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by Hedgebrook Staff

We are excited to introduce you to each of incoming screenwriters for Hedgebrook’s inaugural Screenwriters Lab! We encourage you to check out their previous work by following the links at the bottom of the interview. This is the third in a series of five interviews. Check back soon to meet our fourth screenwriter!


Without giving too much away, what do you find new and challenging about your current project?

As Ernest Hemingway said “the first draft is always shit.” And how right he was. What he failed to add was that often the second, third and fourth drafts are also shit. The completion of every draft of my script “Mimi and Ulrich” has been laced with both triumph (“yay, it’s done!”) and disaster (“oh look, new layers of shit!”). What’s new and challenging for me, at this point in the script, is differentiating between the shit and the gold, because honestly, depending on my mood, they can look the same.


Have networks of other women writers contributed to your growth and success as a writer?

Yes, undeniably. The women writers in my life are my touchstones. They include the freelance writers—Steffie Nelson (NYTimes), Linda Immediato (LA Magazine) and Sarah Tomlinson (memoirist, “Good Girl”), and the women who I met during the masters program in screenwriting at USC (Rose Surnow, Mishki Vaccaro, Hannah Sanghee Park). These are friendships based on the unique understanding we share of being devoted to a male-dominated craft that does not always pay well, if at all, and usually pays women less, or sidelines us. That said, I have also been lucky enough to feel very supported by a handful of male writers and producers who appreciate my passion for words, and what I do with them. They include screenwriter Wesley Strick, producer Jon Deprudhoe, and screenwriter/USC professor Don Bohlinger. Writing may be painted as a lonely craft, but it also takes a village.


How do you approach making creative compromises for financial reasons?

With as much gratitude as I can muster. Would I love to spend every hour of every day writing scripts and novels and poems and other work born from my ego-driven desire to leave some kind of artistic imprint on contemporary culture and be rich and famous and live in a pool house in the Hollywood Hills and sip sundowner cocktails with my fabulous husband, like Joan Didion? Yes.

Can I do that at this point in my career?

Hell no.

My art hasn’t earned me a God damn dime, while my journalism and my ghostwriting have enabled me to pay my rent and hit up many a Hollywood happy hour and buy some really cool vintage t-shirts. So it’s about finding the balance—the art is my long game, and the other stuff is my bread and butter.

I try and devote four hours a day to each—mornings are about money words, and afternoons are about art words. Then it’s happy hour and friends…until the next day. And honestly, having both of those things doesn’t feel like a compromise. I feel very lucky to be living this life. 🙂


Would you share one of your creative rituals?

None of this works without coffee. I roll out of bed, zombie walk to the kitchen, and make the coffee happen. Gevalia, Intelligentsia, David Lynch’s coffee is alright. While doing so I obsessively text with my best friends Thomas Hunter, guitarist for a band called The Heavy, Elza Burkart, a very talented artist, and Chloe Newsom, a red-headed marketing whiz and force of nature, who inspire me daily. I don’t have any family in the US so my friends are my family—honorable mention goes to desert-based painter/filmmaker Bon Nielsen who has let me live at her house while working on writing projects. So, friends are everything and nurturing those friendships is a ritual that feeds my writing. Also, music—a really strange female-fronted death metal band from Oakland called Bog Oak helped get me in the right mood when I was working on “Mimi” revisions most recently, because Mimi listens to a lot of heavy music.

Other than that, I’ve found that my writing it’s that it’s best done alone, at a desk, sitting down with my legs crossed (very bad for my back, I know), with no sense of time restraints or limits. That’s when the words really flow.


Why are you excited about Hedgebrook?

I can’t wait to be in a little hobbit house in the virgin forest, working on nothing but my script—what a luxury—and then venturing outside to workshop it with some extraordinarily talented women. I am excited about the friendships that will be forged, and to become a part of an incredible network of women writers. What an honor.


About Caroline Ryder:

Caroline-Ryder_200x250Caroline Ryder chronicles popular culture for the NY Times, LA Weekly and Dazed&Confused magazine, and has interviewed major celebrities for dozens of publications including Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan and BULLETT. She ghostwrote the memoir of Sunset Strip video star Bobbie Brown (“Dirty Rocker Boys”, Simon&Schuster), and the memoir of Ashley Fiolek, deaf X Games motocross champion (“Kicking Up Dirt”, HarperCollins). “Kicking Up Dirt” is being adapted for the screen by Sony Studios. She has consulted with DJ Steve Aoki, GWAR, and Stephen Pearcy (RATT) on book projects, and created branded content for UNIQLO, Citizens of Humanity, Sanrio and Hurley.

Learn more about Caroline: www.carolineryder.com

Follow her on Twitter: @carolineryder and Facebook.



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Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily representative of the opinions of Hedgebrook, its staff or board members.


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