That Wasn’t Supposed To Be On Fire

This is a picture of my cat. This is also a picture of how I feel this weekend.

In the continual quest to not go crazy and make myself any sicker, I’m making an effort to step back from work and find other pursuits. Recently a good friend of mine read one of my scripts and asked me if I could come up with something for him. And so, I am now in the process of writing a Hallmark Channel movie. Which is probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Anyone who knows me knows this isn’t my style. I was in the middle of writing the third episode of my next drama series and now I’m pushing aside books on the NYPD for a stack of romance movies and I’ve got the Celine Dion station tuned in on Pandora. If I have to hear “My Heart Will Go On” one more time I think I’m just going to start laughing. But I’m trying, darn it. I just don’t know what the heck I’m doing.

The good news is I’ve got a wonderful inspiration. When I said I’d do this it was with the motivation that I could pay it forward and write the lead for one of the strong women in my life. I can think of no one better in that respect than Patti Murin, who graciously let me use her as my muse for this project. Patti is exactly the strong, positive woman that would be perfect for a Hallmark movie. And since I know who I’m aiming for then I also know what I need to write.

But so far it’s been a comedy of errors trying to get it down on paper. My sense of humor and the kinds of tricks in my bag are, well, not Hallmark. I keep having to catch myself and write alternative lines because I realize I’m not getting certain things past the network. I actually had to tell myself, “I don’t think he can say that she tried to set him on fire.” As funny as that is and as much as Patti’s husband Colin would have nailed it.

Here’s the original exchange:

MARCUS
We’re not allowed to work together anymore. Not after the coffee incident.

JORDAN
I know.

MARCUS
During which, if I remember, you said that if you had to share anything with me again you’d set me on fire.

JORDAN
I did.

MARCUS
And then you tried to set me on fire.

Here’s the revised version:

MARCUS
We’re not allowed to work together anymore. Not after the coffee incident.

JORDAN
I know.

MARCUS
During which, if I remember, you said that if you had to share anything with me again you’d move to Canada.

Other things that have gotten cut so far: a line where Jordan says she wants to strangle her rival Marcus (now she wants to leave him in Missouri) and a moment where Jeff Hephner’s character Kevin admits he left town because his brother died (while that’s actually based on a true story, it’s still too tragic).

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to work in a scene about fostering puppies and an excuse for a musical number. Because if I’m lucky enough to get this movie made with musical theatre people in it there needs to be a song.

But this is what I’m working with and it’s one heck of a gear change for the girl whose pet project is a crime drama slash conspiracy thriller where there’s an action sequence every episode and Jeff Hephner gets to slam people up against walls.

Meanwhile if you didn’t get to see it, I wrote a very personal piece for One Chicago Center this week. I’m also not in the habit of making myself the story. Especially not when I was expected to be writing something else. But one thing I have learned from my recent exploits is that it’s easier to open up. So when I got moved by this week’s Chicago Med and couldn’t shake it I put that feeling out there instead of ignoring it. The few people who noticed have had some very nice things to say, and it always feels good to take a little weight off my shoulders.

I’m also taking a cooking class. I’m taking Gordon Ramsay’s MasterClass, to be specific. I had the pleasure of working with Chef Ramsay a few times for Kitchen Nightmares and the early seasons of Hell’s Kitchen and I’ve always liked him. I’ve also always wanted to learn how to cook. So when I’m not listening to Celine Dion and watching Hallmark movies I’m taking online lessons on poaching eggs.

This is all very weird to me. It’s all stuff I wouldn’t normally do. But part of me wonders if that’s the point of all this. If maybe my career going south is an opportunity to establish a new direction in my life. I guess we’ll find out.

If nothing else I’m getting to see a lot of romantic comedies. And finally taking some catnaps. (I had to.)