career. To date, we’ve written two hour-long pilots, one hour-long spec of an existing show, have entered most of the major writing fellowships (getting none of them, but whaddaryagonnado?), joined a TV writing group and the IAWTV meet-up, sat down with two professional TV writers to discuss our path, and are currently in the process of writing our third hour-long original pilot. 2015 is going to be a huge year for us as we tackle Los Angeles together, and I’m very excited to get to it!

** I started my job as Blog Editor for HotPixel Post-Production at the beginning of 2014, creating content for the blog as well as managing their monthly newsletter and throwing in my two cents re: their communications/marketing whenever I’m asked. It’s a really cool gig, as HotPixel is a steady, reliable client that allows me to write about an industry I enjoy. My boss, Art, is a really cool guy who shoots straight with me and makes sure I’m taken care of. Meanwhile, as I write about the independent film scene, I’m learning a lot that I will likely apply to projects I work on. I’m looking forward to doing even bigger and better things with HotPixel in the coming year. Check out the HotPixel blog often! (and if you ever need post-production services for a project of your own…you know where to go!)

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** Work on Incredible Girl, the 10-episode digital series I’ve written based on Aurora de Blas’ short film of the same name, has kicked into high gear this year. We’ve spent this year in hardcore planning mode, working with our director, Sabrina, to hone our voice for the show itself, as well as the marketing/branding surrounding the show, we filmed teaser footage of the first two scenes, which we hope to use to raise funds for our pilot, we held a small fundraiser, we’ve done outreach into our target audience, we’ve built relationships with sponsors, and we’re slowly and intelligently building the team and the resources we need to move forward in 2015. Check out the show’s website, then “like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter! Trust me, you want in on this. 😉

** In addition to the networking done with Adam, this was also a big year for personal networking for my solo writing work. I joined a rather large collective of women writers on Facebook that has continually provided resources, job leads, and opportunities to support each other’s work via live events and on the web. I’ve also formed relationships with two professional writers this year, one of whom has stepped up into a formal mentorship capacity, which I’m super grateful for. I’m looking forward to working with her in the New Year on the kind of projects I want to pursue in film and television!

2014 was a big year, full of ups and downs, but 2015 is going to be even BIGGER. I have huge plans, both personal and professional, that I’ll be telling you all about right here at The Teresa Jusino Experience! So stay tuned! And I wish all of you an amazing and fulfilling New Year jam-packed with love, fun, and good people by your side!

The Art of Asking, Making Decisions, and Being Thankful

I had the pleasure of attending Amanda Palmer’s event for her new book, The Art of Asking, at the First Unitarian Church in Los Angeles this weekend. I’ve been looking forward to the book, which is based on her awesome TED talk, for a long time, because she espouses a view that I firmly believe in – that asking (for help, for support, for guidance, for what we want and need) isn’t audacious because it’s shameful or selfish, nor is it a sign that you are incompetent, because you can’t do things on your own; and that giving to one who asks doesn’t mean you’re being taken advantage of simply because you had the audacity to give. I was looking forward to reading this book about how Palmer’s history of asking has propelled her forward – mostly because asking has propelled me forward.

I’ve asked for job opportunities, for financial assistance, for guidance, for connections. And I believe I’ve evened out the scales by providing help in return, by paying it forward, by offering writing that people seem to find valuable for whatever reason. People seem to marvel at how easily I ask, and receive. I think it’s because 1) I never expect a “yes.” “No” is always an acceptable answer; and 2) I give freely when I’m asked for things, be they time, money, expertise, or anything else. If I have it, and can give it, it’s yours. Trades are even so long as both sides are getting something they value. The arrangement doesn’t have to make sense to any outside party.

But the event itself was about more than just the topic of asking. It was a mixture of Palmer reading excerpts from the book, playing some songs, and having an on-stage conversation with legendary music writer, Bob Lefsetz, and her “book doula,” Jamy Ian Swiss. Some highlights:

1) Palmer sang “The Bed Song” in complete darkness: I sat snuggled next to The Boy as we Had a Moment, and I realized that this song is the complete opposite of our relationship. And I’m so grateful for that. 🙂 (Fun fact: Amanda Palmer’s music is one of the first things we bonded over when we got together, and this was the first Palmer event we’ve attended together.)

