Hopes for the New Year

Hopes for the New Year:

Sell my middle grade novel and win a Newberry award.

Sell a screenplay, which gets made into a movie starring Ryan Reynolds, with cameo appearances by Shia LaBeouf, Michael J. Fox, and Betty White.

Win the Academy award for Best Original Screenplay and have it presented by the winner for Best Actor from the same movie….Ryan Reynolds.

Have my blog become so successful that the advertising alone will pay for my mortgage and all my bills.

Okay, REALISTIC Hopes for the New Year:

Complete the novel version of my earlier screenplay, QUEEN HENRY.

Complete and CONQUER the comedy screenplay, MATRIMANIA, that’s kicking my ass at the moment.

To really get my blog going and meet some interesting Wannabe actors, writers, and other artists and learn about their journeys to success.

Try to go through the whole year without zeroing out my bank account.

 To all the Wannabes out there, may 2011 bring only rejections that make you stronger and enough successes to make it all worthwhile.

Secrets

Postsecret  is an online postcard project where people mail in their deepest secrets anonymously. There are new secrets every Sunday. They range from sad and angry, joyful and exuberant, horrifying and inspirational.  I was inspired by the postsecret project to create my own list of secrets about my writing career.
Please don’t judge me.

My Writing Secrets:
Deep down I don’t think I’ll ever make it.
I wish people understood how much writing means to me. If they had a clue, maybe they would remember to ask me how it’s going.

I hate that writing might always seem like a “hobby” to other people. It’s not. It’s my whole life.
When I’m at work, I think about my writing more than I think about my kids.

Sometimes I feel like choosing to raise a family cost me a real shot at a writing career. It’s a choice I’ve never, ever regretted.  I love you guys.
I feel like I deserve success in my writing more than a lot of people because I don’t care about getting rich from it and I was probably more than ten years into my wannabe writing career before the idea of having fans even occurred to me.
Those times when I’m out walking and listening to music and I get a great idea for my script or novel – when I really feel the joy of my characters – that’s when I believe in God the most.  That’s when I can feel Him.
If I ever get THE phone call, the one that says I’ve sold a screenplay or my book will be published, I hope to have the presence of mind to take at least a few moments to myself before trumpeting my success to the world. I’m the only one who knows what this struggle has really been like. Nobody truly understands what I’ve been through on this journey. That first moment should be just for me.

Pursuing this dream has been the adventure of a lifetime. Whether I ever make it or not, I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.

I already know that it’s all been worth it.

Thanks, Santa, but this was NOT on my list…

Twas the last mailing day before Christmas (Christmas Eve) when I went out to the mailbox. All I wanted for Christmas (in the mail, anyway) was a Ryan Reynolds autograph….

For those of you unfamiliar with the Wannabe Autograph Project – I’ve been sending out my Wannabe flyer for my blog and asking celebrities to autograph it and write an inspirational “don’t give up” kind of message. I’ve gotten some truly amazing responses – many of them far better than just my little paper flyer. I get envelopes and packages of all sizes and it’s usually something pretty cool.

Autographs

So when I saw the manila envelope in my mailbox on Christmas Eve, it took me an extra second or two to realize what it was, though I did figure it out before I even touched the envelope.

It was my manuscript being returned to me by the literary agent who requested it last month.

Make no mistake – I FULLY expected to get a rejection. Though I’ve been writing screenplays for more than a decade, this was my first novel. Sure, I worked very hard on it. I read book after book after book on how to write a novel – believe me, I didn’t just dive in and start writing. I did my homework. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote, had it reviewed by a professional first, etc. But still, this was my first novel. I learned a long time ago that writing well is an incredibly difficult thing to do. I’ve mentally prepared to get well over a dozen rejections (at LEAST) before I have any success on this novel. I knew it was coming.

Just not on Christmas Eve.

Here is the rejection in it’s entirety:

“Thank for (sic!) giving me the opportunity to consider RAIN ON THE WATER. It is obvious that you have had a lot of experience and success with your writing. I particularly enjoyed the plot of your story and think that the way you jump right into the excitement and mystery is effective. Unfortunately, though, I’m going to pass. While your plot developed well, I found Jeri and Crystal difficult to relate to.

I’m sorry not to be your match on this project. I don’t doubt that another agent will feel differently.”

At first I was irritated at receiving a rejection on Christmas Eve. But the more I thought about it, the better I felt. I KNEW this novel would be rejected numerous times and I still fully expect that I will need to do numerous rewrites once I get more feedback on what needs to be redone.

