The Teresa Jusino Experience

Create Like An Activist

Tag: writing (Page 2 of 9)

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… 🙂

Nanowrimo-A-Thon! (or, Help Me Help Incredible Girl!)

A scene from the upcoming Incredible Girl teaser!

A scene from the upcoming Incredible Girl teaser!

There are two pretty big needs I have at the moment. Well, two pretty big needs OTHER than more income.

The first big need is to raise money to be able to shoot the Incredible Girl pilot. The team and I have several ideas in motion at the moment in order to accomplish this goal – but every little bit helps, right?

The other big need is my need to write prose fiction.

I’m sure many of you didn’t even know that I did that, and those of you that did have probably forgotten that I did that – or assumed I’d stopped. I haven’t. There’s one story in particular that, if I write no other prose fiction in my life, needs to be out of me and in the shape of a novel.

Given that I have these two big needs, I thought of a way to kill two birds with one stone.

Introducing THE NANOWRIMO-A-THON!

For those of you who don’t know, Nanowrimo is short for National Novel Writing Month, which happens to be the month of November. It’s a non-profit that promotes the written word, and the point of Nanowrimo itself is to take the month of November to finish a 50,000 word (about 200 pgs) novel. You might have missed the key word, so I’ll repeat it: finish. The point is to just keep writing without stopping to second-guess yourself. At the end, you might have written a load of crap…but you would’ve finished something, which is the thing that most people have trouble with. You can edit later. You can realize what’s crap later. The point is simply to finish.

I’ve never completed Nanowrimo, which has always disappointed me. You know what I have completed? 100 pages of a great webseries. 🙂 And now, I’d like to use one endeavor to help the other.

He’s how it will work:

** 50,000 is about 200 pages. If I can get 50 people to donate $0.50/page ($100 if I finish!), I can potentially raise $5,000 for Incredible Girl (BTW – we’ve budgeted the pilot at about $15,000!) so….

THE GOAL: $5,000

** Email theteresajusinoexperience[at]gmail[dot]com with the amount you’d like to pledge per finished page. Put “NANOWRIMOTHON” in the subject.
** Starting TOMORROW, I write furiously for 30 days. Donors can check my progress at my Nanowrimo page. I’ll also be keeping you updated here!
** Hopefully, throughout November, you will SHARE THE LINK TO THIS BLOG POST to tell others about this endeavor!

** I will alert donors of their final amount, and they can go to THE NEW INCREDIBLE GIRL WEBSITE to make an online donation to Incredible Girl in that amount through our fiscal sponsor, FROM THE HEART PRODUCTIONS via PayPal. These donations are tax-deductible! (If you prefer to write a check, we can make arrangements for that via email)

That’s it! Very simple, and it will help get two original works of art out there – work that I hope will help us look at issues of gender and sexuality in a new light.

So? Wanna help me write a novel and produce a webseries? 😉

Together In the Same Room

Adam and Me at Vasquez Rocks.

Adam and Me at Vasquez Rocks.

As you likely saw on my social media feeds, my writing partner, Adam Hunault, recently came to L.A. to visit for two weeks. It was really great to have him in town for a number of reasons, the first of which (of course) is that he’s one of my best friends and I like having him around in general.

But second, I realized something new while he was here. Or rather, his being here confirmed something that I wasn’t sure was entirely true.

You see, before I moved to L.A. from New York, I resented the fact that if I wanted to write for television, I “had” to move to Los Angeles. After all, tons of shows film in New York, so I didn’t understand why they couldn’t be written there. What’s more, I didn’t understand why one couldn’t just apply for TV-writing gigs, fly to L.A. for an interview if need be, but then join the writers’ room via Skype or Google Hangout or something. Surely, advances in technology should allow for more wiggle room in the television industry! Or so I thought.

Having lived in L.A. for two and a half years now (Time flies when you’re having life!), I realize that there’s no way in hell I could make any headway career-wise without moving my ass out here. It really is all about who you know – and not in a sleazy, superficial, casting-couch kind of a way (there is no Writer’s Couch that I know of, but if it gets that soap-operaesque, I’ll let you know). In the entertainment industry, and particularly when it comes to writing, it seems, jobs are pursued and obtained by word of mouth. It’s more likely that you’ll get your first shot at a job from a friend of a friend who works at a studio than it is to “apply” for a job (however one would even do that – especially without an agent). The entertainment industry is based in large part on people helping each other out. So, if you’re not out here to meet those people…well, good luck on Monster.com.

