New certificate completed

Success! I’ve just completed a Certificate in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto. I did it mostly online, with a few in-person stays in Toronto to attend some courses that were in-class only that really caught my interest.

I would say it’s been a satisfying journey. I started in 2016 with Introduction to Creative Writing, and learned a lot about myself right from the get-go. I learned my strengths, and I learned what to watch for in my writing. My world opened up to literary experiences I hadn’t considered.

My final project and oral defense was the first half of my upcoming novel (or novella, depending on what happens with it), Two Point O. The first three chapters are available on this website under Writing Samples.

A great big thank-you to the faculty and students of the University of Toronto. I will carry what I’ve learned from you forward into my life and work.

Puram et supra, terram! (Onward and upward!)


I’ve just made a Sensible Decision.

It’s human nature to be fearful of change, but the old adage is true: Change is the only constant in life. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

So I’ve decided not to go to film school this year. Financial reasons. Instead, I’m concentrating on finishing my novel. I’m up to 20,000 words, and it’s on hold right now while the University of Toronto puts it through the Final Project Tutorial, the last requirement for the Certificate in Creative Writing. (Not that it’ll look particularly hire-me on my resume or anything, but in the three and a half years I’ve pursued it, it’s given me a portfolio and approximately one-quarter of a novel — so far.)

If I spent my ongoing retirement savings on film school for the next two years, I would maybe be hired on as a PA on some set where I’d be making Starbucks runs for people half my age. It worked for Robert de Niro in The Intern, but it probably wouldn’t work for me. Plus I’d be two years behind in the savings that are going to allow me to, you know, have a life in retirement, and possibly even take the odd production class.

Flux is flux, and changing your mind can be a good thing.

Change of plans

I know I’ve been neglecting this blog lately and let me apologize right off. Real life has stuck its foot into the door of my life in the form of, in the last six months alone: the death of a family member, the loss of my day job, the death of a pet, and the totalling of the car I use. So, multiple changes, amounting to me not being in the headspace (or having the funds) to take another writing class lately or to do much in terms of actual writing. Therefore, writing about writing has gone by the wayside.

On the bright side, I’ve decided to go to film school. I’ve been accepted into my local community college’s two-year diploma program in film production. This is something I’ve long wished to do, and my job change seems to shout that the time has come.

That doesn’t mean I’ll be abandoning this blog. It does mean that the blog’s focus is probably going to change. I’ll still be writing about writing, but I’ll also be writing about things like shot lists, budgeting, cinematography (how many words do you think I can write about F-stops?), editing, and getting up at 5 in the morning on a cloudy day to catch that perfect light.

The first thing I’d like to do is recommend a book for the aspiring filmmaker. Filmmaking for Dummies, by Bryan Michael Stoller, is a great overview of what you need to know. It’s an easy read and it’s entertaining. It was last published in 2008, so it’s probably a little dated, especially where it mentions film formats and analog video, but I’d still recommend it for a beginner. I understand a new version is coming out later in 2019.

Any other suggestions for beginning books on filmmaking? Talk to me in the comments.

Spreadsheeting a Novel

For several weeks now, I’ve been planning my first novel.

Originally, this was going to be a screenplay. However, the main protagonist is 80 years old, and the moviegoing audience likely wouldn’t match her demographically. On practically every website and in practically every screenwriting book I encounter, it’s pounded into my brain that the lead characters must be young. People like to see reflections of themselves onscreen, and the older cohorts just don’t seem to go out to theatres. (They’ve likely learned by now that they can afford to wait until the DVD comes out.)

A synopsis: Anna, celebrating her 80th birthday alone in the 2040s, learns that her pension has run out and she has only two months before she’s evicted. She’s offered “dechronification”, a backwards-aging procedure, but first she must go through a FIVR (full-immersion virtual reality) program in which she confronts her demons. Along the way, she learns valuable lessons about herself — proving that you’re never too old to learn.

I’m using some Excel spreadsheet ideas to plan it out. I don’t have a title for it yet, but I do have a Save the Cat genre. I’m pretty sure I’m dealing with a “Fool Triumphant”, or a novel in which an underdog character proves her worth to the world and — most importantly — to herself. I originally thought it was a “Rites of Passage” tale, but now I think I’ve got my genre down. As for its conventional genre, it’s obviously science fiction, but with a smattering of period drama as Anna faces her past.

I hope to finish it by the spring. Then I can have a reason to read those emails I get about how to find an agent!

Premiere Week

Hi! Welcome to my website. How appropriate that it should have its debut on Season Premiere week on the networks! For tonight, I’m looking forward to watching The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, and the Magnum, P.I. reboot. I’ll be reviewing at least one of these shows — stay tuned.

I’m also season-premiering my latest writing class, UCLA Extension’s “Beginning Writing for the One-Hour Spec” with Erica Byrne. This past summer, I completed “Beginning Writing for the Half-Hour Spec” with Claudia Grazioso, and out of that sprung the American Housewife outline on my samples page. Claudia was generous in her feedback and she knows what she’s doing, so we worked on my outline until it popped and bubbled. (And it has a goat in it.) I hope to take the second half of the class next term and flesh it out into a full teleplay.

Anyway, welcome, grab some refreshments, and dig in! I hope you enjoy the journey with me.