Writing is Fun! Except When It Isn’t.

Right now I’m in the middle of writing the novel version of my favorite screenplay, Queen Henry. This is my second novel, the first was a middle grade novel (ages 9-12) based on my screenplay, Rain on the Water. That script has been optioned twice by companies in Los Angeles. Both options have expired, and, not really surprisingly, nothing came of it. That’s okay. Having scripts optioned really is farther than I ever really thought I would get with my screenwriting, given the odds are especially horrible since I don’t live in L.A. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I can’t move to L.A. for lots of reasons and it sometimes that bums me out. If I really sit down and think about it, the odds of making it as a screenwriter, even if you DO live out there and you DO work in the industry are really pretty bad. There are more than 50,000 screenplays registered with the Writer’s Guild every year. It’s August. Guess how many spec scripts have sold this year so far? About 50. Being a successful screenwriter is a lot like saying you want to be an astronaut. Sure, it could happen. But it ain’t likely. Last week I was reading some blog article about how horrible the odds were and, for the first time in my life, I considered giving up screenwriting. 

It was like a very brief moment of panic. I just froze at my desk. It was like a sudden realization that the odds of this ever, ever happening were so remote that I realized I shouldn’t bother with it. 

I came to my senses less than 5 seconds and got over it, but it pisses me off because I’ve always said that in my 16 years of writing I’d never, ever considered giving up. Can’t say that anymore, now can I? I’ve read so many articles about how you’ve got to live in L.A., work as an intern, then an assistant, and inch your way forward making connections, working 10-12 + hours a day and you’re lucky if you can spare a few hours a week to do some actual writing.  

Yeah.

Well, instead of doing THAT, how bout I spend that time learning the craft, reading, writing, and getting better at it? Who’s gonna be the better writer? Me, or the intern who can’t pay his bills and barely has time to go to the bathroom, let alone learn the incredibly difficult craft of screenwriting? It reminds of the great Mitch Hedberg. He was a comic and people told him he should be an actor. He said “it’s like you work your ass off to be a great chef and people say, yeah, you can cook. Can you farm?” Only in screenwriting are you expected to spend 98% of your time NOT writing until you make it.

On the bright side, I found this article yesterday that made me feel a lot better. – What Are Your Real Chances of Success?

Anyway, one thing is for sure. Getting a novel published, while still incredibly hard, is a lot easier than selling a script.

Movies and writing screenplays are my great passion in life, so I resisted writing novels for a long time. Besides, Rain on the Water is a quiet kind of tale, and not particularly suited for the big screen. Both times that script was optioned, the producers had more of a small-scale independent film or tv/cable movie in mind. I’d always known that particularly story would work better as a novel, so I finally sat down and wrote the damn thing. 

I was honestly amazed at how much I enjoyed writing a novel. I love reading and, after all, a story is a story. Still, I just didn’t think I would like it that much. My career plan right now is to write screenplay – novel – screenplay – novel, but never the same story back to back. Writing a screenplay and then a novel of the same story would be overload – I know I would get sick of the story by then. All the time I was writing Rain on the Water, I knew that the next novel I wrote (after doing a screenplay) would be the novel version of Queen Henry, which is hands down my favorite story ever. I went through a lot of heartache with that script and I endured two years of painfully bad rejections (which hurt more because I loved the story so much) until I finally got it right. Amazingly, even though I worked on the screenplay for two years straight, I never got tired of the story. I just loved the story and characters so much. I enjoyed writing the novel version of Rain on the Water even though I was pretty burned out on the story. It was the first screenplay I ever wrote and I’d been rewriting it on and off for 16 years! So I figured if I enjoyed writing the novel for Rain on the Water, imagine how much fun I would have writing the novel version of Queen Henry. I’d been looking forward to writing that story as a novel for years, so I would absolutely, definitely, with no question love writing Queen Henry as novel. Right?
Right?

Guess what?

I do. I love it. I have never, ever had so much fun writing anything ever in my life. I love these characters and I love the story and I love the journey that they’re going on together. I am more passionate about this project than anything I’ve ever worked on in more than 16 years of writing. This means two things.

