Last night I saw someone do something very brave. My friend, Theresa Rebeck, a very successful playwright, TV writer and novelist, got up in front of a group
It’s a whole new month – the summer is flying by and I’ve hardly blogged at all. I’ve been very busy, interning for a production company, writing my original pilot, looking for paid work and reading and evaluating scripts. Not to mention trying to keep my two lazy teens busy and all the maintenance tasks life requires, as well as helping my husband with his business. Is it any wonder I can’t find time to blog? Nonetheless, it’s important to me and I am re-committing to a regular publication. Ideally I’d do one each day, but will be happy with once or twice a week.
I decided this would be a good time to review my goals. Here is the list I made of New Year’s resolutions for 2012, along with a progress report on each one:
- + Continue to work on my screenplays every day, 5 – 7 times per week — I’d say I’ve done a fairly good job at this. I write steadily, and if I miss a day or two I give myself a stern talking to and remind me what my priorities are, and that the writing comes first.
- + Keep a blog – Also a successful endeavor! I may not have blogged as much as I hoped I would, but at least I’ve blogged each month. There’s always room for improvement
- – Exercise 3 – 5 times per week – I’ve barely gotten to the gym, and now I know that I really need to in order to keep up with the pace of the life I want. Unfortunately, I’m not twenty anymore
- – Get back to Flylady’s housework plan: minimum input for maximum output – the house is a wreck and Flylady’s emails remain largely unopened
- – Open the mail and process daily; keep the finances organized and running smoothly – The finances are a mess and the mail piles up by the time I get to it. Thank the universe that most of the bills are paid through online banking!
- + Eat healthier; get the kids to eat healthier – I definitely changed our eating habits for the better, and am making healthier choices when I shop
- + Get out more instead of isolating at home – I’d still rather stay home, but it’s much easier to get out during the summer. Besides, interning for the production company I don’t really have a choice. I’ve also been better about making plans and meeting friends socially
- + Start that writing group and do more networking – I started a writing group, which worked for a while and died off. I’m in Bivouac, which is a professional writers group, and I’m doing quite a bit of networking
- – /+ Get a job writing for TV – okay, maybe that wasn’t a realistic goal. But I did enter the fellowship competitions at Disney/ABC, NBC Writers on the Verge and WB. Unlike last year, my applications were awesome, prepared ahead of time and my sample was very strong and tight. Who knows? I could hear from them… stranger things have happened.
- + Say yes to all opportunities – Yes, I have been doing that – now if I could only get a financially lucrative opportunity to say yes to!
- + Monitor progress weekly and monthly – Okay, maybe not, but I’m doing it now, right?
- x This one’s new – Rewrite my Original Pilot until it’s tight and awesome, then do another draft on my White Collar Spec, so I’ll have three strong samples, and start finding people to read them once they are really ready.
- x Get a real job with a paycheck and health benefits in the entertainment industry. I’ve been looking, but it’s tough out there
- x Start to form a real plan to move to LA
There you have it – the + means I’m making progress, the – need more attention, and the x means new. See you soon… Keep writing!
I’ve been having some good luck with networking lately, and I thought I would share the following emails I exchanged with Manny Fonseca. He’s a weekly columnist for the http://www.thebusinessofshowinstitute.com/newsletter-06-29-12.html#06-29-12-12 . He also mentioned me in this week’s column. If you’re a screenwriter and you’re not reading this newsletter, you are missing out on a valuable opportunity to gain insider knowledge of the industry at no cost.
As far as networking is concerned, I’ve come to believe that there is no one too important to reach out to, so long as you know how to do it and respect boundaries. Here is our exchange:
I love your column and appreciate the time you take to help out those of us trying to break into the business. I particularly love your advice on what not to do when you get an opportunity to meet with mucky-mucks.
I’m a fairly new screenwriter in New York, and have been working hard to master the craft for about three years. My goal is to get a job in TV at the staff table. I’ve applied for the network fellowships and workshops, but know what a long shot it is. Everyone has told me that I have to be in LA to work in TV, and I have taken this advice to heart. I definitely don’t want to die without at least giving it a chance.
