Category Archives: Musings

Crowdfailing, Selfcess


So, originally the post I had written about my campaign was one describing my sheer discomfort about asking people for money. I felt like I was begging. Much like how I suppress outward expressions of anger, for fear of being perceived as the angry black woman, I didn’t wanted to be perceived as the lazy charity case either. Upon hearing my worries one of my twitter friends told me not to think of it as begging, but as crowdfunding. Crowdfunding, yeah, I can do that.

I made a decision to ask the social media universe for help. With a knot in my stomach and apprehension in my heart I pulled my big girl panties up over my boobs, yes, they’re that big, to ask for retweets of When the first retweet came through I felt like I had won the lottery. All but one of the lovely tweeps who I asked to retweet me did. Even though it resulted in zero new dollars, I felt like it was a personal victory. I climbed up on my soap box and shouted that I needed help. Others took up the shout saying I was worth helping. Amazing.

Even though as an adult I know there are people who enjoy me as a person, being an outcast my entire life has made me afraid of anything where I find out what people think about me. There are times I worry that someone will think I only want them for what they can do for me. I forget what I have to offer and withdraw. I become a wallflower, waiting for someone to ask me to dance.

Putting myself out there, asking for what I want, is difficult for me but I work on it every day. I do this for myself and for my career. I must convince myself that I deserve to want to be president and not just first lady. I deserve to be heard and understood as the smart, talented person I am.

Sixty dollars raised so far of a goal of two thousand. I suck at crowdfunding but I’m doing better at asking for what I want. So here goes…

I want you to support me. Financially at if you can. Or help by reading my scripts and giving notes. Or introduce me to neat people who will be an asset to my life or my career. By telling me if I am going overboard with asking for things. (Everything seems like too much for me right now, so it will be helpful if I have someone to tell me when I actually am being as annoying as I feel.) And most of all, by being your non-jerky self.

In return, I will walk through doors, hold out my hand, and open my mouth. I will welcome no, instead of dreading it. Most of all, I will never again be the one preventing me from achieving my dreams.

ESCAPE a story of the suicidal


When you’re deep in the bowels of depression, that’s what the idea of suicide is to you, escape. All you think about is the end of your pain. To me it was the endless running in my brain of foreign thoughts. Of how good it would feel to just stop thinking. How good it would feel to stop having to live with this evil soup in my brain that made life a torture.

I had spent the last year and a half having genetically modified mouse cells intravenously added to my blood stream one a drop at a time, or shooting them into my belly through prefilled syringes. The infusions and injections did their job. My body was limber and pain free. But my mind. My mind fought each of those microscopic cells like a born warrior willing to give its own life for the eradication of the enemy. I stopped taking the biologics and let my body fall back into ruin because that pain was so much easier than the hell in my head.

When I was taking the drugs there was a tiny part of my brain that was able to stay afloat just enough to let me know that the thoughts I was having didn’t really belong to me. I know there are people whose entire brain is submerged and I don’t know whether to feel good or bad about that. They’re in constant pain but they don’t know anything else, so that gives them some measure of protection. My therapist says that the highest risk of suicide is when the person is getting better. When the depression is at its worst one finds it hard to get out of bed, much less find the energy to plan and commit suicide.

The only reason I’m alive today is because of my mom. I knew that if I killed myself it would devastate her and she might not survive. I had no desire to take her with me. Thank god I understood the damage that I would do to her, because I didn’t understand the damage I would do to everyone else who knew me. A suicide is violent act. Like a suicide bomber, it damages everyone around you.

In my group therapy, there was a beautiful woman in her fifties. We walked together on the way to our cars, we exchanged numbers. She called me. “How are you able to laugh while you’re in so much pain?” “I don’t know.” “But what are you doing?” “I’m doing all the work they give us. I follow-.“ Buzzzzzzzz. She’d hung up on me. I sighed and waited to see her at group. When I asked where she was that next group, I was told she had moved to a more intensive group. Oh good, I thought. She needed it. Three months later a former group member runs into a current group member and tells him how he saw her obituary in the paper.

