Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Handbook: Sit-Com or Drama

The holidays. At times, hectic. Hopefully not horrific. Possibly holy (if you are so inclined). Occassionally hilarious. And, if we are lucky, for the most part happy. Join me on Mondays as we find a way to navigate the Season with style and smarts, and, most importantly, without losing our sanity.

An author can take the same premise, let's say, a weekend at the beach, and turn it into a comedy, a drama or a tragedy. Maybe a woman brings her straight-laced fiance out to the beach cottage to meet her family of free-spirited eccentrics. Maybe a long-held family secret is revealed that will change the lives of everyone involved. Maybe someone drowns at the beach.
A writer has the amazing opportunity to create the story he wants to tell. He sets the mood and the tone. He controls the plot. He creates the characters. He even decides how and when it ends. As a screenwriter, I can tell you that the creative power is intoxicating.
However, I can't live my life behind the warm glow of a computer screen. At some point, I have to emerge and deal with life. I have no idea what plot twist lay ahead. I certainly didn't create my cast of characters and I have no idea how it will all end.
Yet, I can control somethings.
I can set my own tone and my own mood. I can choose to not approach a gathering with dread - replaying all the worse case scenarios and what-ifs in my mind. I can choose instead to focus on the family and friends whose company I enjoy and who I look forward to spending time with.
I can't create the cast of characters but I can determine how much screen time they get in my movie. My main characters are the ones who are postive, loving and fun. They are in almost every scene while the more toxic personalities are relegated to bit parts.
I can add a laugh track, just like they do on the sit-coms. When my aunt comes around with her negativity, I just smile and let it roll off my back, while I hear the laughter in my head. It's just not that serious!
I can't determine how it all ends but I can determine when I've had enough (which is harder to do if you are the host and you can't just leave!). I can set my own boundaries.
I might not have written this script, but make no mistake, I am the director who calls the shots and the star of my own film. This season, make your movie an award-winner!

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