May, 2014:

EDITING AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES

I’m a big believer in the connections of life. The oddest connections happen to me because, no doubt, I’ve grown up and lived in many places in the world, have written for newspapers, live in Los Angeles, and write a blog about my various adventures and synchronicities in life. This story about L. Dickson Griffith attracted Bill, a fellow from Atlanta whose father was a good friend of my friend Dick. Bill’s father has passed on, as has Dick, no doubt. Bill found Dick’s book I edited, In the Hearts of Famous Hunters, among his father’s books and it was signed by Dick. Bill was nice enough to get in touch and tell me about his connection.

Newspaper reporting/editing, writing an historical fiction novel, the continent of Africa, and a divorce led me to spread my wings and edit books to make a better living. Interestingly enough, Africa has played several pivotal roles in my life. I lived in the North African country of Libya as a teenager and was always intrigued with the history of this ancient continent. Thanks to a new friend who works in Libya several times a year, I have seen photos of our family home location from the 1950s in Tripoli. I’ll write more about that fantastic coincidence soon.

Once single, I was out “among ‘em” and I met an older gentleman, L. Dickson Griffith, in a local Southern California watering hole. He had been in NYC advertising (like a Don Draper on the AMC-TV show “Mad Men”) and went on to work as a technical advisor for Roone Arledge of ABC-TV in organizing and coordinating a TV show, “American Sportsman” that featured American celebrities who hunted big game. The “reality show” (although not known by that designation in those days) would feature actual hunting expeditions, and they’d begin the series in Africa. They were starting the first episode in a camp about 150 miles from Nairobi, Kenya, with actor Robert Stack and General Joe Foss, a WWII Medal of Honor winner and former Governor of South Dakota.

Dick Griffith knew many larger-than-life characters through his own interest and skills in big game hunting. He gathered his interviews and recollections of various hunting trips into a colorful book complete with photos and even fine art paintings of a few wild animals; the leopard on the books cover is by artist Gary Swanson. Dick called the collection of stories In the Hearts of Famous Hunters. Some of the other hunters featured in the book included Roy Rogers, Chuck Yeager, the flyer who broke the sound barrier; and Astronaut Wally Schirra.

Dick Griffith, Author, Hunter, Ad Man

Dick Griffith, Author, Hunter, Ad Man

What a privilege it was for me to be associated with this project, and my name is in the acknowledgements. Later, I helped Dick by editing his fiction novel, Adam’s Horn, which was also set in Africa—Uganda during Idi Amin’s cruel reign.

When we finished the writing and had the hunters’ book published in 1992, Dick Griffith had a book signing party in Westlake Village, and Robert Stack came to celebrate. I still have the beautiful book but not the photo taken with Dick and Robert Stack.

Most books appear on the Internet, and when I first looked for Dick’s two books, but they seemed like lonely sentinels. Open Library had some basic information on In the Hearts of Famous Hunters but no way to purchase it, and Amazon had one copy of Adam’s Horn. I was delighted when Bill found a copy of Dick’s wonderful book. Who knows, there may still be a few out there.

Dick has passed on, but I’m sure he must be hanging out with the souls of the many hunters he interviewed, wrote about, and counted as friends. I will always appreciate the opportunity he gave me to edit his books.

Since Dick Griffith’s book, I connected with another man named Dick, in this case Dick Mawson, who wrote his life story of growing up and living in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa: The Gods Who Fell from the African Sky. He has had such a fascinating life that we finished the first volume this past summer, but there’s a second volume to come. Mawson overcame losing his right foot and ankle at age eleven to eventually become a daring competitor in racing hydroplane boats and later built and raced saloon cars. And that’s just a brief account of his exciting life.

THOUGHTS OF MEMORIAL DAY

Memorial Day reminds me of cemeteries and the fact I’m a proud Army brat. I’ve been to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and watched as a trained soldier walked his special pace back and forth in front of the memorial. It’s a very moving ceremony and reminds me even more of my connection to the US Military. Because of modern technology, the Vietnam War unknown soldier has been identified using DNA. It seems unlikely now that there will be another unknown soldier.

 

Brigadier General Victor W. Hobson, Arlington National Cemetery

Brigadier General Victor W. Hobson, Arlington National Cemetery

 

My birth father, Brigadier General V.W. Hobson is buried at Arlington National Cemetery; the stepfather who raised me, Colonel A.D. Williams, is buried in a military cemetery close to Provo, Utah. My mother, who died too young at Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, was first laid to rest in the Ft. Sam Houston cemetery in Texas and over 20 years later buried on top of my dad in Utah. Both fathers had military funerals with gun salutes, etc.

