Tag Archives: charlotte dow

Finishing The Hat

There are at least 3 unfinished screenplays sitting on my hard drive right now. They all start with good intentions: I get some brilliant idea that I have to turn into a script, forgo outlining, and just dive right in. Then, about 10 pages in, I get stuck. I go back and read over my pages and deem it an unsalvageable mess. Rather than go back and fix the problems, I just move on to the next best idea. Brain crack gets the best of me.

If you followed this blog at all last year (and bless you if you did), you know that this reluctance to finish things is nothing new. I may have finished my senior project (2 episodes of an hour-long drama) on time, but not without extending a few deadlines in the process. Half of it was due to extenuating circumstances, but half of it was because I was, well…having trouble finishing.

Finishing things feel great. It’s nice to be able to hand your project to someone and say “Here, check out this thing I made.” The road to the finish line is difficult, but crossing the last step off your to-do list is amazing.

On the other hand, starting a new project, especially one that you are really excited about, is falling head-over-heels for someone. All your thoughts are focused on this new idea, and you can’t wait to come home to it. Every hour you’re not working on it is agonizing. It’s kind of addicting.

However, as I mentioned above, the honeymoon phase wears off quickly. Right now, I need to work on sticking with things. There’s a solution to (almost) any creative problem. When I’m out in the trenches, though, sometimes it’s hard to remember how great it feels to type the words “Fade Out.”

The One About the Jacket

My leather jacket is filthy. I’m pretty sure it’s never been cleaned in the year I’ve had it. Frankly, I’m not even sure how to clean it. I don’t even know if it’s real leather (I know it’s not, but part of me wants to keep the dream alive).

I found it at a Bloomingdales outlet in Miami’s infamous Dolphin Mall (is it infamous? IT IS TO ME.) I saw it as an inferior replacement to my Topshop jacket, which I foolishly left behind on a plane coming back from Los Angeles the summer before. The cut wasn’t quite as trendy, the sleeves were too long, and it kind of felt like plastic. But every good city girl needs a cool leather jacket, so it made the trek back to Philly with me.

Of course I needed to get the sleeves hemmed in order to not look like a tall baby in it. I took the jacket to my usual tailor. She was out, but her partner promptly remedied the issue. Sure, one sleeve was a little longer than the other. Nobody’s perfect. You can really only notice it when you squint. Right, guys? RIGHT?

I wore that jacket everywhere that spring before it got too hot. It kept me warm through debauched college parties, study sessions, play rehearsals, concerts, the whole nine yards. I pulled it out once again this fall when I moved to New York. Maybe it’s not the most on-trend, but it makes me feel like I actually belong here. It’s the finishing touch on any hard-femme look I try to pull off. It’s even pretty work-appropriate (for my office, at least). It makes me feel like one of the Cool Girls, even if I am such a dork that I dedicated an entire blog post to a dirty “leather” jacket.

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Did this sound weird? Probably. In an attempt to kick my creative ass back into shape, I’m doing BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo challenge (yes, I’m aware that I’m starting late, why would this project be different from anything else I’ve done). Check out this month’s prompts here! And if you want to keep up with this nonsense, follow me on Bloglovin.

Sunset on the Bridge | New York City

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I recently moved to New York to start my career in the TV industry.

God, that feels weird to type out.

The job search felt like it took forever, but I found two awesome internships in the TV industry and started working about a month ago. Despite this, I’ve only had a few chances to go exploring, seeing as I’ve spent most of my weekends back in Philly for various reasons. I had a free evening during my first week in town and wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. I took to Twitter, looking for ways to amuse myself, and my friend Catherine suggested I a) get Chinese food and b) watch the sun set on the Brooklyn Bridge. So I did that.

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I’ve always admired the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s one of the few pieces of old New York that have remained through the cities numerous transformations. It’s a feat of engineering and aesthetically gorgeous. Before this night, though, I had only experienced the bridge via car.

I quickly learned that the bridge gets a little crowded around sunset with both tourists and commuters. However, I staked out a spot to enjoy the view while eating my dumplings. Somehow I managed not to get hit by a cyclist or a swarm of exercisers in a bootcamp class.

