Screenwriting, novels...and my sloooow climb to success
So here's the deal. I've written four novels, one is published. I decided to test my hand at screenwriting so I took a class, studied books, read other screenplays- I've done all this obsessively. I watch movies to see how they are made, listening to the dialogue. I read other success stories and learn from those who have done it before. I take it all in like a sponge.
I adapted my Marilyn Monroe inspired novel into a screenplay called Fifty Cents for Your Soul. It's the sequel to my novel, A Thousand Dollars for a Kiss. I've been spending hours, HOURS online looking up and submitting to agents, managers, producton companies. Just FYI, here is the logline: ( a sentence summing up your screenplay)
After discovering that Marilyn Monroe faked her death, a struggling writer sets out to become famous and prove the legend is still alive.
It's a blend of drama, comedy, a touch of romance and most of all, some juicy roles for actresses of varying ages. I read all the time about actresses complaining about no good roles for women, especially older women and here you go. Mine has it all and then some. You know, not all of us want to watch Judd Apatow movies every other month, movies geared towards the male demographic ages 18-45. We don't all want to watch movies about stoners and loser bachelors cracking crude jokes while looking at porn.
When you are a new (book) writer and you are looking for resources, there are tons. Agent listings and sites directing you towards agents and what they want to represent and how to contact. There are always accomplished novelists willing to help out a newbie, offering advice and words of encouragement. Even major author Judy Blume wrote me back so many years ago when I began my novel writing. Ann Rule, queen of true crime drama, wrote me back too. Caroline Leavitt and Gayle Brandeis have been mentors to me, always giving me advice. Marta Acosta has been so helpful, Alison Winn Scotch is another writer who has been wonderful, there have been many fabulous writers out there who have guided or inspired me in one way or another.
You get the idea. Authors want to help other authors. And generally speaking, book writers are a very giving group and they understand what it's like to break in to the business. It's a nice sorority with an open door policy. Then you try screenwriting and that open door? Slammed. It's a ghost town.
You are on your own unless you have a pal in the business. Researching agents is more difficult because their preferences aren't clearly spelled out on nice websites with contact information like agentquery.net. Producers want to look at material represented by an agent, not submitted by the writer. Looking for help is fruitless because everyone keeps to themselves. Successful screenwriters don't take the time to answer emails and offer encouragement. It's frustrating. I'm trying to think outside the box and work it from another angle. I'll take a chance and a risk and do things my own way, just to get noticed. But I haven't come up with any awesome ideas yet.
I thought because I wrote novels and screenplays that I'd be a marketable screenwriter. Not too many people do both since books and screenplays are two different species. I'm now under the impression that if an agent knows you write both, they are inclined to think you do neither well.
But I persevere beause what else can I do? I've wanted to be a screenwriter since I was a teenager. I have this creative brain that follows no logic but constantly imagines what-if scenerios. I am in my element when I am in the middle of writing and the words are pouring from my fingertips. I love the challenge of the screenplay, telling a story within only 120 structured pages. Imagining the thrill of my characters and words on the big screen keeps me going. Then imagine getting paid to do what I love? Yeah, I cannot give up. And if you're a writer and trying to succeed, then you can't give up either.
My big dream is to bring good novels to the big screen starting with my own. What can you do if you give up on your dreams? So even though the door to screenwriting success is tightly closed and locked, I'll keep knocking until the door is cracked open. Then I'll stick my size 7.5 Christian Louboutin (or Jimmy Choo) in there and kick open the door just enough to squeeze through. Maybe pushing Judd Apatow out of the way just a little while I'm at it.
Here is an inspiring clip of Randy Pausch. What he says around minute 3:09 keeps me going every day. Let his words inspire you too.