Robert McKee Story Seminar Afterthoughts

It’s around 3:30AM. It’s my last night in Montreal. I need to be in a taxi heading to the airport by 11AM.

I had wanted to write blog posts while I was here. I didn’t anticipate how exhausting this writing seminar would be. My mind was racing so much during the four days that I only got four hours of sleep each night. The nearly ten hours of sitting each day nearly did me in as well.

Because he doesn’t allow phones out during the seminar, I had to sneak a photo. This was the best one I got.

The seminar was conducted by a guy named Robert McKee. He wrote a book called Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting which is considered the how-to Bible for screen writers. While I don’t want to be a screen writer, I did want to learn the intricacies of telling a good story. Four days and pages and pages of notes later, I think I, pretty much, get it.

So, now I go home with all of this new knowledge, inspiration, and awareness. I’m scared that once I get back home, I’ll just plop back into my chair, in front of my computer, and nothing will change. I have to fight to ensure that doesn’t happen.

In the midst of being excited, stimulated, focused, and inspired, I found myself not obsessing about food. I also didn’t crave heavy foods. I wanted to eat things that were light so I could keep feeling good. That’s such a contrast to my experience in NYC a few weeks ago.

However, being so energized didn’t keep me from feeling self-conscious about my size. The awareness was always there. I wondered what the cab drivers thought of me. I wondered what the people who sat in the same row as me were thinking of me crammed into the seat. I wondered what the person sitting behind me thought when I would squirm around or lean forward to find a more comfortable position to sit in.

Because I was sitting in the second row, I wondered what Mr. McKee thought of me when he’d come to the side of the stage I was sitting on and look down in my direction.

In my row, most of the time, there was only me and another woman. I was really grateful for the space, but I couldn’t help wondering if people were avoiding the row because of me.

I didn’t really chat with anyone a whole lot. Granted, I was anxious, tired, and really wanted to stay focused. It wasn’t my intention to chat up a bunch of people. However, when I would look around, during the breaks, and see people getting to know each other and bonding (you do that when you spend 10 hours a day together for four days straight), I felt…inadequate.

On the one hand, I think of myself as being totally social inept. On the other hand, I don’t want to do small talk. I want to skip it and get to know people on a deeper level. And then, whatever desire I do have to connect, is blocked by me feeling so uncomfortable with my appearance that I would rather avoid talking to people than feel the discomfort that comes with feeling self-conscious. It’s not just my weight that I feel like crap about. It’s also my crazy hair, my large pores, my Nystagmus, and the four ice pick scars on my face. I just feel so…repulsive.

There was a guy who, for part of the seminar, sat in front of me. We chatted for a bit. At times, I got the sense, he wanted to chat more. Instead, I consciously averted eye contact and took my iPhone out to check e-mail. I feel bad about that.

At the end of the seminar, I saw that same guy standing and talking with Mr. McKee. Looking back, I should have went over and just thanked Mr. McKee. Expressing gratitude is so important to me. But, yet again, I just quickly walked through the lobby so I could leave the theatre, catch a cab, and get back to my hotel room as soon as possible.

I didn’t just learn about story structure at this seminar. I learned things that, I know, have changed me at my core–things about choice, and change, and “characterization” vs. “character”. I will write more about this stuff in the upcoming days.

Ending on a practical note:

The week before I came here, I was drinking a lot of juice and a lot green smoothies. While I’ve been here, I’ve barely eaten anything raw. Today, when I get back, I’m looking forward to my first green smoothie in days.

Exercise wise, I did a fair amount of moving around, but did way more sitting.

Shay, from the ShayTards fame, is doing a weight loss-related group thing in September via his ShayLoss YouTube channel. I’m thinking of taking part.

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Montreal Update Videos

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Preparing for the Montreal Trip

So begins me writing every day and being completely honest about what I’m doing to lose all this weight.

I’m using 750words.com to write these entries. Using this site helps me feel like I can write personable posts. When I write in MS Word, I always feel like I have to write something formal.

There’s a lot going on in my head. Yesterday, I interviewed a woman for the podcast who lost 250lbs in 18 months. She did by dramatically changing up her food intake and working out at the gym two hours a day (cardio for one hour and strength training for the other hour). I could do that. I have the resources. I have the time. Honestly, the only thing missing is the motivation.

In two days, I’m off to Montreal. I’m going for a four-day writing seminar. I have mixed feelings about going. Even though it’s been two weeks since I got back from BlogHer, I feel like I’ve only been home for such a short time and I don’t want to go through the hassle of traveling again. I don’t want to sleep in another bed. I don’t want to have to go to bed early so I have to be up and out by 8AM so I can be at the seminar on time each day.

I hate that my weight overshadows everything. I think about people seeing me. I think about the seating on the plane. I think about whether or not I should take the Metro to the seminar and, if I do, will I be able to fit through the turnstile. I think about the seating in the theatre where the seminar will be held and how I’ll want to get there early each day to get an aisle seat and hope no one sits beside me. It’s not that I take up tons of space. It’s that I dread the idea of infringing upon someone else’s space.

I used to have the hardest time envisioning myself thin because I didn’t have a point of reference. There was a time, in my late teens, when I was at a healthy weight. I don’t have any photos of myself at that time though. I always wished I could be one of those people who knew what their body looked like at an ideal weight and had that solid goal to work toward.

Now, it’s not about that for me. It’s about getting back ease. And I do remember the times when I didn’t have to worry about plane seats, turnstiles, or theatre seats.

The other night, I was showing my mom where the Montreal hotel I’d be staying at via Google Maps. While we were looking around, I showed her the theatre I’ll also be going to and the walking route I would have taken to get there if I still lived in Montreal. (I lived there for six years.)

One of my street shots taken on St. Laurent Blvd. in Montreal.

Showing her the route using the Street View option brought back a lot of memories. When I lived in Montreal, I spent a lot of time sitting in front of my computer. A lot. Looking back though, I walked a lot too. I spent years walking all over the city taking photos. I walked up and down steep hills to buy groceries. I remember one time taking a bus in snow storm to buy two, ten-pound dumbbells, putting them in my backpack and then getting lost trying to find the right bus stop to get back home. Aye yi yi.

Now, a week can go by so fast and I haven’t left my apartment once. What has happened to me? Part of it is that being here has afforded me conveniences I’ve never had before. I can get anything delivered. I live within a few blocks of everything I need. It just bothers me that I am so in my head that I have no interest to go outside and just see what’s out there. On top of that, now, even if I cultivated this interest, I’d feel so self-conscious about going out into the world.

When David was here, he suggested I try walking around the block a couple of times a day. Sounds good to me…until I start thinking about what I would have to wear to cover up the sagging weight in the front of my body and thinking about how all the clothes I wear out in public are long, and long-sleeved and not really comfortable for sweaty walks in the heat when you’re trying to be invisible.

Beyond all of this, I’m excited to learn at this writing seminar. Deep down, I know being there will be worth all this mental torture I’m putting myself through.

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Recap of My BlogHer12 Experience

I wouldn’t normally make a really long video, but I wanted to sum everything up into one video rather than posting the several videos I filmed. If you make it all the way through, I thank you.

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