Tag Archives: writer

The Script of Life

by Andie Bottrell


I had a thought today that maybe in the script of life your 20’s are the rough, first draft, and your 30’s (and beyond) are the re-writes. Maybe there is an age, though I’m sure it’s different for everyone, where you feel like the vision you had for yourself is fully realized, and maybe that age never arrives. This is the kind of introspection I’m sure most people face in the final inning (really? a sports metaphor? eh, sure) of their 29th year. That first decade of adulthood fading off into the sunset and the big 3-0 slapping you in the face with “like-whoa, I guess this adult thing is really happening.” It’s really sort of incredible all the different lives we lead…married, divorced, single (hello, again–I am), children, no-children, successful, struggling, etc. 30 looks so different on each of us, yet signifies, as all landmark birthdays do, that ever present passing of time.

It’s been an interesting and, as usual, utterly unpredicted few months since I blogged last. A break-up sparked an insane art binge that created well over 100 paintings in less than 3 months and just as many poems. The painting then evolved into ink line drawings, all of which, along with my paintings, are now for sale in my recently re-activated Etsy shop: www.andiebottrell.etsy.com Did not see that coming. I’m working on trying to get a handwritten and illustrated poetry book published (no idea how to do that, everything I’ve read has said basically “poetry is dead” “there is so little money in it no publishers will ever read your submission” “seriously, when’s the last time you bought a poetry book?”–actually, I bought, like, 5 last month, but I’m learning I’m more unusual than I ever expected). And I have my first art show coming up in May (my 30th Birthday month)…it’s called the “Break-up Art Show” (;

line draw copy 2

In June, I’ll be going back to Tent Theatre–I wrote about my first experience there on this blog. It was a momentous experience for me. It got me my EMC card. I am so excited to be a full-time actor for an entire month again! The play is Unnecessary Farce which not too many people seem to know about yet, but it’s hilarious and has a lot of great, quick, fast-paced wit and creative physical comedy (haha, I couldn’t think of the term “physical comedy” so I googled “body humor”).

There hasn’t been much writing aside from poetry. It’s been just poetry and painting and acting lately. Which at times I struggled with feeling guilty about–I should be writing a script. I should be re-writing that play. I need to make a feature film. But, you know what? Screw what every writing blog says about writing when you’re uninspired. I’ve hated almost everything I’ve written when I forced it. I feel blasphemous even saying that because I feel like that just becomes an excuse for the undisciplined, but I truly think you have to just listen to your heart/inspiration talking-piece when it comes to creativity. And there are other ways to access your creative geiser–sometimes being uninspired to write something just means you need to find another way in. At times I also feel a lot of pressure from people to do just ONE thing. To only focus on acting or only focus on writing, etc. When you split your focus among lots of different things, how can you ever get really great or successful at any of them? And I don’t disagree necessarily. It’s annoying saying all the hyphenates of my artistic endeavors (actor/writer/director/editor/artist/photographer). It sounds pompous and it takes a long time to list. But those ARE the things I do on a regular basis–those are the ways I express myself and use my voice as an artist.

I also started experimenting with using spray paint to create abstract paintings on canvas. This one is called "Il Cavallo" which is italian for "the horse."
I also started experimenting with using spray paint to create abstract paintings on canvas. This one is called “Il Cavallo” which is italian for “the horse.”

I’m learning that my personal artistic flow is cyclical and that my obsessive nature means that I often clamp down hard on one or two things for a time, while doing all the other things in smaller frequencies, and then rotate out to another skill set and do the same. I thrive when being surrounded by many tools to express myself and giving myself the freedom to go from one to the next as inspiration strikes. And I will no longer allow myself to feel bad or pigeonholed into “picking” just one thing when my heart demands the space to speak through several different instruments. I am an Artist. That is my life. My creations take many forms. That’s just who I am. I think part of turning 30 will be saying “That’s just who I am” a lot more. Not to say I’ll quit evolving (god, no, never!), but just that I’ll no longer feel bad about those few core parts of myself that I know to be true.