The rumor burns through the group like wild fire. She’s dead. Our group therapist confirms it that night. She never left our group for another. She killed herself. The what ifs tumble through my brain along with every tool therapy has given me. My recovery is most important. I am not responsible for other people. You can’t save everyone. My conscience mind says, “It wasn’t your fault.” My unconscious runs through a series of pictures; she hangs up the phone and picks up the pills, the rope, the gun. If I had just called back she wouldn’t have been able to hold the phone and her weapon of choice at the same time.

Every suicide brings me back to that buzzing on the phone and the bomb that followed, exploding guilt and shame through my heart, her husband’s heart, our therapist’s heart, and the heart and head everyone that knew her.

It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my fault.

May she rest in peace. It wasn’t her fault either.

Earth and Fire


I’ve never told you you’re a bad writer. That you are wasting your time and ink on reams of paper. I never have, but someone will. Whether they’ve seen your writing or not, someone might tell you this. Someone has told me this but I didn’t listen. I didn’t listen because I know who I am.

I am a writer.

Whether anyone ever buys a story of mine or not I have to write. That’s my truth. That is the ground I stand on. I had to learn to dig my toes into the dirt and let them grow roots so I can stand on my own even when others try to push me over.

Most of you that have met me know I laugh loudly and share freely. I’ve been told I’m trying too hard to be happy and personable when the truth is, I wasn’t trying at all. I was just being me. Unfortunately, when I’m around someone I admire I get quiet. I suppress all the bouncing and blurting in an effort to seem normal, only to amplify my awkwardness. The entertainment business, especially in LA, will try to tear you down for your differences. Don’t let it. Know who you are and what you’re willing to do. Stand in that truth and never let the fire in your belly, your passion, consume your humanity.

Fire can burn off the old to make room for the new. It can also, attract people to its warmth or send them running in fear. The earth can feed you, comfort you, and be the foundation to build on. But if you let others chip away at it, erode it, it will bury you.

As I talk to all of you, my fellow aspiring screenwriters, I talk to myself. I know these things I’ve shared with you these last weeks, but I have not lived them. There have been times I have let my fire be snuffed, stood still as dirt was shoveled on top of me. I don’t want to do that again. I know I have learned my lesson, but now for the scary part, to live it. I am preparing to live it. I will live it. This is my year. Is it yours too?

I wish you all luck but more than wishes I urge you to be prepared. Not only with your craft but with your soul.

This is the last of the life elements I’m posting. It took me so long to post this one because it scares me the most. I am still figuring out where I draw the line, and how far I’m willing to color outside of  it. I will treat myself gently if I fail. I will forgive myself and try again.

Try again.






My beloved fellow unestablished creatives, watch this video of Ava DuVernay’s keynote speech. No really. Watch it now. Link doesn’t work? Cut and paste the URL at the end of this post. I’ll wait. If you don’t have time for the whole thing watch from minute 6:45 to 21:30.

If you’ve ever been to an event with people who are where you want to be in the industry, you know what’s she’s talking about.

At times, desperation has clung to me like wet clothes. I’ve been around people who have power in the business where I’ve felt like I’ll drown if that person doesn’t give me a hand up. Sometimes, I’ve let myself drift away with the current because I’ve felt unworthy of their regard. Other times, I’ve flailed and splashed hoping to get their attention. When I finally did, I realized I had only succeeded in making them think I’m not OK in the head. There are times when I thought I was being safe, a fly on the wall. I’d go still at the fringe of a conversation and stare as I listened. I realize now I’m too damn big for no one to notice me. I was more like a dead body floating by than someone you’d want to invite to swim with you.

Some of us realize we’re doing it but don’t know how to stop. Some of us never realize how bad we stink of desperation. And for too many of us at the core of the desperation is failure. Sadly, we believed we failed to sell our script or make our movie because the right person has not seen our talent and championed our greatness. But really we’ve failed because we just aren’t good enough yet, and we will only be good enough by doing it again and again.

