Monday, June 25, 2012

On Writing- Rejection

I can remember when I was writing some of the first drafts of the screenplay about my life, I would get notes from the producer, Todd Black, and he would give me feedback.  After reading some of the pages, Todd said, "This is some of the most uninspired writing I've ever read."  Some might think it's harsh, but what Todd's words did was force me to dig deeper within myself to tell a truth that would be more inspiring to him.  Truth in writing is what makes it really good.  I had to accept the constructive critcism and push ahead.  If you are writing, accept the not so good comments, too.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

If You Are a Writer, Write.

I resisted the idea of owning a tablet. I don't think I would ever read a book on one because I like the feel of real pages and the smell of real paper when I read, but I couldn't think of any other reason to own a tablet unless I wanted to watch a movie while traveling. I do have access to movies through other electronic media, so I couldn't see the point.  Then, on Father's Day, after hinting around that I would like to have the Big Kahuna beach chair like the one we bought my wife for Mother's Day, I was shocked to open my gift, only to find an iPad with all the accessories.  I said, "I feel like I'm dreaming."  I kept repeating it over and over again, while my daughters cheered and jumped around.  I had to admit, I was really happy about it.
This morning, I really wanted to work, but it's Saturday and I wanted to stay in bed as well. It was so early, around 6 a.m. and everyone else was asleep.  I listened to the notes from my meeting with the development executive working on my project and I pulled out my iPad and I started to write.  It was quiet and the peaceful and I was still feeling the warmth of my bed.  Several hours later, I had done nearly all the notes and I was ready to dress, have breakfast and start round two of writing.  I transferred all my work to the big computer and I continued writing away.
I always advise writers that in order to avoid writer's block, you have to stay with your project at all times.  You have to write when the spirit hits you and you have to write even when it doesn't. It's like exercise (not that I do that every day), but you must write with a regularity that becomes second nature to who you are.

Friday, June 22, 2012

On Being a Girl Dad-8

After years of singing all the songs that Barney the purple dinosaur had to offer, listening to the Cheetah Girls soundtrack, downloading the "clean" versions of the latest rappers' songs, it was brilliant to take my girls to the Friday Night Jazz at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  Of course the girls are subjected to my 70s music, but to sit with them and enjoy hearing the upright bass, the piano, a trumpet and drums made my heart sing.  My girls tapped toes and bobbed along and I was so happy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

This Life of Mine

I've had some really great news in the last few days. I am putting the final post production points on my film, This Life of Mine and I am so pleased with the dubbing that was completed on the film.  It sounds fantastic.  Tomorrow, I am taking the film to get colorized and we will be set to show it to the world.  Everyone needs to see this story.

On Being a Girl Dad-07

I am dyslexic.  It took me years to figure out why I had to be in the remedial reading class.  Back in the day, no one knew what dyslexia is, so when I finally discovered that I had a reason for not being able to read like everyone else, I was overjoyed.  What I learned is that I have to take my time and relax in order to get the words right.  I was so worried that my daughters would inherit the reading disorder and I held my breath until they were able to read with great fluency.  Today, I was thrilled to walk into the family room only to find my daughters engrossed in some leisure reading.  Indigo, 14, is reading a Tennessee Williams play, while Azure, 10, is reading Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express.  Simultaneous, they announce they have only a few pages to go and when they are done, they can't wait to share what happened.  I am thrilled with their enthusiasm for reading.  I am so excited that they can read anything at any time and not have the restraints that I have when I read.  I am so proud they are my girls.

On Being a Girl Dad-6

I couldn't have had a better Father's Day.  I had my favorite breakfast of banana pancakes, veggie sausage, eggs, strawberries with cream and orange juice and I watched my daughters help their mother prepare everything.  My cards were wonderful. My daughter, Azure, thanked me for being patient with her, for coming to her games and for saying, "Do I have to come up to that school and whip some A$$" whenever someone makes her cry.  I laughed when I read that.  What I like is that she appreciates being protected.  Other than wanting my girls to feel loved, I want them to feel safe.  We spent the rest of our day walking along the ocean and hugging one another.  It was the best Father's Day ever.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

On Being a Girl Dad-5

Today, there was a big party for the oldest daughter to attend.  I wasn't home, but there was an issue about the hair. My wife said to my daughter, "Your hair looks nice, but if you don't trust my opinion, who do you want to ask?"  My daughter looked at her mother and said, "Well, anyone from my school or Daddy."  They texted me a photo and I gave the thumbs up.  She looks beautiful.

