Writing Is One Thing
Writing is one thing. Showing your writing to someone else is a second thing. Actually getting paid to write? That’s a whole other kettle of koi.
But happily for me, once I had A: written my marathon essay, and B: dared to show it to others, I found myself pretty quickly in that enviable kettle, swimming around with other happy golden carp.
Yes. People paid me actual money to write. And I thought to myself, “What’s so hard about this?”
There’s a book I read around that time called The Alchemist, by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. Maybe you know it – a fable-like take on the hero’s journey and finding ones true destiny, or as Coelho puts it, ones Personal Legend. As someone whose Personal Legend had just blown up into smithereens, I was on the prowl for answers, and The Alchemist was one of a whole slew of self-helpish works I scoured in those dark days of the unthinkable – impending marital dissolution.
I recall only dribs and drabs, but two notions jumped out: 1: The minute you “find” your life’s destiny, the “Universe,” whatever that means, will move mountains, if not leap tall buildings at a single bound, to help you succeed. And 2: That same fickle universe will next make sure that any instant gratification or success is followed by a whole series of detours and roadblocks just to see if you’re, you know, serious.
Back to me, which is apparently the point of blogging. I did in fact run the marathon in London in April of 1997. While there, I showed my essay to the wife of a friend, Peter, a filmmaker who’d written and directed Hear My Song. The movie marked a highpoint in my husband’s acting career. I’d packed up the kids and spent several weeks in Ireland for the shoot, and the experience was unforgettable, and remains to this day one of my best memories of our marriage.
Once home, I also reconnected with an old college friend who was a successful screenwriter. And single.
A few weeks later, two things happened. The director called me from London and asked if I would be interested in rewriting a screenplay with him for MGM. He said he’d read my essay, and needed an “American female voice.” I said yes, shocker, and soon had a contract with MGM and an invitation to be an associate member of the Writer’s Guild. Whoa, and wee.
Then the second guy called, the successful screenwriter, and asked if he could option my essay, and if I’d be interested in adapting it as a screenplay, with him as overseer and mentor. Ummm, let me think… yeah!
Like I said, what was so hard about writing for hire?
Fast forward a couple of years. Neither project progressed beyond the screenplay point, (although I did get a priceless crash course in screenplay writing). The collapse of my marriage, on the other hand, progressed without a hitch, as did the deterioration of my sanity, and the escalation of my drinking. In fairly desperate succession I started therapy, finalized my Divorce, and God help me, quit drinking. And then I wrote a vein-spilling memoir about all of the above.
But I didn’t earn a single penny, not for several years, not writing, not anythinging. I was too busy feeling terrified about actually earning my own way.
Enter essay number two, about the process that unstuck me: “Nursing the Weasel.”
Personal details, that’s what I like. Here are more of mine:
Click here to read the article, “Nursing the Weasel.”