Rosanne’s Reasons Why Writing is Easier than Parenting

Rosanne’s Reasons Why Writing is Easier than Parenting

I’ve noticed several correlations between writing and parenting since I started doing both simultaneously about 12 years ago. In fact, there are several correlations between writing and life as well. This comes to mind as I contemplate my second guest blog entry for Dawn because I’m faced with the toughest of all those correlations – choice. I can write about whatever I want, but I only have this one space and time to present that piece of writing, therefore how do I choose which story, which topic to tell before I go? That’s exactly the conflict created in parenting. I don’t like football so when my son asks to play on this year’s team do I choose to say ‘No’ simply because that’s my choice for his life and as his parent I get to make that choice? Or do I choose to say ‘Yes’ precisely because it is his life and therefore his choice? Whichever choice I make will have a definite effect on the story of his life. He’s either a jock or a geek, potentially a buff dude or a slightly pudgy brainiac, possibly a popular-with-the-girls guy who gets his girlfriend pregnant or a mama’s boy. Talk about too many choices!

With characters on paper the only real consequence to a writer’s choice is how marketable the characters with those chosen personalities will be to producers and potential audiences. With my son, the consequence is his life, his happiness, his future. So what’s a mother to do?

Break time?

When I talk to folks who profess a desire to be writers, many times they’ll tell me the plethora of stories they intend to write, as soon as they can choose which one to do first. Consequently, those types of folks rarely write anything – why – because they can’t even make that first, critical choice. How would they ever make the myriad choices required to finish the script and then choose what types of studios to market the piece? Writing then is merely choosing – parenting is choosing well with little chance for rewriting and/or re-choosing. See, here’s the deal. Last year, in 6th grade, all the boys but two were on the B Boys Football team. Guess who one of the two was? Yep, cause I have had a definite dislike of most sports, but mostly football (and it’s not just based on being turned down for the Sadie Hawkins Dance by a guy on the football team – Augie Markuzic was his name, see how choosing to ask him effects me 30 years later?).

So I steered my son to baseball – the gentleman’s sport (or at least it used to be). I even heard baseball described by one of the coaches as ‘the chess of organized sports’. You want me to choose your sport for my son, compare it to chess — or anything else I imagine they play in the hallowed halls of Harvard. Heck, I even chose to let him have a go at hockey for a couple of seasons because that’s the sport Ryan O’Neal played when he played Harvard student Oliver Barrett IV in Love Story all those rerun years ago. But football? Please. Interestingly enough, though I’ve chosen geeky pursuits for my son (chess club, robot club, Lego First League) and he has enjoyed them, he hasn’t become the class geek. Some part of him inherently has jock inside and that part of him keeps wanting to join the other jocks on that football field. Funny thing is, I like the dad who volunteers to coach and I like the idea of daily exercise and practice and lots of the things that go with sports like discipline and strategy. But I don’t like the aggression, the possible injury, the potential for arrogance, …

In my generation we grew up with the ad line “Choosy Mothers Choose Jiff”. What keeps running through my mind right now is, do Choosy Mothers Choose Football? Or do they hold their ground and say, “We’re just not a football family.” That’s a fair choice. I read where astronaut Shannon Lucid took each of her three kids up in an airplane within a week of their births because they were a flying family and she wanted to let her kids know, “You joined our family, we didn’t join your family.” I’m good with that. Then again, parenting forces me to face the (very frightening fact) that at some point I stop being the one who makes the choices in the story of his life. Is this the time?

If dying is easy and comedy is hard, parenting is (sometimes) impossible!

***

Read more parenting thoughts and advice in Three-Ring Circus: How Real Couples Balance Marriage, Work, and Family 

Book: Rosanne’s Reasons Why “Eat, Pray, Love” Ought to be in the Parenting Section

I’m going to begin by honestly confessing that I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert this week on the excuse that I needed to in order to discuss adaptations in my writing classes. Then I have to confess that I loved it. Sure, the author wallows a bit much in her lousy divorce during the Italy section rather than giving me more Italy, and yes the ending is a bit fairytale princess-y for me. But it also stayed true to a theme I first read in the 1970s in a piece of teen girl lit that had been published back in 1946 – Going on Sixteen by Betty Cavanna. The theme of both pieces is: You have to be yourself before anyone else can love you. ‘Cause if you perfect the art of being someone else and then someone falls in love with that fabrication, it will end badly for both of you.

