Fast forward to my college years, I’m studying Electronic Media Production because there isn’t much writing required. It’s how I chose to cope with my dyslexia. It was cameras, editing machines, teleprompters, and even a TV studio on campus. I hung with people from the theater program and helped on plays. My husband, Joe, saw me having a grand time and became interested in writing screenplays. Not a surprise, because he always showed an interested in reading and writing. In the evening, I would work at the theater and dream of making films. But, what was going to happen once we both graduated?
My degree was in film and the technology, but the equipment I was trained on was its way out. At the time, we figured that our options were limited to either going to film school together, or moving to Los Angeles. After visiting Los Angeles we decided to pack up and head west. I got a little taste of working in the “business” while I was out there. I worked as an assistant for a talent agent, but that didn’t end well. I was on the night camera crew for a game show called CRAM. You can Google it. I also worked as a background actor, until I had to get a real job with a finance company. I never really tried to get another job working in the industry until I saw an ad to produce commercials. I took the job because I could work from home. I had 2 kids by this point. I ended up producing about 20 local commercials for tattoo parlors for about 6-8 months.
Click here to watch my first commercial: Southbay Tattoo
During this time, Joe was going through his own struggles while working with a couple of producers on different screenplays , but they never worked out. He also got a certificate in screenwriting. I always saw him as the writer and me as the one running the cameras. Sometimes I helped with story lines and ideas, but I never wrote anything. When I produced the commercials, he wrote the voice-overs. During this whole time I would wait on Joe to write a short film or come up with something we could make for fun. And before we moved back to the east coast, we sunk our money into a short film called Open Season. It was in a few festivals, good for our very first attempt at producing a short film. And you’re only as good as your next film, book, or art piece. Am I right? But as filmmakers know, it costs to make a film. It cost a lot and it takes an army.
LA was a bust for us because we couldn’t survive, raise a family, and be in the “business”. So when Joe’s father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, we chose to move back so we could spend time with his Dad. In some ways it felt like a failure, but it wasn’t. It brought new opportunities and we made a film the summer we moved back. Joe was hired as a teacher, and I was hired to teach photography, a position in program that lost it’s funding after the first year. We haven’t given up making our films and our next goal is a feature.
However, after all these years I realized I couldn’t wait on Joe anymore. I was putting too much pressure on him. For years, I had nagged Joe to write the story I dreamed up while working at that movie theater in college. I was so persistent. He used the idea in a screenwriting class through UCLA. Sadly, he never completed it. I still have the thirty pages he did write.
In March 2013, I began scribbling down the first rough chapter in a cheap college ruled notebook. Writing this story began stirring a passion in me. After so many years, I really wanted this story to be created. But, I had to do it.
Me, the girl who, at one point in her life, could not focus long enough to read through one page in a book without daydreaming was going to write. The girl who believed a lie and had run from the written word for years was about to attempt an impossible task.
But, maybe I wasn’t the same girl. I had now read over 100 YA novels, a key to writing. Day after day, I found myself drawn to write more, it was exciting creating a story in this way. For years, I had only worked with my cameras making films and taking photos. I had been writing about a month when Joe confessed he could never write this story, because it wasn’t his to write. “It’s your story,” he said.
My story? It was mine because I had the passion and the drive to create the characters and see it through to the end. Thank you, Joe, for saving my story for me.
A little over a year later I have about an 80,000 word manuscript. on its 15th draft or more. I’ve lost count. It’s out there in the query trenches, which encourages me as a storyteller. I still have the notebook with the first chapter I scribbled down, and all the little notes and papers that turned into a novel. And if I am blessed to partner with a press to publish this work, I will let you know. But, for now I’m writing. I’m writing the stories that are inside me. The ones that are intertwined in my life in mysterious ways only God knows. They are puzzles inside me, demanding to be finished. And I am driven to work on them until every last piece is in the right place.
What story are you called to write? The one only you can tell with your swirling thoughts. It’s your story to write. Now go write it.
Edited by Loren Neal find her on twitter