My Opinion, and I Do Have One

Okay, I’m going to ring the bell.

Since winning a place in the Meryl Streep funded Writers Lab (ding), I’ve been digging inside myself for what the hell this means.

In other words, what do I want?

This is because I am a junkie for introspection. It’s also because no one really asked me that question for, well, about the first 20 years of my life.  And it’s because I find the mantra, Only rich and famous will do, something I inherited from my father, gets in the way of just about everything.

What do I want?

Okay, let’s get real. I want control. I want to take the lead. I want my vision to shape the work I make. I love collaboration, but when I’m creating the story, I want the final say.

This does not sound like a screenwriter. Because I came into writing as a novelist and poet, I’ve never gotten over being god. You may find this to be a theme on this blog, me struggling with whether or not I’m god, whether I should try to be god, wondering if I’m ever going to get to be god, and sometimes admitting I’m not god, though that may be against my will and with a lot of resentment.

Screenwriters are not god.  Screenwriters feed their words into a machine and hope that on the other end the story will still look like what they made.

I write edgy, queer, meaningful, shocking and irreverent stories. I don’t like machines, as in, man and the machine. I don’t like to conform, or be a good girl, or act in any way to make people like me. I like to periodically take my oppositional defiance out for a walk. (Periodically, as in, daily.)

What do I want?

Last night my partner and I went to see Lily Tomlin in Grandma. As a queer couple, we couldn’t help but enjoy Lily Tomlin being Lily Tomlin, especially wearing a queer, sort of 13 year old tomboy outfit with lesbian jewelry. But, I had an opinion. I thought the dialogue was clunky, nowhere near what someone like Diablo Cody (or myself) could do, the characters not well-drawn and the acting without significant connection or chemistry. The movie made me want to roll my sleeves up, get in there, and do it better.

What do I want?

I want to do it better. I want to do it my way. I want dialogue that snaps like a wet sheet, I want a story that drills down into who we think we are and shocks us awake, I want a depth of understanding in how my characters are drawn, and I want the acting to connect…actors with each other and with the audience.

I have the soul of an auteur, except I do actually like to work with people.

I’m an indie artist on every level. I love acting in indies, I write indies, and I want to direct indies.

I’m not unclear about what I want. I’m just scared about how other people can get in the way, and scared I can’t be bullish enough about what I want to get it.

Every single person I know has told me if someone offers to buy Saint John the Divine in Iowa, I should sell it, and they should get a star to play Reverend Alex, a role I wrote for myself.

Now, I know that other people could bring talent and skills to that role, some of which I may not even have. But no one can bring the heart, because the heart beating in that story is mine. And I’m a fine actress. I also have talent and skills to bring.

I’m married to who I’m married to, because we’re lying in bed, and she says, “Yeah, I might think you’re nuts, but I also know you’re you, and you have to do your thing, and I don’t want you unhappy. Listen to yourself. Make your movie. Find your collaborators.” She was laughing as she said it, because she knows that all the soul-searching is just a way to do what I always wanted to do in the first place.

What do I want?

I want to be married to exactly this person. I want to listen to myself. I want to keep saying f89& it, and living as though my confidence in my vision and what I have to say are absolute.

It’s not, but that won’t stop me.

I see this world. Broken, beautiful, and utterly ridiculous. Full of pain, and heartache, and sudden grace.  I want to tell what I see. I don’t want to dumb it down or change it to make anyone happy.

Bottom line.

PS-Yes, there’s the oppositional defiance. Why do I assume people don’t want to hear it?

PPS-Because sometimes they don’t!