For so long, I’ve noticed that Hollywood runs from desperation. I’ve never quite understood why until I watched that video. I thought, don’t they see this person’s passion? Their commitment? No. What they see is that they will have to put their energy into that person with no guarantee of getting back success. There is only so much energy anyone can give. Lifeguards won’t carry you where you want to go, so why should the industry elite?

Learn to swim in the pool so that they know if they give you a flotation device you’ll be able to survive in the ocean on your own.

Sheets in the Closet

Sheets in the Closet

As you know, Donald Sterling, the owner of the NBA Clippers, was forced out of the closet as a racist asshole by a secretly recorded conversation between him and his girlfriend(?). Now let’s get a few things straight. Yes, secretly recording someone who you say you love is a dick move. Yes, once the recordings were released, what was said on them is fair game. And no, the shit storm that people think they’re raining on him isn’t effecting him any more than a single turd would .

The people who want The Clippers players to abandon the team until Sterling is replaced as owner haven’t stopped to think who gets hurt by that. It sure as hell isn’t Sterling. If the NBA is able to wrestle ownership from his cold dead hand, the team will have to be bought. So, the players would not get paid and fall out of shape while Donald Sterling gets millions of dollars from the sell.

If he had never been around black people, never been their friend, I’d say he might be able to change. But the problem with people like him is, you can never change their mind, and anything you do to hurt them hurts you just as much.

I don’t know why the NAACP sent Sterling his money back. There is no way I would have given him back a dime. Every bit should have gone to innovative black entrepreneurs so that one day, his place as a decision maker would be taken by a new black millionaire. That would make more of a difference than a returned check.

Sadly, the majority of people think that racism is confined to utterances of the “N-word.” We can see this by the recent decision of the Supreme Court to allow the eradication of affirmative action. No black person could truly get a chance under someone like Sterling without prompting.

Truth be told, being called Nigger has never been as damaging to me as someone I trust revealing their prejudice. I know every one of those players was shocked that this man that they thought they knew and, probably, liked, felt that they were not his equals. It’s that shock that is the worst part about his kind of racism. I have never trusted anyone that has called me Nigger, so I was never able to be truly hurt by them. For those of you who can’t understand what I mean, pretend that upon meeting someone the first thing they said is how beneath them you are. That they hate you. Imagine they told you that you were not worth breathing the same air as them. You would be taken aback, wonder how they could think that when they don’t know you, but you’d move on with your life without them in it. You would never let your guard down around them, much less, share a part of your soul.

Only you can hurt yourself more than those you let into to your life as friends or loved ones.

The best piece of advice my mom ever gave me was never to lend anything I can’t afford to lose. The second was never do anything you have to hide your face for. Donald Sterling’s mama should have told him the second one.

I’m not your mama but I’m telling you anyway. If you’re about to do something you would never do if your peers would know about it, listen to yourself and don’t. It’s not right and you know it’s not right. Otherwise, you would smile for the camera… or the recorder.

I’M MAD at the lessons you’ve taught (pt 2)


When I was at the Austin Film Festival a professional screenwriter hit on me. He asked me if I would be moving back to L.A. and I said yes, when I sold one of my screenplays. He sighed and said that’s never going to happen and walked away. At the same time I was reeling at how horrible his  game was, I pondered what made him think that I would never sell a screenplay? He had never read a single word I had written. The only thing he had to go on is my appearance and somehow my appearance said to him that I would never make it. Why?

At every turn screenwriting requires me to be more than who I am. I am not a natural salesperson. In my life as a woman, I’ve worked hard to learn that if a man doesn’t want me, I don’t want him either. One of my problems making it in the industry is I don’t care who you are. It would be nice if I was a gold digger. They are despised by a lot of people but they get things because they know how to make themselves valuable to people who can get them what they want.

Most women, are taught to be the best person we can be and then wait for someone else to see our value. Since birth we are taught not to sell ourselves. To stay off the pole and to save ourselves for someone who loves us. We are taught to understand passion and inspire passion but never to sell ourselves.

When I am passionate about something that I know I can do I will run myself into the ground making it happen, but I don’t know how to prove that to you. I’m trying to learn how to be more aggressive about selling myself but most of my attempts come out awkward and desperate, much like as if I was forced to sell myself on the street corner. (I’m telling you I would be the worst whore ever.)

For me, the solution is that if you see that I am passionate about something, but I don’t sell you on it that well, give me a chance anyway. I won’t disappoint you.

I’M MAD at the responsibility (pt 1)


I’m Mad! I’m mad at you and you and you and especially, more than anybody else, I’m mad at me because I’m having a hard time letting the noise go.

In the last couple of weeks I haven’t wanted to be a screenwriter. Ironically, it’s because of all the talk of underrepresentation of women and women of color in the entertainment industry.

We… and this is part of the problem, we are thought of as a we. We are expected to write certain things. We are expected to deal with our issues and yours too.

Unlike a man, when I tell a story of a human being I am supposed to represent all human beings in a fair and equal manner. Well guess what? Fair and equal is boring. Fair and equal is not the human story, is not anyone’s human story.

In one of my thrillers, the woman starts out weak and adrift because she wants to turn her life over to any man, even if he’s an asshole. This is the kind of woman I want to slap in the face in real life but in the story she has to start there to grow. But, as a woman, I am forced to think  what it means that people see this squishy limp noodle as a representation of women. Am I harming women by acknowledging those like her exist?

When I began my western I spent days trying to force women into the narrative. It’s based on a true story and if you’ve ever researched the 1870s the mentions of women that aren’t simply listed as the wife are a thousand to one. I had to travel to Arkansas to purchase a 713 page out of print book to find a single page of a woman who was not mentioned as someone’s wife or daughter. History represents us little more than walking uteri, so how do we balance that with what true life was? I also have to worry that I haven’t been able to find a voice in this story because there is no white hero. Can I make a movie with a black main character without a white hero? Outside of blaxploitation films it has never been done before. I get nervous and fight with myself over the truth of it. The only thing I should have to fight with are that there are no heroes in this story at all, there are no solutions either. It’s only a man struggling with who he is and how that fits into the world around him. In a western that should be enough. But I am a black woman writing this so will people except that it’s enough from me?

Every time I choose not to make a main or supporting character black or a woman I wonder if I am failing my people. I switched from prose to screenwriting because I was an actor searching for parts. In an interview, John Leguizamo said as a person of color if you have the ability to write it is your power, your way to break in. He did it, Whoopi Goldberg did it, and so could I. When I became disabled and was no longer able to act the stories I wanted to tell were so much bigger than movies I could star in. The color, weight, sex, of the person depended on the history they needed to be in this spot on this day.

I get mad that I’m a stereotypical woman writer who does not do giant stories where the goal is to blow up as much stuff as possible. I love those movies but I’m no good at writing them.

How do you get more women in the business? Stop telling them why we need them in the business. Forcing us to be the hopes and dreams of billions of people is too much.  I can’t take care of everyone else, I’m too busy trying to take care of myself.

Maybe all this talk of more women is as simple as considering us for a project when you think the writer being a woman, or black, or disabled, is not needed. As writers, we are already asked to deliver a story that will speak to the human race. Even though we may choose to, we shouldn’t have to speak for the subset of millions of people we belong to as well. Consider us because we are writers and we have stories tell and not because you think you know what those stories are.

Hello, White People!


Today is the day you can claim me as your black friend. So put your arm around me or better yet, I’ll put my arm around you, and we shall sing old Negro spirituals. Don’t worry if you’re an old racist. Today we celebrate, not only Martin Luther King but all the people who let you kick their asses during non-violent protests until you got winded and they had your balls.

That’s right, don’t feel guilty if your ancestors were assholes just explore the benefits of the Civil Rights Movement with the rest of us. Go someplace where you are the only white person. Someplace where if there is another white person people think you know each other. Don’t be afraid, other races do this all the time. Also, if you have kids make sure that by the time they’re four they’ve at least talked to a black person long enough to realize we’re not brown because we’re dirty white people. (Yes, children still ask me why I’m so dirty. Come on, get on this white parents.)

Hello, Black People!

Be happy. We have white friends and if we have sex with a white person it’s not a crime. (Well, at least not if you’re doing it right.) My mom’s generation went from having to step off the sidewalks to make room for whites to having a black president. So little time for things to change so much. The extreme poverty gap between the races is something that stems from that time. In fact, poverty was the next civil right that MLK was going to tackle before his death.

Think about it. Besides the institutionalized oppression, we were forced to oppress ourselves. People said things like: If you educate your black boys they will be competition for the white men. If you’re black and educated you’ll think you’re equal and you’ll want more. People who want more get lynched. For heaven’s sake, all we were doing was trying to stay alive. Now there are generations still stuck in survival mode. Unable to believe there can be more for them. Let’s not feel handicapped by what happened to our ancestors. Be proud of what they fought through to not only survive but to thrive.

Hello, Asian/Hispanic/Mixed/Native American/African/Other People!

Each one of your races has your own struggles and accomplishments. Never forget that when society seems to forget you, your stories still exist and are worth knowing.

You too have ancestors whose experiences shape your world today. Respect that and keep what’s good but don’t dwell on what they did. Live in the now.

Hello, People!

We are scary and beautiful. We are cruel and good. We are our past and our present as we strive for a better future. We are.

2+0+1+4 = 7

(via George Takei on Facebook)

(via George Takei on Facebook)

Maybe it’s because I’m happy that I know that’s lucky. Well, I’m hoping that’s the way this numerology thing works anyway. As many of you have heard me say, 2014 is my year. I have no doubt. When I looked at the picture above, the first three words I saw were love, success, and health. That sums up my wishes for myself this year perfectly.

Maybe it’s because I’m older and wiser that I’m determined to strive for what I want. There’s no grand pronouncements this year of exactly what I’m going to do. I don’t need them. I’m going to write and network and people will come to me. I’m done with begging for people to give me a hand up. This year I’m going for a totally different tactic. Before, I only looked for friends. Now, I’m looking for mentors as well as friends. My life experiences taught me to be uncomfortable with people of power because they might think I want something. Worse, I thought they might be right. Well, who cares? …And dammit I do want something! I want to have fun talking, hanging out, and learning a bunch of crap through absorption. Hell, I don’t even have to be noticed if I’m learning. There have been plenty of times that I’ve done my best impression of the Invisible Boy from Mystery Men. “I become invisible until someone looks at me.” (By the way, that’s how I learned that Terry Rossio is not only a great teacher but a great man. At the Driskill Bar Terry taught me how to defuse an argument between two correct people with honestly hurt feelings using only three words. But that’s another story.)

Maybe it’s because I’m more experienced or just old and grumpy but I’m no longer interested in talks or articles of more women/blacks/diversity in this or that part of the entertainment industry. I say let’s stop talking and start doing. It doesn’t matter how you do it.  They did it at The Black List with the diversity opportunities they offer. They did it with Little Tin Man by making a great movie with a little person in the lead. People in a room saying let’s do this is how every revolution starts isn’t it? People in a room tired of being ready to start, instead they decide to start.

I’m starting.

Maybe it’s because you want to start too that you are going to join me as a mentor or friend or colleague. Let’s make 2014 the change for the better we all want.

So, yep. That Happened.


IMG_1074 When you opened my holiday card you thought you got away without getting one of those cheesy year end letters from me. Ha! I only lulled you into a sense of security. Instead, I’m posting all of my year of babblings, translated through ones and zeroes, here.