As I enter 30 I wonder if my art will ever sustain more than just the will to live, but become my actual livelihood. I’m struggling to figure out how to price my work, how to say that my art is valuable and you will have to pay me to have the privilege of using/seeing/working with it. At the same time as I’m struggling to tell others it’s worth paying for, I am also more confident than ever in my work. I can access things easier. I have more control over my skills. It doesn’t feel as hit-or-miss as it has for the majority of my 20’s. I have a lot more life experience to draw upon. My perspective is constantly expanding. I care less and less what I look like, but am working harder than ever to feel good in my body and take care of it as I have started noticing how quickly the body can start to deteriorate if you don’t. I’m more and more impressed at how resilient people are and their capacity to adapt to situations beyond their control–and the incredible things people have achieved. I see now, more than ever, the amount of work and sacrifices people make along the way to realize their dreams. I’m inspired by the massive guts (figuratively speaking) on so many people–and am constantly telling myself I’ve got to be even braver.

My new motto: Forward only, backward never.

Let’s go!


On Writing and Sadness Bouts, Part 2.

Carrying on from Part I
There’s a good amount of evidence to suggest that creative people may be predisposed to have depression or depressive tendencies.
I have a theory about this – I don’t necessarily think we’re all predisposed. But I think the actual, repeated practice of creating and sharing our art can make our emotions go haywire.
In two ways –
    1. The Process: The same instinct that makes us good writers – the ability to self-edit, to sift, to weed out the bad ideas from the good, in short, to critique – is what can also make writing so painful. Because as we write, our inner editor is chomping on the bit to tell us how this draft is terrible, how this idea is pointless, how no one will ever want to do this, how it’s a waste of our time and (let’s take this to the logical end) how we’re a fraud and will never write anything good ever again. We all hear this nasty voice in our head from time to time – the trick of course, is to rein it in, to allow just the right amount of self-critique into our process, perfectly calibrated to the needs of that particular draft.But wow, that’s a really hard thing to ask of ourselves, isn’t it? And in addition, the madness inside our heads isn’t caused by anything we could call “real”. We’re miserable because we can’t figure out the solutions to problems that we made up for characters and situations that don’t exist. It’s hella weird.


  • The Production: So as playwrights, we deeply care about our audiences. We write a play as a gift to be shared – not just with our collaborators, but with living, breathing human beings who gather in a room together, who’ve plonked down money and found babysitters and driven out and given up their evening to spend with our stories. So we really care about them.In speaking just for myself, the audience is always top of my mind, from the first draft through to opening night. Yes, it’s important that I’m happy, that my artistic team is happy, but by god, I really want the audience to be happy. I want them to have such a good time in the theatre. The fact that I care so much is one of my strengths, and it shows in my writing.

    But once the production is up and running, I can’t turn this off. So when the reviews are out, I’m setting myself up to be a complete emotional mess. Sarah Ruhl recently said, so easily, that she doesn’t read anything written about herself. Lauren Gunderson has said she only reads the good reviews. I wish I could pick either lane. But no – I can’t turn off that instinct to care about what people think, even at the stage where I have no power to change anything, even if I wanted to. That’s not healthy.


So basically, my theory is that both the inside of playwriting (the process), and the outside of it (collaboration and reception) are fraught with triggers. And ironically, the further I progress in my career, the more frequently I face these triggers, and with higher stakes each time.
  • The more I learn about playwriting, the more plays I write and see, the harsher my inner-critic gets, because now I know better, and I know what I’m up against.
  • Commissions are the best, but they bring out my inner-critic in full force, because now there’s that additional, awful fear of letting someone down.
  • The more production opportunities I get, the more reviews I’ll get, and the more people will have things to say about my work. Google will be my nemesis forever.
I know that I should hopefully arrive at a sort of equilibrium at some point. As I mature as a writer, I’ll be able to tamper that inner voice. The more I recognize my process, my patterns, the less I’ll freak out when I think something isn’t going well. And maybe one day I’ll achieve Sarah Ruhl levels of poise where I exist in a transcendent bubble of perfection (I love Sarah Ruhl, this is me being totally straight with you. Also, she’s never gonna read this.)
But until then, I would love to hear from LAFPI readers on how you manage these issues, and what tricks you have to get around these emotional speed bumps, these exhausting obstacles as we all try to navigate a happy, balanced, and productive life in the theatre.

