The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Take Responsibility

In the new screenplay, I'm taking some time to look at all the most basic aspects of my system for writing and living, what I call "Lifewriting."

And that requires a cross-referencing of my two favorite models of human reality: the "Hero's Journey" and the yogic Chakras

The first step along the HJ is to "Take Responsibility."

Emotions: In my life right now, I live in Atlanta instead of Los Angeles because I have taken responsibility for the life and welfare of my son. Period. I have no options, no way out, no excuses. My boy is mine. In the screenplay, the main character has to face death, accept the limitations of physical skill, and his fear of being vulnerable to others.

Career: I have multiple opportunities and projects on my desk. Three novels, a couple of short stories, a screenplay, a partnership to create a new self-improvement program, and the creation of an entire new business. It is challenging and nervous-making, but it is mine, or no one's at all.

In the screenplay, my character must deal with the fact that Hollywood-style glory and acclaim may not be his, and to find deep satisfaction in smaller more intimate victories.

Body--I am the bottom line for my physical health. Every bite of food that goes in my mouth, every joint mobility drill, yoga session and Metcon death-march, every night's sleep and recovery is my responsibility. And as I can't get younger, what I have to do is get just a little smarter every day about how I push myself, and how I help my body adjust to the new demands. I am an object in motion, and I will stay in motion, until there is nothing left to move.

In the screenplay, physical movement is critical: exercising, teaching, fight scenes, etc. I have to be certain that each has a different emotional content, so that they don't get boring and repetitive. My character is one hell of an athlete to begin with, so there isn't much arc there. However, he learns to combine his emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects with his physical...and that has to be choreographed and designed to communicate through purely visual images. No small feat.

Finances--I have to take responsibility for not only doubling my current income, but then protecting the money when it comes in. This pushes my self-image massively. Heck, I wanna be a kid, not an adult! Ah well...if my son is to be safe, I have to make these changes. If I am to have the freedom and pleasure I demand, I have to make these changes.

See how I take these things and "fold" them into each other so that they are interconnected? It is building a support structure so that I can draw a line in the sand, demanding that I move forward, and forward again. If I have to back up and go around, under or over an obstacle...fine.

In the screenplay, money is viewed as a vehicle or tool but not a goal, really. The process of earning money is interlocked with family and community, not glory. I have to clarify this: what does money mean to my lead? Do his beliefs change over the course of the film? How and why and how do I show it visually?

So much to do.

Find a way, or make one. But first, give yourself no room for dishonest and dishonorable retreat.

Take responsibility!


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