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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2 Responses to Robert McKee Story Seminar Afterthoughts

  1. Christelle Nadeau August 29, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    Hi,

    I read your post and watched your videos, and I’m disappointed I didn’t get to talk to you during the seminar. I was in charge of the seminar and therefore had the pleasure to talk to many people, however I think I saw you just once when you were entering the theater.

    Your post moved me very much. I had to read it twice and take some time to take it in before being able to try and put into words how it touched me. I believe that regardless of the physical weight issue (I’m putting it this way because people can also have psychological and emotional weight issue I believe), a lot of people can relate to what you are expressing, me first. I won’t get into it to deeply on a public blog but if you care for communicating with me, you have my “McKee email”. I was the girl with the crazy hair on Sunday!

    I also have to say that I’ve found the videos very generous and interesting. You have a way of drawing people to you as if they were friends, from my point of view and it’s a gift.

    Thank you, and I agree with your epiphany, you don’t have to relate on your weight to be extraordinary or special.

    P.S. BTW, I would be grateful if you would give me permission to post your text and videos on our FB page.

    • Wendy August 30, 2012 at 9:07 am #

      Christelle!

      Thank you, so much, for such a thoughtful and kind message. I have to admit, it took me by surprise! I’ll be sending you a private e-mail. However, pubiclly, I wanted to say a huge thank you for putting on the event. It was incredible and it was life changing. I so grateful you made it happen.

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