This week's post is going to be a bit more personal as opposed to being instructive on the craft of writing like the past couple of weeks have been. (If you find that content interesting, I'm already planning a couple more of those posts -- especially since after last week, I promised everyone my explanation as to why trilogies don't serve well a proper a narrative arc!)
Who am I, and why am I doing what I'm doing?
To delve into that, I'm going to talk as succinctly as I can about my journey as an entertainment artist:
In second-ish grade, I started taking piano lessons; it was something I excelled at from a young age (and I still play a lot today). In fourth grade, I also took up violin lessons, ultimately culminating in being the Concertmaster of my High School Orchestra. From ninth through eleventh grade, I was exposed to theatre from my small seat down in the orchestra pit playing violin for school and community musicals. Then, my senior year, I dropped orchestra in favor of being in Show Choir, writing plays (that my school actually produced), and being part of the casts of the theatre shows (instead of watching the performances from the dark pit).
My first college was a community college (Sinclair, represent!) where I dove hard into the world of theatre, taking dozens of theatre tech classes as well as performance classes. I acted and sang in many shows, and I graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in Theatre Performance (with an emphasis in Directing). Next stop, Chicago.
I don't remember the exact turning point, but all through high school, I had a great interest in film -- I was always going to the movies. So after getting my AA Degree, I decided to spend my time at a four-year school receiving my Bachelor of Arts in Film & Video (with an emphasis in Film Editing and Directing) while also taking some Fiction Writing classes as electives. I figured film would be a great way to get my ideas in front of as many eyes as possible.
I love Chicago -- fiercely. But Chicago isn't where you want to be if you're trying to build a career in film. So, I moved to Los Angeles and got a job at a city film school as an audio/video technician. Through my employment, I took advantage of an amazing opportunity to continue my schooling, and I received my Master of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment.
Am I currently writing screenplays in Hollywood, since it's what I set out on this twenty-eight-year journey to do?
I'd love to be, but there was a very stark reality that forced me to take stock of my trajectory as a writer. Hundreds (if not thousands) of screenplays are purchased by studios every year -- and so few of them actually get produced. The man who many consider to be the "most prolific" screenwriter in his career sold something like twenty-five screenplays, and I believe only about six of them were ever made into movies. (And that's from the guy considered to be the "most prolific" while he was alive!)
The business out here is about selling your ideas and not necessarily ever seeing the fruits of that labor come to fruition. Sure, I could make a financial living selling screenplays and then be extra thrilled when one of them gets produced, but I realized that the thought of creating all those stories and characters that most people would never get to experience began to crush my creativity.
For me (because I'm the only person for whom I can speak), it's not about just "making a living." So, why am I doing what I'm doing?
Because I love affecting intense emotions within others. That's been my life's throughline from the beginning: piano to violin, to show choir, to theatre, to directing, to film, to writing -- all of these things have the capability of making people feel deeply, and that's what I love. Knowing that something I created has touched someone's soul is one of the most wonderful gifts in the world to me.
What do I ultimately want to be doing?
I don't have an answer for that. Because I want to be doing all of it. I love telling stories and creating characters and taking people on epic journeys. Right now, the format and medium in which I'm most invested is prose and novels.
But when my new series is finally out in the world, do I hope that a producer catches a whiff of it and wants to purchase the rights? Definitely, and maybe they'll allow me to write the screenplay. But in the meantime, I'll be content that at least my story made it out there in some form and wasn't a shelved screenplay on which I simply collected a paycheck. The dream is still very much alive. And it takes many forms. Never stop reaching for it.
Until next time,