2) Massage therapist Courtney, from Seattle: in The Art of Asking, Palmer tells a story about dealing with internet hate, and how she was feeling particularly shitty about it on her birthday as she was being pilloried over the “She’s Not Paying Musicians” kerfuffle. She and her husband were in Seattle, and he booked her a massage to make her feel better. As it turns out, the massage therapist, Courtney, had written some scathing, deeply angry things about Palmer on the internet, and wasn’t going to take the appointment with Palmer at first. But she did, and she told Palmer before the massage that she wanted to be completely honest about having written things about her, and not being her biggest fan, etc, etc, giving her an out if she wanted one. But Palmer stayed, Courtney gave her a full-body massage in silence, and it was apparently a hugely healing experience for both of them. Well, Courtney was in attendance at the L.A. event, and it was cool to hear her and Palmer talk about what fuels internet anger and what can lessen it. Courtney, a singer-songwriter herself, sang a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Hey You,” which both sounded amazing and was hugely appropriate. It was a really heartwarming and inspiring moment. People can change. Wounds can heal. Relationships can be formed despite a tumultuous beginning.

3) The part about Henry David Thoreau: my favorite excerpt – the one that made me really glad I bought The Art of Asking – was the part where she humorously talks about Thoreau and the experiences that lead to his famous work, Walden, which is entirely about living living simply and independently apart from society to gain perspective on it. People hold it up as an ode to self-sufficiency while ignoring the fact that the cabin he was staying in was on a friend’s land, and that his mother and sister brought him food (including doughnuts!) every day. We wouldn’t have a book like Walden if an artist didn’t get support from a tight-knit community of people believing in him and helping him live day-to-day so that he could produce his great work.

A sweet moment I captured between Palmer and a young fan who brought her a piece of art she made.

A sweet moment I captured between Palmer and a young fan who brought her a piece of art she made.

So, what does all this have to do with me? 

The entire evening of conversation about art, asking, pursuing passions, the business of entertainment, and the place where hard work and creativity meet got all the wheels turning in my head about what I want to focus on and what I want my career/writing/life to look like in the coming year. You may have noticed that my output has been low lately. I haven’t posted much this month here at the blog, or over at Beacon. Writing-wise, I’ve been in a cocoon trying to nurture the stories I’m creating and laying low on the internet. I’ve been working on the production side on Incredible Girl. I’ve been meeting weekly w/my writing partner, Adam, to work on our hour-long pilots. I’ve met w/my writing mentor and am working on developing a project with her, and I’ve met yet another, kind writer who’s agreed to show Adam and me the ropes to the best of his ability.

What I want and need most is the freedom to pursue the projects that are most meaningful to me. I’ve been a pop culture critic for a long time, writing about all things geeky, interviewing geeky creators and actors, analyzing television and film from a feminist perspective or through the prism of race. It’s work that’s important, and that I enjoy doing. But my ultimate goal is to create stories. To write things that will eventually be criticized by other pop culture critics. To make things up for a living. 🙂 I’ve built a name and a career on my non-fiction, and since that’s where a bulk of my money has come from, it’s what I’ve focused on. Because hey, writers gotta eat.

What I’ve been wrestling with as we approach the end of the year is starting to make decisions based on the path I want to be on, rather than the path I have to be on. I’ve built a wonderful resume writing for some amazing outlets, but I want to start being paid for the stories I create, and there’s no way for me to do that if my writing time continues to be taken up with hustling for non-fiction gigs. I want to expend my hustle energy wisely! Of course, I’ll always want to talk about representation in media, or gender equality, or activism, and it’s likely that I always will somehow, but I don’t want, nor did I ever intend for that, to be my job.

Also, there’s the matter of needing to make more money, period, than freelance writing is paying me at the moment. However, I don’t want to take a full-time job unless it’s on the path I want to be on. I’ve spent too many years working jobs that go nowhere I want to go, running in a hamster wheel in the name of practicality.

