Part#1 – The Big Dream of Self Belief
GEE’S TOP 5 TIPS
#1 Flex a Jim Carrey funny face every morning in the mirror. Simultaneously say, IF YOU CAN MAKE YOUR DREAM COME TRUE, SO CAN I.
#2 Go tell your pushy boss in an Austrian accent, I’m not a machine nor Arnold Schwarzenegger. I HAVE A DREAM.
#3 Every time you see a politician on the TV, shout aloud, I DON’T BELIEVE YOU, BUT I BELIEVE IN ME.
#4 Sing I BELIEVE I CAN FLY, loud and proud. Just don’t try and leap off the building with wings.
#5 Create a J.K. Rowling mask and wear it at the weekends. Each time you pass the mirror stop, look and pat yourself on the back. You know you’re following in her footsteps.
And if that doesn’t work go read the expert stuff. That works too…probably far better than my lot of advice.
I should adopt a more serious tone about my BIG whale of a DREAM, but I told myself I need to laugh along the way…with or without you.
Helps me soothe the fact that I’m eight years on since I began to write my three feature length screenplays, loosely inspired by my clamber up from rock bottom to believing I CAN, ever since my Spiritual Emergency, What? in 2008 – a turbulent conscious awakening coloured with mental illness. To date I feel I can, said under my breath, but I’m still aware of my ogre-self who slips in the odd verbal punch on a bad day, knocking me back a bit.
Back in December 2008, when the idea was dropped into my head from the ether, a tad like an epiphany, my response was:
“Me, write three screenplays, let alone 1? Are you kidding me? I am not even much of a cinemagoer. What can I offer the film world and its audience?”
Yet the task was wedged firmly into my mind. And it feels like it will stay there until I complete them.
The bare bones, spine of each screenplay reads:
‘A troubled woman is steered by a supernatural force to write a life-transforming screenplay.’
Supernatural movies, one a parody, about digging your heels in and surmounting that part of you that doesn’t feel good enough, set against a backdrop which commentates on dire social issues, giving voice to the underdogs, respective of the country I have targeted – they’d be USA, UK and India. Film buffs click here if your interest is piqued.
Self-belief = anything’s possible, right? A universal truth, observed countless times through passion, perseverance, positivity and patience.
Self-belief is, after all, a ubiquitous human aspiration that demands more stories to be told about it, considering the current state of our times when our true desires and creativity are quashed by a money making, target driven system that dishes out entertainment similar to hospital food – little nourishing value and same old.
So why has it taken me so long to reach this far? My ogre-self, that’s why. I was dwarfed to 3ft tall in self worth, following my trio of tragedies – father’s death, relationship breakup and contract losses – while my ogre-self shot up to 6ft 10, ready to slap me down at every attempt to haul myself back up, during which I had the added burden of battling through my spiritual awakening and all its distasteful accoutrements.
Typical, looped ogre vomit was:
“You’re crazy for dreaming so large and crazy anyway.”
“You couldn’t even make it in the real world, how do you expect to make it in the film world?”
“No-one is going to believe your far fetched story.”
“You’re no way good enough for this.”
“You’re too old. Wheaty brown. A WOOOOOOMAN.”
“Yes, you’re right. I agree.”
“Who do I think I am?”
“I’m a fake.”
“This is taking too long.”
“I’m not smart enough. I don’t even know my lefts from right.”
“This is a pile of shit. I’m shit. Life is shit.”
“I can’t. I give up.”
The creative failures were aplenty. False starts. Rewrites. Over and over. Me, my own worst critic, obsessed with perfection and fear of rejection. I hadn’t even shown it to anyone else.
I need more fingers and toes to count on for the number of times I wanted to give up these screenplays. And yet that Unknown Force kept returning at every boot down, hauling me back up and whispering that my knocks, caused by ogre-self, were not in vain. And once I anchor self-belief that’s when I will take off.
Only when I began to emerge from my darkness into the light, back in 2011, did I begin to see what I was capable of. As I saw my tiny victories, I evolved; my stories began to take shape and my ogre-self began to shrink.
As for my failures, without them, I’d have no stories. And isn’t fat failure part of any success story?
Each of my accomplishments and failures, no matter the size, have contributed to my growth and the screenplays. Gratefully, patience and perseverance are now on side, while passion and positivity are easier to maintain. All the essential P words, with the need for perfection dropped…just about.
The personal milestones reached:
Writing a couple of shorts (short films).
Composing a mini orchestral piece.
Learning to speak French not badly.
Singing and playing piano at the same time badly.
Even taking lessons to swim with confidence to add to my mini repertoire.
I learnt the hard way round, having been turned up-side down, that it’s not about how good the achievements are or comparing myself to others. I simply follow my heart and do my best. Feeling the satisfaction of YES, I’ve done it, even if a 12 year old can do it. I can when I put my mind to it – not to forget the having fun part.
…Do you know what, I’m part-lying. Winning feels great. But it’s been a while…ever since school sport’s day.
As for that Unknown Force, it’s a sense of something directing you. A voice, a vision, a presence, a feeling, pushing me to be my best. I may never know who or what it is. It’s never been clear-cut. That’s why it’s funnier and easier to call that Unknown Force, Yoda, like his wise self, yet, je ne sais quoi. In any case, IT has been a great source of inspiration for developing each of the supernatural characters for each of my screenplays.
One ACTION MAN’S story I LOVE and latched on to as part of my self belief regime is Sylvester Stallone’s, ROCKY, a movie he wrote and was down-right adamant to star in. Now he’s an action man, Hollywood style, no doubt, but I mean action man in the sense of a dynamic person who acts on fulfilling their heart’s desire.