  1. This could be The One. This could be the one that lands me an agent or gets me published or both. Agents and readers and editors can tell when you’re passionate about something. I’ve poured my heart and soul into this thing for years now and I think it shows.
  2.  It will break my heart not if, but WHEN it gets rejected. Sure, tons of agents will turn it down without reading it for a million valid reasons. But somebody’s gonna request it. Somebody’s gonna hate it. Somebody’s gonna tell me that.  

That’s the life of a writer. Lots of ups and downs. No guarantees of success and very little is for certain. But one thing IS for sure – writing this novel is hard work but I’m having a blast with it. The only regret for me would be if I didn’t write it.

 In case you’re curious, Queen Henry is about a homophobic, macho, major league baseball player who doesn’t want anyone to know he has asthma, so he takes part in a clinical drug trial and the new drug makes him gay. I’m writing this in the first person – so you’ve got a married woman and mother of two writing from the perspective of a man…and then a gay man….and his journey of discovery. It’s a challenge and great fun, I will tell you that. The things that run through Henry’s mind as he experiences this crazy ride crack me up on a daily basis.

Gotta go for now. Henry’s got a date with his brand new love interest, Thomas. 

I’m as excited as he is to find out what happens next.

I Want Popcorn at my Funeral

I’ve mentioned this to my husband before, but I want it duly noted by all my blog readers, Facebook friends, and what have you, just in case.

I want popcorn at my funeral.

In the throes of grief and the unimaginable void that my death would cause (humor me, here) somebody out there will remember to serve popcorn at my funeral, right? In the last few weeks, my life has been touched indirectly by the deaths of three people (ages 59, 30, and a newborn baby). No one I knew personally, but these three people were the loved ones of a client, a co-worker, and a fellow blogger writer, respectively.

Like they say, tomorrow is promised to no one. I’m not trying to drag you down, here. My philosophy is to try to appreciate my loved ones and my health while I still have them and not take for granted that everything could change in an instant, but at the same time, not dwell on it. Sometimes we feel like we control our destiny, but in truth, we really don’t have much control at all. There’s no use in stressing about it. We just have to do that best we can. Find joy wherever we can and remember that crazy, beautiful, moments in life can come along just as unexpectedly as the tragic ones.

As a wannabe screenwriter, popcorn smells like my dreams. I always said that I love the smell of popcorn so much that I would wear it as perfume if I could. If I ever show up with melted butter dripping from ears, you’ll know I finally went and did it.  So I want the smell of popcorn to be associated with me. When I die, I want all my friends and family and popcorn there. I want the smell of buttered popcorn to be so strong that people will wander in off the streets into the funeral home asking “Hey, what’s playing?”

I hope I live long enough to grow old with my family and friends. If I die tomorrow or sixty years from now. Please don’t forget.

Popcorn.

Welcome Back, Henry!

On Friday, May 27, 2011 I finally FINALLY finished the latest draft of my screenplay, SOLO POWER. Whenever I finish a draft of a screenplay, I usually celebrate by listening to my personal soundtrack to the story. That is, whatever songs I had been listening to while writing the script, the Screenplay Soundtrack. This time around, I was so thoroughly tired of the story, I didn’t even do that.

Remember back to your high school or college days when you finished a particularly grueling exam? Sure, you were relieved when it was done, but you were so mentally drained from it that you just can’t even think about the material anymore. That’s exactly what this felt like. Not so much a feeling of accomplishment. Just exhaustion.

It’s strange. I like the story. I like the characters. This script has just been especially difficult for some reason. Lots and lots of rewrites, which is not uncommon. I guess it’s just been a tiring struggle writing this one. More so than normal. My plan was to not even look at it for two weeks, then pick it up again for more rewrites. Usually, I feel refreshed when I get some distance from what I’m working on, and then I’ m ready to go back to it.

Well, it’s been a week and I’m still not read to look at it. I can’t help but wonder if one more week will be enough.

The last screenplay I wrote was just as much work as this one, if not more. I endured horrible reviews and I kept working and working on it until it started to get really good reviews. My next project after my current screenplay is going to be writing the novel version of my earlier screenplay, QUEEN HENRY.

Since I finished the SOLO POWER draft a week ago, I’ve started prep work on the novel. I thought it might help to work on a different project for a little bit.

It was like visiting old friends. Oh, how I’ve missed these characters. Henry, Thomas, Sam, and Alice are calling to me. “Hey! It’s great to see you! Remember how much fun we had a few years ago?”

Yes! Yes I do.