What’s funny is that, even having flown across the country to Follow My Dreams, my decisions have been based more in fear and practicality than they have been in moving forward in the career I want. And yes, I’ve built up a quality resume as a writer. Now, I want that resume to reflect more of the writing I love.

Basically, if I’m gonna have a 9-5, it’s gonna be in the industry I want. And if I’m gonna be making freelancer money, it’s damn well going to be writing stuff I love, because the stress of this kind of life is just not worth it any other way. 

I have three major goals for next year:

  1. A full-time job anywhere in the television industry (office work in any department, PA, assistant, agency – doesn’t matter. As long as it’s in the television neck of the woods).
  2. A Patreon page, so that I can earn financial support for the projects and stories I want to be creating, rather than churning out writing that has outlived its usefulness to me.
  3. Adam and me getting to know L.A. (and the television industry specifically) as a Writing Team.

All of the decisions I make from now on to be in the service of these goals. 🙂

Lastly, since Thanksgiving is coming up, I want to say how grateful I am to all of you reading this. To those of you who’ve already supported my writing up until this point. To those of you who’ve reached out to me at various times to tell me that, for some reason or other, something I’ve written has struck a chord with you. To those of you who’ve subscribed to me at Beacon, purchased my chapbook, bought an anthology because I was in it, written a kind blog comment, or shown your support in any way over the past few years.

I write, because I hope that, by revealing the ideas and feelings rattling around inside me, you will recognize yourself and feel less alone. I hope that my work allows communities that don’t know each other well to get to know each other and communicate better. Your support makes me feel like my work is doing what it’s supposed to do, makes me feel like my work has value – and that is amazing. Thank you so much, and I hope that I can continue to contribute to your lives in a valuable way.

More to come… 🙂

CHICKS DIG GAMING IS OUT TODAY!

Chicks Dig Gaming cover illustration by the squee-worthy Katy Shuttleworth.

Chicks Dig Gaming cover illustration by the squee-worthy Katy Shuttleworth.

I know, I know, I haven’t been blogging lately. Lots going on. But I had to break my involuntary radio silence to remind you that CHICKS DIG GAMING (in which I have an essay titled Who in the Hell is Carmen Sandiego?) is out TODAY from Mad Norwegian Press!

These are the same folks that brought you the Hugo-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords, the Hugo-nominated Chicks Unravel Time, Chicks Dig Comics, and Whedonistas! Chicks Dig Gaming is an amazing, diverse collection of essays about all things gaming (video, tabletop, and everything in between) by a wonderful assortment of female writers including Catherynne M. Valente, Seanan McGuire, G. Willow Wilson, and Racheline Maltese, as well as exclusive interviews with Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens and Dragonlance writer Margaret Weis.

Oh, and an essay by me. It is insane that I’m in this company. 🙂

If you’d like a sneak peek of my essay, check out this video of me reading from it at a DTLAB reading at Traxx at Union Station!

To read the rest of my essay, and to check out the work of all the other talented women in this collection, grab yourself a copy of Chicks Dig Gaming! Hey, it’s almost Thanksgiving, which means the winter holidays will soon be upon us…know any gamers in need of a gift? 😉

 

INCREDIBLE GIRL DIARY 1: The Road to Now

Aurora and Me (with severe Nervous Face) at the first public reading of an Incredible Girl script. December 2013

Aurora and Me (with severe Nervous Face) at the first public reading of an Incredible Girl script. December 2013

If you’ve been following my blog or social media feeds at all, it’s likely that you’ve heard me talk about being involved in a digital series called Incredible Girl. Now, as our growing production team has started ramping up our pre-production and fundraising efforts, I figured it might be nice to keep you posted by keeping an Incredible Girl production diary!

But before I can keep you posted on where we’re going, I wanted to fill you in on where we’ve been so far.

Me at the Ms. In the Biz launch in 2013, the night I met Aurora. Photo by Michael Jackson for ChileJam!

Me at the Ms. In the Biz launch in 2013, the night I met Aurora. Photo by Michael Jackson for ChileJam!

