Dear Me Then,
You used to secretly love Easter Sunday. Although you weren’t wild about jumping out of bed before dawn to get dressed for church, you treasured the story of the women at the tomb. How they went before dawn in heartbreak to anoint Jesus’ body, two days after watching him die. How they found the tomb empty when they arrived. How they wept in anguish until two men in dazzling robes appeared and asked, why are you crying? Jesus is no longer here. He is risen from the dead!
Your faith in these events will fade over time…
Dear Me Then,
Once, when you were eighteen and buzzing with hormones, you had a fight with your boyfriend Andy, who was almost a thousand miles away. After he hung up on you, you thought the only solution was to drive down and see him. It was eight P.M. If you left immediately, you could get there before he started his shift in the morning, and he’d be so thrilled to see you that everything from then on would be magic.
Your decision to become a professional writer will be like that.
At first, there’ll be drama. Then you’ll reach…
Dear Me Then,
Remember in high school, when Hannah had that sea-green Hyundai Accent, and you used to nag her into driving you everywhere? You later thought she might have struck a deal with Mom and Dad — they made the payments in exchange for her giving you rides — but at the time, you just knew when you asked, Hannah got this tight-lipped expression like she’d rather eat rust than spend a night with you riding shotgun, but she always said yes.
You wanted her to take you where the cool kids were — the movie theater, the mall…
Dear Me Then,
You’ve decided to go for it. Writing is no more your secret passion, an affair between you and the crumpled pages of your spiral notebooks. You’re going public. Alerting friends, family, lovers, strangers, and the universe of your intention to become a professional writer.
Let me be the first and (spoiler alert) only person to say: Congratulations! You went through a lot to get here, a struggle only we will ever understand. Years of self-doubt. Self-loathing on occasion. Anguished efforts to meet the expectations of other people who said This is who you should be.
Remember those stories you heard when you were first becoming a writer about the stacks of rejection letters? So-and-so papered his walls with them. La-dee-da held a bonfire. Those were the days, right? When rejection actually merited a response.
These days, you could die waiting for one. People might say yes, but they almost never bother saying no. And in my experience, this is especially true of literary agents and managers. If what you’ve written doesn’t fit their needs, you’ll probably never hear from them again.
So how do you get better? More specifically: How do you break through the…
A few years back, when I made the switch from writing feature films to television scripts, I signed up for an intro-level course in hour-long drama. The teacher was a hip, peppery 50-something who knew everyone’s name within seconds and, before the end of the first class, had given us all a nickname. I was The Daine.
“Everybody hold on — The Daine has something to say.” This was a typical declaration from the teacher when I raised my hand. …
I was convinced antidepressants would kill my writing. What happened instead was beyond anything I imagined.
It’s a warm, sunny morning in Los Angeles. Finches chitter in the palm trees outside my window. Inside, the apartment smells of French-pressed coffee and clean laundry. But I’m standing in the dark bathroom, holding an SSRI pill between my thumb and forefinger, sobbing.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been stalked by depression. Until recently, I’ve always found holistic ways to escape it. Healthy food. Hiking. The full eight hours. And most importantly, writing.
This last is my strongest defense. Day…
How to deal with family members who are apathetic about your art.
I was 26 years old and sitting on a flattened futon in a studio apartment I shared with two friends, an actor and a playwright. The actor and I were reading a scene aloud that I had just written, performing the dialogue of my two new inventions. When we finished, the playwright — a stout, bald man with a piercing gaze and wire-rimmed glasses — broke into a smile. “Wow,” he said. “Keep going.”
No one had ever said that to me before. Not that I could recall…
Surviving as a professional writer is way more complicated than that.
Approximately 700 years ago when I thought I wanted to be a copywriter, I went to a seminar where one of the speakers was the head of marketing for Coke.
I remember nothing about that time in my life except this woman. She was short, slim, dynamic, with glorious brown hair and a Colgate smile. She was wearing a white shirt with a red blazer. …
Multimedia storyteller specializing in alternative coming-of-age tales about diverse characters in extraordinary circumstances. TV, film, podcasts, nonfiction.