That’s a long lead in to this week’s guest posting for Dawn while she’s enjoying a couple weeks on what I like to teasingly call her ‘Family Estate’ on Martha’s Vineyard. I’m pleased to be asked to fill in for her as we so enjoy working together (though, of course, this doesn’t involve us even being in the same room, which is the only bummer).

So what does Eat, Pray, Love have to do with parenting? That question takes us right back to my love of the theme. It’s my sincere belief that this may be the greatest lesson we teach our children in their time with us – to love who they are and not try to be anything else, certainly not merely to attract someone to them. Funny how humans need to keep being told the same thing over and over again before it finally sinks in. But it is not funny to realize how many adults I’ve met over my career who were never taught this. And ya’ know what that means? Massive amounts of insecure grown-ups leading lives of not-so-quiet desperation as our trouble-making, diva-bad-behaving bosses, neighbors and friends. Who wants to raise their kid to be those people? And yet, somehow, so many people do. I imagine it’s not the kind of thing we often realize, especially if we had no self-esteem given to us in our own childhoods. But that means we have to work on our own security issues so we don’t pass that on down to our kids, which in the end is true to our entire career as parents – it’s our job not to continue negative cycles.

What is does NOT mean is that we compliment them every time they do something as basic as taking dishes to the kitchen or emptying the dishwasher. Or that we give them participation ribbons for merely being on a team or taking part in some practically mandatory event such as a school fundraising Jogathon. That kind of behavior creates the silliness we read about now where the current generation of overly-complimented kids need to be thanked for showing up to work on time in the ‘real’ world. I fervently doubt it teaches them they are special as it is clear everyone is getting the same participation ribbon, trophy or medal.

Face it folks, we’ve raised a particularly smart bunch of kids in the last generation or so and they catch on quick when an award means nothing. My favorite story on that count comes from the First Grade Science Fair my son’s school ran to give them a taste for choosing a topic, doing age-appropriate research and filling out those 3-part foam core boards. Our school even had judges come in and interview all the children about their projects. Because one of the parents before the event vociferously insisted that awarding place ribbons (first, second and third) would cause crying among the children who didn’t win, the whole class full of parents decided not to award any place ribbons. When the judges were through and the students all streamed back into the auditorium I watched my son grab the ribbon off his project and shout to the kid next to him, “I won a ribbon!” But then that other kid said, “So did I.” They proceeded to compare their ribbons and found that they were identical participation ribbons. Then they proceeded to toss the ribbons on the ground and go back to checking out each other’s displays, wondering who received the ‘real’ ribbons.

I take that lesson into the orientation classes I teach at local colleges. In the last class it is recommended that we get the students in groups and have them come up with award titles for the kids in the other groups so that everyone is acknowledged for having taken part in the class. You already know how I feel about that philosophy so what do you think I do? I explain that idea to the students, then I tell them the story about the First Grade Science Fair ribbons, and then I hand out large chocolate bars to the top 5 or 7 or 9 kids (no need to round out to an even 10 if an even 10 didn’t stand out in my mind) with silly awards written on the wrapper such as “Contributing in Class King” or “Most Attentive” or “Best Reader”. Heck, I even do “Most Likely to Succeed in College” ‘cause it’s such an American icon.

Anyway, I highly recommend Eat, Pray, Love (and Going on Sixteen) and any other reading that reminds us of this all important lesson that we must love ourselves as we are.

AND if any of you are writers out there and need my adaptation-studying excuse for reading Gilbert’s book, then I also recommend the Written By Magazine article about adapting Eat, Pray, Love into a movie which you can read online. See Page 27 for the article.

Video: Russell T Davies Anti-War Themes from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the longer presentation, “Doctor Who Regenerated”

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education is back by popular demand with a new lecture on Doctor Who and Television!

This time, the Doctor will focus on a deeper look of the themes of the writers behind “Doctor Who.” Above and beyond race and gender, they include social justice and the power of childhood.