 

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I may have missed the early part of the sunset, but the sky was still gorgeous and I had a lovely view of the Financial District. I’ve spent a lot of time in Manhattan over the years, but I’ve never really explored the world below 14th Street. Now that I live and work here, I understand why people love it so much. The whole city is awesome, but there’s so much life downtown. You can really see the city’s rich history here among all the fancy boutiques and high-rises that have sprung up over the years.

I also understand why you have to give up your first-born to live here.

How to Cruise Like a Pro – Bermuda Edition

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Every summer, I join my dad’s side of the family (all 22 of them) for our annual family reunion. This usually consists of a few days in Upstate New York, but every couple of years we’ll venture out of the northeast. This year we decided to return to the high seas with a five-day cruise to Bermuda on Royal Carribean’s Explorer of the Seas. This was my fourth cruise and second time in Bermuda, and at this point I feel like I’ve gotten the cruise routine down. So how does one cruise like a pro? Read on, dear traveler.

1. Pick the right port.

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The port you depart from is almost as important as the one to which you’re sailing. You’ll probably end up staying a night or two in that city before or after the cruise, so you’ll want to make sure that that place is somewhere you’d like to visit. This all depends on where you’re going, of course. Port Canaveral, Miami, and Ft. Lauderdale are pretty common departure points for Carribean cruises, and I, as a 20-something, would personally much rather stay the night in Miami. There are also departure ports around the world, and there may be one within driving distance of your home. I’m lucky enough to live near New York City, a common departure port for cruises to Bermuda and transatlantic voyages. The first time we sailed out of New York, my parents and I drove into the port a few hours before go time and parked at the dock. That’s pretty damn convenient if you ask me.

2. You’re gonna want a drink package.

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While you can eat til you burst on a cruise and not pay a cent extra, drinks (aside from tea, coffee, water, and some juices) are unfortunately not included in your fare. And believe me, you’re gonna want a drink or five when you’re at sea all day. To save cruisers a little bit of a heart attack when they receive their bill, a lot of cruise lines are now offering prepaid drink packages. For a few extra dollars a day, you can drink to your hearts content. Royal Carribean offers a few different levels of drink packages to accommodate everyone’s thirst. I went with a package that gave me unlimited beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages, and I’d say it was definitely worth it.

3. Get off the boat, dummy!

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This probably seems like a given, but a lot of folks on my cruise actually never set foot on the island once we arrived in Bermuda. If that’s what you want to do, go for it, but I’m a fan of exploring. Definitely look into the excursions your cruise line offers. When you have limited time in a new place, it’s nice to have someone guiding your adventures.

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My family decided on a snorkeling excursion with a local tour company. We cruised around the island on a small boat and stopped near a reef for some snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding. It was a nice, relaxing day out and the weather was fantastic. It also helped that they were serving complimentary Rum Swizzle all day.

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Since we were in port overnight, we decided to take it easy the next day with a trip to Horseshoe Bay. We laid out, did a little exploring, and took advantage of some excellent photo ops.

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Cruising definitely isn’t for everyone. It’s expensive, crowded, and sometimes a little too structured. But I’m a fan of seeing the world on a full stomach, so I’m definitely into it. Now to plan the next journey.

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P.S. If you want to see a silly video I made while I was in Bermuda, click here.
P.P.S. If you like what you see, consider following me on Bloglovin!

A Weekend in Sutton, Quebec

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little thrown by the cultural shift I felt upon arriving in Sutton, Quebec a few weeks ago. From the French signs to the quaint farms along the main road, I felt like I had just stepped off a transatlantic flight rather than a two-hour road trip from the Burlington, VT airport. It really didn’t help that I had just returned from a trip to California the night before. Not exactly the best travel decision on my part.

Once the momentary culture shock wore off, I fell in love with this little town. It’s a great place for a weekend getaway if you live on the east coast. The beautiful Mont Sutton is open year-round for skiing, hiking, camping, and more. My parents and I hiked up to Lac Spruce on our second day in town and somehow managed to beat the rain. The trail was challenging for someone like me who hasn’t hiked in a while, but definitely worth it. I mean, look at those photos. That’s a lot of green, y’all.

