HOTPIXEL POST: Tom Grey Takes Player Piano to the Next Level

Published December 9, 2014 by Teresa

I’m on a roll over at HotPixel! :) Or, rather, we at HotPixel want to make sure to support the efforts of a member of the extended HotPixel family. Here’s a post up at the HotPixel blog about Tom Grey and Sonya Belousova’s Player Piano, and their current plans and IndieGoGo campaign!

EXCERPT: 

For those who missed it, Player Piano is a series where classically-trained pianist, Sonya Belousova, plays covers of everything from film/TV/video game scores to pop/rock, hip-hop, metal, and classical pieces. Grey directs and produces captivating videos to accompany her playing, and so far, the results have been stunning….

[…] Player Piano already produces great videos, but Grey and Belousova are looking not only to take the show to the next level, but to create something that is sustainable for years to come. We at HotPixel really want to see that happen, so we’re reaching out to our community – because we want to see quality content flourish on the internet.

For the full post, some cool videos, a link to the IndieGoGo campaign, or to leave a comment of support for the Player Piano team, CLICK HERE.

HOTPIXEL POST: THE HOT LIST: Jason Been, President of Imagecraft

Published December 8, 2014 by Teresa

It’s been a while, but here’s the latest at the HotPixel blog! I had the chance to talk to Jason Been, president of Imagecraft, a production rental company that is more hands-on than your average rental house. Indie creators, take note! You’re gonna wanna keep this place in the back of your mind next time you’re working on a project!

EXCERPT:

When I asked him about what indie filmmakers need to keep in mind before approaching rentals, Been echoed what many of our Hot List subjects have insisted upon – preparation is key, and approaching a company like Imagecraft earlier in the process will save you time and money  in the long run.

Been says, “The cool thing about this business is that you bring a lot of minds to the table. On an indie project, the creative side is usually one that is getting everything done, and they need a lot of help so that the tech side of things can conform with the creative side of things. So, that’s where it helps if you start the conversation early on, so that the technical side can work with the creative. Sometimes, you have these grandiose ideas – which are great – but then can you cover these things financially? Can your technical folks cover you with whatever you need?”

And most importantly, “The earlier you plan, the cheaper it’ll be.”

For the full post, or to leave a comment, CLICK HERE!

Sitting With Feelings

Published December 1, 2014 by Teresa

As I’ve alluded to on social media (and here!), lately I’ve been taking steps toward dealing with my food issues, among other things, and last night I dealt with one of the least pleasant aspects of that.

Sitting with my feelings. 

Too often, whenever I’ve felt upset (or, let’s be honest, happy, or bored, or pretty much any emotion), I’ve turned to food for comfort (or celebration, or activity), feeling like I “deserved it” because I was going through a shitty time (or a great time), and so why not reward myself with food. And that got me to a top weight in the mid-270s despite becoming more physically active.

For the past month, I’ve been trying the opposite. Whenever I’ve had the impulse to eat outside of my three meals, I stop, breathe, and think about whether or not I’m actually hungry, or if there’s something else going on. It hasn’t been perfect. The other night, I served myself a second big bowl of mac and cheese for dinner without batting an eyelash, just because it was a reflex and I didn’t take the time to stop and think. I was rewarded with a stomach ache. So, you know, there’s that. My body knows what’s up even if I don’t.

Yesterday was a particularly “good” day. I returned home after a tech scout for an upcoming video project related to Incredible Girl (start getting excited, people!), and the rainy, cold weather was making me restless. Every time I would sit down to do something, my brain would be like “Nope!,” and I’d get up and pace the apartment. Didn’t want to watch TV, didn’t want to read, didn’t want to write… So, as is my usual pattern, I walked to the kitchen and opened up the cabinet where the cereal is. But then I stopped. I took a breath. I listened to my body. I realized I wasn’t hungry at all. Then I walked to the living room where The Boy was sitting and just said, out loud, “I’m bored and restleeeeeeeeeeess….,” getting it out in a big, toddler-like whine. Then it occurred to me, what I really wanted to do was curl up under a blanket and take a nap. So I did. When I woke up about an hour later, I was refreshed, drank some water, and went about my day.