If you haven’t heard his Rocky story already, and it’s worth watching on YouTube, Stallone, then an unknown, turned down $325,000 as the producers refused him the lead role. A compromise was agreed to pay him $35,000 instead, to star in the movie himself, a movie the producers didn’t believe would do well. Rocky went on to win 3 Oscars. A true underdog story triumphant against all odds.
I caN is growing as I write this. Arooooooooorh. That’s my underdog’s howl by the way, in case you didn’t get it.
To keep it real, as I’m a strange pragmatist, realising dreams rarely happen Hollywood style, especially when you’re trying to move from darkness into light as I did. Then there’s the skill training required. I started from scratch on all fronts, whether self taught or adult classes. And of course life happened in between to educate, cajole and bend me backwards in all directions – from working part-time at a social charity that improves the health and well-being of the community, to annual writing holidays in Goa, India, to taking care of my mum, post multiple major operations.
As per my failures and personal milestones, life happening in between was integral to sparking my imagination for the next story move and jumping up another rung of the belief ladder.
Perhaps one of the clearest indications of life needing to happen in between was in 2013, on one such writing holiday in Goa. I was searching for material for my Indian script. Had it not been for an incident of food poisoning, keeping me indoors, I would not have heard the screams outside of my apartment and rushed down to help. I would not have been able to lead this vulnerable English woman, barefoot, scratched and bruised, who had lost her way home, away from the six men surrounding her.
What wasn’t clear – was she given a date rape drug OR did she just fall and hurt herself along the way, having had drunk one too many and awoken the neighbours? She remembered nothing.
The next morning I turned on the TV to discover a 51 year old, Danish woman was gang-raped in Delhi. She had lost her way home too. Did I bawl my eyes out!
My next lead into my story had been delivered in a terrifying manner and is a subject matter that still needs full attention, three years on. Despite a major reform of India’s rape laws, a high number of assaults still persist. Every 20 minutes a woman is raped in India and many still go unreported.
When you come across situations like these, the bigger picture takes centrefold. Thank goodness I’ve come to see that my past can serve the bigger picture – whether through my screenplays or sharing my own personal story.
My latest jump up and milestone reached is writing this blog, LoveActionWoMen. I’ve admitted who Gee is on a public platform, post eighteen months of unravelling myself through false starts, rewrites, over and over, since the idea arrived. I was afraid of how I’d be seen. I had even chosen to write in the voice of one of my protagonists, instead of as me, to protect myself from potential ridicule.
To admit I suffered mental illness, as part of my awakening, was challenging enough. After all, I worked in PR and marketing, an industry where image and status counts for far more than integrity. Indeed the recent efforts of celebrities, such as Stephen Fry and Ruby Wax, and ad campaigns like Time to Change to dissolve the stigma attached to mental illness, took the edge off. But the lengthy process of declaring my Spiritual Emergency, above the rest, has taken much courage.
If you’re interested, I wrote a short story, Who is SHE?, that I’ve included on this blog, about my Goa incident, told in my protagonist’s voice, Sonia Kaur. It’s the hyped up version of true events scripted into the Indian screenplay.
As for Who is Gee? I’ve emerged from my past breakdown, trauma and depression, spiritual phenomenon or not. It’s part of me and the cause of my BIG passionate DREAM.
…That felt good to write. I wonder if I could get up and say it in front of a crowd?
It goes without saying THE BIG DREAM OF SELF BELIEF is rooted in being true to yourself. To hide who you are is to walk around bound in a straitjacket when you’d rather run, leap, dance or cartwheel into any situation with full freedom.
To anchor it is to risk experiencing life and seeing what you’re capable of. Even if you do trip up, as long as you’re wearing all the P badges: passion, perseverance, positivity and patience, you’ll dust yourself off and keep trooping on until you reach your apex.
…Says me, with nerves. Say the experts with conviction who’ve worn the t-shirt and helped countless others to make it too. I believe them.
A tremendous motivation is that I’ve got the bigger picture in mind. I want to be part of a band of artists who make films that matter. So many stories to be told. So many voices to be heard. So many issues to raise awareness of – from the rise in food banks and big bank charges, bankers yet to be charged to toilet seat positions, abuse of power positions and yoga positions to equal rights, seeing right and writing off 3rd world country debts, to love, doves and olive branches.
And so, risking vertical stretching and leaps up, I am. If I didn’t I’d be stuck on the same plateau, even cause myself to slip up and roll backwards, tête-à-tête with my ogre-self again. For now it’s at a safe distance, no prescription pills prescribed in the process. Instead, my preferred prescription of loving thy self, being present and believing high will be my recipe for life success. Opportunities. Adventure. Growth. Fun. One Love. All invited.
That warrants another arooooooooorh.
All that’s needed is for life to continue happening so I can reach the all resounding I CAN, anchored secure so I experience my own personal finale to inspire the finale for all three screenplays. I’d feel a fake to try and fabricate them from thin air, despite having drafted a loose ending for each of them.
One desired finale, aside from nailing the BIG DREAM, would be the discovery of the luurve of my life – who indeed is MR WHO? After all it’s the punctuated ending I’ve drafted for my Indian screenplay.
Part#2 of this mini saga brings you THE BIG HOPE FOR TRUE LUURVE – how do you discover who is MR WHO? The luurve of one’s life?
For those who didn’t read this before, true luurve isn’t easy to come by. Luurve for yourself isn’t easy to come by either. Eight years of singledom has travelled from, I didn’t think I was good enough, boohoo, oh please! To more recently, why am I still single? ever since I began to see myself in a new light. What’s wrong with you? some would say. Keep investing in myself, I say. That Unknown Force says, be in the moment, and…ogre-self wants to be loved too. What warts, burps, whoopsies an al? I say.
Click here to read it.
Disclaimer – this is not an advertisement for myself, but it should be duly noted, just in case, that I do not have warts.