Just the Tip

Self-Promotion for Creatives - "I think writers are the most narcissistic people. Well, I musn't say this, I like many of them, a great many of my friends are writers." - Sylvia Plath

I've been thinking a lot recently about the lines between self-promotion, letting people know what's important to you, letting people know what you want, and conceitedness/self-centrism.

After all, we all know those posts that actors make on social media that go somewhat along the lines of "On set for #ProjectWithAVagueTitle! Find out more about it at www.link.com!" and have a selfie of them attached with them in hair/costume/makeup. Or posts by writers that all have the same joke: "Just Googled 'skin color after being strangled with that string people use to tie up meat. I'm a writer, it's for a story, I promise!" And I feel for people who make these posts, especially because I've made them myself. It's difficult to let people know that you're working, get them excited for your next project, and let them know what that project is in 140 characters or fewer. But it's also so desperate to prove that you can Live The Dream that it always turns me off. Like, congrats on working, and I'm excited for the people who are doing it! But when you have a Twitter feed of almost nothing but these posts, it gets old, and nothing stands out.

Having noticed this, though, I know I've gone too far in the other direction. I don't like to post things unless I've got something to say, or an interesting/funny way to say it. That means that if you go to my Twitter or my Facebook feed, you'll find that it's actually pretty funny! You'll also find that I just haven't posted about the things in which I've been cast because there are only so many ways to post "Been cast in this thing and I'm super excited for it!" Of course, that also means that if a casting director were to visit either page, they wouldn't know about all of the work I've been doing recently.

Here's another issue I've had with self-promotion on social media: I absolutely hate to sound like I'm bragging or self-absorbed. Probably because I am a little narcissistic and self-absorbed. But it means that I miss out on letting people know about things that are important to me. For instance, it was my birthday the other day. And I really wanted people to acknowledge it because my birthday is kind of a big deal to me. But I also didn't want to have to ask them to acknowledge it, or tell people about it at all. I just wanted them to know. Turns out, people aren't mind-readers. Don't get me wrong, I had an excellent birthday, I managed to let it be known a little bit beforehand that it was coming up, and tons of wonderful friends reached out to me on the day to wish me a happy one. But it was still a concern for me in the days leading up to it.

I can't say I'm entirely sure what the solution to all of this is, but I do have a theory. My theory is based on watching the people who do manage to do self-promotion well. And I think the key to it is to have something to say. It can be small, but it has to be there. Desperately thrusting your accomplishments into the void and hoping that somebody notices is not useful to anyone else. But neither is keeping them all to yourself. It's about offering something to the people who might end up actually listening, be it a joke, or a continuation of a discussion, or even an argument presented in, say, a blog format. It's just about giving people something to engage with. That's my theory, anyway.

And so, all of that said... check it out! This past week I did not one, but two spec commercials with NYU - I'm pretty close now to having a commercial reel together! I got cast in Play-Prov with the Alan Chan Comedy Team, and my first rehearsal with them is tonight! And I'm going into pre-production on Just the Tip; I have a director and a producer, and now we're looking for grants so we can have funding for the short! (And you have no idea how much it makes me giggle that I'm the executive producer when I always swore I'd never be an executive-type. It also gives me a massive power trip.)

...See, I may grandstand, but there really are only so many ways to convey this kind of information

Writing and Editing Screenplays - "The first draft is just you telling yourself the story." - Terry Pratchett

Well, I had a whole long blog post written. It was one of my regular Thursday/Friday essay-style blog posts about how one knows that they have finished writing when they don't have a hard deadline that forces them to be done.

And then, somehow, it got deleted. I don't know what kind of combination of buttons I accidentally pressed. I was going to add a tag, and then... nope. It vanished. It was rough, I'd admit. Even for these blog posts that are mostly about showing my personality to anyone who is looking at this website and trying to decide if they like me and my work. I was upset to see it go.

But I was inspired to write such a post because I'm working on a short screenplay now! And you guys, I'm not gonna lie, I like it. It's called "Just the Tip," and it's about millenials as we're beginning to come into adulthood, sexism in the workplace and dating, and what romance is evolving into in modern society. It's about what journalism is and should be, how people treat each other, and the life of a workaholic. And you know what else? It's good. It's not perfect - it still has a few drafts to go before I'm willing to give it to my director absolutely for shooting - but it is good.

