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Three Minutes That May Help

May 9, 2022

On April 25, I was given the Stewart Holbrook Award by Literary Arts at the Oregon Book Awards for Literary Legacy. It was for contributing to writers. I gave a three-minute speech that night. Since then several have asked about it, so I am printing it here in case you missed it and in case it might be helpful to you. Write on!

If I read this speech, it will take three minutes and two seconds.  If I wing it, it’ll take twenty-three minutes. 

One of the purposes of my life is to help writers write more while suffering less. 

Over the years I’ve worked with thousands of writers and I have found the definitive answer to the question “what is a writer?”  Some of you think, as I used to, that a writer is one who writes.  No.  A writer is anyone who feels bad about not writing.  True.  Non writers? Feeling bad about not writing never crosses their minds.

I have three minutes, so I’m going to tell you three things that might help.

First, there are two words that writers beat themselves up with.  Discipline and procrastination.  You have probably been told that you have to have discipline and write every day and that’s not true.  We should let that go.  Discipline.  It even sounds like punishment.  So give it up.  The other word we just need to rewrite.  I suggest we replace the word Procrastination with Gestation.    When you have an idea growing inside you, nourish it, do research, make notes, play music, and be patient.  Don’t try to drag it out of you by sheer force of will before it’s ready.  When you wake up one morning and sentences are forming, write them down.  It’s ready to be born.  Don’t think.  Just write it down.  Write it down.

My favorite poet William Stafford said, “All an idea has to do to be worthy of my attention is occur to me.”  Someone asked, “And when you can’t write?”   He said, “I lower my standards.”

Number two:  You actually have a second you living inside you.  A childlike, brilliant, magical, creative self.  And it’s your job to protect her.  Defend her against mean bullies in your head.  One of my students named Don Payne, wrote the Thor movies and The Simpsons other things and died young.  When he knew he was going to do that, he called the people who had made a difference in his life to thank them.  I was one of them.  What he thanked me for was teaching him that the critical voice in his head was not real.  And he didn’t have to listen to it.  And to be sure to always tell my students this.  So I’m telling you.  The voice that tears you down and trips you up is not real.  Tell it to shut up and get on with your work.

And thirdly,  James Goldman wrote in The Lion in Winter, as Henry II to his young mistress, pulling loose one lock of her hair, “Let’s have one strand askew.  Nothing in life has any business being perfect.”  Most writers are perfectionists. This is like chasing a dark shadow.  It is not real.  There is no such thing as perfection.  You need to stop pursuing it so hard that it makes you dissatisfied with your own creations.  The truth is your best is good enough.  Take this personally. I’m talking to you, the person sitting in your chair right now.  Your best is good enough.

So:

You’re not procrastinating, you’re pregnant.

Don’t think.  Write it down.

Your best is good enough.

News for May 2022

May 7, 2022

May is here and even in Oregon the sun is shining. 

A lot of great things are happening. 

One of my Oregon writing students Matt Tolbert had his screenplay, The Starter Marriage, produced as a feature film. 

My first volume of plays has just been published (see below) and is on Amazon now. 

I was honored with the Stewart Holbrook Literary Legacy Award at the Oregon Book Awards last week. 

And one of my plays, The Ghost of David Belasco is on the Jan/Feb 2023 schedule for Lakewood Theatre’s new season. 

My winter group of independent study writers is wrapping up.  If you need support, you can work with me independently on your project, screenplay, play or book.  You have me available to you for 100 days for $1,000.  Let me know if you’d like my support.  (email: cynwhitcomb(at)gmail(dot)com )

I hope to teach my classes in the fall beginning in September, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. 

In the meantime, I’m here if you need me. 

Big hugs all around,

Cynthia

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09XYWJ78V/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Two Good Things!

February 4, 2022

Hi friends, My new play is now on youtube.  You can find it by typing in White Rabbit Lakewood Theatre on YouTube. And you’ll see a picture of me and a film projector.  It’s around 80 minutes.  Just a reading but in a theatre, not zoomed and with wonderful actors.  It’s a comedy and a love story set at UCLA Film School in 1971.  And the music is good.  Obviously. I hope you like it.

