Although I’m proud to be counted among a group of screenwriting blogs collectively known as the “scribosphere,” please don’t expect any relevant and insightful tips on screenwriting from me. No structure notes, no WGA news, no thoughts on how to be good in a room. This is not a repository of information about the craft and business of the screenwriter, but rather the scattered reflections of another girl with another big Hollywood dream of becoming a fabulously important one.
Alas, I did not arrive in Hollywood a fresh-faced innocent with nothing to call my own but a photogenic backside and a boyfriend named Bubba bent on leading my management team. While so many fellow aspirants haven’t got much to lose either way, I abandoned what by all appearances had been a dream life. A successful travel writer, I was the original accidental tourist dutifully navigating the globe. Based in Miami, I published popular guidebooks, while also self-syndicating hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. Though responsible research dictated I eat the free shrimp and sample the umbrella drinks, it became increasingly challenging to hide my only real interest in shellfish, the famous lobster scene from Annie Hall. Rum intrigued me strictly when Erroll Flynn slugged it straight from the jug. I wanted to create the next insouciante pirate role for Johnny Depp, not listen to some overtly cheerful sort with a fake parrot leading another cheesy Caribbean museum tour.
While a whirlwind romance with a Croatian cruise ship maitre d’ felt vaguely cinematic, our hasty marriage amounted to a major indiscretion certain to hold me back for years. On assignment in my husband’s hometown of war-torn Dubrovnik, I happened upon a copy of Syd Field’s Screenplay at an English language bookstore. Wildly inspired, rather than recording the actual events of my trip, I went home and wrote the Hollywood version.
Armed with my completed script, I finally gave the big Croat the boot, severed the rest of the ties that bound, and took my shot out West. In no time at all, the cruel hand of fate delivered a protracted series of near misses conspiring to fuel my mysterious belief in the imminent advent of superstardom. The prestigious fellowship that was just out of reach, the coveted studio apprenticeship falsely promising to result in highly overpaid employment. Ultimately, in exchange for my life savings, my dwindling youth and any likelihood of finding new love with a wage-earning adult, I returned to school. By graduation day I’d amassed a coterie of inappropriate young drinking buddies and a lifetime of student loan debt, earning a fairly useless screenwriting M.F.A. conferred upon me by Arnold Schwarzenegger of all people.
Happily, though, along my quest to become Rocky, the underdog defying the odds, I learned instead that I’m Dorothy. None of that winning nonsense mattered much to begin with. What mattered was making it all the way to freaking Oz and hanging with the wizard! Whatever happens next, simply by virtue of having made the defining journey of my life, I’ll never have to look back and wonder, what if?