My son Hans found the grave of his grandfather, Brigadier General Victor W. Hobson at Arlington National Cemetery last year. He and Jen, his wife, were celebrating their first year wedding anniversary with a short trip to Washington, D.C. They had been there some years ago, but this trip as a couple was a special one. Their hotel overlooked the infamous Watergate complex and was near Memorial Bridge. Arlington Cemetery, with its thousands of military graves and the eternal flame from the Kennedy graves, was just across the Potomac. It was Hans’ idea to check out the historical graveyard and look for my birth father’s grave. I’d never seen it, since I wasn’t able to travel across country to his funeral. I had luckily connected with him for the last time a few years before he died in 2000, hours shy of my 58th birthday. The photo my son took brought sentimental thoughts, especially since I had not grown up with my father–World War II and a divorce stood in the way. I did not meet him “officially” until I turned 21. Using the excuse of family history, I looked him up when he was stationed at the Pentagon.

There were no guns for my mother’s funeral but lots of tears and laughter as we remembered her. Fittingly, because of her love of music, the famous jazz musician Duke Ellington died on the day of her Texas funeral. My sister and I had our own private ceremony when we decided her coffin needed to be moved so that her grave would at least be close to family. After all, an Army wife is used to moving without being asked her opinion. I thought it was fitting that she was in the top position of the grave this time, with her husband on the bottom. As a matter of fact, she would have had a good laugh. Military wives learn early on to see humor almost everywhere.

Here’s to all those who have died for the good old USA, all those still protecting us, which now includes plenty of women, and to all the wives and families who support our military.

 

 

MELAYNIE’S MASQUERADE – An Excerpt

Adventures on the sea are always popular–I sure had fun writing my historical fiction novel. Two fairly recent films–“Captain Philips” with Tom Hanks and “All is Lost” with Robert Redford captured lots of interest. I’ve always enjoyed that genre in movies and books, just as I enjoyed my own adventures on a US Navy ship sailing in the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic Ocean back in the 1950s.

My book on Melaynie needs a new look. I love the drawing of the ships, but it doesn’t convey the romance in the story. I think a combined portrayal of Melaynie, Francis Drake, Bernardino–the handsome Spaniard love interest, and the loyal Diego are possibilities for a new cover. A reasonably priced cover artist is needed. In case someone is intrigued, get in touch. Perhaps we can do some kind of trade.

Writing a novel, especially in the historical fiction genre, is a daunting task. A few years ago I took on the challenge. I had always loved history and for many years had attended Renaissance Pleasure Faires in Southern California. I knew something about Shakespeare since I was an English major in college and had seen many Shakespeare plays and films. It seemed liked a natural thing to do. Besides, I’d already written a screenplay about Francis Drake, the English sea captain who was known for his pirate activities against the Spanish in the Caribbean in the 16th century. Since it was damn difficult to finance a movie, especially a sea epic, I had the brilliant idea of taking the elements of the script, add a fictional heroine and, presto, I’d have a book. A lot of effort went into more historical research and almost five years later I had a book. After all that time and no luck finding an agent right away, I was impatient to have it published. I chose the self-publishing route when the idea was fairly new and easy. Since then I’ve also published it on Amazon as an Ebook. The link to Amazon is in the upper right of this page or follow the link: http://amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

My book is full of true adventure (Essentially, only my heroine and her family are fictional) and romance. I’ve even written a couple of sex scenes. After all the 50 Shades books are all the rage! See below for a teaser about the romance that develops:

 

With Drake’s humorous admonition to be careful with their guest, Melaynie carried a lantern to show Bernardino to his private tent at evening’s end.

In the light of a bright moon, whose rays poured through the wide opening of the small quarters, Bernardino found and immediately sat down on the portable cot. Tired from the day’s excitement and mellowed to the point of sleepiness by the wine, he languidly watched as the young captain’s boy placed the lantern on an empty cask, thinking as he watched of his young sister. Why was he thinking of his sister; was it the way this young boy moved, or simply the beauty of youth?

