The Undertow of Screenwriting

The undertow in my head has kept me from this page and my mind meanderings. But that’s OK, as the blog is meant to allow me the daily ritual of letting go of  structure by way of free-flow. The letters, punctuation, compound word formations, thoughts, pictures, and journal-entry style of the blog in between sips of a steaming cup of Peet’s coffee are meant to stimulate.

And so, I went on a weekend bender of character study, a sort of method writing, if you will, where I lived my characters in a deeper sense. Oh, yes it helped as I churned out two 22-page episodes in one weekend – a monumental task for me as I’m usually enveloped in the world of work that summons me for a large number of hours per day. But not right now. At this moment, I’m on a longer break for the first time in my working life and I find this to be immensely refreshing as it allows my brain the time to repose and to develop multiple creative projects all at once.  I breathe fresh air into the prefrontal lobe with an exhalation of deep creative thought and my fingers tally the results.

As the web is a wonder for research, I relied upon it several times to assist in my character study — to discover the origins of the tuba and the trumpet, to look up some places in New York City, to discover some of the forgotten wars of the early 20th century involving the British keeping hold of their empire.  (sip, think, sip again)

Then the sideshow began.  I found myself beckoned by a sidebar carnival barker to view the pitiable faces of human distortion by way of bad plastic surgery. I knew I shouldn’t step through the tent of as I would need to see every face of the top ten before I could free myself to step back into my story characters.  Oh, Mickey Rourke. OK, just this one. I’ll peek at his poor alien face flesh and look no further, I tell myself.  I read his story and a next-page arrow gently tugged at my elbow. My friend in the fun house wanted to go further. I let her advance me into the oddities. A sadness overcame me as I witnessed photographs of people who had at one time been quite attractive and who somehow fell into the psychological abyss of self-doubt that Hollywood can bring to its constituents. Money so poorly spent. People so sadly twisted.

I was forced to close the lid of my laptop and walk away, meddle in the garden, step out of the tent to breathe life back in…

sideshow-alive-on-the-inside (image courtesy of

About danaj33

writer * department chair of Broadcast Electronic Media Arts and audio faculty at City College of San Francisco * music composer and producer * always in discovery mode, learning, living, loving, and laughing.
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