On Writing and Sadness Bouts, Part 1.

Hello, LAFPI readers! I hope you all had a lovely weekend.

For my first post this week, I wanted to talk about writers and depression (isn’t that an auspicious beginning.) Mostly because I had read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s amazing op-ed in The Guardian about her journey with depression, and it’s been rattling around in my head for several weeks now.

So I had no idea about the kerfuffle that ensued after I had read that piece – apparently it was published without Adichie’s permission, which is just awful on so many levels, and was retracted from the website. However, she did then give this wonderful interview to the blog Olisa.tv, about the article and its ramifications, and I would highly recommend reading it.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Source: Olisa.tv
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Source: Olisa.tv
The thing that I’ve been trying to figure out about her article was actually my own reaction to it. It was the question that popped up – why is she depressed? To put it far more crudely – what does she have to be depressed about? Adichie is one of our greatest living writers, beloved around the world, achieving incredible success in a field that’s notoriously hard to break into, especially for women of color.

I also had a similar reaction when I read this piece in the New Yorker a few years ago – about therapy for working (and often consistently working, i.e. successful) screenwriters. What do they have to complain about?

It’s a terrible attitude, and one that I turn on myself too. I thankfully do not suffer from clinical depression or similar chronic health conditions, but I do get sad sometimes. When I am sad, I feel absolutely powerless. The same question surfaces – what do you have to complain about? – but even as I intellectually understand what it means, engaging with the question does nothing to affect my mood. If anything, it makes me feel worse. Most of the time these bouts last for a few days at most, and then I’m fine. But last month, my ‘bout’ lasted three weeks, and it was awful. It also came at a time when I was on vacation, in my parents’ home in India, with all my needs taken care of and all my wants attended to by my loving family. The incongruity of my feelings with my actual situation was almost too much to bear.

I’m back in a good place now, but what those weeks gave me was (hopefully) a permanent shifting of my perspective, a good dose of empathy. Being sad is scary. It’s lonely. Most of the time, it’s beyond our control. The absolute wrong thing to do is to question the validity of someone’s experiences because you think they shouldn’t be feeling a certain way. How ridiculous!

Upon looking back, I have found that my sadness bouts are usually intimately tied to my writing process, and to the struggles of crafting a career as a playwright. I think a lot of readers of this blog may feel or have felt the same way. For my next post, I’ll be writing more about the unique challenges of controlling our emotions, when paradoxically, our lives as playwrights require us to be open, receptive and porous to the world and everything that it throws at us.

In the meantime, be sure to read the Adichie interview! She’s amazing. And I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments – it’s a tricky subject and I’m always open to learning more and understanding these issues in a better way.

[Continued in Part 2.]


by Robin Byrd

There was a tornado in California mid December – a strange occurrence this side of the Rockies.  Out of the ordinary; it made me think of home and growing up in the midwest in tornado country; it made me think of the sirens going off and the treks to the basement to wait them out.  I was suddenly in remembrance of “the house that built me.”  All the experiences my midwestern background has bestowed upon me that inform my world.  We are who we are because of our experiences.

I may have southern nuances that pepper my work but I am a midwestern writer with a midwestern sound – a sound I inherited from the region that grew my sentiments.  I understand the tornado and its winds and thunder and lightening.  I know there is safety in the eye of the storm.  I know that the quiet in the midst of a storm builds hope and expectation…  I know the sun comes out after and we behold brighter days.