He leaned back and began to remove his doublet, welcoming the cooler night air on his skin. Remembering the music and the caress of the night breeze, he felt relaxed and sensual. Melaynie’s body and face were profiled in the moonlight. What a lovely young boy, Bernardino reflected as he studied the fine facial features and golden hair. He lazily watched the lantern’s flickering light, his feelings of arousal fanned by its glow. How agreeable it would have been to have a woman to love, an appropriate climax to a congenial evening.

Framed by the moonlight, the boy continued to stand, leaning toward the lantern, like a moth to the flame, his eyes mesmerized by the flame. From his angle lounging on the cot, Bernardino noticed the boy’s cream-colored shirt had flared outward as he stood there. The material was diaphanous enough that the lantern’s light revealed his naked chest. Bernardino smiled at the pretty picture it made, and then narrowed his eyes, looking again closely, as he sat up slowly, uncertain that what he saw was true.

The lantern had highlighted a pair of delicate breasts, whose outline was clear enough through the linen shirt. This was no boy; he saw the evidence. The breasts were small, but they were present. Had no one else in this English company noticed? Men could be dense; he had seen how she had been treated as her costume defined her. A turmoil of feelings assaulted him at this revelation, the excitement of the mystery of her only heightening his stimulated senses. He struggled to compose himself, to dampen his growing ardor, to quiet his racing mind.

Had he been intrigued because some instinct told him of her true gender? Whatever the mystical reasons, she must not guess he had seen her secret. Searching his mind for clues, he quickly surmised her subterfuge had been well hidden until now and that she was probably older than he had supposed. What had caused this young woman to carry off this masquerade; was she possessed by some unusual traits, a woman who felt herself truly a man? Or was it simply an adventure she sought, a desire to break from the traditional female role in her society? Did she feel he was a threat; was that why she had spilled the wine earlier? These turbulent thoughts raced through his mind in mere seconds.

Mel book cover 2

 

GRADUATED COLLEGE — 50 YEARS AGO

The years pass so quickly it’s difficult to imagine I graduated from college 50 years ago this spring! I wasn’t able to attend the celebration with fellow alumni at the College of William and Mary, but my heart was there. I chose the perfect college for myself. Inspired by a magazine story and its historical background, I only wanted to go to William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and I was blessed enough to be accepted. I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in English and have been using the knowledge I gained ever since.

I am a sentimental and nostalgic woman and lately my beloved alma mater has gained some happy notoriety. “Fake news” TV comedian, Jon Stewart, is an alumnus, and he occasionally brings up his ties to William and Mary. When he interviewed David Barton, author of The Jefferson Lies, Stewart declared he was a graduate of the same school as Thomas Jefferson. I’m a great fan of the TV series “Nashville” and it turns out one of the stars, Chip Esten, who plays musician Deacon Claybourne, is a 1987 grad, and it seems his parents, sister and wife all graduated from W&M.

Not long ago, Robert Gates, who served as Secretary of Defense for both President George W. Bush and President Obama, became Chancellor of William and Mary. Gates was in the class behind me during our college years, but I didn’t know him. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was an honorary Chancellor of William and Mary from 1993-2000. Not bad for a college with only about 6,000 undergraduates in 2012.

This small college, founded in 1693, is located in an historic town that had figured in the American Revolution. Future US President Thomas Jefferson was a graduate, so were future Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler. Academic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa, was established there: its credentials were and are still amazing.

Ready to graduate

Ready to graduate

Ready to graduate in 1964

When Johnny Carlson, an old friend from Wheelus High School in Tripoli, Libya, who was a couple of years older than me, was accepted, that was the clincher for my choice. His parents and sister Gail invited me along for a Thanksgiving trip to the college while I was a junior in high school, and I adored the colonial 18th century atmosphere. We ate our holiday feast in a little French restaurant in town: Thiemes.

I love history, and Williamsburg was the perfect setting for my idea of a college: venerable old trees, lots of greenery, and aging brick classroom buildings highlighted by the famous Christopher Wren Building, where I later had most of my English literature classes. The Wren Building, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, famous English architect who designed St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, was the most notable building on campus.