If you’re not into the whole nature thing, Sutton still has a lot to offer. There are a bunch of cute shops and galleries full of fantastic local art. There are also plenty of dining options, from cafes to pubs to more high-end stuff. I personally recommend Bistro Beaux Lieux. The food was fantastic and we had an awesome view of the Sutton sunset.

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IMG_3098We stayed a few minutes out of town at the Auberge & Spa West Brome, which happens to have it’s own farm. It’s really cool to see a hotel growing its own food and I just had to capture the symmetry of the tomato garden. And of course I couldn’t leave without a few shots of the cows. Man, I love cows.

P.S. Oh hey, I have a new blog title and theme. Let me know what you think of it!

Senior Project | In the Immortal Words of Tom Haverford…

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I passed my roommate in the hall on my way back from the gym this morning. We shared an awkward, “Oh, haha, you’re going to the gym? I just went to the gym!” exchange, and then she mentioned that I’d lost a lot of weight. I’m never quite sure how to react to these kind of comments, so I laughed a little and gave her a confused “thank you” before ducking back into my apartment. She’s right, though. I recently started running, I’m generally more active, and I cut soda out of my diet (for the most part). I’m doing the work and seeing results. Feels good, man.

What does this have to writing? Quite a bit, actually. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been integrating some better habits into my writing routine. I say “writing routine” like I had one before. Writing 20 pages the night before a deadline definitely doesn’t count as a “routine”. For one thing, I started blocking out time in my schedule to work on my script, usually one or two hours a day. If that time is in my Google Calendar, I’ll usually stick to it, regardless of where I am that day. While I still enjoy the occasional page dump, it’s a lot less stressful to chip away at a script a few pages at a time. I also find it much more productive to work at a desk or table rather than splayed out on my bed. When your bed is the centerpiece of your tiny room, it’s pretty hard to ignore the temptation to get under the covers and write. I for one can’t sleep and type at the same time, so my bed isn’t a particularly productive place.

The most important part is just doing the work. I know that sounds pretty obvious, but scripts don’t write themselves. There are some days when writing is fun and some days when it feels like a chore. I’m learning to power through those crappier days. I never quite felt like I deserved the grades I got in high school and college because I didn’t feel like I was working hard for them. In a lot of ways, I was skating by on natural talent. I can’t really do that right now. I’m happy with my first drafts of my episodes, but they’re far from done. Rewriting isn’t always fun, but it’s necessary.

46 days til graduation. YIKES.

The Road to Monterey

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I may have traveled a lot over the past four years but my “vacations” have been few and far between. You know, vacations? Those trips where you have no responsibilities and the primary goal is relaxation? Ringing any bells? Probably not.

Prior to last September, my folks and I hadn’t taken a proper family vacation since 2011. We traveled a lot over those two years, but those trips were always riddled with work meetings and looming schoolwork deadlines, and they were always far too short. When I decided to go out to LA for the summer, my parents decided it was time for another Dow family road trip. I had three weeks between the end of my program and the start of my senior year, so we took one of those weeks to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to San Francisco.

One of my favorite stretches of the journey was our drive between Ojai to Monterey. We stopped in Santa Barbara for lunch and to check out the city. We were only there for two hours, but it was just enough time for me to fall in love with the town. I also may have made some seagull friends.

After that, it was on to Big Sur. Aquatic mammals are kind of my thing, so I just about died when we pulled over to see a bunch of elephant seals just chilling on the beach. I broke out the macro lens and caught a few of these guys in action. We hit Big Sur just as the sun was setting so unfortunately we didn’t get to spend a lot of time in the forrest. It did make for some excellent photos, though.

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Senior Project | One Draft Down, Many More to Go

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There is no better feeling than completing a draft of a project. Even if you know it’s going to need some a lot of revision, it feels really nice to just finish something. I now have a full first draft of my pilot. It may be a hot mess, but it exists in some completed form, and it’s much better than the tons of abandoned projects sitting on my hard drive at the moment.

Of course, I’m nowhere near finished with my senior project. I have another episode to write, then a ton of revisions to do between now and June. Despite the amount of work ahead of me, finishing this draft has really motivated me to keep working to make this project something special. This idea has moved past the brain crack stage and into something real that I can actually show people (other than my professor). Whether or not I actually want to do that remains to be seen.