I enjoy traveling home to rejuvenate myself and though, nothing remains the same, it is good to remember where one comes from in order to stay the course of where one wants to go and to continue on regardless of the tornados…


Theater and Film: Sara Israel

Playwright, Screenwriter and Director Sara Israel was one of our first bloggers here at LA FPI. Blogs by Sara.  (https://lafpi.com/author/sara-israel/).  She is also a filmmaker.  The thing I like most about Sara is her focus on her art.  It is intense and contagious; you talk to her you will walk away inspired.  We miss her voice on the blog but are so proud of her accomplishment.  Congratulations, Sara!

Please support Sara by attending a screening of her award winning film “The Happiest Person in America”.

Seattle & Los Angeles Screenings in February!

Seattle Asian American Film Festival:  screening Sun. February 9th at 2PM.  Director Q&A to follow.

Asians On Film Festival (North Hollywood):  screening Sat. February 15th at 1PM.  Director Q&A to follow.


View this full flyer with a note from Sara in your browser



The Art of War or the War of Art…

by Robin Byrd


I love to read The Art of War by Sun Tzu – it keeps me on my toes and it translates to every area of my life especially the writing life I am trying to have.

Recently, I ran across a writing book titled The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell.   I am having a lot of fun going through it even though it is basically for novel writers but writing is writing.  It deals with reconnaissance, tactics, and strategy and it’s a very interesting read.

Reconnaissance – covers the mental game of writing,

“1.  The writer who observes the battlefield before entering the fray will be better equipped to plan strategy and tactics.”

Tactics- covers craft,

“35.  The use of a voice journal will keep characters from becoming little versions of the writer.”

and Strategy – covers publishing.

“71.  Always be ready to talk to someone in the elevator.”

There are nice quotes, observations, a few exercises and other tidbits. 77 points in all interspersed with quotes from Sun Tzu.  And, it’s easily modified to fit a playwright’s world of “stuff.”

It takes a lot to stay the course after rejection; it’s an ongoing battle to stay focused.  I like this book because it’s small and easy to pick a random point and get a lot out of it.  It costs about $15.00 US and is worth the money.

on a pilgrimage and quest

My transmedia series MYTHistories has its own pilgrimage, from the very first time the idea popped into my head to one of the segments I will finish during a writing date I have tonight with my friend Bree. Here are a few videos that helped shape my revisions while I work-shopped one piece to the MYTHistories puzzle at The Indy Convergence.

I ask people 2 questions:

1. What do you think of when you hear the word pilgrimage?
2. Do you feel like you are on a pilgrimage?

Please comment with your answers below, either typing it or a video response!
Puppeteer Leila Ghazvani responds and has a strange discovery towards the end:


Writer Sarah H Moon responds while we prepare for tech:


Dancer & Choreographer Sarah Weber Gallo responds while wearing one of her props:

Now it’s your turn:

What do you think of when you hear the word pilgrimage?

Do you feel like you are on any sort of pilgrimage?

 Comment below or send me a link to your own video interview.

Watch more Pilgrimage videos here

Going the Distance

I am Analyn Revilla. I’ve been working on my first play for two years. I asked my writing mentor, “How long does it take to finish?” The question was posed among a group of students of varying backgrounds and writing experiences. The melange was: a lawyer and a published poet writing her first novel; a chef working on her memoir that begins with finding herself in a homeless state; an elementary teacher creating her first screenplay; an accomplished journalist reveling in her third novel; a busy actress expressing her story of an 8 year old boy in her first novel; a retired legal secretary exploring the story of an orphan seeking her birth mother in post WWI Germany; and then there’s me, an IT Specialist who has been “dabbling” in writing since I was eleven, and recently started my first play.

My co-writers and I have been gathering for the past 5 months at 9 am on Saturdays for 3 hours sharing our work and our experiences in the process of our “rewrite” of the first draft.