Williamsburg, which had been the colonial capital of Virginia from 1699 to 1780, had been restored to its 18th century glory by the Rockefeller family. Living there was like stepping back into history: shopkeepers, restaurant waiters, etc. dressed in Colonial costume. There was no traffic because cars weren’t allowed on the local streets and college students couldn’t have cars either. Walking was a pleasure and far healthier. From the Wren Building, it was an easy walk from the College Corner intersection of Jamestown and Richmond Roads to the Capitol building down Duke of Gloucester Street (nicknamed DOG Street). I remember strolling past Casey’s Department Store, Corner Greeks and Middle Greeks (both restaurants owned by Greeks, of course), the Magazine (where ammunition was stored in the 18th century), and the elegant Governor’s Palace with its beautiful gardens. On certain days a walker might enjoy the Fife and Drum Corps melodically marching up or down DOG street.

If you were a female student and took a walk around Williamsburg during my 1960s college days, you had to be properly dressed—no long or short pants allowed (unless you were on a bicycle and you had to carry a cover skirt in case you got off the bike). Male students had no dress restrictions or curfews either. Midnight on Saturdays was the latest female dorm residents could stay out. It was more difficult to get in trouble with no cars, no males allowed past dorm lobbies, and with strict laws about alcoholic beverages (Virginia was a dry state then). The most absurd restriction, in my opinion, was the one imposed first semester freshmen year. Girls—we were generally 17 or 18—and hadn’t been through the Sexual Revolution–were not allowed to speak to boys after 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Heidi Giraud Artist

My daughter, Heidi, tapped into her hidden art talents just a few years ago. I’ve been continually amazed at the variety of styles and subject matter she’s produced; each of her artworks are imaginative and colorful. She keeps producing and I’m sharing a few. I love them all and want more of them on my walls…I must admit, I’m prejudiced! I’ve got five paintings so far and joked that I now have the Heidi Giraud Art Gallery Annex.  The painting below was created just for me and is Heidi’s interpretation of her mother. She told me the expression reminded her of my confidence in life…I might have been saying about a situation, “I’ve got this!” I’m very flattered by her interpretation!

Mama V - my Mother's Day gift

Mama V – my Mother’s Day gift

Wanting to spread the word about her talents, I asked her to write something about herself and she did: “The past few years I’ve felt that I needed/wanted to do something creative. I don’t recall having a desire to paint when I was a child, but believe it must have been there in my soul. When I was kicked out of high school, I was sent to continuation high school. I decided to take an art class and the first painting I did was a watercolor, all freehand, no tracing. I fell in love with it, but wasn’t settled enough in my life to do more than one more watercolor.”

 

Red Hat

Red Hat

My artistic yearnings inspired me to use a lot of color when I decorated various apartments of mine over the years. Then I took another art class for a few months, and that planted the seed that grew into a satisfying habit of painting. I have always been attracted to the shapes you can create, not to mention the colors you can use in abstract. My favorite colors are bright blues, reds, oranges and greens. There are no rules in abstract painting, you can create whatever you want, probably why I enjoy it so much. Abstract painting opens your mind to all sorts of interpretations. I feel it’s a perfect expression of life. Just when you think you know what is is, you look deeper into the painting with your mind and soul and see something totally different. (Note from Victoria: Heidi and I went to the Getty on Mother’s Day to see Jackson Pollock’s “Mural”–painted in 1943 and said to be an iconic abstract painting of the 20th century. It was huge and full of images that both of us imagined: from horses and ducks to faces. A photo of this painting does it no justice.)

Purple Girl

Purple Girl

 

My inspirations can come from anything. I can walk down a street in downtown Los Angeles, or see the sun’s rays flicker upon the Pacific Ocean and get my ideas from that. My emotions also play a part in my creations.

 

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

It’s Mother’s Day and this month marks 40 years since my mother died of kidney disease. She wasn’t quite 53 when she died.  I still miss her, as do my sister and brother. At least I have many photos and lots of memories.

My mama, as she would refer to herself in the Southern way, was a “pistol.” My dad called her “Pistol-packin’ mama;” the phrase is from an old country song. He was right: those were qualities an Army officer’s wife had to learn as she stood up for herself and her children.

As the seventh of eight children, Mom had practiced being her own person early in life. When it’s Mother’s Day, I remember Mama and all the effort she put into making sure her kids had the best she could give. In retrospect, I can truly appreciate her creative efforts, which came right from her heart. She didn’t go to college, but she knew a great deal about life and how to treat people with love and consideration. She let her heart dictate and then she went for it–whatever she chose to do– with enthusiasm and energy.