It’s funny – I spent just as long on QUEEN HENRY as I did on SOLO POWER. Just as many rewrites and I was relieved when I finally finished but I never, ever got tired of the characters or the story. It’s still my favorite story and I’m excited about the prospect of turning it into a novel.

So – I’ve got the current project that’s not done yet but that I’m sick of and I’ve got a new project that I’m really excited about. It seems crazy to ignore the momentum I’m gaining on writing the new novel. I can’t wait to write it. So I guess I shouldn’t wait.

So I’m thinking maybe I will write a draft of the novel and then go back to the earlier screenplay. Hopefully, it will be enough space and time that I will be ready to look at it again with a new perspective and new ideas to make it really good.

Sorry, SOLO POWER. It’s not you – it’s me.

Come on, Henry! We’ve got a lot of work to do and some life lessons for you to learn. Let’s get to it!

Brief Script Update – Just in Case Anyone Cares

I have not yet reached that Eureka!!! moment where the whole script comes together, but it’s coming soon. I can feel it. The characters are now jostling for my attention – telling me little bits and pieces of their backstory and telling me why they do the things they do…

I was lucky to walk outside yesterday in the rare 70 degree February sunshine. As usual, I was listening to my individualized “soundtrack” to my script. I have successfully reclaimed the songs – they no longer belong to the last draft that was terrible. As a matter of fact, I found myself straining to remember what happened in the story in the last draft.

I abruptly stopped walking for moment. I swear, it took me a full 30 seconds to remember what the hell happened in the earlier draft – the one that took me more than a year to write, but was blasted to oblivion in a review.

 I literally could not remember the original story. 

It just shows how much I’ve really let go of that draft. All the scenes and characters I loved as well as the heartbreak of the bad review.

 I’m totally over it. It’s all about the new, exciting draft.

 It was a nice moment.

Have a great Friday, everyone.

Bad Reviews

Usually, by the third time I read the review, I feel better. I feel like, “okay, this is not that bad.”

It’s that bad.

It’s “Am I wasting my time trying to break into an impossibly competitive business when I have no talent to begin with” bad. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but right now it doesn’t feel like it. The hardest part to take is that I really felt like I was improving in figuring out story structure, but it turns out I’m still way off.

“So there are some sequences that work well here, though I still don’t think you’ve entirely cracked it yet. So let’s tear it apart and kick at the tires, and see if we can figure some things out.”

This is why Scott the Script Analyst is great. He tells the truth, but does so respectfully. He’s honest and treats me like a colleague. He also always says something like: “As before, filter all these notes through what you want to do with the script, and any ideas I offer up now belong entirely to you.” I love that, because he makes it clear that he’s tossing out ideas and not telling me what to do. He does not think I should substitute his vision for my own. This is the mark of a truly great editor. Here’s some more fun quotes from the review:

– I think your first act is too long and rambly
– I kept wondering when the story really kicks in
– (in suggesting cutting a character) Because his whole bit really doesn’t add much drama or humor
– I don’t think you need the Hailey scenes either; they really don’t advance or illuminate the story.
– THE SECOND HALF. I think you really need to push the only real conflict here (The “only real” conflict. That’s pretty bad. )
– Of a twist that I thought was pretty good “way too obvious”. (that one hurt. A lot)
– Of one of my favorite scenes, Scott said “that scene works well, because her dramatic need is clear”. Cool. At least I got that right.
If I had a paper shredder, I would literally take this screenplay and feed it through one page at a time. It would be cathartic. As it is, I am resisting the urge to permanently DELETE any evidence of the script as it is.

Not because I’m giving up. Because I’m starting over.

Now it’s time to forge through all the self-doubt, all the fear and the pain, and start over.

I’m taking the rest of December off from this screenplay. I don’t want to look at it right now. I’m going to spend the rest of this month researching and writing articles for the blog. I can’t stand to be away from writing for a day, let alone a month. So I will concentrate on building up Wannabe Pride. Maybe I’ll research and write an article or two on story structure. God knows I need the help. I won’t touch the screenplay until after the New Year. Here’s hoping 2011 brings better reviews. They can’t get much worse.

Today’s Success Could Be Tomorrow’s Bad Review…

I just finished a new draft of my latest screenplay, MATRIMANIA, this morning. It’s come a long way from the original draft – or at least I think it has. I have already submitted it for its first professional review to my trusted script analyst, Scott.