The question was an impulse to get the class started. It seemed thoughtless and absurd, after I blurted out the words. Then I realized it may not be as thoughtless as I felt, because I noticed the others look on with piqued interest at the mentor in front of class. As he started to speak people began jotting notes into their notepads or their laptops. He responded that he can’t answer the question in directly, but the first thing he wanted to emphasize was “There are no rules.”

As he continued to speak my mind was still resisting the idea of “there are no rules”. I can’t go on imagining the life of this story, because I could go on forever. The characters evolve and they all have their arcs and shifts in perceptions (small and big), and maybe none at all. Then he said that he’s not interested in the product. What? my mind screamed. He doesn’t care about my play? I heard his words – I am here to help you through the rewrite process and teach you to be curious and to ask the right questions about the nature of the dilemma of your protagonist.

Finally he said that it’s not any easier for a professional writer. It’s hard work. When he concluded my brain took a tangent to the idea of how marathon runners train. I followed up with a comment: When you said it isn’t any easier for a professional writer I thought about the rigorous training of the marathon runner. The first draft and the rewrite is like it is for an amateur runner learning to run a race. The expert just has more experience in the process and knows how to train to be able to complete a race regardless of whether or not they win the race. And there are varying beliefs in what “winning” is.

One of my classmates spoke up: I’ve run marathons, and it’s all about the distance.

When I got home I dug up a book I had lying around: “The Triathlete’s Guide to Mental Training” by Jim Taylor and Terri Schneider (published by VeloPress.)

The first chapter on Introduction to “Prime Triathlon” talks about the philosophy of “Prime Triathlon”: Before you can begin the process of developing Prime Triathlon, you want to create a foundation of beliefs about triathlon on which you can build your mental skills. This foundation involves your attitude in three areas: (1) your perspective on competition; (2) your view of yourself as a competitor – how you perform in training and races; and (3) your attitude toward success and failure – how you define success and failure and whether you know the essential roles that both success and failure play in becoming the best triathlete you can be. Clarify your view in these three areas will make it easier to win the mental race and to achieve Prime Triathlon. (source: “The Triathlete’s Guide to Mental Training.)

I replace the triathlon parts with writing:

My views on competition is that there are merits in healthy competition with others when it’s about improving the writing. For instance, I saw a couple of good plays last weekend, and was delighted with seeing the techniques the playwright had used in conveying the idea and the feeling. I thought, ‘Wow.’ then “How can I do that in my own unique way,’ or ‘hey, I can use something like that’. But the real competition is within myself. This answers both (1) and (2). The struggle of the balancing act to schedule the time and the energy into the writing, and being dedicated to dig deeper and deeper to unearth the subtexts, and having the endurance to rewrite and rewrite until the gem has been cut and polished to show it off at its best.

My attitude toward success and failure. Right now (and I say right now because it may change because “There are no rules”) is I will be successful as a long as I don’t give up. I may have a shift in my perception as to what success is. But only I can measure this and not allow other forces to shape my vision of success. As I heard one musician tell it to another musician as they waved good-bye after another unpaid gig, “Keep fighting the good fight.”

Going back to my mentor’s initial response that “There are no rules” is applicable in what I’ve learned from meditating on the three questions from the book on “The Triathlete’s Guide to Mental Training”. There are not any rules that can be applied universally to specific situations i.e. the writer. We have varying attitudes about competition, ourselves and what we define as success and failures.

Everyday as I go down this path deeper and deeper into the woods I can never ask the question if I can find my way back, because there is no turning back. That’s probably one universal rule that can apply, because I can’t undo what I’ve learned along the journey to evolve in exploring my impulse to write. I expand my heart with each step walking in the shoes of my characters as I witness their choices under the circumstances they are in. It’s that journey, though sometimes sorrowful and sometimes joyful, that has enriched my humanity.