Passport photo --Tupper, Victoria, Darby, Garnette

Passport photo –Tupper, Victoria, Darby, Garnette

Besides being the best wife, mother, sister, cousin and friend she could manage, her primary talent was sewing. She tried her hand and/or Singer at almost everything stitchable: slipcovers and drapes, specialized window coverings (swag and jabot, Empire style sheer curtains), men’s shirts and ties, children’s clothing and almost any fashionable garment for women. When I was younger I had a Madame Alexander doll, about six inches tall, and she made tiny outfits for it. Her creations for me assured that I’d be stylish despite my dad’s thrifty habits. She kept the old Singer sewing machine humming; it came along with us to various Army posts, including Tripoli, Libya. During my teenage years in the Middle East, we found material, probably in an Italian shop, and set up our version of an assembly line to sew clothes for the two of us. My jumper in the photo above was made by my mother. Mom and I wore the same size and would often pick out a sundress pattern that was suitable for both, although we’d use material of different colors and patterns. We didn’t want to look like twins! I would cut out the pattern and sew the darts, for instance, and Mom would put in the zippers and work on anything difficult. I still remember the cotton 1950s style scoop-neck sundresses: hers had a black background with a lively print; mine was red. Those were the years of puffy crinoline underskirts, which girls had to starch and keep clean to keep their outer skirts sticking out. Mom came up with the unusual idea to use soft plastic chicken wire as an underskirt (who knows where she bought it!?). It kept its shape longer and was easy to keep clean. As I remember, I didn’t wear it often because it was a little too unique, and I was wary that someone might discover it.

In later years, when I was in college, she made me some elegant party clothes: a spaghetti-strap basic black satin dress with a little short-sleeved jacket with a scalloped bottom that I wore to a college dance, and a sexy, form-fitting black wool sheath with a boat neck and long sleeves I wore to several parties. There were many more creations, but the only garment I still have is my wedding gown. I got married in Germany in the ‘60s while my parents were stationed in Frankfurt. My mother found the ideal satin and lace material, and the perfect net for a veil, and it looked divine. It even had a small train. The gown is stored in a box, without all the fancy acid-free tissue of today. Even though I wonder what shape it’s in, it’s comforting to know I still have it. The only garment Mom didn’t make for my wedding was Dad’s suit. Interestingly enough, the wedding dress design is somewhat similar to the one worn not long ago by Princess Catherine of the United Kingdom.

Mom-4-65
Mama on my Wedding Day–she made her dress.
Years later, Mom made my cousin Penny’s wedding gown and her bridesmaids’ dresses as well. After all the work on Penny’s gown, Mom ironed it, but the iron was too hot and lifted off some of the material on the front of the dress. Mom agonized, but Penny’s sense of humor and practicality wouldn’t let my mother fret. “I’m glad it’s you who did it and not me! It doesn’t matter because my flowers will cover it,” Penny declared. After the ceremony and a few glasses of champagne, Penny cared even less: it was a funny sorry to tell all her guests. I didn’t always appreciate Mom’s talents. Regrettably, especially in college, I envied the girls whose parents gave them money to buy clothes in a department store. It was only later that I figured out that my mama’s talented fingers created original attire for me, and they were sewn with all the love she could give. She created clothes for me that could never be bought.

Oh, my Mama Mia, I miss you so!

GOOD NEWS ABOUT OLD AGE

We’re all getting older—surprise, surprise! I’m on the fringe of the Baby Boomers generation, and we definitely don’t welcome wrinkles and loss of mobility. Advertising proves my point, especially in LA, the entertainment capital of the world where everyone is “supposed to be” young. There are constant new beauty tricks and products on TV or in books and magazines. Plastic surgeons get very wealthy here, not to mention those specializing in surgery to take off the fat.

I think I’ve made my peace with extra pounds and the knowledge that I’ll never run a marathon and may never play tennis again. I won’t give up swimming, the easiest way to stay in some sort of shape. I have some vanity left—-Eyebrows must be enhanced first thing in the morning (one of the first beauty tricks I learned as a teenager for my very light and sparse eyebrows—an Irish trait?). If I’m going out, I also apply lipstick: I don’t have Scarlett Johansson’s plump colorful lips.

On Sunday evenings, probably the best night on TV, I always make sure to watch “60 Minutes,” the long-running news-oriented CBS show. This past Sunday, reporter Lesley Stahl told me all about what to expect in old age. It was a positive report for the most part, with some revelations I wasn’t expecting.