It’s always risky to submit a piece of writing for review immediately after you have completed it. You sweat over it for weeks, months, or even years. You barely have time to celebrate the accomplishment of completing it before the review comes back telling you it needs a lot of work. I’ve been down that road before. It happened with the outline for this very script. I’m pretty good with character and dialogue, but I have some difficulty with plot and, in particular, structure. By structure I mean how the story is told. This includes pacing, building tension, etc. Rather than hash out an entire script, I’ve taken to writing an extensive outline, giving it to Scott to read and review, and then do another outline. Maybe several outlines before I’m ready to write the actual screenplay.

I worked for several months on the outline and then I finally gave it to Scott review. I felt that I was improving as a writer – maybe I am – but the outline needed a fairly complete overhaul. I think I got the review back the same day that I sent it to him. Disappointing, to say the least.

The good news is that, over the years, I have gotten very used to getting criticism. I’ve had LOTS of practice in this area. It doesn’t upset me anywhere near as much as it used to. There was a time where I would never have submitted a script for review in December. If it was a terrible review, it would ruin Christmas! That idea is almost laughable to me now. I’m stronger than that. I’m proud to say that I know that no matter how bad a review might be, it won’t upset me for long.

I have a system. First, I read the review quickly, my heart racing. I said I’m getting used to criticism – that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still scare me. The worst moment is when it pops up in my inbox (or arrives in the mail). That first flash of fear never goes away. That dreaded feeling of “Oh, no, it’s here…”. And I have a terrible track record of NEVER being alone when I receive it. Whether it was when I lived at home with my parents, or now with my kids and my husband, or sometimes it arrives when I’m out with friends. And I have to read it right away! I just wish I could be in private to deal with it – whatever it is.

The first skim of the review is the “how bad is it?” The second review is where I slow down and actually read it to really understand what it says. By the third time I read it, I’m already mentally working on the rewrite. That’s the best part. I get over the initial shock and start really thinking about the suggestions that were made. Often, I realize how true they are. I can start to see how much better the script will be once I revise it. AGAIN.

I probably won’t post the whole review here when I get it, due to professional courtesy. I don’t want to give away Scott’s brilliance for free (though I know the review might not make sense anyway, since you haven’t read the script). But I promise to post the highlights and the lowlights. I always try to be honest about both my successes and my failures. I won’t just brag about good reviews – I will be honest when I get shot down as well.

Wish me luck….

My Love Letter To Back to the Future on its 25th Anniversary

Most people who spend their lives following an artistic dream – be they actors, comics, writers, singers, etc. have one moment in time that they can point to and say – “THERE– right there. That’s when it all started.” A writer may remember reading a classic book as a child that first fired her imagination. An actor may recall the first live play he ever saw that made him realize what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Seeing Back to the Future when I was 10 years old is my story.

I had absolutely zero interest in seeing the film. I had recently gotten to an age where I was allowed to walk to the movie theater myself and there were only 2, 3 at the most, movies featured there. Much to my irritation, the film was a huge hit. There it sat – week after week – on the marquee. Wouldn’t it ever go away? I didn’t want to see a stupid science fiction film and I was waiting impatiently for a new movie to take its place. One day, out of sheer boredom, I agreed to go see the movie with my sister.

I walked into that movie theater and, roughly two hours later, came out a different person.

It actually took me 8 or 9 years after that to fully realize what it was that I wanted to do with my life, but it definitely began right there in that movie theater. Or rather, the passion that had been in me all along was ignited that day. I am reminded of the Doc’s quote “It’s taken me almost 30 years and my entire family fortune to realize the vision of that day.” After seeing that movie, I had a very strong, indescribable need to do…something. I toyed with it for years. What was it that I wanted to do? I was pretty sure I didn’t want to be an actress. I knew I didn’t want to be a director. It wasn’t until I was in high school when my English teacher started reading my humorous essays aloud (Thanks Ms. Gina Rapisarda, now Gina Fritz!!!), that I realized I had some writing talent and that creative writing was that aching, driving need that was almost physically painful. I realized my all-consuming desire to write then and haven’t stopped since.