That was the other reason Adam came out here. In addition to seeing me (and writing with me, but more on that later), he was scoping out L.A. to make a final decision as to whether or not he’s going to move out here. As we’ve applied for the writing fellowships, he started to realize that his not being here is a bit of a hindrance. A pro writer I know graciously agreed to write us a letter of recommendation for the ABC Writing Program despite having never met Adam in person. Meanwhile, another pro writer I approached graciously turned us down, in part, because he had never met Adam and didn’t feel comfortable vouching for a team whose members he didn’t all know, which is completely understandable. So, after this two-week trip. Adam is planning on coming out here in a couple of months for a 3-4 month stint to really get a feel for the city in order to make his final decision.

I’ll be glad to have him when he does move out here.

Adam and Me at a friend's birthday pool party. SEE? He HAS to move here, for we have sunshine and pool parties ALL THE TIME.

Adam and Me at a friend’s birthday pool party. SEE? He HAS to move here, for we have sunshine and pool parties ALL THE TIME.

The Needing to Be in L.A. to Pursue a TV Career thing I already knew. The thing that Adam being here really hammered home was the fact that there’s nothing like writing with someone In Person. We’ve been long-distance for our entire partnership (though we’ve known each other for over 10 years, and were housemates for about 7), but our best work has always been when we’ve been able to be in the same room to hash out our ideas. There’s something in the air when your collaborator is in the same room as you. The energy is infectious, and it’s easier to get points across and pick up what your partner is throwing down. It’s also more fun! When we broke our first original pilot, Rocket, it was during Adam’s previous visit to L.A. in February of last year. We had a couple of meetings over dinner for 2-3 hours at a time, and we figured out our show and broke the pilot. Adam went back to New York with a complete outline of the episode, and we worked on finishing our assigned scenes in different cities. When I visited New York in October of last year, we went over our first draft (second?), and hashed out all of our notes, realized what needed fixing, and had massive changes for a new draft. Things that would’ve taken forever to hash out going back and forth over email were handled in a couple of hours. And for some reason, the creative conversation doesn’t run as smoothly over a screen, or over the phone. Those things are great for quick follow-ups or notes. But breaking a story? Getting to the nitty-gritty of a new work? That needs to happen face to face.

I finally understand why all the TV writing needs to happen in one city, and why writers’ rooms need to be attended in person. Hashing out ideas over Skype will never be as effective or organic as sitting in a room with someone, feeling their energy, and telling a story together. So, yeah. Lesson learned.

In the two weeks Adam was here, we not only broke a new pilot (which I’ll tell you more about once it’s more than an outline, but for now the working title is Scion), but we also figured out stories for two new specs of existing shows we want to write. We already have Rocket and our Elementary spec. By the end of the year, we want to finish the Scion pilot, write two new specs, and at least outline a third original pilot. AND, Adam and I are now going to be partnering up on a web series I’ve been wanting to do FOREVER. Now, instead of writing it all myself, I have a partner to help, and he seems as excited about the idea as I am! This summer and fall is all about churning out new material!

Before Adam approached me with the idea that eventually became Rocket, I never thought I’d ever want a permanent writing partner. It gave me heebly-jeeblies to even give an editor control of words I’d written, let alone a partner. Writing was always a solitary activity to me, and I was very protective of my story babies. 🙂 But after working on Rocket, I realize that there are times when having a partner is the best thing for you – having someone who’s on the same page as you as far as the kind of stories you want to tell, but who brings a different perspective that you might never have considered on your own. Someone talented who forces you to step up your writing game lest you get left behind. Someone to hold you accountable.

Someone to write half the fucking pages. 😉

But seriously, allowing myself to have a writing partner for my TV stuff is the best decision I’ve ever made. I feel like I’m doing some of my best writing now, and I’m so glad to be working with someone with whom I don’t feel competitive. We each want great things for the other, and we both want what’s best for our scripts, no matter whose darlings end up getting killed. It’s a great thing.

And I can’t wait until he’s back in L.A. so that we can be writing things together in the same room again.

Me and Adam at Swingers Diner in Santa Monica. He has resting Raspberry Face.

Me and Adam at Swingers Diner in Santa Monica. He has resting Raspberry Face.

Making Things Happen

Packet in the mail!

Forward momentum is good. Awesome in fact.

It’s been an amazing couple of weeks, filled with the knowledge that everything that I’ve been doing has not only been productive, but in my best interests and conducive to my well-being.

Would you believe that there was a long time there where I wasn’t doing things in my best interest? Where I was self-sabotaging for Lord knows what reason?

