From the Desk of an Incredibly Grateful and Slightly Tipsy Career Coach…
It’s Christmas Eve, and I’m feeling sentimental. It could be the amount of wine flowing as part of my small families’ Christmas dinner (anyone who knows me, knows I am a wine snob. And I totally nailed the au jus, for the record). It could be the realization that I am now at the start of my 10th year of business. The surprise and humility that I feel about the fact that people still want to hear what I have to say after all these years. But above all, it’s people that are on my mind tonight. The people that my job has brought into my life. So many first moments, initial contacts, that have translated into some of the most meaningful relationships in my life.
The first time I met Greta, who still spelled her name G-r-e-t-e at the time, confusing many an American who defaulted to saying her name phonetically (aka Greet), she came in with lots of questions after she heard me speak at her UCLA class. Yes, I was from Israel, but from where? Jerusalem, but where in or around Jerusalem, specifically? Little did I know that both myself and her then-girlfriend-now-wife grew up in the same 2,000 person village outside of Jerusalem. Years later, we would go on to find out that years before we met while I was still a child my father, then an Israeli TV news segment editor and producer, produced, directed, and narrated a segment about the village/s annual festival, in which he interviewed Greta’s wife’s father. Coincidence? Could be. But I loved it when Greta anointed me her second-Israeli-in-command. Soon after we started working together, Greta became my ride-or-die, my very own work wife.
Eileen showed up while I was visiting friends in San Fransisco, after my husband and I spent a few blissful days (there’s that love of wine again. should I be worried about it?) in Napa. Her email said something to the tune of “I’ve been following your blog forever.” Only years later would I come to acknowledge that I had only been blogging consistently for a couple of years when she showed up, but I will never forget the moment she entered my life, and the ride that we have since been on, both on the personal and professional fronts. It’s been beyond rewarding to watch her meteoric rise.
A few years ago, I was vacationing with my family in the south of France. One night, we finally got our dish working, but could only access two English speaking channels. One showed an episode of LETHAL WEAPON, the other NCIS NEW ORLEANS. Those were the shows that Eileen and Greta were writing on at that time. Once again… Coincidence?
But I digress.
Michelle came into my life when I was invited to speak at a Christian film school. Anyone who knows me (or my husband) would likely bet against me being invited anywhere by any religious institution, but… there you have it. And Michelle has gone to write some of my favorite pages, become one of my favorite people. Talking to her – no matter how much time passes between sessions – is more like catching up with an old friend, then having a relationship that leans into the transactional.
Moises showed up – digitally speaking – while I was in London for the London Screenwriters Festival. A few weeks before, I came in to speak to his UCLA class, and shortly thereafter he signed up. We’ve been together through some tough moments, through amazing successes, through thrilling development and excitement, and his aptitude for growth and self-analysis continues to impress me even now.
Paul, who is cut of the kindest, most generous cloth you can find, came to me eons ago, wanting to learn everything and get to know everyone. He went from writing 1/2-hour to 1-hour, from un-repped to repped writer. To going through the ups and downs with a ridiculous amount of grace and elegance. Robert showed up a few years later, cut of that very same stock of ridiculously talented and incredibly nice, which makes me believe in the people that pursue this profession. Naturally, the two of them became friends, which tickles me to end. And, different as they may be, I love both of their writing.
When Michael first came to work with me, I sensed that he was political, though I wasn’t quite sure what side of things he landed on. I read his TV pilot while on vacation in Santa Barbara (I love this blog post! It makes me sound like I’m on vacation all the time) and was delighted that, when we met, the sticker on his water bottle revealed him to be on the right side of the political spectrum as far as I was concerned. I knew that we would get along.
Crosby always struck me by how much he considered his words. How un-precious he was about his own writing. How much he expected from himself. Shortly after we started working together, I found him talking to my husband, who was working one table over at Akasha, and telling him how much what I do meant to him. Years later, after he broke in, I laughed out loud when I got his text Black List! Black List! Black List! When his screenplay, BRING ME BACK, was named to the famed list.
And there are so many others. I could do this – reminisce – for days. Tell you about my first meeting with Katie who was so brilliant and so clueless about the powerhouse that she was and still is (hello, Marvel Universe!), about Savy that I first met at a screenwriting event, about Bobby, whose first pilot was way too good for anyone’s first script, about Amber and Pamela and Nora and April, about Kim who was just as wonderful in real life as she was on Twitter and was always too busy keeping her head down and doing the work to expect the great successes that came her way, about Rose who is brilliant and larger than life and vulnerable and candid. And Lynn who makes it so easy to root for her. And Jared. And the other Jared. Who are both talented writers and wonderful people. And now, consequently, friends. And the other Paul. And Chantelle. And Felischa. And Dean. And Sandra. And Hussain. And Janene. And Amadou. And Sammy. And Rachel and Luisa, both rather recent arrivals, who seem to have nonetheless carved themselves a permanent place in my heart. And Barbara. And Lisa. And… How can I forget Chandus, whom I first met when I was invited to speak to his writers group around 2014, and instantly knew I wanted to work with him? And Terry. And Deborah. And Josh. And Patrick. And Patrick. And Kevin. And Kenny who is so talented and so has my heart, and who thought I would know who he is by his voice which, quite frankly, I didn’t quite notice the way he thought I did. And Johnny. And. And. And.
Pursuing a screenwriting career, be it in feature writing, TV writing, or both, is rarely a straight-forward journey, a singular, uninterrupted trajectory. There are ups and downs (often times more of the latter, less of the former), challenges, frustrations, even heartbreaks. Great success can be followed by great disappointment. One day the future can feel entirely figured out, while the next it’s all tossed up in the air. There are days when writers feel they “cracked” it, whether “it” is a story or a career path. Then there are those days when the industry, the universe or the story gods prove them entirely wrong, and they have to get up, to figure it out all over again. There are soooo many near-misses, almosts, close calls until it finally happens. There are starting-out problems, breaking-in problems, successful-career problems. But they are all real and valid, deserving of attention, be they champaign problems to not. Over the years I’ve had the great privilege of celebrating the sale of a pilot or a feature pitch, first jobs and first reps, at dinners with clients, as well as talking through major frustrations and let downs when the writer came so close but didn’t quite get there. I am grateful for being allowed to do both, and everything else that falls in the middle of the two of those.
Just writing this, I know I am omitting way too many names. Way too many faces that will visit me tonight, tomorrow, after this is published, and toy with my ever-present Jewish guilt (more wine, please!). Way too many stories I still want to share (although, I am sure I will also worry later on that maybe I shared too much). But I trust that you all know who you are, because you all make my job so meaningful and so much more that what “just” a job would ever be. Which is why, tonight, I have I have so many reasons to be grateful.