It was the most perfect example of taking a pause to examine my feelings before eating, and taking that moment saved me yesterday! I was thrilled.

Then, later that night, I was blindsided by a Mack truck of unadulterated emotion – and it wasn’t positive. It was as if suddenly, and without warning, every single insecurity, worry, and fear just came on and started to suffocate me. I was already in bed at this point, and just burst into tears. And as it was so late, I was already in bed, and I’d made the decision to not use food as a crutch, eating wasn’t an option. So I just cried. When The Boy came in to bed later on and realized something was wrong, I was comforted, and hugged, and held. After a while of that, I still couldn’t sleep, so I got up to see if I could tire myself out playing Candy Crush and Tetris. I moved candies and puzzle pieces and sat with how crappy I felt. And I didn’t eat. And I let it feel like shit. Eventually, I went to bed, emotionally spent and tired. But I didn’t eat. And I’m still here. And I feel better today.

Originally from the blog aquietweek.com

That’s the point. The negative feelings I’m always so afraid of – the ones I don’t want to “burden” anyone with, the ones I don’t want to allow to turn me into a “negative person” – didn’t take me down. I allowed myself to feel them, I talked them through, and they passed. And I’m still here. I didn’t need to numb them, or shove them aside, or drown them in bowls of cereal. Even that moment earlier, when I was bored and restless, the moment I named my boredom and restlessness out loud, I realized what a dumb reason that was to eat. What’s more, I realized that there were so many other things I could be doing that would benefit me and not involve food at all, and I thought it insane that I would ever think to forgo that just to eat something.

It’s not always going to be this easy. I know this is something with which I’m always going to struggle. But I do know that, as I’ve spoken to other people who’ve dealt with food issues (or other addictions), it will get easier. It’s like anything else – the more you do it, the better you get at it. I need to remember that my negative feelings aren’t something I can ignore. They’re a signal from my subconscious that there’s something that I need to address, and I need to remember that when I do face them – when I speak them aloud or otherwise share them either with another person, or with God in quiet – they’re never as scary as I think they’re going to be. I always come through on the other side, and there’s always something to be done about them. Nothing is completely hopeless – even if it feels like it might be in the moment.

The key to getting to that is to Pause. To make room for quiet. When I have the urge to put something in my mouth, to remember that I can, but only after I’ve thought about it first. It’s not about Not Eating. It’s not about deprivation. It’s about de-emphasizing food’s place in my life. If I’m genuinely hungry, if it’s been a couple of hours since I’ve last eaten something and it makes sense for me to be hungry, then of course, I should eat (and take the time to enjoy it and not rush through it). But nine times out of ten, my desire to eat is for every other reason but that, and when I take the time to stop and think, the reasons becomes apparent. And that Pause a gift I’m giving myself. It’s me taking care of myself in the most important way.

It’s me saying Teresa, your feelings are important. You deserve to be heard. You deserve to be happy, and you won’t be until you deal with this. I will help you deal with it, and you will be OK. 

Ice cream doesn’t say that. :)

The Art of Asking, Making Decisions, and Being Thankful

Published November 24, 2014 by Teresa

I had the pleasure of attending Amanda Palmer’s event for her new book, The Art of Asking, at the First Unitarian Church in Los Angeles this weekend. I’ve been looking forward to the book, which is based on her awesome TED talk, for a long time, because she espouses a view that I firmly believe in – that asking (for help, for support, for guidance, for what we want and need) isn’t audacious because it’s shameful or selfish, nor is it a sign that you are incompetent, because you can’t do things on your own; and that giving to one who asks doesn’t mean you’re being taken advantage of simply because you had the audacity to give. I was looking forward to reading this book about how Palmer’s history of asking has propelled her forward – mostly because asking has propelled me forward.

I’ve asked for job opportunities, for financial assistance, for guidance, for connections. And I believe I’ve evened out the scales by providing help in return, by paying it forward, by offering writing that people seem to find valuable for whatever reason. People seem to marvel at how easily I ask, and receive. I think it’s because 1) I never expect a “yes.” “No” is always an acceptable answer; and 2) I give freely when I’m asked for things, be they time, money, expertise, or anything else. If I have it, and can give it, it’s yours. Trades are even so long as both sides are getting something they value. The arrangement doesn’t have to make sense to any outside party.

