Open End-Of-Year Letter to My Screenwriters (2014)

Dear writers (or as Todd likes to call you, My Scrappers),

Returning home from a Thanksgiving getaway to San Francisco, I sat on my bed with my beautiful 8-year-old son and my sparkly 4-year-old daughter for our nightly ritual, tell-me-time. My son mused: “Mommy, don’t you wish you and daddy didn’t have to work and Lula and I didn’t have to go to school and we could all just be on vacation every day?” All I could do was smile. Not only because I am a lucky woman to still have my son want spend time with the grownups in his life, but also because I got to tell him: “I love spending time with you. But I also love my job. So if I have to be away from you I am glad I get to spend that time doing something I love.” My son doesn’t understand what I do. Go explain coaching screenwriters to an eight year old. But then, at least he understands the concept of screenwriting; it’s entirely lost on my 4-year-old. So when they ask me what mommy’s job is, I tell them that mommy’s job is to help people. And what a gift it is to get to help people for a living. This sentiment was equally present when, just back from my 2-week trip to London (for London Screenwriting Festival) and Israel (to see my almost 90-year-old grandmother), mired in jet-lag and general exhaustion I woke up on my first day back to client meetings, and thought: “I get to see Eileen. And Michelle. And Greta. And Ayser.” Just four of many great reasons to happily return to work.

This past year has been incredibly rewarding. My clients, as always, continue to be the highlight: This past year, they pitched shows and movies to production companies, studios and networks, took meetings at companies like Sony, Imagine and Universal to name a few, and got signed by reputable agents and managers on a regular basis. One of my talented writers won PAGE; two were named to television fellowships; one produced an online phenomenon; a slew made quarterfinalists, semi-finalist and top lists in Nicholl, Big Break, PAGE and Blue Cat. So many great new projects have been completed or are in the works. But more than anything, it’s the consistent, unrelenting hard work that blows me away. These writers just don’t give up. While I am here to motivate, to advise and to guide, they have become my own muses when anything gets hard. I think of Katie who gets up at 5am every morning to put the work in before she has to take care of her son, and Bob who puts in his three pages a day no matter how late he gets home from work. I think of Matthew who has been doggedly pursuing his passion project for the last fourteen years and never gave up only to see it finally take off with a bang now and Greta who every day without fail kicks ass. I think of Heather and Patrick and Eileen and so many others, and every time I get inspired enough to suck it up, to put on my big girl pants and tackle whatever is challenging me in my own life.

When I started this journey a few years back, a manager friend asked me what I liked about this little unconventional job of mine. After all, I wasn’t working for that big commission that agents and managers get. Even though I knew that it was cheesy – and once I said it he confirmed as much – I told him that I constantly find myself between humble and grateful, and that that is, for me, a great way to live. What amazes me is that another year now comes to a close, and I’ve been doing this for a while, but still, here I am, humble and grateful still all of that time. So a million thanks to all of my talented, generous writers who keep me so stimulated and enriched by this part of my life. There are so many of you. You know who you are. Now that 2014 is nearly over, I can’t wait to pick it all back up when the new year comes.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Lee Jessup
(Your) Screenwriting Career Coach