Yup.

But lately, I’ve been punching Self-Sabotagey me in the face, and it’s been paying off!

After one of my morning jog/walks as part of Couch to 5K.

After one of my morning jog/walks as part of Couch to 5K.

1) Today was my monthly weigh-in/measurement check in, which I was actually LOOKING FORWARD TO (can you believe it?), because I knew I was both working hard in the exercise department (I’ve done some form of exercise every single day for the past month and a day) and, more recently, focusing on eating the right foods. The Boy’s mom, a nutritionist who works for the gubment, encouraged me to keep a food diary to figure out what I was eating and what this taught me is that I’d pretty much been eating nothing but bread products and pasta. In the week I kept a food diary back in May, I had maybe three fruits all week, zero vegetables, and nothing but bread (waffles, toast, lasagne, pasta & sauce, pie, pot pie, sandwiches…). It was quite a thing to see it on paper. So, this past week, once I finished the 28-day exercise series I was doing over at Daily Burn (it was the True Beginner series, which I’d highly recommend for anyone who is just starting to work out) and exercise became a habit, I decided to focus on my food. When I went shopping last weekend, I stocked up on veggies, fruits, and protein while staying away from breadstuffs. That meant no sliced bread, no cereal, no breaded stuff…

And believe it or not….THERE’S OTHER STUFF TO EAT. 🙂 I’ve also not had much sugar (I’ve only put one spoon of sugar in my coffee a couple of times this week. Most of the time I try to drink it just with milk), and I haven’t had much cheese or milk (been using almond milk for coffee instead, and I’ve only put a drop of regular milk into my scrambled eggs twice).

Anyway, the last time I weighed/measured myself was on 5/12, so I was curious to see what my results would be today. Here they are:

Weight: 269.2 (- 8lbs!)
Upper arm: 19 1/2″ (- 1″)
Bust: 50″ (-1/4″)
Waist: 45″ (- 1″)
Hips: 55″ (+ 3/4″) – I suspect that I measured wrong the first time. Either that, or added muscle in my hip????
Upper thigh: 33 2/8″ (- 3/8″)

So, the hard work in the food/fitness department is paying off, as I’m losing both weight and inches. Woot!

Next week, I’ll be starting (and telling you all about) Daily Burn’s 21-Day “Ignite” nutrition program!

Adam and my Disney/ABC application packet.

Adam and my Disney/ABC application packet.

2) As I’ve written about before, Adam and I have been entering several of the network writing fellowships, and today I just mailed off the last of our applications for this year – the one to the Disney/ABC Writing Program. Now, we play the Waiting Game, and in September or October, we’ll know if we’ll be moving further along in the process, or whether we’ll be focusing our attentions elsewhere.

In the meantime, this summer is all about WRITING MORE SHIT. I’m so excited that Adam is coming out to L.A. next week for a two week long writing pow-wow, during which we’ll be breaking both a new spec of an existing show and a new original pilot that we’ve been discussing. I’m super-excited.

In addition to that, I’m putting the final finishing touches on Incredible Girl, after which Aurora, Sabrina and I will be discussing next steps re: budgets, crowdfunding, and sponsors.

Lastly, I hope to be starting some new writing of my own soon at the end of the month. Haven’t decided whether I want to work on my prose fiction project, or on the anthology webseries I’ve been thinking about forever. Also, a solo spec of an existing show.

I’m working to make things happen out here! 🙂 Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Where the Hell I've Been

You might have been checking out The Experience this week and wondering where the hell I’ve been.  I’ll tell you where the hell I’ve been.

IGNORING YOU, THAT’S WHERE!

But I promise, it’s all for a very good reason!

Outline and script.

Outline and script.

My writing partner, Adam Hunault, and I have been putting the finishing touches on our second script together as a writing team – a spec script of the show, Elementary – and preparing our application materials for the various network writing fellowships, most of which have deadlines around this time. The NBC Writers on the Verge program had its deadline today, and the WB Writers’ Workshop has its deadline tomorrow. So we spent the first three days finishing up the script, writing our “writer’s statement,” etc, etc. It kinda feels like we’re applying to college all over again. 🙂

But hopefully it’ll all be worth it.

For those of you who don’t know, these network writing fellowships are a way for new writers to be trained by professional TV writers. They’re super-competitive programs of varying lengths where you spend time writing scripts, meeting industry professionals, and being prepared to be able to take on a TV writing job. They don’t guarantee you a job, but many people who graduate from these programs are staffed, and that’s always the goal.