I never expected my first rejection on my novel to be this GOOD.

And to me, that’s a win.

I’m Not Indestructible

Though I’m technically not working on my script, the ideas keep coming. It’s so wonderful when it works like that. There’s no pressure to write, but since my mind is free and open to explore, the ideas can occur to me without editing or judgment.

Still, it’s hard to go back and rewrite a script even when just loosely thinking about it in passing. The past haunts you.

It’s hard to look back on characters and have to completely re-think them. I’m so used to thinking of them being one way, but now I’m rewriting them. They have the same names, and it’s hard to let go of the old characteristics. You know, the ones that weren’t good enough the first time around.

The songs that I listened to while writing are now tainted. Those perfect songs that fit the script so well are now reminders of every scene that didn’t work, every plotline that turned out to be unbelievable.

Here’s where past failures can really help. I specifically remember going through this exact problem with my last script. I’ve learned that I CAN reclaim the songs that still fit the story. When I hear songs from that last script, I think of the new, good version of the script. The contest-finalist version. I can barely remember what was in those awful, earlier drafts.

It’s hard to go forward with a new draft after you’ve gotten a bad review. It definitely eats away at your confidence. Those parts of the story that I knew would work – didn’t. Like, not at ALL. How do you go forward when you don’t have any confidence that your next draft will be any better?

You just do. That’s what makes you a real writer.

It helps that I’ve read so many autobiographies of successful people. I’ve found that NOBODY really has a lot of confidence when they put themselves and their work out there. They just do it anyway. That’s what eventually brings success.

It’s always scary to fail and then muster the courage to try again with absolutely no guarantee that the outcome will be any different.

I’ve quoted it before and here it is again:

“Superman is indestructible, and you can’t be brave if you’re indestructible.” – ANGUS.

I’m not indestructible. I’m brave.

Top Grossing Films of 2010

Of the top 100 films, I’ve seen….6.

Box Office Mojo Top 100

And it makes me so mad.

I miss going to the movies. I really do. I hate that I can’t be “up” on what’s going on in the theaters. As a wannabe screenwriter, I’m supposed to see as many movies as possible and believe me, I would love to. But when you’re holding your breath hoping that your next paycheck clears the bank before the mortgage check hits, it’s just not an option. It’s expensive enough going to the movies, and when you add in the expense and difficulty in finding a babysitter, sometimes it’s just not possible.

Of course, just because a film made a lot of money doesn’t mean it was good. I’m not exactly crying in my beer because I missed out on KNIGHT AND DAY, TOOTH FAIRY, and NANNY MCPHEE RETURNS… But as a screenwriter, I really should have seen INCEPTION and THE SOCIAL NETWORK.

The movies I really wanted to see weren’t necessary screenwriting gems, but I did want to see GET HIM TO THE GREEK, THE OTHER GUYS, RED, and WALL STREET 2.

I actually got free tickets to go see DINNER WITH SCHMUCKS. As my husband and I drove to drop off the kids at their Aunt’s so we could go see it, we ran into a horrible traffic jam. The tickets were for an Advance Screening for that night only. I can’t even tell you how disappointed I was. I cried the whole way home. I knew that would be the last time for a long time that we would be able to see a movie. (To my credit, however, I did say a prayer for those involved in whatever accident kept us from the movies. Somebody was having a way worse night than me…)

Soon after that, I arranged a double date with my best friend and her husband so we could go see WALL STREET 2. I’d been waiting for months for this movie to come out. Had a babysitter and everything. When I tried to meet up with my friends and my husband to see the movie, I ran into a traffic jam. My husband called and gave me an alternate route. On that route, I ran into another traffic jam. Another bitter disappointment.  I still haven’t seen the movie.

So what were the 6 that I did see? ECLIPSE, the new TWILIGHT movie (I’m not really a Twi-hard, but I do like the films and those tickets were free, another Advance Screening), DESPICABLE ME (free tickets and I LOVED the movie),  IRON MAN 2 (a must-see, my sister is obsessed with Robert Downey, Jr), SCOTT PILGRIM vs. THE WORLD (kinda weird, but I liked it once I figured out what was going on), and HOT TUB TIME MACHINE (free tickets, hysterical movie. I am a child of the 80s, after all).

I did get to see the top grossing film of 2010. Deservedly, it was TOY STORY 3.

I’m so glad I was able to see that. When all is said and done, a screenwriter really can’t aspire to write anything better than a Pixar film.