But the event itself was about more than just the topic of asking. It was a mixture of Palmer reading excerpts from the book, playing some songs, and having an on-stage conversation with legendary music writer, Bob Lefsetz, and her “book doula,” Jamy Ian Swiss. Some highlights:

1) Palmer sang “The Bed Song” in complete darkness: I sat snuggled next to The Boy as we Had a Moment, and I realized that this song is the complete opposite of our relationship. And I’m so grateful for that. :) (Fun fact: Amanda Palmer’s music is one of the first things we bonded over when we got together, and this was the first Palmer event we’ve attended together.)

2) Massage therapist Courtney, from Seattle: in The Art of Asking, Palmer tells a story about dealing with internet hate, and how she was feeling particularly shitty about it on her birthday as she was being pilloried over the “She’s Not Paying Musicians” kerfuffle. She and her husband were in Seattle, and he booked her a massage to make her feel better. As it turns out, the massage therapist, Courtney, had written some scathing, deeply angry things about Palmer on the internet, and wasn’t going to take the appointment with Palmer at first. But she did, and she told Palmer before the massage that she wanted to be completely honest about having written things about her, and not being her biggest fan, etc, etc, giving her an out if she wanted one. But Palmer stayed, Courtney gave her a full-body massage in silence, and it was apparently a hugely healing experience for both of them. Well, Courtney was in attendance at the L.A. event, and it was cool to hear her and Palmer talk about what fuels internet anger and what can lessen it. Courtney, a singer-songwriter herself, sang a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Hey You,” which both sounded amazing and was hugely appropriate. It was a really heartwarming and inspiring moment. People can change. Wounds can heal. Relationships can be formed despite a tumultuous beginning.

3) The part about Henry David Thoreau: my favorite excerpt – the one that made me really glad I bought The Art of Asking – was the part where she humorously talks about Thoreau and the experiences that lead to his famous work, Walden, which is entirely about living living simply and independently apart from society to gain perspective on it. People hold it up as an ode to self-sufficiency while ignoring the fact that the cabin he was staying in was on a friend’s land, and that his mother and sister brought him food (including doughnuts!) every day. We wouldn’t have a book like Walden if an artist didn’t get support from a tight-knit community of people believing in him and helping him live day-to-day so that he could produce his great work.

A sweet moment I captured between Palmer and a young fan who brought her a piece of art she made.

A sweet moment I captured between Palmer and a young fan who brought her a piece of art she made.

So, what does all this have to do with me? 

The entire evening of conversation about art, asking, pursuing passions, the business of entertainment, and the place where hard work and creativity meet got all the wheels turning in my head about what I want to focus on and what I want my career/writing/life to look like in the coming year. You may have noticed that my output has been low lately. I haven’t posted much this month here at the blog, or over at Beacon. Writing-wise, I’ve been in a cocoon trying to nurture the stories I’m creating and laying low on the internet. I’ve been working on the production side on Incredible Girl. I’ve been meeting weekly w/my writing partner, Adam, to work on our hour-long pilots. I’ve met w/my writing mentor and am working on developing a project with her, and I’ve met yet another, kind writer who’s agreed to show Adam and me the ropes to the best of his ability.

What I want and need most is the freedom to pursue the projects that are most meaningful to me. I’ve been a pop culture critic for a long time, writing about all things geeky, interviewing geeky creators and actors, analyzing television and film from a feminist perspective or through the prism of race. It’s work that’s important, and that I enjoy doing. But my ultimate goal is to create stories. To write things that will eventually be criticized by other pop culture critics. To make things up for a living. :) I’ve built a name and a career on my non-fiction, and since that’s where a bulk of my money has come from, it’s what I’ve focused on. Because hey, writers gotta eat.

What I’ve been wrestling with as we approach the end of the year is starting to make decisions based on the path I want to be on, rather than the path I have to be on. I’ve built a wonderful resume writing for some amazing outlets, but I want to start being paid for the stories I create, and there’s no way for me to do that if my writing time continues to be taken up with hustling for non-fiction gigs. I want to expend my hustle energy wisely! Of course, I’ll always want to talk about representation in media, or gender equality, or activism, and it’s likely that I always will somehow, but I don’t want, nor did I ever intend for that, to be my job.