Sure, I had been to the movies before that “red-letter” day in the mid-80s. Mostly animated films. Older Disney flicks like Snow White, and I recall seeing The Aristocats and the Santa Clause movie (not the Tim Allen one, the older, fairly terrible Dudley Moore one). But I had never, ever seen anything like Back to the Future. It was one of those incredible, magical, films where all the elements come together to achieve near perfection. It was a popcorn movie in the very best sense of the phrase. I have never been a fan of heavy-handed, preachy, “important” films. I don’t like “feeulms”. I like movies.

Back to the Future is a very tightly written film. No boring parts and everything gets set up and paid off later. From Biff the bully who ends up working for George McFly at the end to little details like Twin Pines Mall becoming Lone Pine Mall after Marty mows down the poor sap with the Delorean; not a moment is wasted. Each role was so perfectly cast that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing the parts (with apologies to Eric Stolz). No one could ever equal Michael J. Fox’s comedic timing and who else but Christopher Lloyd could ever be the Doc. I confess, however, that it wasn’t until I got older that I caught on to the whole “Jennifer” switch in the sequels…

Until I saw Back to the Future, I never realized that movies could be like this. The rush of adrenaline, the magic, the wonder. You can get lost in the movies. Even for a movie lover like me, it doesn’t happen often. Few movies have that intangible element, that mystical concoction that combines a compelling plot, humor, adventure, and heart that makes you feel like anything is possible.

Over the years, I’ve seen the film many times. I try not to watch it too many times, for fear of it losing its power. I love to listen to the music from the soundtrack, especially while I am out walking. I’m always working on a script, especially when I am walking and listening to music. I feel like I am walking in step with my characters. From the time I wake up in the morning until when I go to bed, I’m lost in the characters and the story that I am creating. The music from Back to the Future can still give me chills. I’m 10 years old again when I hear it. When I got married, we had a movie-themed reception. My first dance with my husband was “Storybook Love” from The Princess Bride. Our second dance was “Earth Angel”. We invited the bridal party to join us on the floor. It was just like being at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance!

On Saturday, I will get to do something that I’ve waited 25 years to do. I will get to see Back to the Future – the movie I never wanted to see in the first place – on the big screen again. This time, I will see it as a screenwriter. Even though I haven’t had my big break yet, I’ve been writing for 16 years now (having had two scripts optioned, one currently under contract with a production company in L.A.). Unlike my advertising writing business, I don’t know that I ever really thought I would make it as a screenwriter. [I thought I had a shot at making a living writing brochures, etc. If you read this blog, you know my business tanked.] Truth be told, I never really thought I would get this far with my screenwriting. It’s very, very rare for anyone to truly be able to make a living as a working screenwriter. It’s no exaggeration to say that my chances of winning the lottery might be a lot better. You never know, though. As we learned in 1985, lightning can strike twice…Regardless of success, I don’t just talk about writing scripts and novels. I WRITE them. That’s what makes me a real writer.

When I see Back to the Future again, I will see it as a person who continues to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a screenwriter. It’s been 16 years and I haven’t given up. I think 10-year-old me would be proud.