My 2013 may look like a face full of pepper spray on paper, but it actually ended up being pretty great for me. This year was full of enormous changes, even though so little happened. If you go back to the post I wrote at the beginning of the year about my goals you’d think I failed worse than the levees in the Ninth Ward. I didn’t stalk Dean Koontz for the rights to The Face or find the screenwriter who is attached to the Newsflesh series and drug her into handing the job over to me. I didn’t sell any scripts or have a literary manager fight for me with a sharpened ball point pen and a broken coffee mug. Good thing none of that was essential to a year well lived.

The beginning of the year was hard. So hard, I became pessimistic and wasn’t sure I wanted to know how the rest of the year was gonna turn out. My birthday passed with little fanfare. I had to quit playing bells at church because of the toll it was taking on my body. I had practically quit every activity because of the toll it was taking on my body. I was in pain and depressed, struggling to write as often as I could between sleeps.IMG_0919

In March, I came home one night to my cat refusing to eat. She could no longer walk in a straight line and would intermittently lose control over her back half. The vet at the emergency room said there was little she could do. The medicines she’d been taking for almost two years could no longer hold back her disease. That night I held her in my arms as she took her final sleep in my arms. That week my grandma began to go downhill fast. My mother cared for her during the day and I took her during the night. As I helped her from the pot one night she said, “I’m getting in that bed and I’m not getting out again.” I laughed and said, “OK, Granny.” When I checked on her 45 minutes later she had passed away.  As odd as that may seem, the next morning began to turn the year around for me.

I knew that my cat, Emily, had gone exactly one week earlier to find the perfect couch to wait for Granny on. Every day, she had waited on the arm of our couch for Granny to come home from the daycare. Emily died so that she could be there to welcome Granny home from her life here. And Grandma? She was tired. She was 97 and didn’t want to stick around anymore. Even though I had laughed at it, she had let me know with her last words that she was ready to go. It was a story I could tell and a comfort that I could give to everyone. It was her choice to go which gave my mother and me incredible peace.

By May, my mom had finally convinced me to go to Mayo Clinic to see if they could help me with my medical problems. I was NOT happy about any of it. I was doing this crap for my mom. Well, I was until the end of the first day when a doctor there was able to diagnose a problem I’d been having for three years. The place still freaks me out but I go because I get better and better every time I do.

I started to be able to do things again. Small things to most of you but things I had fought to do in the last five years. Things like walk without a walker, climb a flight of stairs, and eat something besides rice without having to drink Sprite to keep from throwing up.

July brought a new activity. I play nerd/geek board games with friends and strangers.  I’m able to exercise again and keep a regular writing schedule. Now, I even have the confidence to make commitments to hang out with people without it being a 50% chance I’ll be too sick to go. For the first time, I’m took my nephews to a movie. It was wonderful.

The biggest thing that 2013 has given me is the knowledge that not only am I a good writer but a good screenwriter. My Bass Reeves script teased me all year. Every time I thought that I was done and there was no way I could possibly make it better it would beg to be improved. So for a day or a week, I would pause my current project to rewrite it. It’s on The Black List as The Black King. and I’m comfortable with that. The giddy excitement that I’ve felt every other time I thought that script was done is missing now. I’m hoping that’s a good sign. Soon, I will have two other scripts posted that will benefit from all I’ve learned this year.IMG_0971 (Thanks Craig Mazin, Danny Manus, John August, Scott Meyers, Lindsey Doran, Berry Meyer, Terry Rossio, and The Austin Film Festival)

I’m so happy now. There are times, I find myself wishing things would be perfect with the snap of my fingers. That scripts would flow from my fingers with ease. That my group of friends here would become as special to me as my friends in L.A. That I could see my L.A. friends more often and still keep my family close. And finally, that money would be a thing I’d only have to think about when paying my taxes. But then I remember. Long ago, I told God that more than anything in the world I would love to learn for the rest of my life. Right now, I’m thinking it’s not so unfortunate that God listened.