Thursday, October 06, 2005

Where I'm At...

All right. Let's get going and recap where I'm at and where I'm going. Besides struggling to limp around the UCLA with two busted knees (which has made another UCLA MFAer named Dave a hero in my eyes. Dave walks with crutches and I am forever in awe. My temporary ass immobility will get better and I'll go back to not noticing the thousands of unnecessary steps at each building, or how far the ATM machines are from each other. Being permanently disable is a bitch and this world, despite ramps and auto door openers, ain't built for folks without full mobility. I'm getting a small taste of it now.)

From now on, I'm going to divide the blog into my two different lives: UCLA film school and my books. Both will be active over the next two years and it will seem like I'm doing a lot of stuff, but it's all about compartmentalizing. I did get burned out while on the Friends With Benefits tour, but that was mainly because I hate to do book tours, and I'm starting to detest travel of any sort. But knock on wood, I haven't even come close to getting burned out on writing. It's the pleasurable thing about this whole biz.

So for the next two to three years, I will be serving two masters, and this is probably the best time ever to read this blog. My wife knows that I'm going to be selfish with my writing over these next few years and so does my son (who is hilarious by the way. I did a lecture at UC Santa Barbara and he was silently doing his pencil drawings close by when he pipes up and says to the audience "You're a funny man.") So, if you're interested in writing books, this is the blog for you. If you're interested in going to film school, this is the blog for you. If you're interested in writing screenplays, this is the blog for you. If you're interested in how documentaries are made, this is the blog for you. If you're interested in black writers in Hollywood, then this is the blog for you. So here we go:


I'm excited, really excited. I have three classes this quarter and two are led by the co-chairman of the MFA screenwriters program. Richard Walter teaches 130A, which is a mixed course of undergrads and graduate students. Hal Ackerman teaches 431, which is a sort of intro to screenwriting course for grads only. It is much more intimate with about ten students per class. My last class meets on Wednesday evening and is a marketing course taught by Terry Press, who is the head of theater marketing at Dreamworks.

What I like about UCLA to date is the atmosphere. Per being a California institution, the professors and students in the program all seem casual and determined that the best way to get the best out of you is for you to focus on your work, give it your all, but still keep some perspective on life at the same time. Richard Walter is an example of that. Honestly, after having gone to his first class, I'm not too sure what we're going to be learning. Scratch that. I know that we're going to be learning about the craft of screenwriting, but Richard talks about screenwriting in a very eclectic style. One minute he's talking about communism, Aristotle, writing a personal story, George Lucas, and the right wing nut job David Horowitz. I figure that it'll clear up soon enough. He has a great sense of humor and knows what he's talking about.

Hal's class is more my flavor though. Small set of writers who each have their own life experiences that they bring to their writing. I like that. I don't want to only hear about my stories. I thirst for other people's stories. In our first class, we did a sort of "My Name is Earl" exercise, where we listed our regrets. Some were funny, others were poignant, but as you wrote them, it became very apparent that you could be a little bit vulnerable. And if you are, you damn well better trust the people in the room. I think that even though everyone in the room is somewhat nervous as to how they stack up against each other as writers, we still trust each other because we obviously had enough talent to make it this far. As we continue to write, that trust will help us write the best screenplays possible. At the end of Hal's class, we're to write a thirty page first act. It's going to be fun.

My last class is a marketing class and when I sat down in that class, it felt like was stealing from UCLA. I LOVE marketing. For three hours, we talked about how bad "The Island" was, why it is hard to get older men to get off the couch and go to the movies, etc. Then we watched trailers. I was in bliss. I have an Art and Commerce philosophy about writing and my writing career, and since I want to write a lot of scripts that put black folks in international situations, i want to learn how a studio will or more importantly, won't marketing it.

MK and I are working on our documentary. More info later...

So that's UCLA. On to my bread and butter.

My agent wants my non-fiction book proposal soon and I'm determined to get it done by this weekend. When it gets sold, I'll say what it is.

Money Shot, my next fiction piece, is still being read by Karen Thomas at Kensington. I expect to have an answer by the end of the month.

I am about to do a telephone interview tour Friends With Benefits and The Divine Nine.

That's about it. More tomorrow.


David said...

Hey Lawrence. Haha, I certainly appreciate the shout-out. This campus is not very well-designed for people with crutches, it's true, but soon you will find yourself "outsmarting the system" when it's possible. Hop on the shuttle bus whenever you can.

$10 says the driver will say either "Take your time", "take it easy", or "no rush" as you board. It doesn't matter how quickly or how well you're moving -- I think they're just concerned about a potential lawsuit if you fall over.

Anyway, I just wanted to post and tell you how sorry I am about your accident. I just discovered your blog a couple of days ago, and was pretty shocked by what had happened to you. If there's anything you need, let me know. Are you able to drive? What sort of crutches are you using? Are they like mine, or do they sit under your arms? My guess is the latter.

In reading your blog, I am totally in awe of all you've accomplished in writing and publishing and public speaking. Better yet, you seem genuinely unaffected by the whole thing. The marketing aspect behind your work is really interesting to me, too, and is the kind of stuff I'd like to learn about and do, myself.

Stay off the bikes!

Bullet Proof Diva said...

Lawrence this is so exciting to read!

Ok, first of all your kid is fantastic! "You're a funny man" That is classic! HA HA!

Now, your vivid description of what you have been enduring on crutches took me back to when I was hurt in a car accident and had a cast on my MUCH we take for granted, is incredible. Talk about a humbling experience! I tell ya, nothing like a fiercly independent woman, who lives alone, then all of a sudden has to rely on friends and family for assistance..(shudder)..I learned a lot about myself..and I still can put a bra on with one arm, LOL!

and lastly... your classes sound intriguing...I am going to be reading closely to see what your experience is like. I think I have an inner writer itchin to get out, but I am content to stick to my biotechnology gig until I feel like I stand a chance in the real world (i.e. non-blogging forums).

Keep us posted, I am HERE, soakin it all up!

oh and I second Lawrence.. stay off the bikes, or least stay in the cul-de-sac, LOL.

Bullet Proof Diva said...

I meant, I second DAVID...cuz ya know..Lawrence is your name, LOL

David said...

Disclaimer: I cannot guarantee that having a disability, regardless of its severity or duration, will teach you how to put on a bra with one arm.

It's done nothing for me in that area.

Bullet Proof Diva said...

LOL @ David..I don't blame you for denying the bra with 1 arm thing because I certainly would not cop to tryin on a jock strap...

because I would NOT *ahem* do that..never..not even once, nope.

Lawrence said...

Hey David,

I checked out your blog and it's going to be cool to see how we both look at this program. Don't trip off being young. Think of it this way. It took the rest of us a whole hell of a lot more time to get where you are right now.

My crutches sit under my arms, but since both knees hurt, they're kind of useless. So I'm more comfortable just walking slow. My right leg is feeling a LOT better and if I don't have ligament damage in the left one, then I think I may be moving a lot faster by Monday. It's just getting up after sitting a long time that kills. The stiffness is painful.

Bulletproof: Thanks for the kind words. My son is a character. At the lecture, he demanded that I show his art. Already a prima donna artist, and good one at that.
Me no do bikes anymore, or at least for a little while. The bra thing, well let's say those clasps are a mystery to me. I'll make a billion dollars, funded by the men of the world, if I can come up with a better clasp system. LOL

David Anaxagoras said...

Glad to hear you are taking everything in, um, stride. I knew that marketing class would appeal to you. Look forward to hearing more about it!