Last week, I bought a 1950’s style gray wool skirt and a white cardigan sweater with small rhinestone buttons. I know…Kelly, who cares what clothes you’re wearing? Obviously you have never gotten a DM from “SirBumsAlot”, but that guy seems obsessed with what I am or am not wearing. The rest of you should care because I feel great, and I want you to feel great, too. Not all of you need to look like a librarian from Back to the Future to get there. But you need to get to Your Happy Place because being a writer can feel like a root canal with intermittent Novocaine. [Read more…]
If you’re a regular peruser of this blog, then you know I love to share my career faux pas, in the hope that you won’t make the same mistakes. Or if you do, that you’ll be able to laugh about them, too. So first let me say that it’s been a great summer. Thunderstorms. Drinking wine in an orchard. Breaking a new script. Partnering with an exec to pitch a kids’ show. Asking two writers well above my pay grade to read my new script (and they did!). Wandering around Paris and Prague…like Carrie Bradshaw’s awkward stunt double. A few blogs ago, I told you that I would focus on creating unstoppable career momentum and I did it by stretching for BIG GOALS.
Which leads us to the 2018 ABC Talent Showcase and MY MOST SPECTACULAR MISTAKE so far.
Sometimes Fate just lifts its leg and pees on your keyboard. Some call it Karma. Some call it Murphy’s Law; whoever Murphy was, that guy must’ve been twitchy as hell. Whatever you name it, you’re never ready for it. And when bad things happen to decent writers, it can drop you straight down into a dark, swirling, bad-smelling shame spiral.
So let’s talk about writer shame. Okay, I’ll start.
I was in the middle of a very difficult week. My spawn was having surgery. I broke a filling, so everything I ate felt like chewing a live electrical wire. Also, I had just found a strange lump that needed to be checked by someone who was not me on WebMD. In the middle of it all, (pause for effect) my manager dumped me by email.
When I started this blog back in 1902 or whatever, I wanted to record the major milestones on my journey to becoming a professional writer. I’ve made embarrassing mistakes, gained amazing allies, and gotten some awesome opportunities. I also discovered the one thing that made it all possible and if you’re going after a huge, crazy, out-of-touch-right-now dream, you will need buckets of it: MOMENTUM.
As of yesterday, my left eyelid twitches. As do my fingers, toes and a tiny, as yet unidentified muscle in my calf. Thus far, I have resisted the urge to rip open WebMD and misdiagnose myself with a variety of disorders…all fatal. It’s as if the minuscule muscles, sick of being ignored and unappreciated, have decided to exploit my greatest weakness: hypochondria.
I came to Florida to relax. To get a handle on the stress that infests my cognitive processes, chewing through irreplaceable synapses, and gumming up my creativity with its rancid effluvia. I was desperate to shed the excess layers of self-doubt, muddled priorities, and fear of failure that pad my hips and my psyche. I envisioned a fresh start in the Florida sunshine. I would rise each morning and swim laps in the private pool after a light breakfast of good old American calories and creative thinking. My thoughts would lighten as would my belly. If Mark Twain and Oprah Winfrey had a child, this would be that glorious offspring’s dream getaway. [Read more…]
Tonight I’m looking for a particular YA novel. I know the first four words in the title, “The Dark Side of”. So I do what any avid reader does in a town with an impressive public library just a bike ride away…I google the book. Here’s what I find…
The Dark Side of The Moon
The Dark Side of Disney
The Dark Side of Love
The Dark Side of Men
The Dark Side of Women
The Dark Side of Family
The Dark Side of Religion
The Dark Side of Hope
I close the laptop and stuff a spoonful of sorbet into my mouth. Then, I ask my poodle, “Does everything have a dark side?” She doesn’t know. I google “the dark side of poodles” and the screen fills with stories of designer dogs gone bad. I move away from the laptop. And the poodle. [Read more…]
Every writer needs a panic room. It should look like those indoor play areas at the airport, with lots of padded surfaces and cool cubbies in which a stressed-out scribe can cower. Did I mention the classic arcade games and vending machines that disgorge an endless supply of Newman’s cookies?
This past year was a challenging one for my development slate and I NEED a fortress of solitude to call my own. My beloved Grandpa passed; my parents moved far away; and my neurotic poodle has developed propecia, but in the words of my idol, Tina Fey, “I will not be blamed.” Just when it seems like my career drive has run out of road, a hero swoops in to save the day. His name is Oscar. [Read more…]
After months rewriting my latest comedy feature, the script is finally going out. I’ve earned some play time. Flopping on the sofa, I turn on the TV and watch animated bears wipe their bums with plush toilet paper. Next, a teary bachelorette begs for a rose. And then a bearded hillbilly pronounces roasted squirrel to be food of the gods. But none of this drowns out the insidious voice whispering: “What will you write next?”
Like Poe’s telltale heart, the question echoes in my brain over and over again. Screenwriting, like any career, is a numbers game at its core. The more you practice, the more impressive your skill and the higher your demand. The bigger your pile of desirable material, the bigger your chances are of getting THE script into the hands of THE person who can help to launch your career. Hollywood is a town built on dreams and for the screenwriter, the tunnel into the fortress is dug with all the scripts you have yet to write. So, we writers will always be haunted by the insidious voice. I’m going to need a plan.
Every day for the last month, I have been opening my email as a hardened Army Ranger might approach a live grenade. I am both hoping to finding a response from the “Big Time Executive”, and hoping not to find it. You see, like the fabled Mr. Toad of the literary classic, Wind in the Willows, I dropped what I had, to reach for something better. And it was a mistake. A Big Time mistake.
After months of rewriting two high concept scripts, which nearly drove me insane, I sent them off to my most trusted readers. While I waited for their notes, I planned to clear my head, perhaps learn to crochet. This lasted two days and exactly eight rows of hopelessly lopsided yarn stitches. Instead of wisely rewarding my brain with a much deserved vacation, I dusted off my screenwriting business plan and checked off the next item on the list: Prepare pitches.