APRIL 2013

I attended the Ms. In the Biz launch party at the Tropicana Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel where I met lots of wonderful female creators including actress/producer Aurora de Blas. As we chatted, she mentioned that she had recently produced a short film called Incredible Girl, which she’d entered into film festivals. When I went home and watched it, I thought it was really cool – and it also seemed to me like the beginning of something. When I asked her if she had additional plans for it, she said she didn’t, but that she wanted to. She thought it a shame for the festival circuit to be the end of the line for this short film that she’d poured her heart and resources into.

She asked me what I thought it was the beginning of. I messaged her some initial ideas. We wrote back and forth. We agreed to meet up.

And when we met up, after a long, great conversation, she asked me if I’d be interested in writing a web series based on her short film. It would be a paying gig to write something really interesting and thought-provoking and work with an awesome person whose values and work ethic I share. I said yes.

And so it began.

My notes for revisions during my early drafts.

My notes for revisions during my early drafts.

MAY 2013-JULY 2014

I started developing some ideas inspired by the original film. The sexual energy that surges through the film inspired me to bring the world of BDSM into the story. That led to Aurora and I meeting regularly to hash out what the story and characters should be. Our conversations led to the introduction of a religious element in the mix – after all, a great way to examine an extreme lifestyle is by contrasting it with its extreme opposite. We named the “Innocent Girl” of the short film Sarah, and gave her a family, a life, a conflict. The character of “Incredible Girl” stayed Incredible Girl, but this time for a reason, and she, too, was given a life, friends, a conflict. They were each given a love interest (or two, or three!). Aurora and I went through about three drafts of the 10-episode series.

We had the opportunity to read Episode Two of the series at the December 2013 International Academy of Web Television meet-up, and received a wonderful and generous response! The gathered writers and producers seemed to really enjoy the script, and while they had some notes for me, all the notes came from a place of being really interested in the story and wanting to know more about the characters. Of the four scripts read that night, Incredible Girl generated the most conversation. That night was the first night that I really registered that we really have something here. 🙂

And then came Sabrina! 🙂 At the beginning of 2014, Aurora reached out to potential directors, and we met and fell in love with the talented Sabrina Doyle. She had the vision, the storytelling ability, and the personality best suited to work on this project, and after meeting her once and checking out her previous projects, I knew she would be perfect for this story. She’s also been amazing to work with, and despite not having filmed any episodes has already made the series better. After the initial three drafts, the scripts have gone through two more courtesy of Sabrina’s insightful notes and way with a story. Through Sabrina, we’ve added key elements to the characters and story that have made the series as a whole stronger, more specific, and even more daring.

AUGUST 2014-PRESENT

Once the scripts were, for the most part, locked, we started moving on to other production matters – making contacts within the BDSM community both to build our fanbase and seek funding. We’ve started pooling our resources and seeking out sponsors and locations. We’ve shot a trailer that we hope to be releasing soon! We’ve been meeting with additional producing partners, because Aurora and I both know that the scope of what we hope to do with this project is bigger than the two of us can handle on our own, and I think we’ve found some great ones in Lauren Fash and Susan Graham, with whom we met a couple of weeks ago to come up with a plan of attack and next steps.

First step of that plan? Raise the funds needed to produce a kick-ass pilot episode.

Me and Clem Jeffreys in a shot from the Incredible Girl trailer, which is actually Scenes 1 & 2 from the pilot. 2014.

Me and Clem Jeffreys in a shot from the Incredible Girl trailer, which is actually Scenes 1 & 2 from the pilot. 2014.

And that’s where we are! Between now and the beginning of next year, we’re focusing on fundraising – but we’re going to stay away from crowdfunding for the moment, so you don’t have to worry about being bombarded with Kickstarter/IndieGoGo links just yet! We’re hoping to take a more intimate approach to building our fan base and creating this one episode by doing in-person fundraising events and approaching supporters one-on-one.

Our first attempt to do just that is TOMORROW! 🙂

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Tomorrow is our first fundraiser, courtesy of Veggie Grill in West Hollywood. If you stop by that location tomorrow between 5-10PM, whether you’re staying or grabbing food to go, and mention Incredible Girl (or our fiscal sponsor, From the Heart Productions), 50% of the proceeds from your order go to our effort. So if you want to help out, PLEASE:

1) RSVP at our Facebook invite to let us know if you’re planning on coming!

