junior-high self, sealed the deal for me; I was going to be a screenwriter. To whomever that wonderful person was...thank you.
By 16, I had written a properly formatted episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. I felt the show's current plot was starting to run dry and I had thought of a new twist, hoping to somehow keep my favorite show alive. So, I had a bit of naive enthusiasm in my younger days, but it almost worked! I cannot remember how I got my story into the right hands, but I do remember writing a lot of query letters. Before too long, I had ICM interested in me and apparently, according to their letter, the show was seriously considering my idea. Unfortunately, the show was canceled and with it went ICM's interest in me (understandably). Obviously, I was disappointed, but not long afterward I did get a call from a Chicago based agency who wanted to represent me. As I worked on my college applications and scripts for my agent, I thought it was just a matter of time. Maybe I would actually have to choose between finishing college or pursuing a major writing career!?
Thankfully, in hindsight, I did not have to make that choice, and I ended up attending the ivy league school of the Big Ten, Purdue University. Disagree? Too bad. This is my story. :) Realizing I didn't want to be the starving artist living out of my car (though there is nothing wrong with that), I majored in education, my second love. The revised plan being I would keep the roof over my head, and food on the table, by teaching the next generation a love of writing while pursuing the same discipline on the side; happily giving up my classroom for a quiet writing space when my name finally made it to the big screen under "written by." Plus, summers off to give my writing 100% focus was a huge bonus. Since, I was only going to be doing this for a few years (especially after I moved to California), what could go wrong? Yep, blind, youthful ambition. I do miss it, a little.
Based on the fact that Googling my name does not pop up an IMDB link full of completed and upcoming projects (the true sign of Hollywood success these days, right?), my plans for life took some unexpected turns. A few years of teaching has turned into thirteen. Though I did get a Masters in Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma, I gave up on my writing for about 5 years. Biggest mistake I have made to date and one I hope I never top. Even though I no longer live in Los Angeles and my Chicago based agent has retired, starting in 2012, I have been diligently working towards getting back on the road I started down at 13 and staying the course. My goal of seeing my name on the big screen may not be reached quite yet, but I have regained the ambition of my youth. Thankfully, and unlike my earlier days, this ambition is now guided by wisdom, humility, and experience. To date, I have written seven screenplays (four worth reading), am in the process of finishing my eighth, and have been taking courses through ScreenwritingU in order to broaden and sharpen my writing skills. I know I will see my name on the big screen under "written by" one day. The only question is... have you figured out why the scientist is on my deserted island packing list? Wait, sorry, wrong question. Has my taste in television shows improved with age? No, not that either. Ah, yes, the only question is: when? (humbling speaking, of course) :)
Many times in my life already, I have been asked to complete the exercise where you have to imagine you are on a deserted island and, somehow, before becoming unknowingly destitute, you miraculously pack a bag that will contain the keys to your survival. What would you bring? My list has always been simple: food, shelter, toilet paper, the people I love, a scientist, and most importantly an abundant supply of pens and paper. Since my kindergarten days, where I was one of the only students at the writing table drafting novels in my secret scribble language, writing has been the cornerstone of my existence.
When I was 13 years old, I wrote a script for an episode of the show Star Trek: The Next Generation. I actually mailed it off to them. Though, how I figured out where to send it still amazes me now. The look on the poor soul's face that opened my submission must have been priceless. Instead of disregarding it, they did something extraordinary; this wonderful person mailed my submission back to me in a folder with the formatting rules for episodic television and a letter that explained why they couldn't accept my submission but, at the same time, wished me the best of luck and encouraged me to continue learning and writing. Sadly, this correspondence has been lost over the years, but the day I read that letter, the fact someone working in the industry took the time to inspire and guide my