I’m a writer.
I’ve been one of the lucky ones to make a career out of it – out of screenwriting, actually. It didn’t happen right away, but once I was hired to write one film project, they started hiring me to write more. I wrote a book about it, about what it’s like to be a screenwriter in Hollywood. One of the reasons I wrote it was because most people have no understanding of what it is that we do. They think the actors make up all the dialogue and we write down what they tell us. I wish it was that easy. But no one really seems to understand the nature of our work. I had a meeting at an unemployment office several years ago – I wanted to transition to writing multi-media content. The employment counselor behind the desk (well aware of my writing résumé) smiled politely as she told me, “Oh no, dear. You can’t do multi-media – You have to be creative to do that kind of work!”
Nobody really understands what a writer does.
I’m not sure I understand it either. I know what’s expected from us – creative content. But I’ve never understood the kind of magic that happens from that first creative spark that moves our hand to reach for a pen or a keyboard until some switch inside of us finally turns off. What we are left with is truly a miracle. I don’t care if you’re new and untrained, or if you’ve been published, acknowledged, and paid. It’s a miracle because not everyone can do it, and creation should never be taken as commonplace, or easily accomplished.
Like everyone else who has gone to Hollywood, screenwriting wasn’t my first job in the town of broken dreams. I started as a tour guide at Universal Studios.
That’s a photo of me just off to the side – dressed in the red, white, and blue polyester-blend jacket and hot pants. There’s a photo of the tour tram at the top of this blog’s page. They look different now – the one in the photo is the style I used to ride in when I gave tours. 8 hours of non-stop talking in the summers when the park was over brimming with tourists. I was responsible for shepherding two hundred tourists in every tram, and every tour.
Tour guiding is a lot like writing.
You tell people stories, you inform, you entertain, you keep the people focused, and wanting more. It’s not as lonely as writing because you can always see the people there in front of you. You can tell what’s working and what’s not by the smiles on their faces, and the attention in their eyes.
“Can you all hear me in the back?”
They answer you. They connect. And that was the joy in doing the job – people were listening, and they wanted you to go on. That’s what’s missing in writing – that immediate reaction from another human being. You don’t get that from a solitary reader holding your paperback, or viewing your words through a window of pixels.
So I started this blog.
I’m slipping back into my tour guide role again – reaching out (I hope) to an eager group wanting to be entertained and informed. I can’t promise daily content. That magic of writing doesn’t necessarily visit a writer every day. But when it comes, I promise to share it with you. And in the meantime, let me know you’re out there. Leave a comment. Email me, if you want. I will always answer. Please let me know that you can all hear me in the back.
(Take a look at my most recent posting by clicking HERE)
- Reader Question: Are there professional screenwriters who just focus on writing spec scripts? (gointothestory.blcklst.com)
- The Business of Screenwriting: Who does what in a writer-representative relationship? (gointothestory.blcklst.com)
- Writing, Teaching, Teaching, Writing (blackinkwhitepaper.wordpress.com)