Something I’ve found out in this last writing push is that I can actually write to music with lyrics. Usually I find music with lyrics too involving and I get sucked into the story of the song. This time around, I kind of tailored my playlist around the content of my script. I used those lyrics as inspiration for certain scenes or as a way to better get into the heads of my characters. One song I’ve been listening to a lot is “The Woodpile” by Frightened Rabbit. I had it more or less on repeat as I wrote the last scene of the pilot between my main character, Lily, and her overwhelmed boyfriend Jim. I don’t want to give to much away (ugh, I know, I hate me, too) but the song is kind of perfect for that scene. Who needs a music supervisor when you have Spotify? Just kidding, music supervisors are brilliant humans. I’ve included a Spotify playlist of some of the (non-embarrassing) songs on my writing playlist if you’re interested in that kind of thing.

I also strayed a little from my treatment in this draft. I made certain characters more pivotal to the plot, which means I may need to go back to the drawing board for this next episode. Sure, it’s more work, but I feel a lot better about where the story is going than I did when I wrote the first treatments. Things are looking up!

Senior Project | Winter (Break) is Coming

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We’re nearing the end of term and by some miracle I have almost half of my pilot script written. I really didn’t think I would pull it off with everything going on this term. I was way behind deadline-wise for most of November. I got hit by an avalanche of work once Godzilla closed and of course my senior project work fell to the wayside.

I’ve never been particularly good with these independent study style classes. If I don’t have to physically go to class once a week, I tend to push that work to a dark, dusty corner of my brain, only to stumble back into that corner when I have a deadline approaching. This project requires a fair amount of self-discipline and time management, two things I’ve never been particularly good at. However, I think I made some strides in that department over Thanksgiving break. I went into the (all too short) break knowing that I had some pages to deliver in a few weeks time. I made it my goal to set aside an hour or two a day to just sit down and write. I wrote at Panera Bread, in my room, in the car home from Long Island, wherever I happened to be at the time. Even if I just wrote a page or two in those sessions, I still made progress.

My goal for the next few weeks is to finish my pilot script. I’ll be writing over my winter break, so this could be really easy or really really difficult. Sure, I won’t have any other schoolwork to worry about, but it’s so easy to get distracted over break. I’ll be traveling, spending time with family, doing Christmas shopping, and hopefully picking up some part-time work. I’d better start scheduling those writing sessions now. Luckily, I have some really cute coffee shops and a newly-renovated library in my hometown, so I can escape the holiday madness at my house and hang out in the world of my script.

Anyway, on to finals week. If you couldn’t tell, I’m about ready for this term to be over.

Senior Project | A Balancing Act

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Sometimes I look at my friends and wonder how they’re still upright. They do so much more than I do and I feel like I’m about to collapse into a pile of creative project-induced stress. This could also be because I’m fighting off a cold and I walked a 12k for the first time in…a while yesterday, but I do have a lot going on at the moment. On top of my senior project (which should be commanding most of my attention), I have 18 credits worth of classes, a play opening in a week and a half, and my own creative endeavors to worry about. Oh, and my social life and health. Those are important, too.

What I think may be the key to doing my best work on this is blocking out time every day in my crazy schedule to put all the other distractions away and just spend some time with my story. The first deadline for my project was last Friday and I’ll be honest with you all, I was not prepared. I came up with a pretty detailed treatment and bio for my main protagonist, but I definitely need to spend some time creating the rest of the ensemble and tweaking my treatment before I’m ready to write. Luckily, I have a little more time for development.

“Why does that document you’re working on look more like an English essay than an actual script?” you’re probably [not] wondering. That, my friends, is a treatment. A treatment is essentially a detailed outline in prose of the script. I find them to be very helpful because they help me figure out what I want the tone of each scene to be, which doesn’t always come across in an outline. Prose helps me fully flesh out each moment before I actually write it. Plus, I enjoy writing prose. Makes me feel smarter or something.

My goal or this week is to keep working on my characters and outline my second episode. It’s going to be a tough week as I’m just a few days away from Godzilla’s tech weekend, but if my crazy friends can still do all that they do, I think I can make it out alive. As a wise Tumblr post once said, “You have as many hours in the day as Beyonce.”

P.S. If you’re in Philly, come see Godzilla. We open on Halloween!