How being a terrible student turned me in a writer.

How being a terrible student made me hold on to my dreams and being true to myself.

First let me say, I was a horrible student. Not my entire life, only after my parents broke up and my mom turned my world upside down when we moved to Rio. I was a good student when I was a child, even though my mom was called at school multiple times.

I constantly interrupting the teacher, in the middle of her lecture, to talk about what I’ve watched on tv in the morning. Usually, it was about a huge talking dog or a lady who used to dress in suspicious outfits and talk with a childish voice, Xuxa.

I was that kid fighting for attention

After a turbulent time, of pre-teen years and looking like I was just rescued from a mason jar, like a goblin, everything looked uninteresting and sad. I was never up to my mom’s expectations with anything, neither I felt like I was being heard or seen. My mom used to work too much to support us and I felt alone, most of the time.

I couldn’t keep up my grades and my school didn’t have the leverage it needed to have what it takes to be considered a good school. It was an ok school. Public Schools in Brazil have the worst possible kind of education. It’s like distance learning but without the teachers.

The creative 100 MHP mind in a boring school. I decided to turn my attention to something that entertained me, gave me hope, and made me feel like I was good at something. I got a notebook and started writing some fanfics. I world built my characters, my storylines, and plot. I couldn’t wait to get home from school to write some more. I shared with some of my closest friends and we talked about the stories. I was so into that, that I forgot I had to pass my classes. I didn’t. I failed my sophomore year in High School.

Failing was my signature move

Of course, after that happened, my mom thought I was doomed forever. She was mad as hell and I guess that the only time she paid attention to me. Not that she didn’t before, but this time I had her undivided attention.

The year was 2002 and had just got back from visiting my dad, who was living in a different state at that time. I was happy and cheerful, my mom couldn’t even smile at me. I didn’t care much because she was cold most of the time anyway, again too tired to care.

The next morning of my arrival at home, while we were seating at the table for breakfast, she remained serious and with a poker face. I asked her if she got my results from school, she said my friend had called to inform the grades. “You failed, Joana. In 6 different subjects.”

Not only I got held back, I had failed majorly. My world collapsed. It was my first real-life failure, something I caused to myself, and not only because I was a bad teenager, having fun, drinking, or partying.

I wish. I failed because I was giving too much attention to what I loved doing, instead of working on stuff I hated. I guess I was always true to myself when it comes to that. I only decided to be true to myself when I still had school to be completed.

Now, ask for the Backstreet boys to take the test for you.

Seeing all my friends moving forward to their senior year, while I had to stuck with the other held back losers was a nightmare. I just wanted to write and let life take its course. I just wanted to keep watching MTV and Gilmore Girls instead of attending school. I used to runaway every chance I got. I was so mad that I put my stories aside and got my first job. If I’m going to be a sore loser, might as well get a job at a movie theater.

My passion for writing and creating was put aside for years. I associated my writing with failure, because as my mom used to say at that time, how could I spend my time watching tv shows, reading books and magazines, instead of studying to have a good life? I still ask myself what is the definition of a “good life”.

Where the hell is Joana?

Many years later and after multiple failures in life, I decided it was time for me to go back to my writing. I enjoyed blogging and telling my stories while I was on my internships abroad, even though I had barely any audience, I created “Where the hell is Joana?” in 2007 and kept it until 2010.

Since I kept coming back to my boring life in Brazil, I couldn’t keep up, with the same stories over and over. In 2016, I created a website called “Waitress in Wonderland”, where I wanted to talk about my life experience as a waitress while living in the United States, also, helping people who wanted to study abroad. It didn’t work again.

I keep trying. And when I feel like a failure, I go back to that day when I received the news that I flunk school because even at a young age, I will rather be true to myself than live a boring life. So yeah, I accept being a failure, as long as I keep trying for what makes me happy.

It takes courage, my friends.

Learning how to put everything into words and sharing your ideas takes a lot of courage. Pursue what you love takes a lot of courage. Doing all that in a country you were not born in, you choose to live in, takes even more courage. Writing in a second language? I’m not going to even start it.

So here is my advice my friends, don’t hold on to that moment you failed. Remember how you got out of that feeling and pushed forward. If I had listened to how much of a bad student I was at that time, and believed it, I guarantee I would still be feeling sorry for myself in the same downward spiral my entire life.