View the entire presentation

Video: Russell T Davies Anti-War Themes from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

Transcript:

I think the deepest theme you find in Russell T Davies work is his anti-war theme. I think that if you look at the first episodes, especially with Eccleston, and as they are later repeated with David Tennant, and we are going to see a little clip from each of those, you find an amazingly deep anti-war strain, because of what war does to human beings — what it turns them into. And that is something that an artist, a writer, dislikes. Because an artist wants to see someone succeed through their creativity and through bringing something important and positive into the world. One of the things I said last time was that I do believe the reason I do believe Who succeeds now at such a level is because its a positive view of our future. As much as y’all like to see zombies eating people and getting shot in barns and all that sort of thing, those are very depressing looks at our potential future. In Doctor Who, the Doctor generally wins and his goal is generally to save humanity. I like that. I would rather live in a future where I get saved than where I turn into a zombie.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Video: Moffat’s Fear of Everyday Things from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the longer presentation, “Doctor Who Regenerated”

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education is back by popular demand with a new lecture on Doctor Who and Television!

This time, the Doctor will focus on a deeper look of the themes of the writers behind “Doctor Who.” Above and beyond race and gender, they include social justice and the power of childhood.

View the entire presentation

Moffat's Fear of Everyday Things from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

Transcript:

What’s interesting to me is Steven we most know from Blink, which is an episode he created won his first BAFTA for and it’s quite the scary thing. What Steven likes to do, if you think about recurring themes, is Steven likes to find the fearful things in everyday life. He doesn’t want to invent cheesy fish monsters. He’s not worried about Godzilla — who I hope isn’t so bad in this current creation, but we can’t be sure. We can’t say anything until we see it. He wants to invent fear in everyday life. So, this was a perfect example of it, because, of course, what’s the rule of Blink? Don’t Blink. Blink and you die! Oh my god, how do you not blink. so, that’s right away makes you crazy. That tension and that really makes you scared of something so normal. It’s fascinating. So, Steven is quite and interesting writer when it comes to that.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Video: How to study television writers from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the longer presentation, “Doctor Who Regenerated”

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education is back by popular demand with a new lecture on Doctor Who and Television!

This time, the Doctor will focus on a deeper look of the themes of the writers behind “Doctor Who.” Above and beyond race and gender, they include social justice and the power of childhood.

View the entire presentation

How to study television writers from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

 

Transcript:

To begin with Russell T Davies, right? When people talk about television I get them to try and look at what were your favorite episodes of a program. Now, go to IMDB and find out who wrote those episodes and now look at the rest of their career. What else have they written that you might enjoy, because clearly they speak to you. Their voice speaks to you. So, the idea of this particular talk is to look at two major writer, one who I just said is Russell T Davies and the other, who you all know, is Steven Moffat. We’re going to talk about a couple of themes that recur in their work and I think make the show more interesting in this “reboot”, that came to us in 2005. Both of them have different strengths, which I find interesting as a person who studies television writing and there are reasons why we like and dislike certain things that they do. So, I think that is the fun thing about what’s going on.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Audio: Dog Days of Podcasting 2014 – Dr. Rosanne Welch on Television and Movie Writing – Day 2/30

Careers in New Media LogoDr. Rosanne Welch

A short interview with Dr. Rosanne Welch (my wife) on the most common mistakes made by beginning screenwriters. (20 min)

Listen to this podcast

Previously in the Dog Days of Podcasting 2014:

What is the Dog Days of Podcasting?

“Essentially, it is a challenge to do a podcast for 30 days in a row.

In 2012 Kreg Steppe was looking to give himself a little push in regards to recording his own personal podcast since he wasn’t recording it very often. That turned into a challenge for himself to record a show everyday for 30 days believing that after 30 days it would turn into a habit. Once it was mentioned to Chuck Tomasi he took the challenge too and they decided it would be a great idea to record starting 30 days before Dragon*Con, culminating with the last episode where they would record it together when they saw each other there.”

Video: The Best Book on Writing for Doctor Who from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the longer presentation, “Doctor Who Regenerated”

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education is back by popular demand with a new lecture on Doctor Who and Television!

This time, the Doctor will focus on a deeper look of the themes of the writers behind “Doctor Who.” Above and beyond race and gender, they include social justice and the power of childhood.

View the entire presentation

The Best Book on Writing for Doctor Who from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

Transcript:

One of the things I focus on right up front is this book, which I have a copy of over there. I highly recommend it if you’re a real fan and you’re interested in the writing of television, because, what it is is a journalist, Benjamin Cook, asked Russel T Davies “Could I email you across the course of the season as your gaining ideas for the show? Could I just ask you what you’re thinking about say at Noon on a Friday night?” And Russell T Davies said, “Sure. That will be fine.” And so he talk about the genesis of his ideas. Starting from the idea of “I want to do an episode where water is dangerous” and suddenly we have Waters of Mars. Right? How do you do that? What is that writer’s process? So that’s what this book is all about. They published, literally, their emails to each another as they discussed and debated each episode of the last season. And so I think it is quite a marvelous book to talk about the art of writing. 