Also, there’s the matter of needing to make more money, period, than freelance writing is paying me at the moment. However, I don’t want to take a full-time job unless it’s on the path I want to be on. I’ve spent too many years working jobs that go nowhere I want to go, running in a hamster wheel in the name of practicality.

What’s funny is that, even having flown across the country to Follow My Dreams, my decisions have been based more in fear and practicality than they have been in moving forward in the career I want. And yes, I’ve built up a quality resume as a writer. Now, I want that resume to reflect more of the writing I love.

Basically, if I’m gonna have a 9-5, it’s gonna be in the industry I want. And if I’m gonna be making freelancer money, it’s damn well going to be writing stuff I love, because the stress of this kind of life is just not worth it any other way. 

I have three major goals for next year:

  1. A full-time job anywhere in the television industry (office work in any department, PA, assistant, agency – doesn’t matter. As long as it’s in the television neck of the woods).
  2. A Patreon page, so that I can earn financial support for the projects and stories I want to be creating, rather than churning out writing that has outlived its usefulness to me.
  3. Adam and me getting to know L.A. (and the television industry specifically) as a Writing Team.

All of the decisions I make from now on to be in the service of these goals. :)

Lastly, since Thanksgiving is coming up, I want to say how grateful I am to all of you reading this. To those of you who’ve already supported my writing up until this point. To those of you who’ve reached out to me at various times to tell me that, for some reason or other, something I’ve written has struck a chord with you. To those of you who’ve subscribed to me at Beacon, purchased my chapbook, bought an anthology because I was in it, written a kind blog comment, or shown your support in any way over the past few years.

I write, because I hope that, by revealing the ideas and feelings rattling around inside me, you will recognize yourself and feel less alone. I hope that my work allows communities that don’t know each other well to get to know each other and communicate better. Your support makes me feel like my work is doing what it’s supposed to do, makes me feel like my work has value – and that is amazing. Thank you so much, and I hope that I can continue to contribute to your lives in a valuable way.

More to come… :)

CHICKS DIG GAMING IS OUT TODAY!

Published November 11, 2014 by Teresa
Chicks Dig Gaming cover illustration by the squee-worthy Katy Shuttleworth.

Chicks Dig Gaming cover illustration by the squee-worthy Katy Shuttleworth.

I know, I know, I haven’t been blogging lately. Lots going on. But I had to break my involuntary radio silence to remind you that CHICKS DIG GAMING (in which I have an essay titled Who in the Hell is Carmen Sandiego?) is out TODAY from Mad Norwegian Press!

These are the same folks that brought you the Hugo-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords, the Hugo-nominated Chicks Unravel Time, Chicks Dig Comics, and Whedonistas! Chicks Dig Gaming is an amazing, diverse collection of essays about all things gaming (video, tabletop, and everything in between) by a wonderful assortment of female writers including Catherynne M. Valente, Seanan McGuire, G. Willow Wilson, and Racheline Maltese, as well as exclusive interviews with Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens and Dragonlance writer Margaret Weis.

Oh, and an essay by me. It is insane that I’m in this company. :)

If you’d like a sneak peek of my essay, check out this video of me reading from it at a DTLAB reading at Traxx at Union Station!

To read the rest of my essay, and to check out the work of all the other talented women in this collection, grab yourself a copy of Chicks Dig Gaming! Hey, it’s almost Thanksgiving, which means the winter holidays will soon be upon us…know any gamers in need of a gift? ;)

 

NEW AT BEACON: “That Person is Racist” Vs. “That Costume is Racist”

Published November 3, 2014 by Teresa

For those of you who missed it on Halloween, here’s my latest piece at Beacon! It’s about planning costume choices based on your interests AND ensuring racial and gender equality. It IS possible for White people to dress as characters or celebrities of color – but it has to be done in a very specific way. I talk about this, and other things in the piece.