Last but not least, here is a note I would like my math teacher back in Brazil to read:

“Dear Mrs Rachel,

I made it alright in life. I never used that complicated math you attempted to teach me, not even once. Thanks for the great psychology you used on me, right before my last test saying I was about to fail again. Barely did I know that I was going to meet at least a thousand low class, ratchet people like you, throughout life. I made it alright so far”

Sincerely,

I only fail because you are a horrible teacher, Joana”

After turning 30 and all the years of battling with my insecurities, I finally embraced my dream of writing and creating the life I wanted. I still need loads of therapy, but we can talk about this in a different post!

The reason behind this blog’s name.

“Whenever you can tell a story and don’t feel any pain, you will know you are healed” 

                                                                             Author unknown.

Living Out Loud Too

I always thought that the United States would be the best place in the world for me to live, so I decided that I was going to move here when was I was 12 years old. I put everything I had into moving away from Brazil and to America, this is when I learned English.

I mocked a fake accent, just in case, even though I understand its a stupid thing to do, we hear a lot about how Americans treat other nationalities that don’t look or sound like them. I didn’t care about the cost, any means necessary in order to move here, I forced my way in. 

4th of July -2017- I celebrated independence day working!

When the 45th president was elected, I felt a cold chill run through my body. I didn’t want the other candidate to win either, but when he won, I got desperate. Most likely because it felt like the people who voted for him blindly followed him, like a loyal army, that follows and chants whatever he says, without thinking of what is really being said.

Of course, it’s not generalized and it is not all of them, but some of those people who are the countryside folks, that think that immigrants should be here legally, or shouldn’t be here at all, are the ones who cause us the most hurt. Guess who voted for the 45th president? Read on. 

I’m a good person and I can prove.

When I applied for my green card in 2015, some family members of my husband’s side denied to help us immediately. They talked about liability, meaning, they didn’t want to be responsible for me financially, in case of a divorce. They called an immigration lawyer to make sure they could help me and whatever the lawyer said, they must have twisted his words and didn’t want to help anyway. That hurt me profoundly.

During that time, I was working as a waitress to help their son through Chiropractic College. Again, not to generalize, the other brother who also voted 45, helped me immediately, didn’t even look at the paper, just trusted me and for that, I’m forever thankful.  

Celebrating 4 years in the United States in 2016. Working.

I cried for months and the feeling of not belonging only grew. As they questioned my motives, I questioned my entire life journey, I thought about leaving, nothing was making sense anymore. I love my husband, but how can his family think I just wanted to marry him for a document? What happened to be super nice to me, and when we decided to get married, people that I saw as my family, changed overnight? I felt stupid and betrayed.

Being an immigrant in America is not easy

Being an immigrant is already really hard, but when you ditched by people you thought was going to take care of you, there is no way back. It takes time to heal, but I’m starting to think that the bullet wound will be in my arm forever.  

Little by little, I picked up the broken glass on the ground. Starting to reconstruct my confidence was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Add that to the fact, I was still working as a waitress and being seen as a failure from people from my country. After a few sessions with the therapist linked to my husband’s school, I was able to see myself as an individual again.

Nobody is responsible for you happiness, only you.

The most important thing he told me was “Nobody is responsible for your own happiness, only you, Joana, is responsible to make yourself happy”. I went home, thinking about what would make me really happy, the kind of happiness that radiates from you, that makes your friends want to be around and invite you to hang out because you are fun to be with. That Saturday, I decided I wanted to become a writer and share my story. On Monday I contacted Full Sail University and started the application process. 

“For the first time in forever”, to quote Anna, I was being treated as an equal. I was not being made fun of because of my accent, I was not being overlooked because I was born and raised somewhere else. I was being graded the same, the days for submitting my work were the same. It felt great to be part of a discussion group and not being judged by the way I sounded.

Take the first step towards you. You deserve it!

School proved to me that I could do whatever I put my mind to. I am a capable human being, I only have a different nationality. I watch the same tv, listen to the same music, pay bills, do everything the same. Where I was born and raised has nothing to do with my ability to work and live here. In June of 2018, I decided to launch Live out Loud Too. The “too” was because apparently, live out loud already existed somewhere, but it made sense after all. 

Live Out Loud Too started from the idea that the ugly duckling, the “outsiders” and the misfits, need to live a full life too. We cannot choose a certain group of people to be happy, successful, able to buy houses, cars, travel, and have a great life.