A few months ago you mentioned the “living in LA” question in your column, and said something like — if you’re married, and your spouse doesn’t want to move, leave him. Although I know you were joking, I agree that there are worse reasons for separation! In my case it is not only my husband, but also my two teenagers who have no desire to be in LA. I am making preparations to move out there on my own in the fall and give it a shot. If it works, I’ll bring them out there, if not I’ll come home. I’ve worked too hard and love this too much not to take a shot.
My question is, other than the usual approach of meeting everyone possible and attending networking events, do you have any particular advice to hit the ground running? Since I’m leaving my family to pursue my dream, I want to make the best possible use of my time.
Once again, thank you for your time and attention. I’d love to buy you a drink sometime to show my gratitude and shoot the breeze.
What does hubby and the kids think? Or, have you even told them yet?
I shared your email with a couple of friends over the weekend and they were both semi-horrified even going to the joke that my advice “was breaking up a family.”
I’m not like them though…I applaud what you’re doing. The “what if” is WAY more brutal than the trying and failing thing. At least with the latter you know now. Know what I mean?
My advice, although it might be kinda hard, is to try and get an internship somewhere. You need to have some development experience under your belt and some “street cred.”
The golden opportunities are getting writer assistant jobs, interns on TV shows or working as a producer’s assistant. Not sure what your background is and what your job history is like, but I’m sure you’re more than capable of surviving out here.
I will tell you straight up…it’s VERY lonely doing it on your own. Even when you have someone. My roommate is a very good friend of mine. She finally moved out here this year and it’s been pretty hard on her. She sits in the apartment all day with little to do. She’s working on stuff, but nowhere near the amount of stuff she WANTS to be working on.
Keep that in mind.
As for that drink. I’m buying the first round to celebrate your newfound road to happiness. And please know you have a friend and a supporter of the cause. Get out here and lets make it happen!
I have to say, it was very classy of you to respond to my email so quickly and generously. I wasn’t expecting to hear from you at all. It means a lot, and gives me so much more courage to network.
My hubby and kids are scared but supportive. We plan to Skype constantly and visit whenever possible. Since they’ve been living with my obsession, too, they know how important it is for me to give it a shot. I think if we weren’t scared it would be weird. But, I believe we’ll get through it and end up together in the same city, hopefully while we reap the benefit of financial rewards through work in screenwriting.
I’m hoping to get some production credit under my belt this summer, and also to finish my original pilot, which will give me three good samples of my work. I also believe there is a good chance I’ll at least get an interview with either Disney, WB or NBC on the Verge. My applications, spec script and reference letters were very respectable.
I’ll definitely need to have paid work when I get out there.
I have a screenwriting blog at http://karenlovestv.com. I’d like to share some of your letter with my followers, along with a referral to your column/newsletter, of course. Would that be alright with you? It’s an article about networking strategies.
I’ll keep you informed and let you know when I’m arriving! Thanks for your support and advice,
Please, share whatever you like.
Let me offer this true tale.
I preface this story with the knowledge that I realize that a girlfriend is very different than a husband and kids. I know this BUT…
When I came out here I had been dating a girl for two years. We did all the usuals. She bought a webcam. We made plans to Skype. Text. Chat daily.
Buy shit happens. You miss you’re first Skype date and it’s “what happened”. You say working late and they’re VERY supportive.
You miss your third Skype date and it’s what the fuck?
5th and you’re growing apart.
7th and its heading downhill.
Then there’s the reverse. You’ve just put in a 12 hour day. You get home exhausted and just want to say hi and go to bed. You jump on…where the hell are you? You get this text…”watching blah blah blah, jump on in 15.” and you get resentful. You don’t want to wait 15. You want to go to bed.
My point is this…don’t plan anything. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Come out here ready to work but also prep yourself that it just MAY be one or the other.
What if you make it and they change their minds and don’t want to live in California?
What if you make it and they move but are resentful?
My girlfriend never had any intention of coming out here. She never thought I’d make it and catered to the fantasy. She supported the 3-4 month plan and then when I got a full time gig she “was happy for me” but not happy for me. Know what I mean?
Just be prepared.