Friday, June 15, 2012

On Being a Girl Dad-4

My wife has had a standing Friday morning hair appoint since we married.  On one particular Friday, my oldest daughter, then about four years old, wanted to play dolls, but Mommy wasn't home.  She had one of the African American Barbie dolls and the Steven doll and a host of clothing and shoes and cars.  She just didn't have any friends to play with her.  She came to me and said, "There are no friends here."  She looked so sad holding  a very fashionably dressed Vida (as in Vida Loca) and her boyfriend doll, Steve.  I shut down my computer and grabbed Steve and went up to play.  Steven and Vida drove the red Corvette convertible to the beach where he proposed to Vida.  Vida was young and not really ready for marriage and the two argued about her career and she told Steve she had to finish getting her Masters degree and travel quite a bit before she would consider marrying him.  Steve, who was in touch with his feminine side, agreed that Vida should see the world and date a few other guys and then consider his proposal. That day, I learned that lectures aren't always appropriate teaching methods.  Sometimes, just playing dolls can get a father's point across.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On Being a Girl Dad-3

My daughter, Azure, is a cookie monster.  She will eat anything sweet and sticky and gooey.  We have to hide cookies where we think she won't look and my wife limits what we buy for sweet snacks.  One night when she was about seven years old, I went up to tuck Azure in bed. It was a cold night and asked, "Are you wearing an undershirt with your pajamas? Azure didn't answer.  She had this impish grin on her face and she said nothing. On instinct,  I lifted her rim of her pajama top to reveal a Snicker bar that was taped to her tummy.  When I asked her why she had done this she replied, "Because I want to have candy bar dreams."  I removed the candy bar from the wrapper and re-taped the wrapper to her tummy, then said "Good night."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On Being A Girl Dad-2

Because I was not raised by my own parents, it's terribly important for me to be involved in my children's lives.  I want my girls to know that they can come to me and tell me anything. I give them flowers on Valentine's Day and I tell them they are beautiful.  Girls need to know they are beautiful and smart and clever and funny.  Hearing it from their father first is so very important.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

On Being a Girl Dad-1

Fifteen years ago, when my wife and I were expecting our first child, we decided to find out the gender of the baby. It didn't really matter what kind of baby we would have. We just hoped that the baby would be healthy and happy and loved, but knowing the gender made shopping during the retail sales much easier.

I thought I didn't care either way, girl or boy, but when the doctor told us that our baby was a girl, I remember leaping out of my seat and jumping up and down and being just so happy.  I would be a girl dad.  I would learn to play dolls and I would love my little girl and teach her the importance of loving herself.

When Indigo was born, I could not believe how beautiful she was.  The doctor placed the baby on my wife's stomach and the baby moved around, almost in slow motion looking, following the voices she had heard throughout the gestation process.  I felt as if she looked for me and I put my face near hers and she seemed to say, 'So nice to put a face to the voice.' My heart filled with a love so great and so deep.  And so began the best role I have ever had, that of the father of two little girls.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Importance of Career Day

I love Career Day events at high schools. I love the idea of telling students about the kinds of jobs they might not know exist. Of course, becoming a doctor, or lawyer or fire fighter are all admirable jobs, but when a professional describes that she is a plastic surgeon or that he is an entertainment attorney or that he investigates how a fire starts, it's a far more interesting and rewarding event for the students to hear.

On Friday, I attended Career Day at a local high school.  We had limited time and I wanted to tell the students of the various careers I've had: United States Navy  Sailor, Federal Correctional Officer in a federal prison, Security Guard on the Sony movie studio lot, Screenwriter, Poet, Author, Director, Lecturer, College Professor.  I wanted to tell them that all the jobs a person can have trains them for the job they will eventually have.  As a writer, I use all the experiences I have and save them for things I may write about.  When I am writing a particularly sad story, I draw from my youth.  When I am writing about a joyful time, I draw from my days in the Navy and the great feelings I get from the family I have now.

I pay attention to the things that others say to me and I use their emotions and characteristics as well.  All all the things I write help me with lectures and directing actors.  I've learned about safety and firefighting from the Navy and I learned to plan events and cut hair, as I did while a barber in the Navy. I loved sharing all of this with the students.

I encourage everyone to share what they do with others.  So many young people are trying to figure out what is available to them.  The world is changing and jobs are changing.  Help young people discover how they can create a rewarding career for themselves.