2) SPREAD THE WORD by spreading THIS FLYER to anyone you think would support our project and/or go out for a vegetarian dinner. Remember, they have to go to THIS location tomorrow night between 5-10PM in order for it to count.

That’s it! Easy-peasy. What’s more, Aurora and I will be there, and will be handing out Cupcake Dominatrix buttons, so you’ll be able to take home the first-ever bit of Incredible Girl merchandise for free as a Thank You for supporting our cause.

I hope I can count on my Los Angeles peeps to come out tomorrow night! But don’t worry – those of you not in L.A. will have plenty of opportunity to show your support later! Stay tuned to this space for regular installments of my Incredible Girl Diary, as well as future fundraising efforts and events.

And don’t forget to Like the Incredible Girl Facebook page and follow Incredible Girl on Twitter!

ANNOUNCEMENT: I'm a Chick Who Digs Gaming!

Chicks Dig Gaming cover illustration by the squee-worthy Katy Shuttleworth.

Chicks Dig Gaming cover illustration by the squee-worthy Katy Shuttleworth.

So, you may have heard about this awesome new anthology being published by Mad Norwegian Press called Chicks Dig Gaming, which is coming out on November 11, 2014! Edited by Jennifer Brozek (Apocalypse Ink Productions), Robert Smith? (Who is the Doctor) and Lars Pearson (editor-in-chief, the Hugo Award-winning Chicks Dig series), this anthology brings together essays by nearly three dozen female writers to celebrate the gaming medium (both video and tabletop) and its creators, and to examine the characters and series that they love. Contributors include: Catherynne M. Valente (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland…, Indistinguishable from Magic) examines Super Mario Bros. through the lens of Samsara, the Wheel of Birth and Rebirth; Seanan McGuire (the October Daye series) details how gaming taught her math; G. Willow Wilson (Alif the Unseen) revels in World of Warcraft; and Rosemary Jones (Forgotten Realms) celebrates world traveler Nellie Bly and the board game she inspired.

Other contributors include Emily Care Boss (Gaming as Women), Jen J. Dixon (The Walking Eye), Racheline Maltese (The Book of Harry Potter Triffles…), Mary Anne Mohanraj (Bodies in Motion), L.M. Myles (Chicks Unravel Time), Jody Lynn Nye (the MythAdventures series), and E. Lily Yu (“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees”). Also featured: exclusive interviews with Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens and Dragonlance author Margaret Weis.

And do you know who else is a contributor? 

That’s right – ME! 🙂 This is my third contribution to a Mad Norwegian anthology, and I’m so thrilled to be among such illustrious company! Chicks Dig Gaming will feature my essay, Who In the Hell is Carmen Sandiego?, about everyone’s favorite Miss of Misdemeanor and why she’s such an important character.

Recently, I had the pleasure of participating at a reading held by DTLAB / Writ Large Press as part of their 90In90 series (90 literary events in 90 days – this one was, like, 54 or something! Yeesh!) at Traxx in Union Station, and I read my Carmen Sandiego essay to a very enthusiastic audience! I have a video of my reading, but as I was surprised by being asked to go first, and didn’t have a chance to explain how my camera worked to the friend I was with, she managed to figure it out and start recording well into my reading. Still, it’s a good three-minute-ish chunk that’ll give you a taste of what you can expect when you read it in full in Chicks Dig Gaming! 😉 (Pssst! It’s currently available for pre-order!)

The other thing I never pointed out to my friend? Where the zoom button was. 🙂 Luckily, I’m loud. Enjoy!

POUND BY POUND: Day 18 – Getting Out of a Funk

Wearily back in the saddle.

Wearily back in the saddle.

So, I haven’t exercised in three days. Come to think of it, I haven’t done much else either. For reasons I can’t explain, I’ve been in a bit of a funk the past few days. I’ve been inexplicably exhausted, not being able to haul my carcass out of bed before 10:30AM, I’ve been bored by everything, haven’t written much and couldn’t even bring myself to blog, and I’ve spent a majority of my time playing Tetris, watching the FX show The Bridge on HuluPlus (PS – it’s a great show), and generally not doing anything productive. Not to mention the fact that I seem to be suddenly afflicted with allergies from Hell. I’ve sneezed more in the past week than I have in my life, I’m congested, my throat’s been scratchy, and my nose constantly feels like I’m breathing through dust. I’ve taken both Claratin and cold medicine, and neither seems to have helped much. Thank God I had a work date at the Burbank library w/my new friends Jenny, Renee, and Alex on Tuesday. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done any writing at all.