EXCERPT:

As I said, racism is about a power dynamic. One group has to be superiorand another group has to be inferior. In the case of costumes, White people have the power, because there are more White characters to choose from. And that’s the case, because minorities don’t have as much representation in pop culture as they should. There are more White celebrities to choose from. And that’s the case, because it is more likely that a White person will have the advantages that will allow them to make the choices that will lead to them being a celebrity (they’re in demand to play all those White characters, for starters). 

That freedom and variety of choice is the power in this situation. And so, when people talk about costume choices as racist, it’s not to say that the White people who do this are horrible or hate minorities. It’s to say that the act of choosing to appropriate cultural garb as a “costume,” or to paint your skin black or brown, or to apply make-up to your eyes to make yourself look Japanese or Chinese perpetuates a racist society by further appropriating things that have already had a difficult time surviving to begin with. It’s racist because, even with all the freedom of choice in the world, you’re choosing to take from someone else, rather than making use of the myriad options you already have.

To read the entire post, or to comment on it, CLICK HERE!

Whether you subscribe to me at Beacon or not, you can now read all of my posts for FREE for seven days. So feel free to not only read and comment, but pass the link around! Hopefully, you’ll like what you read enough (both my work and the work of some of the other talented writers at Beacon) to subscribe to me for as little as $5/month and enjoy all that Beacon has to offer!

And if you like what you read, don’t forget to click the “Worth It” button at the bottom of the article! :) Thanks!

Nanowrimo-A-Thon! (or, Help Me Help Incredible Girl!)

Published October 31, 2014 by Teresa
A scene from the upcoming Incredible Girl teaser!

A scene from the upcoming Incredible Girl teaser!

There are two pretty big needs I have at the moment. Well, two pretty big needs OTHER than more income.

The first big need is to raise money to be able to shoot the Incredible Girl pilot. The team and I have several ideas in motion at the moment in order to accomplish this goal – but every little bit helps, right?

The other big need is my need to write prose fiction.

I’m sure many of you didn’t even know that I did that, and those of you that did have probably forgotten that I did that – or assumed I’d stopped. I haven’t. There’s one story in particular that, if I write no other prose fiction in my life, needs to be out of me and in the shape of a novel.

Given that I have these two big needs, I thought of a way to kill two birds with one stone.

Introducing THE NANOWRIMO-A-THON!

For those of you who don’t know, Nanowrimo is short for National Novel Writing Month, which happens to be the month of November. It’s a non-profit that promotes the written word, and the point of Nanowrimo itself is to take the month of November to finish a 50,000 word (about 200 pgs) novel. You might have missed the key word, so I’ll repeat it: finish. The point is to just keep writing without stopping to second-guess yourself. At the end, you might have written a load of crap…but you would’ve finished something, which is the thing that most people have trouble with. You can edit later. You can realize what’s crap later. The point is simply to finish.

I’ve never completed Nanowrimo, which has always disappointed me. You know what I have completed? 100 pages of a great webseries. :) And now, I’d like to use one endeavor to help the other.

He’s how it will work:

** 50,000 is about 200 pages. If I can get 50 people to donate $0.50/page ($100 if I finish!), I can potentially raise $5,000 for Incredible Girl (BTW – we’ve budgeted the pilot at about $15,000!) so….

THE GOAL: $5,000

** Email theteresajusinoexperience[at]gmail[dot]com with the amount you’d like to pledge per finished page. Put “NANOWRIMOTHON” in the subject.
** Starting TOMORROW, I write furiously for 30 days. Donors can check my progress at my Nanowrimo page. I’ll also be keeping you updated here!
** Hopefully, throughout November, you will SHARE THE LINK TO THIS BLOG POST to tell others about this endeavor!

** I will alert donors of their final amount, and they can go to THE NEW INCREDIBLE GIRL WEBSITE to make an online donation to Incredible Girl in that amount through our fiscal sponsor, FROM THE HEART PRODUCTIONS via PayPal. These donations are tax-deductible! (If you prefer to write a check, we can make arrangements for that via email)

That’s it! Very simple, and it will help get two original works of art out there – work that I hope will help us look at issues of gender and sexuality in a new light.

So? Wanna help me write a novel and produce a webseries? ;)

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