Memories of memoirs

For no discernible reason, seven of the last fourteen books I’ve read have been memoirs.  This wasn’t planned. Some were chosen during a flash of inspiration, others coincidentally rose to the top of stack around the same time after many months in waiting. I’m not even necessarily a big fan of memoirs.

Four of the seven books were by people who are renowned in some area of the arts in which I take a special interest: three were writers and one was a performer.

A number of similarities arose in these books.

  • Each attributed much of their success to luck, yet had no problem taking credit for it just the same. (In his book, “Outliers”, Malcom Gladwell documents many such cases of success coming by being in the right place at the right time through pure serendipity, if you believe in that kind of thing.)
  • Each wrote with a significant sense of entitlement, as if they simply got what they deserved.
  • There was a uniformly distinct lack of humility in tone, even some amount of condescension.
  • None of them had any problem dismissing and rationalizing their personal failings, of which there were many.
  • Without exception, they all went out of their way to disparage religious belief. I wonder what prompts people to be evangelistic about their lack of belief but condemn those who proselytize a genuine faith?
  • All at times sounded like spoiled children who whined when things didn’t go their way or when something was missing from their privileged lives.

Regarding that last point, it amazes me that the more we have (and these folks have lots) the more we take it for granted. It’s not just the Rich and Famous. After all, by the world’s standards, I’m obscenely wealthy. From my observations in the time I’ve spent in Haiti, people there are more thankful for the little they have than we are for our abundance. And they readily acknowledge God as the source of their few blessings. Gratitude and faith are among the first victims of the pandemic of Affluenza.

I don’t criticize out of spite or envy. I’m just making observations. The four books are the works of brilliant minds, people whose work I have tremendous respect for. Perhaps these kinds of personality traits are helpful in reaching heights of fame and/or creativity.

Every one of us exhibits some or all of these tendencies at one time or another.

We just don’t publish them for the world to see.


 

[In the interest of fair and balanced reporting, I should note that a memoir I read last year, “As you wish – Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride” by Cary Elwes showed very little of these characteristics. It was terrific, as I reported in a previous post.]

Making lemonade

PastedGraphicTagline-1With ten screenplays written and none sold or produced, you might think I’d be frustrated and angry. You’d be half right: It sure is frustrating. But angry? No point to that. Anger is a masking emotion and I’ve got nothing to mask. Most of the scripts I’ve written were more like learning experiences than realistic attempts to “break in.” I’ve learned a ton, thus improving my scripts and advancing my skills.

So what do I do with all those lemons? Make lemonade. And you can have a sip.

For the second time, I’m staging a reading of one of my screenplays. It’s not just for marketing purposes or ego gratification. This event will be a fundraiser for two causes, one near and dear to my heart – Haiti – and the other very near my brain but very far from my heart: MS.

The first time I held one of these readings, also a learning experience and also a fundraiser, we raised almost $700 to serve as a micro-loan to a young entrepreneur in Haiti. The actual reading is on line in two parts. If you’re interested in watching the reading, the first part is here. I leave finding the second half as an exercise to the viewer.

The full official announcement for this event can be found here, but most of the details are below:

On Saturday night, April 18, at 7 PM, at the Chelmsford Center for the Arts, there will be a “staged reading” of my original PG-rated romantic comedy, “Me for You”. The cost is only $10 and includes chances to win cool movie-related door prizes. Snacks will be available for sale.

Staged readings are common in the film development process as a way to promote unproduced screenplays. This script will be read live by actors in the intimate setting of the CCA Cabaret Cafe. You get a fun evening at the “movies”, help two great causes, and, if the script ever gets produced, get bragging rights as previewers.


If that’s not enough to get your philanthropic blood pumping, here are two more opportunities to help support Haiti and fight MS:

Servants for Haiti Trivia Night and Silent Auction

TriviaNightLogoSmallThis year marks the 6th annual edition of this exciting event. The trivia is a blast – with yours truly (truly!) as the trivia jockey – and the silent auction is a collection of incredible buys, some one-of-a-kind. Funds raised this evening will benefit SFH‘s Biznis Pam program, which trains Haitian woman how to start and maintain their own businesses. Then they provide micro-loans to get the budding entrepreneurs going.

This is a great program that deserves our help. Join me on Friday April 10, 2015, at 7 PM. For complete details, click here.

Bike MS: Ride the Vineyard 2015

MSMVThis is a combination of three of my favorite things: Martha’s Vineyard, cycling, and raising money to crush MS. You can be part of this event by donating money to my ride or to my team.

To donate to my ride, click here.

To support my whole team, click here.

If you want to go further in your commitment, you can ride with us. Register and join our team: The Vineyard Square Wheelers. Ride on!

Haiti, Five Years Later

 

DSC_0677

It was five years ago today that Haiti was hit by an earthquake. The tremors still shake the ground under their feet. Since that day, there has been a lot of hand-wringing and finger-pointing about the fate of Haiti. I’ve done my share.

Lest we forget, we’re talking about people. This special post is just a pointer to another post in my other blog. It’s mere tragic coincidence that I’ve done this twice in a few days.

January 12 will never pass without my remembering, writing, mourning, praying, and acting.

The Squatter

Among the many things I’ve scribbled in the sand is a novel entitled “The Squatter”. Some folks to whom I’ve confided about the book aren’t crazy about the title. I find it hard to disagree. It’s not a very pleasant sounding word. However, it effectively and succinctly captures not only the protagonist, but her situation as well. Anyway, I’m sticking with it for now, but am open to negotiations, especially from editors and publishers.

This is all to preface the following post, which is the opening few paragraphs of the book. There’s danger, some might say, in exposing one’s writing (even as brief as this) this way. They would have us all believe that creative thieves lurk around every corner of the Internet. They could be right, but cowering in fear is no way to live. My protagonist, Fania, would say the same.


Chapter 1

January 12, 2010 – 4:45 PM

Anticipation hung in the house like the fine particles of dust that filled the air. The family had long since grown accustomed to seeing the air they breathed; the constant presence of the dust made it disappear. When something is everywhere, it ceases to exist.

But apprehension, anticipation’s malicious twin, followed like a rabid dog nipping at its heels. Good fortune never walked alone in Haiti. Hopeful elections carried with them violence and turmoil. A cool, refreshing rain inevitably brought streams of filth running through the tiny hovel that was the Dieusel family home. It had reached the point where they dreaded good news for the trouble it promised.

Still, Fania hoped. Her dreams were simple for a fifteen-year-old girl. An education. Reading and writing. Humble dreams, more remote than the far off peaks of the Massif de la Selle. Just as she couldn’t see those mountaintops from her home in the Village Solidarité neighborhood of Port-au-Prince unless she climbed to the roof, she couldn’t conceive of being in a school, reading books, or writing letters.

This was the day when all that could change. The news her father carried would determine whether those mountains would be brought within her reach or, if his news was bad, she would continue to dream of distant peaks.