They tend to look at us like we don’t deserve it. We are and we are going to be loud too. We are gonna laugh and post pictures of us being silly, we are gonna post our success and our failures, we are gonna comment on music and popular tv shows. Eat-in nice restaurants and post pictures with hashtag lunch. We can do it all and learn that most of us can do it in two languages. Resilience is in the name.   

Live Out Loud Too is my brand and the entire locomotive behind my purpose. I want to tell others that its ok to feel bad, it’s ok to feel like you don’t belong here. But don’t let this feeling linger for much longer, because you are here now, so yes, belong the hell out of it.

I’m not gonna let any president, whoever it is, to tell me where I should be, or how I should live my life. 

So, please, live your life out loud too. If you need a friend, I will be here writing about my ups and downs and how I’m trying to make life enjoyable, when every single its been thrown at me.

Stay Safe. Be healthy.

J.G.Snelly

The Golden Ticket.

Dare to try. I’m all in.

I spend the first months of quarantine, like most of us, clueless of what was happening. I had no idea of what was going on and at first, the lockdown was supposed to be only for 30 days. What I wasn’t counting on was that the government would have no idea of how to control the virus and keep extending it. After thinking a lot about this mess and only getting angry, I decided to focus on what would make me feel alive and happy. My writing projects and my blog. Out of nowhere the projects picked up.

Give it a try little bird, you might fall, but you might fly.

I’m currently working on some scripts for the Nickelodeon contest. I have to submit a spec script from the list and an Original Comedy pilot. A Spec Script is a document that proves that you can work for the show, using the same tone and voice, almost like you would fit in to a work in a company. It’s like a skill test on indeed.

If you write scripts or read it, you know each one of those is about 28 pages in maybe 3 or 4 acts, a cold opening, and a tag. The preparation for the scripts is intense, because after all if I did a good job and get lucky, I could get a trainee placement in California, which would be ideal and give me chance to work with I study to do. The spec script it’s the hardest one for me.

During the Creative Writing Classes for Entertainment, at Full Sail, I had about 5 or 6 classes I had to write scripts. They were all about ten to twelve pages each and we were constantly having to give feedback and receive feedback, but receiving feedback from peers that know less than you, it’s like screaming at the top of the mountain. It echoes, but it doesn’t do you any good, and it is too vague. I had two scriptwriting classes, even though they were the peeling my skin with a knife, I retained the most information of all classes because I enjoyed it.

On the first Writing for TV class, we had a very sweet teacher, he comprehended that some of us had never done that before, and took it easy. We had to choose a show from the list and continue to work with it on Writing for TV class II. I choose the show I was most familiar and comfortable to write for, Brooklyn 99. I had to study everything possible about the series to recreate my spec script as if I was working on the show, like the character’s mannerisms, obsessions, reactions, and vocabulary. It is easy to write on a series that had been on the air for a few seasons, but this time the show I choose to write for this contest only had one season and about 10 episodes altogether. Pen15 is a great show, but I have to confess that I’m having trouble writing with their voices.

Pen15 is executive produced by Andy Sandberg’s Lonely Island Production’s company, who plays, Jake, the main character from Brooklyn 99. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I like writing about shows that I enjoy and I’m familiar with, so study about it it’s not torturing. For example, I could never write about NCSI or Law & Order. It’s just not my kind of show. I have been watching interviews and reading about the show’s creator, learning what the idea behind it. That’s when I get in trouble. Since there are not many episodes or seasons, there is not much I can research.
Here is a little bit of my process to write a spec that I learn at Writing for tv I and II, while at Full Sail University, taking the Creative Writing Bachelor’s degree:

1- Write an outline of the idea.

Writing a few outlines ideas and coming up with the best one, works for me. Everyone has a different way to do it. Write the outline first, so you have something to follow.
I use colored note cards, so I write different acts in different colors and number the cards.

2- Create a Beat Sheet.

This is like mapping out the episode and how things will evolve through the acts. You have to know what is going to happen in the A-Plot and on the B-plot. For example, for this spec, the A-Plot is Anna lends Maya a notebook with personal stories, so Maya could read it, and Maya loses it. B-Plot is Maya dealing with her Aunt bullying her during a visit to her house.