Shia LaBeouf and Betty White Get It

If it’s one thing I cannot stand, it’s people who have “made it”, whether it be as a writer, an actor, director – whatever – who just don’t really seem to understand how lucky they truly are. I believe there are countless talented people out there in Wannabeland who may never make it simply because they didn’t meet the right person. They didn’t get that one lucky break and they spent their lives in obscurity.

If you got your lucky break, you better be grateful every damn day of your life for it.

Betty White has been quoted as saying she’s the “luckiest broad on two feet”. This after more than six decades of being a successful actress. She gets it. She’s worked incredibly hard over the years and she’s one of the most talented actresses to come along. Ever. She’s a pioneer in television. After more than sixty years of being a successful actress, I get the feeling she still doesn’t take any of it for granted.

Even if you are extraordinarily talented, you better be grateful every day for it. You were born that way. Don’t take credit for it.

Stephen King said “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”

Take credit instead for the hard work you’ve put into making your dream come true.

As a hardworking Wannabe, I have little patience for people who don’t seem to appreciate their own success. Consider these examples:

A well-known, beautiful, young actress made fun of her co-stars for studying their lines so seriously while filming a certain summer blockbuster. Sure, the film was not exactly an Oscar contender, but it was her job and it was an incredible opportunity.  I can’t help but wonder – if this woman didn’t bother bringing her A game to film a multi-million dollar movie, why did she get this opportunity and not a dedicated, passionate actress?

Another young actress on a well-known “wholesome” television show once deliberately appeared semi-nude in a magazine in order to shed her “good girl” image and get out of her contract. This is doubly infuriating. Not only did she throw away an opportunity that so many others would love to have, she apparently had no consideration for any of the cast and crew of this hit show. It was a great opportunity for their careers as well.

It honestly doesn’t bother me too much when I hear that someone finds success quickly. Sure, sometimes it’s hard to think about someone selling their first script right away, publishing their first novel within a year of writing it, or having their very first acting role be a national commercial. But hey, as long as it’s your dream, I wish you well! Be grateful for your success and try to enjoy every moment.

It’s the people who succeed that don’t seem to even really want it in the first place that I find incredibly annoying.

On the other hand:

This was Shia LaBeouf’s response when the one and only Steven Spielberg asked him to be in the new Indiana Jones movie a few years ago:

“I don’t think I talked for five minutes. I had to get up and pace his office. I was freaking out. I’m speechless. I want to cry. I’m having a panic attack, and I’m sweaty. My heartbeat…you can even ask Steven. He finally said, ‘I guess that means yes.’ “

EW Indiana Jones 4 Q & A: Shia LaBeouf

Oh, yeah. He gets it.

The Indiana Jones movies are legendary. To be asked to be a part of that historic movie franchise is an unbelievable opportunity. I’m so glad that part didn’t go to some young kid who had never even seen the original films…An opportunity like that is just a one in a million shot. That would be like me being asked to write a Back to the Future sequel!

But that’s kind of a trick question – a Back to the Future sequel would be blasphemous and let us never speak of it again…

Shia even went a step further and admitted that the film was, to many, a disappointment.

“I feel like I dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished. You get to monkey-swinging and things like that and you can blame it on the writer and you can blame it on Steven [Spielberg]. But the actor’s job is to make it come alive and make it work and I couldn’t do it. So that’s my fault. Simple.”

Shia LaBeouf on Indiana Jones 4

It’s nice to know that there are successful former Wannabes out there that appreciate the gift of success that they’ve been given. There are celebrities who take their work seriously and don’t take it for granted. Personally, I didn’t think the new Indy movie was so bad. It wasn’t until the very end – you know the part I’m talking about – that I kind of hung my head and thought “Aaaaaand they took it too far….”. I thought the rest was kinda fun.

I think Shia had more to apologize for when it comes to the second Transformers movie.

And he did apologize….

Shia LaBeouf apologizes for Transformers 2

Nice to know there are successful artists out there who take their craft seriously. So to all you successful people out there, try not to take it for granted. Even if it did come to you easily, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to hold onto it.

Unless you’re Betty White.

Secret Tips for Getting Modeling Jobs

Many thanks to Aaron Marcus, premier acting and commercial modeling career coach for providing today’s blog entry! He is the author of How To Become a Successful Commercial Model and creator of the Becoming a Successful Actor & Commercial Model Workshop.

I just had a print job for a pharmaceutical company last week. Generally, for these jobs, I am either a doctor or a patient; this time I was the doctor. During a break in the session, I had a chance to talk with the art director. I am always curious how the art/creative director from the advertising agency decides which model gets cast for the project. The art director had something interesting to say that I want to share with you.