When I say they’re competitive, I mean that they get thousands of applications a year and only take, like, 12-20 people each.

Yeeeeah.

So CLEARLY we’re gonna have these programs fighting over us, right? I mean, clearly.

Anyway, our entry for NBC Writers on the Verge…

ACCOMPLISHED!

ACCOMPLISHED!

And our entry into the WB Writers’ Workshop….

ACCOMPLISHED!

ACCOMPLISHED!

We’re currently getting together our materials for the Disney/ABC Writing Program, which has its deadline in two weeks. Wish us luck! 🙂

Strong Is Vulnerable and Afraid

Taken in a random public restroom. Sometimes you need to write (on a wall) to feel better.

Found in a random public restroom. Sometimes you need to write (on a wall) to feel better. No, I didn’t do it.

Writers are always worried about “finding their voice.”

Actually, I shouldn’t say that. I don’t know all writers. Better put – I’VE always worried about finding my voice.

I always feel like I don’t really have one. Or that the one that I have isn’t good enough. Or something. Whenever I try my hand at fiction, I always feel like it sounds too casual, not “literary enough,” whatever. When I’m not worried about the conversational tone of my writing, I worry about my Message. What am I trying to say? Do I have anything to say? And really, hasn’t everything I have to say actually been said a lot better by several other people?

Is my voice strong enough?

Thing is, if a friend of mine came to me with these stupid worries, I’d promptly slap them and tell them to stop worrying. That your voice is important precisely because it’s yours, and no one can say the things you say the way you say them. So, shut up, stop worrying, and get writing you lazy asshole.

If I could slap myself I would. But we’re, like, programmed to not be able to hit ourselves effectively. Because SCIENCE and EVOLUTION and INTERNAL DEFENSE MECHANISMS. So…

There’s something I’ve noticed about my writing this week, though, as this is really the first full week where I’ve written a substantive post every single morning. (Getting sleep and setting a schedule! Who knew?) My most popular posts seem to be the ones in which I’m 1) honest about what I suck at, 2) honest about deep feelings, or 3) write about what I’m going through. Basically, people seem to like when I write about myself honestly. Which seems crazy to me, because I think I’m the most boring person on the planet.

But then again, maybe everyone does, and they’re just grateful when they can see their boring in someone else’s boring.

The thing that’s become apparent to me in the last few years, too, is that I always do my best work when I’m writing something that scares me. Something that makes me nervous. Something that, when I start to write it I get a twinge in the pit of my stomach and I kinda wanna vomit a little bit.

Oh, I’m sorry…did you think writing was pleasurable? 😉

But seriously, I know I’m on the right track when I start to feel nervous when I write; when I start to worry about what people might think, when I start to think that “Maybe this is too much.” That’s when I know I can’t stop.

And the wonderful response to my most personal pieces kind of confirms that for me. It’s difficult to put problems, or honest feelings, or warts-and-all experiences out there for the world to see. I don’t do it because I enjoy it. I do it, because my greatest hope is that someone else will read it and, even if just for a minute, feel understood. I do it, because I hope that my work will inspire honest conversations among my readers; that maybe, if I’m less afraid about sharing, some of you will be, too. 🙂

So, maybe that’s my voice, my Message, my “thing.” I write what scares me so that what scares you will scare you a little less.

I’m an emotional stunt person, bearing the brunt of your emotional impact so that you can benefit from the result.

You’re welcome. 🙂

LAST DAY TO SUBSCRIBE!

For the past couple of weeks you’ve heard me talk about my Beacon campaign – you know, where I’m asking you to subscribe to my pop culture criticism over at this great site that features 100+ independent journalists from all over the world writing about the topics that are important to you. The one where for only $5/month you can subscribe to me AND have access to those great writers.

The one where I need to come to the table with 50 subscribers in order to land the gig? Yeah, that one. 🙂

I know for a fact that more than 50 people read me. The question is, are there 50 people out there willing to spend $5/month to do so? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that there are! And if you’ve been thinking about it, or are on the fence, TODAY IS THE DAY TO TAKE ACTION! 

As of right now, you have 21 hours to subscribe in order to bring my Pop Goes Teresa column to life over at Beacon. Already, forty-one amazing, supportive, wonderful readers have subscribed – saving money on their subscriptions in the process! Now, I only need 9 more people to make this happen.

Can you be one of those nine? Thank you SO MUCH. I look forward to having some awesome conversation about pop culture with you at Beacon!

