I’m over-the-moon with the feedback on my first feature screenplay. In 2 competitions, it scored in the top 5% for concept, top 20% for originality, & got high marks in plot, characterization, voice, & for its ability to be sold to producers. One reviewer compared it in concept to the film Hidden Figures and another to the film Mona Lisa Smile, both of which I love. More editing ahead to further improve it to producers, production houses, agents, and managers before I live pitch it in Chicago in April.
Thanks to everyone who’s been cheering me on in this process and special thanks to John Bucher, whose advice on this project (before I even really had any kind of concept at all!) is worth its weight in gold. ❤️🎥
I’m working on a presentation I’m giving next week to graduate students interested in product development. One of my slides says, “What’s rare is valuable. You need to own your weirdness because it’s the rarest, most valuable thing you have. You’re the only one in world who has it.” And I stand by that.
Over the years I’ve learned to love editing. It’s cake frosting and decorating for writers. Once I’ve gotten something to work with, I can mold, shape, and add the flourishes that bring it to life. Do you have a way of thinking about the hard work of editing that makes it more enjoyable?
Last week I submitted my first writing fellowship applications. It will be months before I know any news though just applying felt amazing. Writing our ideas into reality is a powerful act! Have you ever applied for writing fellowships? Have your ever gotten a writing fellowship? What did you think of the experience?
There’s a lot of emphasis on feedback, and it’s such a valuable gift when it’s specific, actionable, and detailed. I was very fortunate last week to get professional feedback on my TV pilot after as a result of entering it into a writing competition. The feedback came from someone who works in production in the television industry and knows the market well. I was shocked and delighted by how thoughtful and thorough it was, and it was well worth the extra fee to receive it. If possible, it’s incredibly important to get these professional perspectives on our writing as often as we can.
Last week I was an editing machine:
✅TV pilot submission
✅3 writing fellowship applications
✅Science communication conference application
✅2 federal grant application contributions
✅Storytelling show pitch
✅Magazine article pitch (and it was accepted!)
Now we wait to see if anything comes through. I’m really proud of this work and feel so grateful to have the time and flexibility to do it. To celebrate, I took a much needed break from my screens over the weekend and now I’m back at it!
I have one more day left of editing on this screenplay. There’s a fine line between editing something to be as good as you can possibly make it and editing the life and energy out it. I’m treading that line carefully, determined to stay on the right side of it.
This week I had an interesting turn of events: a publisher contacted me about the possibility of writing a new book. It’s a book I’ve been thinking about writing for a while so I already had a lot of thoughts about the topic and the book. It was one item on my very long to-do list of writing that shot to the top of the list because of this inquiry. The publisher asked me to pitch my idea for the book so I did and we’ll see what happens. Could be something. Could be nothing. It taught me a lot.
Many times, this is where the story ends and it may just seem like a wonderful stroke of luck to get an email like this from a publisher. It is and it isn’t. The serendipity springs from a lot of hard work over a very long time, much of it a labor of love. First, the book idea is based on my long career in product development that had had very high highs and very low lows. It’s also a result of my work as a writer (also with its peaks and valleys), and most recently in going back to graduate school (for the second time). The publisher’s note to me happened after they saw that I shared a post on LinkedIn with a relevant hashtag about some of my recent writing of a TV pilot script that was entirely unpaid and that I don’t even know will ever get off the ground.
This recent interaction taught me that we have to make our own luck, that we have to talk about the work we’re doing to find people who share our interests and passions. Many times, we talk into the void. Sometimes, that void ends and we find an audience. Working in secret and staying quiet about our work is a completely fine and personal decision. If we want our work to have impact, to inspire and reach other people, to build a better world, then sharing it (when we’re ready) is key. The creative world is weird. The publishing world is weird. Life and career is a wild ride, and I think it’s absolutely worth the price of admission.
Do you have a story about how sharing your work led to an unexpected opportunity? I’d love to hear it.
I got some excellent feedback on a query for my second novel. It was a rejection but a very useful one. In my reading, I like set-up. I like to see the stage, and then dive into the action. This is not enticing agents. Though I cut way down on the exposition at the start of my novel, it seems like it’s still too much. They love the imagery and the world-building, but they want action first. As in, right from the first word. So I need to re-write the beginning. Again. There are just two ways to take this kind of news—we either get bitter or we get better. So I’m getting better. And re-writing.
With a little distance and time, I realize that the rejections I got that stung in the moment were the very best things that could have happened because they were the beginning of something new, something meant just for me. I remind myself of this every single time I get a rejection. Hang in there, writers. You’ll find your pack. ❤️