Friday, November 20, 2009

On the brink of my dream

I just read the most amazing author's note. Donald Miller, one of my favorite writers, opens his new book by saying, "nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo." His point is that if our life goal wouldn't make a good movie, it probably won't make a good life. I totally agree.

There was a time in my life where I wanted nothing more than to go to Stanford. I did, and it was great. But that movie probably wouldn't make you cry, would it? Then there was a time, when I was a grunt at an ad agency working on the Microsoft account, where my dream was to work FOR Microsoft, so I could tell grunts like me what to do. I did that too, and it wasn't as great as I thought it would be. I guess I was working out my ending all those years.

So my new dream, one that I hope "sticks" is to be a writer. It's really what I wanted to do all along, but didn't have the courage to pursue. It takes GUTS to be a writer. A willingness to stand stark naked on a street corner and have people point at you and laugh. At least that's what it feels like when you're putting your soul on the page.

I've written a few screenplays, won a few awards, nearly had a script made into a feature, and now I'm writing for TV. I've been doing this for over six years now, and for the first time, doors are really opening. Once again, I hope it sticks. I don't know what the future holds. Some days I wonder if I'm more afraid of success than failure. I'm comfortable where I am today... wife, mother, unknown writer. I'm not a high profile, center of attention kind of person, and don't aspire to that in particular. But I do want my writing to come alive on a screen and I do want to work with brilliant, creative people and I do want to tell stories that are meaningful and reflect my point of view. I've moved 14 times in the last 17 years, lived in 3 different continents and have LOTS of stories to tell. I'd love to get paid for doing what I love. I just want to make sure my marriage and my kids and my soul stay intact through the process.

Not sure if that makes for a great Hollywood ending, but it's the current goal. I guess we're all works in progress, aren't we?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How Social Networking Can Kill Your Career

So I attended a TV panel discussion in Santa Monica last night. The topic was "Getting in the Writers Room" and one of the panelists was a TV exec who recently started her own consulting practice. She was articulate, knowledgeable and nurturing when she spoke, and I thought, she could be useful! I'm working on a TV pilot, something I've never written before, and it's quite a challenge. The consultant specializes in helping people like me navigate the development process.

I had a good conversation and handshake with this woman after the meeting. Got her card. Then went home and Googled her. Interestingly, her LinkedIn profile felt rather sparse. She had some contacts, but not nearly as many as I would have expected from someone with her years of experience. Hmmm, I was having my doubts. In this business, it's just as much about who you know as what you know. I was willing to pay for knowledge AND contacts. Knowledge alone... maybe. Isn't it interesting that a site like LinkedIn could prove to be a serious liability?

Have you Googled yourself lately? How do you come across to someone stumbling upon your profile? Is your Facebook picture accessible to the general public? Do you want it to be? You'd be surprised by how many people allow just about anyone to see their photos and be able to view all of their friends. Are you sure you want all of that hanging out?

Just a word of caution for those of you who depend upon making a good first impression. Check your LinkedIn and Facebook and whatever else is Googleable. Better to be off those social networks altogether than risk turning away potential clients. Nothing's private these days, unless you work hard to make it that way. The default is letting all your laundry hang out to dry.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Feeling like a Twit

Locked out of Twitter! It was the day of the big Twitter Meltdown (thanks to some guy in Russia?) and SOMEONE posted a "get rich quick" scheme using my account! It was such a betrayal. But the bigger betrayal was trying to get through to Twitter, who locked me out of my account. I thought Twitter was an advocate for The Little Guy, but after contacting them multiple times over the course of a few months, I was beginning to feel helpless. I bet Ashton Kutcher would've gotten a response, if HE had been locked out! Surely Starbucks or Diablo Cody would have had their account restored by now! Who was I, humble Saffron, with nothing really important to share, other than trivialities such as "I'm having a baby in a few days" or "I'm working on a new script"? The irony... a medium that put everyone on level footing (character limit wise) was turning into the same old hierarchy! I toyed with the idea of writing a piece for NPR... I called it, "The Twit That I Am" and whined about Twitter leaving me in the dust with no recourse. Would my followers leave me? Would someone else take my precious "@" moniker, the one I created waaaay back in 2006, before some twitterers were even born? (OK, slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean.)

But I kept bugging customer service and out of the blue birdy-less sky, I was assigned a ticket! A real person was going to look into my claim! I thanked "Trihawkathan" (one of only 7 Twitter staffers who must respond to mountains of emails beseeching help) and thanked him profusely, hoping that might speed up my resolution. It worked. A day later, @Saffron was back! It feels so good to be alive! Really, isn't it the small things in life that you come to appreciate? 140 characters CAN make a difference!