That link again: http://www.beaconreader.com/projects/pop-goes-teresa

Changes to My Beacon Campaign!

So, sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. 🙂

First of all, I want to say THANK YOU to the 25 brave, supportive souls who have sustained my writing and taken a chance on me in this new endeavor. I’m so, so grateful to each and every one of you. 

When I started my Beacon campaign (where you can subscribe to my pop culture writing for a mere $5/month) I originally wanted to aim for 100 subscribers. After all, my Facebook writing page has over 400 likes, and I figured that 100 of those folks might be down to subscribe. 

Thing is, I started this campaign on extremely short notice, so I didn’t have a chance to prep it the way one might, say, a crowdfunding campaign, and my effort started to falter. 

However, the guys at Beacon have been super-supportive, and they’re really interested in the work I’m trying to do – so rather than letting me falter and not hiring me, they’ve lowered the amount of subscribers I need to get the gig to 50 and extended my deadline to APRIL 1ST

Which means that I’m now halfway to my goal!

You now have a little extra time – 2 WEEKS – to subscribe! If you’ve been thinking about it, now would be a great time to choose your subscription! I still need to reach this goal in order to land the gig. But in addition to helping me achieve that goal, subscribing now will also allow you to subscribe for reduced prices and purchase special deals (like buying one subscription and getting one for a friend!). 

I’ve already got some great ideas and plans for posts for my column at Beacon, and I can’t wait to share them with you! Please help me make this happen by either subscribing, or by helping me spread the word. 

Here’s a sample FB status message you can cut and paste:
If you like quality writing about pop culture, consider subscribing to my friend/sister/cousin Teresa Jusino’s [tag my FB writing page] work over at Beacon [tag Beacon’s page https://www.facebook.com/beaconreader]! Support the work of an awesome writer for only $5/month to start! http://www.beaconreader.com/projects/pop-goes-teresa
 
Here’s a sample tweet you can cut and paste:
 Like gr8 #writing re: #popculture? Subscribe to my friend @teresajusino‘s work @BeaconReader by 4/1! Only $5/month! http://www.beaconreader.com/projects/pop-goes-teresa

Also, whenever you see me posting about it either on FB or Twitter, “like” or comment on my FB posts, or RT my tweets. On FB, the more likes and comments a status gets, the more it shows up in people’s feeds. So even the simple act of “liking” a status can boost the signal and allow more people to see it. And you know how RTs work. 🙂

And yes, while folks can always subscribe once I have the gig, in order for me to get the gig in the first place, I need to make my first 50 subscribers! Now, I’m already at 25, and I certainly wouldn’t mind getting to my original 100-subscriber goal anyway! So, who else is with me? 🙂

MY BEACON PROJECT HAS LAUNCHED!

Photo credit: Michael Jackson for ChileJam!

So, you might have noticed my series of articles in the Countdown to Beacon last week:

Is My Writing Worth the Price of One Large Latte a Month?

COUNTDOWN TO BEACON: Pop Culture and Religion

COUNTDOWN TO BEACON: Pop Culture and Feminism

COUNTDOWN TO BEACON: Pop Culture and Race

Well…TODAY IS THE DAY!

MY PROJECT ON BEACON IS LIVE!

So, what does this mean for you?

  • I’ll be doing less and less pop culture writing here at The Experience, because I’ll be saving it all for my paid Beacon column, “Pop Goes Teresa.” 🙂 So, if you want to continue reading that stuff, please subscribe!
  • It’s less than most magazine subscriptions, and if you do it through my current subscription drive in the next 20 days, you start to save money the longer your subscription. So, rather than paying $60/year, for example, you can pay $55. If you pay $45 for a 6-month subscription, you ALSO get a six-month gift subscription for someone else! Stuff like that. Also, there’s an option that comes with a “Pop Goes Teresa” t-shirt. 🙂 So, if you’ve ever wanted a t-shirt with my name on it, now’s your chance!

  • My fellow Beacon writers are well-established, serious journalists from all over the world that write for outlets like The New York Times, The Guardian, Forbes, and Al Jazeera, and when you subscribe to me, you get access to all of their work, too!
  • In subscribing to me on Beacon, you’re supporting a website that puts freelance writers first. Beacon pays their writers automatically every month – no invoicing required – and each writer gets a majority of their subscription money. You’ll be helping me make my writing – writing that you seem to enjoy, because you keep coming back for more! – sustainable.

Whether you subscribe month-by-month for $5/month, or you choose one of the packages for a longer-term subscription, I hope you’ll join me at Beacon. Thank you!

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