If one were on the same subway car as Liberal Studies professor of writing Tamuira Reid, he or she might notice the screenwriter scribbling the internal thoughts of her movie characters on scraps of paper. The LS Writing I, II and Creative Writing professor and single mother juggles her love of writing and her son with creative inspiration and massive amounts of coffee.
“The Road” and Other Books
When Reid assigns books to her students, she chooses titles of varying genres to expose her students to a diverse collection of literature, which enables them to find their writing identity.
“They cannot really understand what their voice is as a writer unless they’ve been exposed to a lot of styles and a lot of voices. I give them tons and tons of different pieces from different writers, all different styles,” Reid said.
Currently, her Creative Writing class is reading “The Road,” by Cormac McCarthy, a post-apocalyptic novel about a father and his young son.
Scraps of Paper
Torn off pieces of student papers and gum wrappers litter Reid’s bag, and many other scraps contain ideas for her writing that come to her throughout her day. Usually, ideas of individual characters come to her naturally.
“I always know the characters first. I know everything about them, what they think, what they do, what they eat, what they dream about when they sleep,” Reid said. “But I don’t necessarily know the plotline. I just kind of know the people first and then the plotline starts to come.”
In the past, Reid has written many nonfiction personal essays based off of her family. An essay about a family boat trip with her sisters and mother led to her screenplay, “Luna’s Highway,” which tells the story of three estranged sisters who come together to drive their mother to rehab after she causes an alcohol-induced car crash. As of now, it is being optioned by a San Francisco-based production company.
Hot Wheels Car
Reid would be lost without constant accessibility to the small plastic cars that occupy her 3-year-old son Oliver during their daily travels. She said her child constantly acts creatively, whether he’s making up adventure stories about him and his girlfriend, Olivia, traveling by train to different places or dancing and playing the harmonica.
Being a mother changes Reid as a writer because she said it makes her more conscious of her work. Oliver motivates her to produce excellent work and prevents her from writing about her personal life.
“I want him to be proud of my output and be proud of the stuff I’m creating … But it’s also interesting because I worry about what he’s going to read,” Reid said. “And I feel like that’s great that I’m moving into fiction and screenplays because I can write about anything and it doesn’t have to be my own personal home.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 11 print edition. Nicole Del Mauro is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected]