Yesterday morning I woke up at 7am to the sound of birds chirping. No alarm clock, no Donnie jostling things around as he got ready for work…just an easy, organic flow into consciousness. I slipped out of bed, started a pot of coffee, and turned on the 40s Big Band station as I read through my notes for my noon meeting. My boss Ken arranged a meeting for us with a very accomplished television writer to go over our story and get some input and advice, and I wanted to make sure I was up to speed on his lecture notes and IMDB credits.
CoffeeMate just put out their holiday selections, so I flavored my coffee with my favorite creamer in the world: peppermint mocha. Seriously, I have a peppermint problem: I’ll eat drink smoke lick hug sniff whatever if it’s peppermint flavored. So I sat at the kitchen table and enjoyed my pepperminty caffeine infusion as I read my notes, while the cats danced around my feet vying for attention and hoping I’d drop a piece of my nonexistent breakfast on the floor.
I threw on my outfit (Princess Leia t-shirt under a blazer with black skinny jeans and boots, paired with glasses and enough make-up to make me look human but not enough to get me any attention), jumped in my car and drove to Ken’s house.
Now, here’s where I stop and tell you about my “commute.” From downtown Pasadena (where I live) to Studio City (where Ken lives), it’s about a 20 minute drive, and in that 20 minutes, the sights are pretty amazing. I get on the freeway right in Old Town Pasadena:
As I get on the freeway, I immediately drive past the Rose Bowl and my favorite bridge in the world (I kind of have a thing for bridges, sue me), the Colorado Bridge:
Then I drive up out of the valley and have an eagle eye view of Los Angeles. I can see Downtown, the Griffith Observatory, and Burbank (center of the television industry) at the same time:
That commute sure as hell beats out my previous drive down Elliot Road to the ASU Research Park in Tempe, where the highlight of my drive was driving past a Jamba Juice. Fuckyouverymuch, Arizona. Okay, pictorial section over. Onto the good stuff!
After I snaked my way through Laurel Canyon to get to my boss’s house, he and I weaved through the Hollywood Hills (a drive that never fails to make me so carsick I want to die) and met at the Farmer’s Market at The Grove with an accomplished television writer who also teaches TV writing courses at UCLA. He was so incredibly helpful and encouraging to me personally, and he also managed to create a shitload of more work for me, and for that I owe him so much: he somehow convinced us that instead of Ken dictating the story we tell, that I should be the one determining where we start and what we include. Since we’re writing about things that have actually happened to Ken, he’s overwhelmed with the reality of the story, and our writer’s advice was to divorce ourselves from what really happened in order to properly dramatize and fictionalize the story to make it as engaging and marketable as possible. So, Ken and I have decided that I’ll take all the raw material we’ve gone over, Ken will step back, and I’ll put together the story that I think we should tell.
To sum up: a successful television writer thinks I have what it takes to start and tell this story, Ken agrees with him, and now I’m in charge of coming up with my own storylines and character arcs. And the writer and I hit it off well enough that I got his contact information so I can stay in touch and pick his brain when writing this thing. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but to have that kind of resource is incredible to me.
Adding to the surreality of this conversation was the setting: at the table next to us, Adam Levine from Maroon 5 was sitting with his hipster friends and totally eavesdropping on our conversation. A rock star thought that my conversation was worth listening in on. Could I have felt any cooler? Nope. Not so much.
After we said goodbye to the writer, Ken and I worked on some character development, then headed off to watch The Social Network for a character study of Mark Zuckerburg. It’s a terrific movie, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Sorkin’s script is a masterpiece: he’s a phenomenal writer and the way he showed so many perspectives and painted an objective, fair portrait of all the parties was terrific. I was rooting for and disappointed in all the characters at the same time, which is an incredible feat. And don’t even get me started on Fincher’s directing. The man’s amazing. He said that he felt tremendous empathy for Zuckerburg, and it totally shows in the film.
Afterwards, Ken and I dissected Zuckerburg and returned to discovering and defining our own characters. I’ve met or have scheduled meetings with a lot of people to get a better feel for the industry and the people we’re writing about, and now we’re taking it to a whole new level. Like, professional writer level. Are you ready for this? Ken is flying me out to Manhattan to meet a few more integral people to base characters on.
Again: I’m going on an all-expense paid business research trip to New York. “Start spreadin’ the news!”
Screw “onward,” my new mantra is going to be “is this real life?!”
In slightly less exciting news, my business cards finally got delivered. They’re so bitchin’. Psh, whom am I kidding: MY WHOLE LIFE IS BITCHIN’.
I really feel like there isn’t anything I can’t do right now. Sure, this show may not get picked up, and that’s okay. The experiences and connections I’m making are absolutely worth it. And, not to be a blind optimist (as opposed to being a blind optometrist, which is totally worse), but I have a reaaaaaaaally good feeling about this show. The content is so unique, and the interest in it from people of note is incredibly encouraging.
The one thing that casts a tiny insignificant detail shadow over all this is that there have been people who’ve implied that I’m getting these opportunities out of sheer luck and timing. It’s easy to write it off as me being incredibly lucky, because I truly am, but it’s like I say: it’s not enough to wish for good things to happen to you. Power of positive thinking my ass. You have to think positive, but then the important part kicks in, which is also the part that most people ignore: you have to get your ass in gear to make it happen. You can’t just tell yourself that A is going to happen or B is going to come into your life and then sit on your tuches forever. Sure, I only moved out here six weeks ago, but I started laying the groundwork over a year ago that allowed these opportunities to come up and I positioned myself to be able to take advantage of them. This business is all about who you know, but my belief is that I can get to know all the right people if I really work at it and pursue this career seriously…let’s be honest, I clearly have a goal in mind: Joss Whedon, I’m coming for you. Someday, you’re going to let me write for you. And my children will tell their children and their children’s children the tale of how their Meemaw/Gangy/Grammar busted her ass to make her career dreams come true. (Okay, seriously, how adorable is the idea of my grandkids calling me Grammar? It sounds like Grandma, but it’s so Big English adjacent!)
The total bummer to having all this amazing work to do is that I have zero time for a social life. I’m putting in 10 hour days reading source material and having meetings, and my weekends are spoken for with prior obligations. Long story short: I miss my BFF! Jenna’s so busy with PA school and I’m so busy with this project that I only see her once a fortnight. I’ll get my biweekly fix tomorrow, though, because it’s her 25TH BIRTHDAY OMG WHAT AN OLD BEAST. I’m probably just going to get her some gingko biloba and a Beltone for her prezzie this year. Honestly, I get a prezzie on her birthday too because I get to socialize and spend time with my bestie…although, to be honest, I just need to start hanging out with someone who’s not work related, Donnie, or a cat. Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen any of my friends out here since I got back from Phoenix, which feels so bizarre considering how often I had social engagements before signing onto Ken’s project.
He asked me an interesting question when I first met him: do I place much value in leading a balanced life? I carefully considered it, and my honest answer was, at this point in my life, no, I’m not interested in leading a balanced life. I’m completely comfortable with my career dominating my focus. I don’t know if this is the chicken or the egg, but I’ve always thrived on relationships that don’t require constant attention. I need freedom and flexibility and the security to know that I can go several days or weeks without seeing a friend and not having to worry about the time or space being detrimental to the relationship. So it’s a perfect storm in my life and my position right now to be able to throw myself into a project with so much potential to kickstart my career.
So, that’s that! Stay tuned for scenes from next week’s blog post.
Tune du Jour: Iko Iko by The Dixie Cups – I’m obsessed with New Orleans culture, food, music, history…you name it, I dig it. This song was the gateway to my love affair with NOLA, please to enjoy!