Ethnically Sri Lankan, but born and raised in Dubai, Sabina Giado was part of the first ever all-female comedy troupe, the Funny Girls, and the first improv troupe in the Middle East, Improv Revolution. Her greatest accomplishments to date? The Funny Girls being mentioned in a TED Talk. An off-the-cuff remark on #activistpickuplines ending up in a Buzzfeed article (“I’m underrepresented. In your pants.”). Making the second round of Sundance Labs. What few moments of sweat-and-spice-drenched zen she can muster in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Her tornado, sorry, toddler son. Deciding finally to make her own stuff. And being a Story Broad. She blogs at www.sabinagiado.wordpress.com and tweets at @SabinaGiado.
As part of September’s Zero Draft Thirty challenge, I finished a 119.5-page rewrite of my rom-com Whose Wife Is It Anyway. It was a page-1 rewrite. It was brutal.
But I hit FADE OUT at 10:30 pm on September 30th, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
To finish this script, I survived:
- An OCD housekeeper.
- Two power-cuts. One at 2:45 am. My toddler thought it was a party.
- Zoloft withdrawal. Think fatigue, dizziness, electric shocks to the brain and mood swinging like a pendulum.
- Me getting very ill.
- My son getting very ill. At the same time.
- Countless marital arguments. He’s the only one who would take my crap.
- Did I mention the toddler? Yeah. Him.
All of this. ALL OF THIS. And I still hit FADE OUT.
And yet I still see widespread miso-mommy (yes, I just made that up) in practically every industry I’ve worked in (journalism, PR, corporate communications, sales, film).
Oh. So these people DON’T want the equivalent of Seal Time Six on their project? Odd.
But in case the point isn’t already amply clear, let me tell how motherhood has made me a better screenwriter. Contrary to popular, albeit stupid, belief.
1. Best laid plans going belly up.
Birth plans that are thrown out the L&D window. Breast-milk that never fully shows up (Fearless Formula Feeder right here.) Naps that are cut short or don’t happen at all. Errands interrupted by an unexpected meltdown.
We’re familiar with frustration. We’re also far too familiar with the debilitating grief that comes with it – and how to survive it.
Hollywood has nothing on motherhood.
2. Courage to do the damn thing.
If I can survive what I just described to you, bleeding onto the page for the criticism of others is pretty doable.
3. Giving our all and then some
I’ve pushed far beyond my limits to nurture and protect my son. Judging from my experience above, I can do that for a script too. Not that I want to. But I can when called upon to do so.
Because my son is a wanderer, I’ve met people and seen things in my neighborhood that I’ve never seen before. This opens the doors to…
Creativity is the combination of unrelated things to create something surprising. Toddlers have no sense of ‘right or wrong,’ so they really do the silliest, funniest, most impolite, most genius things. Every day, before I sit down to write my comedy scripts, I think, ‘what would my son do?’ And the scene positively explodes.
6. Mischief over mastery.
I don’t need to tell you that babies are mastering tons of skills we adults take for granted. But they are okay with failing. Over and over again. They get up with a smile, they look around for a supportive face (crucial) and they try again. Mischief and joy over mastery every time. It’s become my mantra.
7. Always be writing.
I know that I’m particularly time-poor. That means I’ve got my scripts and apps on my phone and anytime my son is relatively still and relatively occupied, I’m writing.
8. Selective hearing.
As Ruth Bader-Ginsburg said, ‘It helps to be a little deaf.’ It helps to tune out that person who’s never raised a child giving you child-raising advice. It helps to tune out that person who’s never written a joke or even been funny in their lives telling you how to make a scene funnier.
This one’s actually from Marie Forleo. Every moment is here to teach me something. I’m open to that lesson and grateful for that lesson.
And the lesson usually starts with: It could always be worse. Your boss might give you crap, but have they ever given you ACTUAL crap? Like, pooped in your bathtub (you’re welcome)?
Food for thought (You really didn’t want to think about food just then, right?)
10. Hold fast to my values.
We’ve all had those days. Our kids push us to the edge and right over. It’s in free-fall that we decide what kind of parents we are. And I always try to return to my values at this point. “I’m kind. I’m honest. I build. I never tear down.”
This is helpful in collaborative situations too. When I can see that cliff fast approaching, I jam the brakes and say what needs to be said. “I can’t do this. I need help. Get your hands off my bum.” Etc.
Motherhood has made me a better writer. And a better person. It’s made me that much more courageous. Dare I say it, it’s even made me a little dangerous. Because does Seal Team Six knock before entering?
- More articles by The Story Broads
- Balls of Steel: Balance
- Goal Setting: Taking Control of Your Screenwriting Life
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