The Beat Sheet I made for Brooklyn 99

3- Treatment.

If you have time, you write a treatment document, with all the scene heading and what is supposed to happen in that scene, without dialogues. I won’t have time for it this time.

4- Start writing the spec.

During the process, I research what type of show is it and how many pages the script of an episode has it. For Pen15, I learned that they have a Cold Opening of 2 to 3 pages. The first and second acts are about 8 pages each, so the third and the fourth are smaller and they contain a 1-page tag. It’s very similar to Brooklyn 99.

5- Revise.

I’m not on that stage yet. Hopefully, I will get to this point by the end of the week. I understand that this is a contest to be a trainee, but if I look sloppy, they will pass me without even reading the first page. Make sure the punctuation is correct, the Scene Heads are according to what’s happening and the dialogue makes sense to the kind of show you are trying to be part of. That’s what caused me lose all the points and I almost failed my class.

It’s a not difficult thing to do, it’s easy when you have written many other scripts and have the experience in your hands, which I don’t have much besides those classes. You can always learn. I think is like any other job where you have a set of rules to follow so you get work done in time. As I wrote here before, in January I made plans to go back to LA to study screenwriting, my plans are yet to happen.

About the Original Comedy Pilot, I will work on something based on my life, while married to a white conservative man from Indiana, which I hope, since is my creation, it will be easier to write. I have to so much to say in that pilot, I’m boiling.

All the other projects are a little obsolete for now, like the comic strip and the illustration online classes, even the Food Photography project, I had to put on the side for this month. First things first. This contest feels like I’m looking for the Golden Ticket to get into the chocolate factory.

Thats it for now! I have to go back to my scripts.

Stay safe.

J.G.Snelly.

A Better Tomorrow

I didn’t even want to write this week. Since the last post, the country erupted in protest, fighting for the peoples rights, to be respected as an equal, systemic racism, police brutality, due to the recent death of the Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey and George Floyd. The news is exploiting George’s death in every single possible way. I lost count of how many times I’ve seen that poor man collapse during broadcasting. We all demand justice. We are tired of this system.

Tired of the injustice, tired of being worried about my friend’s of color safety and tired of the internet parasites, who use someone else’s fight to promote themselves. Social Media and the delusional world they build. It helps create the idea that you are helping, tagging along with hashtags and motivational posts; when the situation is much more profound than that. I know people who post about Black Lives Matter, only to look cool and be part of the hype. Don’t be that person, it’s time to educate yourself and get out of the bubble. How? Watching movies by directors of color, listening to music, from musicians of color, other than Beyoncé. Read the books, support black entrepreneurs, watch documentaries, take art classes online and so on. I believe that equality is the only way to go.

The past weekend I thought I was going to take my mind away from all the mess going around and relax for a minute, it turns out I hated the place we visited.

We traveled to Corpus Christi, the gulf coast of Texas, about 3.5 hours away from Austin. I’m not sure if it was the fact that I was at home for the past 3 months and my expectations of being outside again were really high, or the town was boring. It felt weird to be out, in an almost abandoned town, where the eerie feeling drifted in the air. It felt like I was out of my body, with seagull’s flying low, hooting loud, hungry for my next mistake. I woke up on a rainy Sunday and all my plans to go to the beach were washed away, I put all my drinks in the cooler, we drove there anyways, stayed for 15 minutes with heavy winds, trying to keep the mat on the sand, only to decide to drive back. Most of the people in town were not wearing masks or caring about the virus. It seems like the virus hadn’t messed with their lives. Texans seem to be reckless and somehow they are fine. I have to find another coastal city to visit and I will probably choose somewhere in Florida.

I finally sat on a coffeeshop after 3 months. Outside, with my hand sanitizer in one hand and the mask in the other.

Talking about Florida, I had a great conversation with my college best friend Shelly. We got some time to talk on video chat, something we have been planning for months. We talked about the plans for the future and how Full Sail University shouldn’t have creative writing as a bachelor’s degree, and instead add some of those classes as a choice to take during film classes. It would work much better, while it wouldn’t waste anyone’s time or money. Full Sail is great for gaming, music production and film. If I had a chance, I would not consider the creative writing as degree choice. You can sign up foe a Master Class membership for $99 a year instead and be able to do the same thing we were doing. I don’t regret taking it, as I was in a bad place in my life, and somehow those classes kept my energy flowing. But I would not do that if I was in my right state of mind.

