When I started writing it was only novels. I have two novels published currently and have been working on my 3rd for say, a million years or so. The first two center around Hollywood and so it was pretty easy to whip them out quickly. In fact, my second novel I did in one month for the NaNoWri contest and got it published less than 6 months later~traditional published, so I feel very lucky.
That same year I became involved with Amnesty International with their campaign against a huge multi-million dollar a year diamond company after seeing Blood Diamond. That lead to me networking with people at Warner’s and so forth. Later that summer I got a call from someone at ABC who heard of me from a friend who worked on Blood Diamond and was involved with Amnesty. . .blah blah blah….and thus my deciding to work in television. Or at least I was going to try. The show was canceled and I was back to my novels and animation, which is hit and miss all the time these days.
I wrote a spec for Grey’s Anatomy and got close to getting in, but the STRIKE hit. UGH…Seriously? Seriously! I applied to any show that would read me and wrote about 10 spec scripts that year. Failing hugely, not to the point of fiasco, but just not going anywhere. I was stuck on the 405 of life, but knew that I was learning and that somehow sometime in the future I would be grateful that I wasn’t hired right out of the gate.
So it didn’t really bother me because I could see the silver lining. I was swamped with animation work and developing my own series, I knew my time would come. That summer something in me changed. A co-worker of mine from animation told me his brother taught classes on screenwriting and asked me. “Have you read Save The Cat?”
Cut to months later, after taking TV writing classes and applying to as many places that would give me a chance, I took a workshop with Blake Snyder and he said to me. “Why aren’t you writing a screenplay? You have my book, you came here, you want to write one, so write one.” The way he said it with such enthusiasm and confidence made me say. “Okay, I will.” Let me just say that he was right, I had gone to a weekend with Syd Field that summer, and was reading Robert McKee. I had read, Save The Cat, I did want to write a screenplay.
One month later my first screenplay, The Airport Bar, was completed. I just sat down and did it. I wrote some pretty bad scenes and some good ones, it was a process. I have been lucky enough to have a few people read it, including one of my favorite writers. It is being shopped around and I have high hopes. It is and will be a work in process and I am sure when it is on the screen I will think, “I should have done this or that instead of that, or whatever.” But, I did it! I completed a screenplay and if I hadn’t met Blake, I may not have even tried.
Yes I know everyone and their dog wants to sell a screenplay, but I just know that I will. I’m not being arrogant, it is what it is and I know that I will. Just like I know that someday I will work in television and have a series on the air. “If you put your mind to it, you can do anything.” George McFly~Back to the Future
Blake Snyder didn’t become my mentor, although I am sure he would have because that was his nature, he didn’t really even teach me anything new that I hadn’t read in his book, but what he gave me was more optimism. I am the eternal optimist and everyone who knows me knows that I believe I can do anything, but writing in Hollywood is hard more often than it is easy. I guess if it was easy, it wouldn’t be as much fun and everyone would do it. Those days when we, the writers, feel like failures and fools for choosing such a ridiculous career, optimism and hope are all we have. It is a way of looking at the world and saying, “it’s great, everything is great.” no matter what happens.
I was planning on taking another full workshop with Blake this year sometime, but sadly he passed away this summer. Maybe his heart was just too full from all the love he shared with the world and all his students. His light that was always shining and inspiring people burnt out way too soon. I will always remember his attitude towards life, teaching and writing and it will help me through the hard times.
Thank you Blake for being amazing and sharing so much more than writing techniques with all of us.
“The most important thing to do is to love what you’re doing.” ~ Blake Snyder