Cruznotes Newsletter by Jaime Alejandro | 12.21 Recap
Big Mistakes. Unexpected Collaborators. New Chapters. Not bad.
It's Jaime, the guy with the writing and the podcasting and the other stuff. I set out to collaborate with creatives from all walks of life, and to do my part to celebrate the work of creatives like you. It's safe to say 2021 was a remarkable year at cruzfolio.com, and I wanted to let you know none of it would have been possible without you!
This year, the Creative Drive podcast featured short fiction and poetry from 10 different countries! We received so many submissions that we are in the process of bringing on more voice talent to join the cause! I also had the wonderful opportunity to learn so much about various creative disciplines and artistic resilience from a slew of talented guests on the brand new Arts Calling podcast!
While my grassroots projects experienced some growing pains and delays this year, I can't thank you enough for your patience, generosity, and for sharing your outstanding artistic perspective! All the best to you and yours, and don't forget: I believe in you and work. We need it now more than ever. Happy new year and make art!
Here’s what we did in December. Enjoy!
I began the month talking with Dre Ellis, a creative force starting his latest endeavor at Prophecy Comics. He is bringing to life protagonists of color into comics and currently fundraising his indie web comic, Heavy is the Hand on Kickstarter. For more about Dre, check out his links here: direct.me/prophecycomics
I had the pleasure of meeting Shaine Greenwood over Twitter, and I’m glad we were able to have a conversation on the podcast. He is a writer hailing from the Northwest who just released his sci-fi anthology, The Aether! We talked about the importance of putting together your own community, workshopping his fiction, and Shaine may just have talked me into finally playing D&D. Check out Shaine’s work here: youaremuted.com
In episode 15, I caught up with my friend A.J. Ross and I was so happy to hear about her incredible project, Familiar Monsters. We go back to the Casper College days of theatre ages ago, and I was thrilled to look back on some of our theatre adventures, her storytelling approach, and much more. Be sure to check out Familiar Monsters!
For the last episode of the year, I got to check in with my friend Máire Higgins on all things acting, humor, and how the power of stories can lead us to a more compassionate world. I admire Máire’s commitment to her craft and her mindset to be of service to her community. She left me with some excellent kernels of wisdom to end 2021! Don’t forget to check out her website here: mairehiggins.com
Other Podcast Stuff
After a fall hiatus, Our Kid’s Asleep is coming back this year and we can’t wait to get started! Creative Drive of course, is expanding and I am bringing some friends and volunteers. If you’d like to volunteer some voice work for this international creative project, please feel free to reach out via the cruzfolio.com contact form!
Toxic Fallout at Stacy’s Divorce Party, and the Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Done as a Writer
I have to be honest, December was a screenwriting shitshow. Then again, with the right attitude, screenwriting can always be a shitshow. Early December brought optimism in the air as I caught wind of a screenwriting opportunity for a major studio seeking a screenwriter to do rewrites on a rom-com. I raised my hand and expressed interest through a Twitter chain and expected nothing. Lo and behold, the lovely Coverfly talent folks reached out over Twitter and asked for a rom-com sample. It was then that I realized ALL of my rom-coms were written for the stage, save for one attempt at a screenplay adaptation: Toxic Fallout at Stacy’s Divorce Party. This stage play, written back in 2015, is a companion piece to my no-budget web series The Tumble (re-release forthcoming). In my arrogance and idiocy, I figured the best thing would be to finish the screenplay adaptation overnight. This is when I discovered how foggy my perception of the play actually was. Before attempting the rewrite, I hadn’t looked at the play for years, and in my delusional mind, I thought I would pick up where I left off and put some finishing touches over an already glorious work.
I found out the draft was shit. I was disappointed to see my characters: lively, imperfect people who have been with me for about a decade now, depicted in such a lackluster way. I was angry with myself. I failed to remember how far I had yet to go. So I doubled down, not because of the writing job. I think I stopped dreaming about the writing gig the moment I knew I didn’t have a genre-specific writing sample. I just had to finish it because my characters deserved a better version of themselves. I knew I could do better. I had to do better. So I wrote all night.
I rewrote about 60 new pages of an 80 page script in one night. It is by far the dumbest writing decision I have ever made. I have to say though: it was also the most cathartic. There’s not enough coffee for this kind of stupid. I was driven by delusion. Much like an Olympic sprinter prepares for the biggest race of their life, I hyped myself with reminders of how long I have trained for this. This moment of possibility. This moment of lunacy, when you must do something outstanding as the tide rises against you. I’ve told the love story of Stacy Meyer-Falchuk and Bellpepper countless times in my head. I have plotted ways for them to collide happily ever after or come apart at the seams of their love. I’ve known these characters, their world, their everything for a very long time. All I had to do was carry all of that in my head like some low-rent caffeinated Atlas scribe for 14 hours. I still don’t know how, but it got done. By sunrise, a script existed. I submitted my clumsy draft the morning after.
A word of caution: Even though I am insanely proud of the way the story came out, and I think it will do well when subjected to readings and additional development, I should never have submitted such a draft for consideration to anything. Often, there is an unreasonable euphoria when finishing a draft that needs time to settle. Only then do we see it for what it really is. Weeks later, I’m happy to say this one holds up okay, but it could have been a much bigger shitshow. As it stands, Toxic Fallout is an escalating plume of faith, love, and the absurd. An affirmation of my favorite stuff and what we need in the world. And it’s kind of a rom-com! As mentioned before, not all of my drafts have held up favorably after revisiting with a fresh pair of eyes. We need time to revise and reshape and make that shit bloom.
And after all that, here is the really curious thing the universe threw at me: The Blacklist released their best ranked scripts of the year, and one of their top screenplays of 2021 was titled, Divorce Party.
I’m sure Divorce Party is a delightful work and given the acclaim it has received, an excellent piece of writing! But I could write a tome’s worth of my thoughts on coincidence, manifesting, and the absurdity of the timing at play here. Perhaps the universe took a moment to teach me about humility, and to enjoy the ride over the destination.
Moral of the story: Don’t break yourself with writing. Go easy on yourself. And be sure to adapt all of your plays into screenplays ahead of time, just in case.
I’ll be preparing a reading of some kind in the future, but if you like, you can read the latest version of Toxic Fallout at Stacy’s Divorce Party here: cruzfolio.com/samples
Also, here’s Phoebe, one of my late night writing buddies
Cruz & Jonez in the Studio!
Songwriting sessions with my pal Dust have gone well this year. Our first live session of our song, 'See it Through' is now playing! I loved editing this. I brought all my cameras to the studio and we did an impromptu live set. We’ll be releasing some more in the coming weeks!
I was hoping to finish my one act Descheveler script during my Christmas break, but unfortunately, I got an awful cold that sidelined me for the entire week. Very grateful it wasn’t COVID, but I still felt like crap and so I sat on the couch and spent time with my family. I’m hoping I can hash this one act this month. Wish me luck!
That holiday week, instead of writing, I enjoyed screenwriting Twitter threads and read my Twitter friends Ash Lazer and Joe Straynge’s riotous, ridiculous, and all around good time script, SLEIGH HARD! If you’re still in the holiday spirit, check it out here: guerrillacoastpictures.com
Collaborating with AI
Speaking of descheveler, I have an album’s worth of music that won’t be in the actual audio play, but won’t be released as a standalone album either. I think I am going to release the audio drama and the music as a release together. Still thinking it through. It’s early. There’s time.
Looking for artwork that would be appropriate for the potential album, I stumbled into the grotesque, abstract, and hypnotizing world of images generated with artificial intelligence. I have long been fascinated with the prospect of creating work in collaboration with technology and artificial intelligence. My first taste of this surreal artistic experience was six years ago when I incorporated google translate into some poetry writing sessions. It is thrilling to me that I can have a creative conversation with a piece of software or technology that renders something I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own. It’s a weird exchange of information but I love it, and have been consumed by it lately. I have been researching various mobile apps and the VQGAN+CLIP text-to-image art generator and while I am still scratching the surface, I intend to make it a consistent part of my creative process. I AM ECSTATIC.
For today, I leave you with the cover image (I don’t know if it’s art yet, I don’t know how I feel about it, but it’s a cover image nonetheless!) for the first proper descheveler single holocene, rings hollow. Can’t wait to share more with you!
All of this December tomfoolery leads me to this:
The Coalition | A new creative chapter
Heading into the new year, I’m back at it again with this exciting effort to collaborate locally and online. If you’ve ever met me or have known me for more than a few minutes, you’ll get a sense that artistic collaboration across many disciplines is incredibly important to me. I make amends regularly with the struggles of being a working class creative, but that doesn’t mean I have to surrender my love for the arts just because I’m not hustling in L.A. or New York. This year, I am doubling down on my calling. I am going all in on digital theatre, new media, and online storytelling.
I’m not going to wait anymore. I’m going to bring art into the world. To being, I just have a nice logo and a framework that is going to serve my work. I’m okay with this. I have the tools I need to begin. I’m not wealthy, and I can’t offer money just yet, but my aim is to create an artistic support group that can provide a decentralized framework to make art no matter where you are. I’ve thought about this often and I feel like I have finally dreamed up a ladder to lift myself out of my own artistic setbacks.
Projects are already underway. I can’t wait to fulfill my calling as best I can in 2022.
May you be happy this year. May you be free from suffering. No matter where you are or where you came from, you deserve to nourish your artistic soul, if it calls you. I wish you the best this year. You don’t have to kill it, you don’t have to hustle or slay. Just be you, at your own pace. I believe in you and your work. That’s it. Much love,
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