Scary How-to Books

Though I try to read as many How-To books as I can, I find it very stressful sometimes. I want to make sure I come across as a professional, so I read lots of books about screenwriting and novel writing so I know what to do and what not to do. I find these books stressful to read because sometimes they tell me more than I want to know. Things I would rather not think about. Though it’s not really the conventional wisdom anymore, experts used to warn you that you absolutely had to live in Los Angeles to make it as a screenwriter. Once in a while, people still argue that it’s still true, even with the advent of the Internet, faxes, and all the other newfangled stuff out there. I hate that argument. It scares me. I’m always afraid that it’s true. I can’t move to L.A. I won’t move to L.A. Can’t because I have a husband and kids here, plus a claustrophobic mother who wouldn’t be able to get a plane to come visit. I wouldn’t move anyway. I’ve heard too many horror stories. Everyone says people there really are plastic surgery-enhanced walking Barbie dolls who are so coked up and drunk that it’s a wonder they can even speak, let alone act or write. I’m still convinced that a big earthquake is going to hit one day and the whole state of California is going to break off and float away into the ocean. (Seriously, people! Nobody seems to heed these warnings about CA, even with the recent tragedy of epic proportions in Haiti. Noooo, it can’t happen here. This is Hollywood!).
There are also plenty of stories about people who DO move to L.A. – then move back. Moving to the West Coast might get you more connected to the right people. Or it might not. You can move there, get a job, and then it’s kind of like….now what. I’m here! So….ummm…You’re there with about a million other people who moved out there for the same reason you did. There are only so many studio jobs that are available. And to get THOSE jobs, you have to know people, too. I’ve always felt that if I’m not going to make it as a screenwriter, I’m going to not make it right here on the East Coast. Here where I have family and friends and support and a life outside of the harsh world of screenwriting. Still, it scares me when people say moving is a must.
Those how-to books either offer harsh truths or sometimes sugarcoat things so much that I don’t know what to believe anymore. Screenwriting books like to harp on Passion. If you are just Passionate enough about what you are writing, it will shine through and everyone will fall in love with your work. If you love it, other people will too. They also like to say that Hollywood is always looking for fresh new ideas. However, everyone knows that many of the movies that come out are old, recycled ideas with very little passion. It’s hard to imagine anybody feeling a deep passion stirring within their soul to the point where they simply had to write that story about putting The Rock in a tooth fairy dress….
Screenwriting books also like to convince you that 99.98% percent of the scripts written are truly rotten, so yours is sure to shine, right? They say that at least 80% of screenplays submitted to contests are pure garbage, so naturally yours will have a great shot! No so, in my experience. A perfect example – the Slamdance screenplay competition had this to say about my script “This is a very well written script. I thought it was interesting and entertaining. The structure of the script is well planned and carefully carried out. The writer does a very good job of interluding upcoming plot points, having them unfold in a truthful and consistent manner, not comprising her characters. I can’t see that there is very much room for improvement.” Not much room for improvement should mean it’s pretty damn good, right? The script was not in the Top 50 Finalists, so clearly at least 50 were better than my pretty damn good script. I have also gotten letters and emails from producers telling me that they really enjoyed my script. Some of them even provide some specifics on what they really liked (as opposed to form letters), yet somehow they still passed on the script. Seems to me that they must be reading a lot of scripts that are even better than my “pretty good” scripts.
I write with plenty of passion with ideas, at least in my opinion, are original or at least have not been done too many times before. So far, no dice. I guess it’s best to keep in mind that these how-to books are out to sell more books. They have to tell you some harsh truths, yet not make it seem so impossible to break in that you want to kill yourself. It’s their job to tell you – “You, too, can make it!” Those books like to build you up to the point where you think that you’re the exception. Most of the other writers out there are no good, but you! You’re different.
It’s been my experience that there are plenty of good writers out there. More than they claim. More than you think. There are about 50,000 screenplays registered with the Writer’s Guild. Sometimes I think I have to be better than all of them or I will never, ever make it.
I don’t want to end this entry on such a down note. There are plenty of things those books are wrong about. They tell you that your first screenplay will never be any good. You won’t get anywhere with it – that one’s just for practice. I optioned the first screenplay I wrote when I was 19 years old. True, it was just a “free” option, but it was with a real production company in Los Angeles. They sent the script to Disney TV and Showtime and a few others.
The books will tell you that you will never get anywhere without an agent. I didn’t have an agent when I optioned my script and I still don’t.
The books also tell you that agents won’t bother with you until you’ve written a stack of scripts, if even then. I have found this mostly to be true. However…when I sent out my very first batch of query letters to agents, I bought a brand new picture frame. I was all ready to frame my first rejection letter. The very first letter I ever got was a YES. Sure, Ms. 18-year-old first time writer with only one screenplay under her belt, go on and send it! We’d love to read it! Things don’t always go the way they’re supposed to. Nobody who was ever diagnosed with cancer, got hit by a bus, or won the lottery, ever really thought it would happen to them.
I think it’s like William Goldman says “Nobody knows anything.” Who know why a screenplay sells? Who knows why it doesn’t place in a contest? You can’t predict these things. So I don’t try. I’m gonna write what I want to write with all the passion that I can muster. That way, at least I will be happy while I’m writing. That part is a guarantee. That part I have control over. The rest is up to chance. Success doesn’t happen too often to Wannabes, but you never do know when it will strike. I have the following quote hanging up in my office, just above the box where I put my acceptance letters:

But once in a while, the odd thing happens
Once in a while, the dream comes true
And the whole pattern of life is altered
Once in a while, the moon turns blue.
– Arden