THE PICTURE OF the chile wagon (an old beater pick-up truck hung with strings of red chile, aka chile ristras) posted in the header of my blog was taken by Brian back when we lived in Taos, New Mexico.
A symbolic image of New Mexico is intrinsic to this blog because I took up screenwriting while living in Taos. And my first screenplay is set in NM.
We've moved several times since then and I'm still in the boonies. Currently, I live in Youngstown, Ohio, part of the Rust Belt. Yo'town's big claim to movie fame is Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, a retired Italian-American boxer who was born here and whose boxing career was portrayed in a 1980s made-for-television movie. More recently, Mancini has been living the Hollywood dream, acting in a handful of films. He lives in L.A., where he operates two movie production companies.
Not sure any screenwriters from Yo have ever made the grade in Hollywood. I should research that.
I was born in Wallace, Idaho—population 784, according to the 2010 census—so if any future screenwriting success ever managed to generate my own Wikipedia page, my yokeldom would become official.
When I named my blog, I didn't consult with the Internet on the meaning of the term “the boonies.” I already had my reasons for choosing that name, and it didn't occur to me to look up the definition. Amazingly (or amusingly), this morning when I Googled “definition of boonies” just for kicks, I found out there's a Wiki page devoted to it.
Pretty much everybody knows that boonies is short for “the boondocks.” Here's the official definition from Wiki:
The term boondocks refers to a remote, usually brushy rural area; or to a remote city or town that is considered unsophisticated.I had always assumed it must be a Southern term. I just found out it originated in the Philippines (spelled slightly different) and was introduced into the English language by American military personnel serving in the Philippines during the early years of the 20th century. Other languages have their own equivalent, including Spanish.
In 1965 (when I was five years old), Billy Joe Royal had a hit with “Down in the Boondocks.” The song is a lament from a young man who feels the pain of people putting him down because he was born in the boonies.
I didn't specifically think about that song when I named my blog, but those lyrics must have been simmering in my subconscious. Because that's my lament. Actually, lament is the wrong word for it—that's my challenge.
Like many aspiring screenwriters, I was not born in L.A. and I don't have a way (yet) to move there. But I've witnessed the rise of services that make the movie biz more accessible to writers from out of town. I wrote about one here (see my post about eMeetings, a start-up from the folks at PAGE Screenwriting Awards). I found another one last week that's still in the experimental stage but could be quite powerful—and lucrative—for writers who live in the boonies (more about that in an upcoming post).
The boonies are not dead yet! Let's wallow around in our proverbial swamps and keep writing.
Milli Thornton (aka Milliver) is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Milliver's Travels and the Fear of Writing Blog and coaches writers individually at Writer's Muse Coaching Service.