Monday, May 04, 2015

by Janet Lawler
Posted May 4, 2015

Recently, I did something I thought I'd never do.

I left New York.

Yes, I broke up with the greatest city on earth.  My city.  I didn't just leave it; I left it for another state. California. That sunny, palm-tree swaying, movie crazed, West Coast state.
 I took this photo in Central Park last fall
Why leave New York? In my opinion, there is a time to come to NYC and a time to leave it.  It was a hard decision. So, how do I feel now having left it? 

Like one feels after any breakup, even the inevitable one: guilty, relieved, sad and yet excited for the new challenges and changes. 
Moving Day - after 10 years in Astoria
I'll forever be a native New Yorker. My childhood and adult roots remain in that glorious, harsh, frantic, dazzling, loud, edgy, concrete jungle. 

My most memorable moments from living in NYC?

Oh. So many. Getting married at City Hall; watching the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve, Broadway shows, MSG concerts (Madonna and Fleetwood Mac), having my first play performed in the Big Apple, attending the World Series in 2001 at Yankee Stadium, just a month after 9/11. Game 5 against the AZ Diamondbacks. The Yankees won that game at home.  NYPD cops and baseball fans hugged and cried at the end of that World Series game as the song "New York, New York" bellowed at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

I'll especially miss all the fabulous friends I made living and working in Queens and Manhattan. From my coworkers, to my neighbors, to family and friends.  New Yorkers are a tough, loyal and witty group.  So are those I love in CT and NJ.
In March, we packed up the car and drove for 3,000 plus miles across the United States heading west.

It was a SPECTACULAR experience driving across so many states (NY, NJ, PA, OH, IN, IL, MO, OK, TX, AZ and CA) seeing how the "middle" of the country lives -- tasting new foods, meeting new people, staying in roadside hotels and cruising the interstates with truckers. We took our time and visited friends and family we hadn't seen in years.  (Sometimes Facebook or emails just don't cut it anymore. You have to make time to SEE people you care about.)
A great day in Chicago
Sunset on the Interstate. God bless all the truckers keeping America moving.

Great Texas chow
My random road observations: New York is still the charmer with its skyscrapers and Hudson River, but there is a vast, vibrant, diverse country in America.  It's not only the East and West Coasters that matter or power this great nation.  There are millions of people in between NY and LA that also make a difference. Their pace is slower .  There is lots of open land.  Gas and restaurants are much cheaper.  And, America is also a faithful country, filled with lovely small towns and back roads.
Sweet Austin, Texas

Superstition Mountains in AZ
 We loved Columbus, Ohio for it's quaint town and parks; Pennsylvania for it's Amish countryside and family-style restaurants; Indiana for its  Midwest easiness and universities; Missouri for its Gateway Arch; Texas for it's great steak, BBQ, wineries and Austin flare; Chicago for it's skyline and downtown sites; Oklahoma for its land; Arizona for it's breathtaking mountains, desert and southwestern fare.  And, finally, California, well, what can you say?  The Pacific Coast glistens. The sunshine lifts your soul.  The surfers. The fish tacos. It's a place where you can be whatever you want to be, however you want to be it, and do a little surfing too.

So, again you ask -- no seriously, why did you leave New York?

Well, life is about change.  It's about growing.  We stayed in the same apartment for over a decade (a 5 story walk up, old apartment).  The winters are getting tougher.  New York City is a costly place to live short-term and especially long-term.  You get more for your buck elsewhere (simple things like a free parking space in your driveway, washer and dryer in your unit, roomier bedrooms, kitchen and living room, stores close by and quality of life.)  Now, I wouldn't trade a second of my years in NYC, but it was time to say farewell, for now.  We may come back someday; we may not.  Who knows?

My other big reason for moving to California is because I love the movies and writing (especially screenplays). So what better place to be than in southern California?  It's a kick in the pants here.  I always wanted to move to southern California -- now I have. Dreams come true on their own timeline. 
Surfer in La Jolla, CA
So, now my dilemma is with this blog you're reading. The NY Screenwriting Life started in 2005.  That's right, over ten years ago!  It has over 30,000 hits, thanks to you!  So, should I rename it?  And if so, to what?  Or should I close up shop and start a new blog in CA.  I'd welcome any ideas or suggestions.

Well, that's it. I hope my cross country move inspires you to examine your own life.  Are you living where you want to live?  Working where you want to work?  If not, take a risk.  Maybe change jobs. Write that screenplay.  Make that short film, finally. Drive or fly to a state you've always wanted to visit but haven't found time to do. You'll meet some cool folks along the way.

Black Beach in La Jolla
It's a gorgeous day here in CA. Think I'll go for a walk on the beach.
Until next time.

Follow The NY Screenwriting Life on Facebook.  Janet J. Lawler is also a published author and playwright.  Her first novel From the Ground Up is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Janet J. Lawler
Posted: May 2, 2015
San Diego, CA

It's that time of year when screenwriters across the globe enter their movie scripts in a plethora of writing contests. 

It's costly and time-consuming to fill out all the contest applications, but it's a chance to get your work read by industry big shots.

I just uploaded my script The Tenant to the Austin Film Festival, Scriptapalooza, Nicholls Fellowship, Sundance Screenwriting Lab, BlueCat, PAGE International, Big Break and the Writers Lab.
Meryl Streep funds writing lab for women over 40
The latter lab received mega publicity when it was announced that Meryl Streep funded the screenwriters lab for women writers over 40, to be run by New York Women in Film and Television and IRIS, a collective of women filmmakers.

How cool is THAT?!

You might recall Meryl Streep jumped out of her seat at this year's Oscars when Patricia Arquette mentioned women's equality during her Best Supporting Actress acceptance speech.  It struck a chord. Let's face it, Streep reads a lot of scripts.  She apparently sees a lack of women's narrative on the page (and screen) and is doing something about it.  Thanks, Meryl, from all the screenwriters (who just happen to be women) and want their voices heard down the cinema from The Avengers.

The official deadline for the Writers Lab is June 1, 2015 at 5PM EST.  So if you're a gal over 40, born on or before June 1, 1975 -- and you're a US citizen -- then you have a shot at this writers lab funded by Streep in NY.

You'll also need to have your script registered with the WGA , format your script as a PDF file and pony up the application fee ($25 for NYWIFT members and $55 for non-members). The Lab will take place September 18-20, 2015, at Wiawaka Center for Women, on Lake George. Here is the link to the Writers Lab

There are a gazillion contests out there for everyone.  So get busy and submit that killer script of yours before the final deadline, or better yet, before the early bird entry deadline.


Until next time.

Be sure to follow The NY Screenwriting Life on Facebook.  Janet J. Lawler's novel from the Ground Up is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble online.