She said that there were many people who looked like a doctor, but there were a few factors that brought them to hire me. One helpful thing was the fact that I already had a shot on my comp card portraying a doctor. This shot allowed them to easily see I was right for the part, and very believable as a doctor. They also said some of the models who E-mailed JPGs (we all had to do this to make sure we still look like our comp card) had spent too much time in the sun this summer, and their skin was too tanned. One other swaying factor was that I did not look like a model, and showed a nice, warm, and friendly feel in a number of my photos.

In Summary:

1.Try to show the characters you will be cast for on your comp card.
2.Don’t think that you have to look like a beautiful model in order to work as one.
3.Be careful when spending time out in the sun; the beach look is not always the right look!

Simplicity

As the old song goes, “Tis a Gift To Be Simple”. I’m inclined to agree.

I haven’t changed my mind about not looking at my script until after the holidays – I still believe that’s best. I need some distance in order to get the fresh start I need. However, that doesn’t mean I should turn off my imagination. I couldn’t if I wanted to. While I’m not actively working on my script right now, I can’t help but think about it from time to time. That’s actually a good thing. Sometimes you find the solutions when you’re not trying so hard.

I shouldn’t be all the surprised that this script didn’t turn out well. It was a hard struggle from the beginning, which is not always the case. I worked for a very long time on one outline after another. Lots of detailed notes of stuff I wanted to fit in the script. There was lots of information, character details, plot ideas, but there was a lot missing.

Mainly, fun.

I loved the idea for this script, but I was not having much fun with it. The script I wrote right before this one took me two full years to get right. And I never got tired of it. I had fun with the characters and the plot. I had some awful reviews in the beginning and it was devastating, but I battled my way back until the script became a finalist in a national competition. Maybe I can do that again with this one.

Dealing With Rejection Part 1 : Emotional

Screenplay | The Writer’s Life: Learn From Rejection

I am starting to believe I was trying too hard with this latest script. I like the premise and I really like the main character. I think I’ll build on those elements and see what I can do. I’m throwing out all the complicated plotlines and twists (that turned out to be too obvious anyway) and just go back to basics. For the next month, I’m going to let my mind be free. If I feel like kicking around ideas for the script – great. If I feel like singing Christmas carols and eating cookie dough with the kids, then I’ll do that.

I need to simplify the script. Think about what might be funny. What would happen if…what if the main character did….wouldn’t it be hysterical if…. and see what I come up with. Just let go and see what happens and where the characters might lead me.

And that’s what writing is all about, Charlie Brown.

Celebrities are Just Former Wannabes….

It’s easy to forget that even the most successful celebrities were once Wannabes, too. On the days when you’re feeling like a talentless hack, keep in mind that:

Rodney Dangerfield gave up on trying to launch his comedy career for a while and worked as aluminum siding salesman and a house painter.

Scarlett Johansson was rejected by the New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Jay Leno is a former auto mechanic.

Jack Nicholson was a gofer at MGM animation studios, working for William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.

Julia Roberts was turned down for a role on the soap opera All My Children.

Michael Jordon was cut from his high school varsity basketball team.

J.K. Rowling’s book Harry Potter was rejected by at least 12 publishers.

The screenplay for Back to The Future was rejected more than 40 times.

Ryan Reynolds flunked out of drama class.

Maybe there’s hope for me yet…

Why You Didn’t Get the Part

Many thanks to Aaron Marcus, premier acting and commercial modeling career coach for providing today’s blog entry! He is the author of How To Become a Successful Commercial Model and creator of the Becoming a Successful Actor & Commercial Model Workshop.

Some actors/models blame their agent when work is slow. I want to share an experience I just had with an agent (about a potential job) that will be helpful to you.

I received a phone call from an agent wanting to know if I could work as an extra on a TV spot. Because it was a Union job, and shooting all night, I could earn about $300. I wanted the job. I called the agent the next day to see if I got the booking, and she told me the client decided to cast someone else.

There are so many factors that go into getting cast, and tons of reasons why you might not get chosen. For instance: you might be too beautiful, and would not look like you would be married to the husband who has already been cast. Maybe you look like the director’s ex-wife, and he doesn’t want to be reminded of a bad experience. Perhaps you do not look like you belong in the family with the mom and dad who have already been cast – you could be too tall or short, and not match up well with other family members. It is possible your look is so strong that you would stand out too much, and people would not focus on the product.

The point is, you can only ask your agent to submit you for projects. Sometimes, there are many other people who have to decide who is going to get cast. The fact of the matter is, your agent has nothing to do with the final decision.