Until today. 🙂

Last night, I realized I couldn’t let my funk go on for much longer. So I started winding down for bed at 11PM, the way I do on my best days, meditating and journalling. Then I went to bed at a decent hour, and was miraculously not only able to wake up at 6AM this morning, but I wrote 5 more pages of script (which seems to be my average in 2 uninterrupted hours).

Day 18 Finish Screen

Day 18 Finish Screen

Then, I got back to DailyBurn, which in three days has come back around to the workout I did three days ago – Stability and Mobility 2. I definitely felt it, coming back into a Level 2 workout after not having exercised at all in three days. I got a bit worried when I started to feel a twinge in my chest while doing lunges, so I pulled back and stopped going as fast as I would’ve normally. That’s the thing. Every time you stop, it’s that much harder to get going again.

But the point is to get going again, I guess.

I’ll be blogging more later, but I’ll end this one here. I’m just glad that I was able to get back to it. Every time I sweat up a storm like I did this morning, I know I’m doing something good for myself. I need to remember that feeling.

POUND BY POUND: Day 9 – By Night, I Exercise

Toweling off after my workout.

Toweling off after my workout.

You thought that I didn’t exercise didn’t you? You thought I skipped a day.

Well, YOU WERE WRONG! 🙂

I slept WAY in today – my sleep pattern’s been off lately, and I woke up for my alarm at 7am, re-set it for 7:30, then turned it off and fell asleep again, finally waking up for good at around 11:30am. Then, I had a work date with some local lady writers that I’ve met through a Lady Writer Facebook Group I’m part of at 2PM. We met at the Burbank Public Library, sat together at a table, and each worked on whatever project we needed to work on (I transcribed an interview for the HotPixel blog) until about 5:30. Then I went for dinner with one of those writers, Jenny, who lives near me and with whom I’m becoming better and better friends every day (she just moved here from Seattle a couple of months ago, and I appointed myself her Welcome to L.A. Ambassador).

Then, I got home, remembered I hadn’t worked out, and decided to do so straight away while I still felt like it. 🙂

True Beginner Day 10 Finish Screen.

True Beginner Day 10 Finish Screen.

Today was DailyBurn True Beginner Day 9, Strength and Cardio 1, wherein Justin works out with the other group of True Beginners: Sharon, Robert, and Leigh. Just like the other group, I love this one because they each have a different body type and/or different challenges that they’re working with, showing that anyone can get up and get moving. Sharon is a bit bottom-heavy. Robert carries a lot of weight in his stomach. And Leigh, the leanest of the three, is still not ripped. She’s just average weight, and she apparently has a hamstring issue, so she does modified versions of certain exercises a lot so she doesn’t hurt that leg.

That’s the best part about this video series – it encourages you to listen to your body and push yourself safely, and by giving you permission to do the modifications, or to take a break, I find that it inspires and encourages me to push myself a little more, to challenge myself. Whereas, if I were doing a video that were all PUSH THROUGH THE PAIN! I’d be all FUCK YOU! 🙂

If exercise is going to be a habit for me, it has to be enjoyable. It’s why I stopped doing Couch to 5K. But it’s also why I’ve sought alternatives. It’s why I ride my bike, and walk the hour to work and back, and swim. It’s why I hike, and why I do these DailyBurn videos. Because they’re enjoyable to me, and I would continue doing them regularly whether I wanted to lose weight or not.

I think that, ultimately, that’s what will lose me the weight. Well, that, and eating right. Obviously.

Anyway, in the interest of getting this up before midnight my time, that’s all for now! 🙂 Thanks for sharing my fitness journey with me. I’ve gotten a lot of positive encouragement from a variety of sources, and it really feels good to know that 1) I seem to be on the right track, and 2) I seem to be helping/encouraging others.

Yay!

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