I spent last week in Los Angeles, working on my “television career.” Why the air quotes?
Because this experience feels a lot like I’m living in a dream… and at any moment the alarm is going to go off. I keep having to pinch myself to make sure this is all really happening. It’s been one of the most confusing and exciting times of my life. It’s also been so completely unpredictable that I find myself completely unable to anticipate what will happen next. It’s an exercise in surrender in the worst/best way.
So here’s what happened. In 2013, when I started the Doomsday Kids series, I had the highest hopes for them. I worked my tail off, spent thousands of dollars and churned out four of the six books in a little more than a year. Then in Spring of 2o15, I hit a wall. The books weren’t selling well and in the hopes of making some new contacts in publishing, I went to BEA’s BookExpo in New York.
I’ve been to BEA events before. They are massive expositions for booksellers. Famous authors appear to sign their books to lines and lines of avid readers. New titles from around the world are on display– thousands of them. My own titles, proud of them as I was, were literally swallowed up in the sheer volume of similar works, offered by established publishers with more money, more reach and more prestige. I was devastated by the experience– just crushed. I wondered why I had bothered to attend. I wondered why I bothered to display my books. I wondered why I bothered to write them in the first place. I came back from the trip completely demoralized, with two more books in the series to write for a small handful of devoted fans.I remember calling my sister in tears, feeling like an absolute fool for committing so much effort into such a doomed enterprise. I was ready to quit writing forever…
And then television came calling.
Literally. In the form of my friend Barbara’s husband Tom who runs a production company. A fan of my books, Tom asked me if I’d ever thought of writing for the screen. That led to a TV pilot based on the Doomsday Kids books.
That led to good feedback on my script writing abilities, that encouraged me to write a second TV pilot based on an abandoned project more than a decade old. It had never worked as a novel, so I figured “What the hell?” and wrote it.
More positive feedback…
Which led to entering that script, called “Beneath” into some of the top screenwriting contests. Which led to Beneath making the top 25 in the TV Pilot category in the Page International Screenwriting Awards. Which led to an email–“hey, I read your script. Like to try to do something with it.”
It’s exciting… and terrifying. But I guess it proves what they say: when God closes a door, He opens a window. Of course, I know there’s been plenty of times when I’ve ignored the window and kept banging on the door. And I guess that’s the point of this post.
Is there a place in your writing where you’re so busy banging on the door– and cursing it for not opening– that you haven’t noticed the window?