Our story so far…

Bradbury

It’s been roughly two years since I stepped off the ledge of the normal world and into the free fall of who I am…and perhaps it is not surprising that I am still discovering who that is.

 

For the uninitiated, a brief recap:

After spending the better part of my adult life as a scientist, magazine writer, communications manager and ad copywriter/creative director, I realized I wasn’t happy. Adding fuel to that fire was the death of my beloved grandmother and of my marriage (thankfully not an acrimonious separation). But where I might have let these events take me to darker depths, I realized that I had never been freer in my life…and the freedom felt good.

Thus, with nothing to hold onto and therefore nothing to lose, I stepped into the abyss of uncertainty and am pursuing my life as a storyteller. And nicely, two years in, I am starting to see dividends.

 

After taking screenwriting classes for a while, I now feel confident that I know what I am doing and have no problem trusting my instincts when it comes to storytelling. I’m good at this.

My latest and possibly most commercial screenplay to date, The Naughty List, awaits external validation in 4 different screenplay competitions. (I may be good at this, but my name is hardly renown at this point.)

My first screenplay Tank’s has slowly climbed its way up the “charts” of screenplay competitions over the past year, and after being a Second Rounder at the Austin Film Festival, it took top prize in the Nashville Film Festival as Best Animated Feature Screenplay.

SomeTV!, the sketch comedy show that I co-wrote, is in front of cameras, and I am told by our Producer/God-head that the initial cuts look amazing. You’ll see the footage as soon as I can send you to it.

Eye of the Beholder, the novel I am co-writing with Agah Bahari—based on the real events of his life in Iran—is starting to write itself (a wonderful moment for a writer) and already has anticipatory buzz in New York entertainment circles.

Eye of the Beholder

I wrote a short children’s book, Butch Goes To Work, that teaches children about working dogs and the abilities of people with disabilities. It is currently seeking a publisher.

Really, really slowly (sorry Kevin Scott), I am co-writing a comedy album in the understanding that what doesn’t lend itself to YouTube is perfect fodder for iTunes!

I almost signed an agreement to develop a screenplay treatment of a mystery novel, and even though this project didn’t come to fruition, I will continue to work with the novelist on future projects.

And I am in the process of taking my new life to the next level by moving to Los Angeles. When the move will take place is still a question.

I am grateful to the folks involved in the magazine and advertising work that continues to pay my bills. And I am over-the-top grateful to all of my friends, family and other supporters who applaud my journey at every turn.

I am a storyteller. I tell stories. And I have never been happier.

PS I don’t know if Bradbury actually said the quote at the front of this piece, but he or whomever was right.

Faith

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Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.

– Fred Gailey (John Payne), Miracle on 34th Street

 

We all have doubts.

Doubt that we are good enough to accomplish our goals. Doubt that our goals are even realistic or rational.

And sadly, most if not all of us have had or currently have a long line of people who are more than willing to feed those doubts with their own. Often, their superficial motive is to be supportive, to help cushion the blow of failure, to save you from certain doom. But more likely, their motive is to take comfort in the belief that your doubts make it okay for them to have doubts about their own lives.

But, if you’re lucky, you have those special few in your life who have absolutely no doubt in your future success. They’re the ones who listen to your ideas with a smile, an eager nod, and perhaps some sage constructive advice to help make your goals even more realistic.

The latter group are the people you need to heed, for they see the potential of your efforts in the absence of your fears and just as importantly, in the absence of their own.

I am not a religious man—although I have become quite spiritual—so faith has never been top of mind for me until recently. It’s not that I didn’t have faith, in hindsight, but rather that I had a very narrow definition of it. And, like my friends for me, it was easy to have faith in things external. It was faith in myself that I lacked.

More recently, however, I have realized that faith isn’t about rejecting the possibility of failure. Rather it is about accepting the possibility of failure but with the further understanding that failure does not mean your journey has ended.

Failure does not put your destination off limits. It is merely a diversion from your original path to that destination.

I know I am a good writer and story teller, but I also know I have challenges ahead in translating those skills into the money I need to make to continue writing and story telling.

Faith comes in telling myself (and believing) that through hard work on my part (e.g., networking, classes, practice) and unknown forces outside of my control and understanding, those challenges will dissipate at the appropriate time.

Like those well-intentioned naysayers, drawing a line in the sand about giving up (e.g., going back to my former career) only gives voice to my doubts. I will not allow myself to do that anymore.

I have faith that I will endure failure and that I will succeed at whatever it is I am to accomplish, no matter what street I live on.

I wish you that faith as well.

 

For an interesting piece on questions about talent and faith therein, check out this post from Plotting Bunnies: The ingredients of Writing: Talent…?

(Image is property of owner and is used without permission because I have faith they’ll get my point.)

For my friend Emma

…and all my other female actor friends and colleagues, a simple request to storytellers and writers:

When creating a female character for your story (or any character, for that matter), please describe her in terms that reflect who she is and not in terms of how she relates to another.

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Phrases like ex-girlfriend or soccer mom provide only a limited degree of context and tell us nothing at all about your vision for that character.

Is she a psychotic Glen Close type of character or is she a nurturing Barbara Billingsley type of character?

To what does she aspire?

If presented with a spider, she would [fill in the blank].

Around a board room table, her position would be [location], she would be dressed [adjective], her posture would be [adjective] and her eyes would express [noun].

If the character is important enough to move your story along, the character is important enough to be a human being (or whatever species you are dealing with).

If not, then you probably don’t need the character in your story.