In Southern California scientists/doctors have been doing studies of folks who are now in their 90s and still healthy. They are also compiling figures and facts about the negatives in growing old. First, the bad news. The risk of dementia doubles every year from the age of 65 on. There’s no accurate test to determine Alzheimer’s or dementia, although they can more accurately test for it after death. Many seniors are donating their brains for research, so maybe there will eventually be a test. In the meantime, those whose memory is failing are well aware of their challenges.

There’s plenty of good news. The moderate use of alcohol, for instance, is good for you, and it doesn’t have to be only red or only white wine, for instance. I know I enjoy my “attitude adjustment” hour in the evening. Exercise is good, but it shouldn’t be strenuous. Apparently 45 minutes total during various times of the day is just fine.

Sex, as many may imagine, is good for you, as well as other friendly human interactions. Socialize to keep your spirits up! Vitamins make no difference, according to the study. What a savings that will be! And coffee is good for you. What surprised me the most was that extra weight was a plus as you get closer to 90; it wasn’t advantageous to be skinny. When you’re younger, low blood pressure is best, according to doctors. As you age, higher blood pressure is more desirable, and it gives you a lower risk of dementia!

Although they didn’t say it specifically, I gathered that health had a great deal to do with being happy. That’s what I firmly believe. And not having to agonize over what to eat or drink makes things so much more pleasant. Here’s to wine and chocolate!

CREATING A SCREENPLAY

I have probably seen thousands of movies in my life; it’s a passion of mine. And I’ve always liked historical stories. I must have learned something from all that watching and absorbing. I knew it would be challenging, but I was up to writing a script, I thought.

Before I sat down to write my screenplay on 16th century English sea captain, Sir Francis Drake, I needed to do some historical research. And how the heck would I write a screenplay? In the 1990s I’d never seen a script before or even been curious about how to create one.

Relying on CARIBBEAN, the book that had excited me to begin with, I was disappointed to discover that James Michener’s sagas weren’t entirely accurate: all those huge tomes about Hawaii, the Middle East, Alaska, Texas, Colorado, etc. Since he didn’t call them histories, he felt free to fictionalize. It made for a simpler story since real life is never tidy, although reel life is! James Michener didn’t even work as hard as I had presumed: he had his own research team.

Michener’s story about Drake was so tidy he created a neat rivalry between Drake, the English privateer, and a Spanish official of some high rank. In the 16th century, Spain was the ruler of the Old World and the New World: my story of Drake’s saga took place some years before England’s defeat of the Spanish Armada. The Michener story was entertaining and neatly handled even though the Spanish enemy didn’t exist (he was a conglomerate of many Spanish ship captains, officials, etc.). Drake made lots of Spanish enemies before he was through robbing their gold, jewels, and various battleships.

After I’d been lent a few sample screenplays, and a book about creating them, I was soon happily engaged in writing–lots of instructions about NIGHT, DAY, FADE IN, FADE OUT and what sort of emotion was on whose face, not to mention setting the scene. Aiming for a standard page count (at least then) of 120 pages, I was confident and joyful.

My creative partner, Dudley Hood, and I had met more than a few people industriously working or aspiring to work in the entertainment industry. It was relatively easy to interest people in helping to create a potential movie, TV program, etc. In LA, many of us live on dreams of stardom and success, and there are always a few who do realize their dreams, even in spectacular fashion.

I can no longer remember if Jan, our associate, was involved with costumes, set dressing or what, but she had been in the film industry for a few years and was making a living at it. She was an encouraging, enthusiastic kind of person as well as intelligent. Our project must have sounded feasible.

I could hardly wait for her to take a look at my creative efforts. I’d put a lot of work into my script and I was brimming with pride.

When we met after she’d read it, I eagerly awaited her verdict. I was sure I had a good beginning and I even liked my dialog.

“Where’s the conflict?” she asked me gently. “Every film has a conflict.”

“It’s got plenty of conflict,” I replied, defensively. “Drake’s always fighting this battle or that one.”

“It’s a dramatic technique to keep the audience interested. The work has to focus on a primary conflict of some kind as it builds to a climax and the conflict is resolved, one way or another,” she told me gently. “You also don’t want to lose your viewer in all sorts of unnecessary details.”

My screenplay was just history with a few flourishes.  Maybe Michener was more right than I gave him credit for.

Back to the drawing board, I thought ruefully. It wasn’t so simple after all. In the next couple of years, I rewrote my screenplay eight times. I even received encouraging reviews!

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