The thing that's concerning me, though, is that right now I'm not only the screenwriter, but also the producer. Which means that any deadlines I may have are being set by me. I'm used to projects where someone else gives me a hard deadline for which a piece absolutely has to be finished, and I work on it as much as I can before it, but once that deadline comes it's out of my hands and that's how I know that it's done. But now, I could edit "Just the Tip" indefinitely, and there's really no one to stop me from pushing the deadline back again and again.

Ira Glass once said in an interview that young creatives have a problem where we start creating because we have excellent taste, but we are so inexperienced that our own work doesn't measure up to our excellent taste, and the trick is to keep working past that until we are capable of creating work that does measure up to our taste. (For the full quote, you can read it over here.) I certainly wouldn't disagree with anything he said there. I know that I'm not doing work on the level of writers I especially admire (in writing I'm talking Nora Ephron and Aaron Sorkin, in acting I'm thinking about Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and Anne Hathaway, just to name a few) and it certainly irks at me when I'm trying!

But the thing is... I know that "Just the Tip" is good. Not great. Not revolutionary. But it's not bad, either.

That is a statement I'm 100% certain I'll be embarrassed of later on in my life and career, when I'm really doing good work and I look back at this time with nostalgia and condescension. But it is also what I'm thinking now, and it would be pointless to deny it.

So my question is... how do I stop when I don't have anyone to command me to do so? Having good taste as I like to believe I do, I know my screenplay isn't ready. And I do know a few specific things that have to be changed about it to make it better, and I'll do those. But at what point do I stop and say that it's done enough and ought to be produced? At what point do I decide for myself that it's done, even if I know it's not perfect, and allow myself to move on to the next project?

That's a question I'm genuinely asking, by the way. If you have any tips or ways of thinking about it, I'd love to discuss them with you!

In the meantime, I'm going to try to decide for myself what I think the... tipping point is.

Puns. You're welcome.

Recipe of the Week: Okay, so it's technically not a recipe so much as an idea, but it's SPACE APPLES.

Funny Vine of the Week: I literally cried with laughter from this. Nbd.

#TheDress #whiteandgold #blueandblack

I had a wrap-up post about the Oscars planned. But I wanted to make sure I really thought through my opinions on things like Patricia Arquette's speech, the prevalence of suicide mentions throughout the ceremony, the ceremony itself, and the winners.

And by the time I finished doing that, the internet had moved on, and any such post would've been utterly irrelevant.

By this point, you've probably heard about The Dress, but in case you haven't been online in the last 12 hours, it's about whether this dress is white and gold or blue and black.

(For the record, I can see both. Suck it, losers who can only see it one way.)

Almost everyone on almost every social media feed I follow has been talking about it, or at least has put in their opinion as to what colors the dress is. And I know a lot of people who have gotten angry at how much everyone seems to care about it when there are, admittedly, many things of far greater importance in the world.

I've also seen people who are angry at how shallow an "issue" this is. Which isn't inaccurate. At least with, say, last year's ice bucket challenge, money was being raised for ALS research. But this is just people having heated arguments over perception.

But, to be honest, I kind of like it. I don't mind small, shallow things sweeping through social media quickly and then vanishing as this undoubtedly will in a few days. I'd far rather we think so little about something as inconsequential as this - a matter which is easy to discuss, simple to form an opinion about, and good for connecting with people - than think equally little about issues of actual importance.

I like memes because they give us a shared cultural experience that we don't have to worry about rushing or under-thinking. And we can then put more thought into things that actually matter.

I am working on a short film now. It's about millennials, sexism, and what it means to be a professional in the modern world where everything about everyone's life is scrutinized and the news can change in an instant. It's something I've had to put a lot of thought into, and every time I have friends read the script, the feedback I get this most is to "go deeper." And I love it. It doesn't have to get published right away - in fact, it won't come out for a while, considering how I'm still in the writing stages - so I can state a fully formed opinion, one that I have truly thought through and considered from every side.

And you know, people still go to the movies. People are still interested in points of view that have been deeply considered every bit as much as they are in #TheDress. After all, everyone had an opinion on the Oscars, too. You have to have seen at least one or two movies over the course of the year to care about the awards that much.

Maybe I'm just being an silly optimist. But I'd much rather be an optimist than be legitimately angry over people talking about a dress.

Recipe of the Post: Chicken Marsala

Life Hack: Put a bit of colored tape on the top of all of your USB wires - that way, you'll never try to plug one into your computer while upside-down again!