Second good thing, one of my Portland screenwriting students sold the script he wrote in class and it’s been made into a feature film. Matt Tolbert is the writer and the movie is “The Starter Marriage.” A romantic comedy. This is encouraging to all of us. Keep me posted on your successes. Bragging on you guys is my favorite thing.

Mentorship

January 13, 2022

Spring Classes Canceled Independent Study Opportunity OPEN! 10 Spots Available

If you are a writer and you’d love to get 1-1 support with your screenwriting project, I am here for you. You would have me as your mentor  for 100 days (via email and scheduled phone calls) to read drafts, revisions, and brainstorm your ideas for $1000. If you’d like to chat and see if it’s a good fit, email cynwhitcomb@gmail.com

Fall Class

September 15, 2021

The heat has broken. Rain is on the way and the maples are turning red. The last opportunity to take my screenwriting class this year is coming right up. Class begins this Saturday September 18. It will be eight Saturday mornings from 9 am to noon PST by zoom. Let me know if you’d like to join. I’ll be covering everything from how to choose an idea to how to break into the business. Class fee is $595 and includes my reading your screenplay with detailed notes. Keep writing, people. Here if you need me. Cynthia

Fall Writing Classes

August 13, 2021

Hello Writers,

I’m sending you this announcement because either you have taken a writing or pitching class with me or you’ve at some point expressed interest in screenwriting. (or in my Writing the Waves Cruise.)

This September I am offering my Screenwriting Class that I have taught for many years, seven of them in the Masters Program of the UCLA Film School. The class covers everything from idea to finished script and beyond. We do scene cards, story boards, three act structure, format, character development, dialogue, exposition, relationships, and I even share my best insights for breaking into the business.

Many of my former students have gone on to sell screenplays. (The Mask, Thor, Face/Off, Child’s Play and many others.)

Click HERE to learn more and register for the Screenwriting Class>>>

The class will be held by Zoom on eight Saturdays from 9am to Noon Pacific time, beginning September 18th (skipping Oct. 23) through November 13th. The Class fee is $595 and includes a reading of your script by me with detailed notes. Class is limited to 23 writers, so if you are interested, click here to register!

For those of you who have already taken my Saturday class, you are eligible for my Master Class in which we read one script out loud each week written by one of you and acted by the class. Then I do notes and we workshop it in real time. This class is limited to 10 participants. It also costs $595 and will meet every Monday night from 7-10pm Pacific time on Zoom. Sept. 13th – Nov. 22, skipping Oct. 25.
Reply to this email to snag a spot in the Master Class!

Due to Covid, I won’t be doing the Writing the Waves Cruise in 2022, but plan to do one in 2023 if the world cooperates. 

I hope you all are writing your hearts out in this time of isolated life. 
Keep your spirits up. 

Love, Cynthia

P.S. If you run out of entertainment, I have a play reading on YouTube. Acting Counsel by C.S. Whitcomb. Zoomed starring Tobias Andersen and Tom Walton. Also a film on Disney+, Mark Twain and Me starring Jason Robards. It won the Emmy for best Children’s Program of its year. Enjoy.

Spring 2021

April 14, 2021

Thank God spring is finally here. Our house (everyone over 11) is fully vaccinated. No more ice storms, blackouts and many months before the next fire season.

A happy bit of news. One of my favorite projects has never been released on dvd. And we no longer have a VCR hooked up. So this film had essentially died for me. This was sad because Mark Twain and Me starring the late, great Jason Robards is a wonderful thing. It won the Emmy for best children’s program. And it is now streaming on Disney +

This makes me happy. And it means my kids and grandkids can finally see it, or see it again. Nick and Molly were around 3 and 6 when it first came out.

If you subscribe to Disney+ I hope you’ll watch it. You never know when these things might disappear again.

If any of you want to use this time (say April 20 to May 10) as a writing intensive, I will play the “if we were on the Writing the Waves cruise, what would we be writing?” game with you. I did this last year and got a new play drafted that may still be streamable on youtube. Acting Counsel by CS Whitcomb. Just a zoom reading but with wonderful actors.

So my intention is to write a new draft of a new play this spring.