Spike Lee resumed 3 years of classes in 4 videos.

As June starts, I gave a chance to my quarterly planner. Today I sat down and planned the next days and my goals for this week. I’m trying to keep it simple, because I’m very bad with self-scheduling, even though I was on point with school assignments. If I don’t have a deadline, I end up watching “The Office” or “Parks and Recreation”, or scrolling social media to the moon and answering strangers on twitter, instead of doing the job. I need deadlines. I work well under pressure, I guess I enjoy the induced panic feeling and the adrenaline of being a failure. Anyway, the only things I have planned for this week are my blog post, create the log line for my web series script and finish my master class. What can throw me off the rack? Social media and tv. I’m also working on the comic strip about the restaurant industry, I have about 4 scripts that I will have to draw.

That’s it for now, friends. I will see you back here when the energy gets better.

Be safe,

J. G. Snelly

Horror Tales in a thread

Another week has gone by since my last post and not much had happened in my writing endeavors. I have been focusing on getting the writing prompts together so I could work on my project of another self-published Short Stories book. It is weird to think that Horror Genre is probably my least appealing subject for writing because I never watch horror movies or read horror stories, yet I enjoy creating those types of narratives. I like reading stories from people from different countries and watch videos about people that heard something about a neighbor, or someone they know and they swear the information is real. Twisted in some ways, but real. That’s where my imagination runs wild. I’m a writer after all.

Horror Art vintage found on Pinterest

Last week I read on twitter about something that happened in my home country, it was a long thread, it was highly engaging and entertained, I ended up reading it all. In the northwest part of Brazil, there are a lot of those anecdotes that people hear from someone, who told someone and it became like the tale of that small town. Here is what the locals said it happened: a lady went to a funeral, as when she was leaving, she saw a picture of the deceased guy in his tomb, who had died many years before. On the way home, she felt a presence and felt like she was being followed by someone. A few minutes after she got home, she went to the living room and saw the guy from the picture from the cemetery, seating on her couch. She didn’t get scared and they started talking. They feel in love. The rest it’s going to be on my story.

I keep reading it, I wonder if it would be a good horror story or a drama. In the horror, I feel like they would break up and he drives her insane because he doesn’t accept it. If it’s a drama, she would kill herself to be with him for eternity, in a way more dramatic than City of Angels, from 1998. I still have to come up with a complete storyline. I won’t let this one go, or keep it only in my head as I did with the others That story it’s too good to be abandoned. I also come up with other ideas I would like to write:

– The accident: After an accident, everything seems to be normal in the girl’s life, but she can’t see her reflection in the mirror. What could have possibly happened?

– Unexpected Visitor: Working in the night shift alone, the guy sees a face in the cellar staring at the security camera. Who is it and what does that thing want?

I came up with some other ideas, the little book will be about 5 short stories and I want to publish on smahwords.com, where I have the first one published, I’m a self-published author if I dare to say. The booklet is free https://liveoutloudtoo.com/e-book/ . I will try to make a post on how to self-publish soon.

This past week also, as I started the preparations to film for my husband’s chiropractic channel I also watched a video on SkilShare about writing and filming content for the web. It was a little bit overwhelming because I think this is most likely for the tik tok generation, and I’m an older millennial. I can’t seem to wrap my head around so much exposition of someone’s life. It’s too much! Post it, like it, hashtag it, watch that viral video in a loop, share it. Go back for the comments. Answer the comments. It’s exhausting. The instructor was fun and engaging, but the content of the videos was what drove me crazy. I watched it all and got my little badge of achievement, but it got me thinking about how far people would go to get some online presence.

My only online presence is boosted on Sundays, where I’m frenetically live tweeting with the 90-day fiancée show.

That’s my twitter account and no, I’m only popular on Sundays

The instructor talked about how to create meaningful content write a list, trash it, write another list until you get to the quirkiest situations to talk about. Like planes for example, what would be the weirdest thing or the most irritating remarks you could write about this type of travel? The food, the flight attendants, the screaming child, people who sleep on you without warning and so on. Or camping. We all have a crazy story about camping. Mine is: I set up everything, got super bored and left.

I finally got some silence in my house. I’m going to write my stories now! See you next week!

XX

J. Snelly

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