One day, while working for a notable retail chain, I was offered an exciting chance to step up and manage my own store. Wow. All that hard work and dedication was about to pay off. But then the inner questions started: Did I want to stay with this company? Did I want to stay in retail? Was this a purpose I really cared for?
I realised what really gave me joy was screenwriting. Something about the creativity of storytelling mixed with the technical analysis of structure – and then add in the psychological crafting of something profound? Well, it excites me to my core.
And so, reasoning that I’d rather fail at something I wanted to do than succeed at something I didn’t, I resigned from the company, took up an unchallenging but fun part-time job, and dedicated my life to a new direction.
“I’d rather fail at something I wanted to do than succeed at something I didn’t.”
Now, I live about as far away from Hollywood as one can get, both literally and metaphorically. But, like most new writers, I was certain that by commitment and focus I could have a ‘breakthrough’ in about a year, maybe two. My first script I just knew was brilliant. Surely international acclaim was waiting just around the corner. I even started researching visa options and the best places to live in LA for when the ‘Hollywood call’ came.
That was seven years ago.
Today, I am working on my eleventh and twelfth screenplay. I have previously been highly placed in top-listed contests, but never cracked the finals. I’ve received a number of ‘considers’ and a lot of complimentary feedback, but nothing further. I’ve done courses on marketing and read numerous books on the subject. I’ve cold-queried agents, managers and producers. I’ve pitched at on-line pitchfests. And I’ve annoyed all my friends with the question “are you sure you don’t know anybody, anywhere, even remotely connected in the industry?”
At this point, I’d love to tell you how the isolated farm boy who grew up without a TV managed to ‘make it big’. But the truth is, my dream writing career is still just that, a dream.
But I always knew – for someone on the bottom end of the globe, with no industry contacts and slowly getting older – it was always going to be a long shot. I always believed that hard work and dedication would give me the best chance, but it’s still just that, a chance.
And so, I could be bitter. I could lecture everyone on just how the world is unfair and twisted and biased and corrupt. Or I can stop and remember why I chose to do this in the first place.
Right now, if I turn from my laptop I can see the breeze blowing through my garden, my chickens roaming and my cats sleeping. Inside I can see my whiteboard covered in the scribblings of a story coming into form and a bookshelf jammed with screenplays and my favourite screenwriting books.
Life is good.
Yes, I dream of a chance to move to the US, to work with the best in the industry, and to see my work transformed into an amazing and transformative piece of cinema. And I will continue to pursue this goal.
But, the truth is, I simply love to write. My life ambition is to write. And, career or not, paid or not, I’m lucky enough to be able to do it every day.
I don’t know what tomorrow may bring, if anyone will ever look to produce anything I’ve written, but today, right now, I get to sit here and enjoy doing what I love.