I am already looking at a wonderful cruise itinerary for 2022. It includes Nova Scotia, three Irish ports, Liverpool and the north of France. When I get rates etc locked in (and they are so good) I will post them here.

Hang in, people. The light is returning and the warmth and the bad year is fading into the shadows of the past.

Soon I will be able to literally hug you guys. In the meantime virtual hugs to all.

Cynthia

A New Play

January 17, 2020

Hello friends,

Happy 2020.  I have a new play, a farce called “The Ghost of David Belasco” that will have a reading at Lakewood Theatre in Lake Oswego as part of the city-wide Fertile Ground New Play Festival.  It will be Sat. Feb 8 at 2 pm.  Here is the pitch:

The Ghost of David Belasco is a farce in the vein of Noises Off and The Play That Goes Wrong. Set in a haunted theatre in 1937, a group of interested characters hire a renowned Russian medium to try and lay the ghost’s angry spirit to rest so the theatre can be safely reopened. They successfully make contact with the long dead theatre impresario Daid Belasco, but from there things go hilariously astray, including freak lightning storms, murder and mayhem. Will this historic theatre be exorcised? Will the actual audience escape with their lives and sanity intact? We shall see.

Come if you can.  I promise you’ll have fun.

 

 

 

What’s Happening Fall 2019

October 21, 2019

Hi all,

A few things for you to consider as you move forward with your writing career.

Today my spring classes have opened.  The prices will go up to $595 per class in 2020, but if you register in 2019 you will be able to take them at the 1991 rates.  (My daughter Molly insists that 28 years is long enough to keep fees the same.) As always, the Saturday class includes a read of your screenplay with detailed notes.  Here are the dates.

Saturdays from 9 am to 3 pm.  Feb. 22, 29, March 7, 14, 21, 28 at my home in north Wilsonville, Oregon.

The Master Class is for writers who have already taken the Saturday class.  That one meets ten Monday nights from 7 to 10 pm.  Every week we read an entire screenplay by one of you and workshop it in the room.  (We play all the parts.) Same fee.

My Writing the Waves cruise is filling up but two cabin spaces are still available.  (See the side bar.) . We have a fabulous new ship, a wonderful, smart and fun group of people and some colorful ports in the Canary Islands, Spain, France and Italy.  If you’ve thought that someday you would treat yourself to something like this, why not be wild and impulsive and jump in?

I am doing more book editing this fall.  If you need a book editor, I am available.  I have edited more than 30 books including novels, memoir and non-fiction.  I edit from the level of typos, punctuation and grammar up through structure, character development and theme.  My specialty is getting the emotional response you want from your readers.  Whether delight, suspense, grief, fear or inspiration.  Or to intensify reader’s interest in the subject of your non-fiction book.  My rate is $5/page standard book format.  I’m here if you need me.

Do good work.

Love and hugs,

Cynthia

 

 

 

What’s Happening Summer 2019

July 19, 2019

My one day Pitching Class is coming up Saturday July 27 at my house.

9:00 to 3:00 in north Wilsonville, Oregon.  Let me know if you want one of the last remaining spots.  You will have a chance to workshop your pitch with me.  Fee $50.

email me at cynwhitcomb@gmail.com if you want to be in this one.

Fall Screenwriting Class begins Sept. 21 through October, six Saturdays 9 to 3 pm.

Class fee $495 includes a read of your screenplay by me.  (This class fee has been the same for 25 years, and will be going up in 2020, so for a bargain, jump in this fall.)  This is the class I taught at UCLA Film School for years.  Everything you need to know from choosing an idea to breaking in.

For those of you who have already taken this course, a Master Class is forming for 10 Monday nights from 7 to 10 pm, beginning on Sept. 16.  Class fee $495.   We will read and workshop a screenplay from one student each week.  Let me know soon if you want to be in this one.  Limited to 10.  Also chez moi.

And of course the 2020 Writing the Waves Trans-Atlantic cruise is now forming.  See the side bar for more info.

I will be teaching a class on Breaking In at the Willamette Writers Conference on Sat Aug. 3 . I look forward to seeing some of you there.

Keep writing and keep in touch.