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

“Mary slept on a rug at the foot of Miss Dorthea’s bed” from The Promise Chapter 4

“That night, Mary slept on a rug at the foot of Miss Dorthea’s bed. It was Mary’s first time in a hotel and she marveled at how large the building was. It was bigger than the Holmes’ house, even bigger than the barn where Mary and Buddy used to visit the horses. Her mind was so full of new sights she barely slept.

Download a sample and buy The Promise today!

Promise med

Watch a reading of Chapter 1 by co-author, Dawn Comer Jefferson

Watch a school presentation on The Promise and Slavery

Feminism on Doctor Who from “Doctor Who and Culture” with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the presentation “Doctor Who and Culture: with Dr. Rosanne Welch

View the entire presentation

Doctor who feminism

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

Transcript:

The other thing that Russell said that really struck me, as a feminist, was as bad as it is for a gay man or a person of color to watch television, it totally sucks to be chicks. Because chicks on TV are pretty much all about being cute. That’s tough. How do you deal with that? So, when he did Torchwood, he purposely made sure the cop was a female and her husband is the guy who stays home and makes dinner — and worries about whether she’ll get shot at work and come home.

He completely gender switched the situation so that little girls could see a woman saving the world from bad aliens and that was important to him. And I thought that was really interesting because he’s right, right? Even as much as I like The Big Bang Theory, with my little slide there, Amy started out as cool as Sheldon and as weird and now all she wants is to get laid. That is all that character wants. What happened?!? She is like a nuclear physicist. She totally turned into just another girl who wants a boy and without the boy she is not complete. They ruined that character. Right?

So Russell wanted to make sure he created a woman who all the way through is the power source. She’s the one saving the world. So little girls could look up to that. So again, Russell took a step further than Steven took and that shocks me. I wasn’t ready for that.

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Reading Tim Conway’s autobiography made me smile…

Spent the first day of my summer vacation (which didn’t start until all grades everywhere were calculated and posted) in my most favorite way to spend a day – reading an entire book in my garden in a series of sittings (interrupted by tea and lunch and hanging laundry and dinner, etc).    What book you ask?  Something deep and dark like War and Peace or Dr. Zhivago?  Nope.  I opted to open my summer with the autobiography of an old friend, though we’ve never met (though why he never appeared as a guest on Touched by an Angel is a mystery to me).  Tim Conway, aka Ensign Parker on McHale’s Navy; aka Barnacleboy on Spongebob Squarepants aka a dozen crazy characters on The Carol Burnett Show

Why did I choose that to begin my summer reading?  Partly because he was raised in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where my Mom used to take me for ice cream treats during the summer; partly because he graduated from Bowling Green State University (as Doug and I did); and partly because I knew it would be full of fun tidbits about the early days of radio and television both in Cleveland (where he worked with Ernie Anderson before he became Ghoulardi) and in Los Angeles.  Just about as funny as the book Jim Backus (Thurston Howell III) wrote with his wife, Henny, in the 1980s.

Conway’s book is full of funny stories about scrambling to fill time on early radio and television shows and honest discussions of being happy in life even if you’re always the second banana, never the star.  He talks about being raised by his immigrant parents – Dad Daniel from Ireland and Mom Sophia from Romania — and then raising his own 6 kids with their lessons in his mind all the time.  He talks about being bilingual (English and Romanian) and losing that second language as he grew up.  He talks about the joy and honor of meeting and working with the great stars of his childhood movie-viewing including Cary Grant and Ernest Borgnine and his enthusiasm for all the blessings in his life is catchy.

I smiled often until page 70 when I fell on the floor laughing (much as I did while watching all those Carol Burnett shows in elementary school) and pretty much never got back in my chair.  It was too precarious to ponder.  I found myself regaling Doug with several of the stories even as he tried to read something else.  If you’d like to spend some time in happy company I highly recommend What’s so Funny?

See all my favorite book and DVD picks in the WelchWrite Bookstore