“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” —Leonardo Da Vinci
So, after much efforting, I finally reached a couple of milestones on my Quest. It’s important to chase your Dreams, even necessary. And to chase them, you must work until you can’t work anymore. Da Vinci knew this, spending every waking moment painting, inventing, and secretly embedding a mysterious code with profound historical and ecclesiastical significance into everything he ever did. I achieved something a bit more modest.
Firstly, I submitted a 15 page script to the Industry Insider Screenwriting contest. This task was largely symbolic; I struggled mightily to write a story based upon someone else’s idea, and it was far from my best work. But I stuck it out, knowing that it was a) a challenge that professional screenwriters have to work with all the time, and b) a personal roadblock that I had to overcome. So, mission accomplished.
Second, I met a Mentor. This is a goal that I discussed in a previous post. Erik Bork is an Emmy-winning screenwriter who wrote for HBO’s Band of Brothers and From the Earth to the Moon. Erik offers script consulting services, which I found out about on his blog, FlyingWrestler.com. As an introductory service, he does a complimentary thirty minute call to offer guidance on specific projects and/or career questions. I decided to contact him to set up a call. Although I have a clear preference for bearded Mentors, I believe Erik is largely clean shaven. Sigh.
In advance of our call, I sent Erik a one page synopsis for a project I have been working on for a while, and one which I consider to be among the strongest contenders in my portfolio of story ideas. While I waited for Erik to call, I was very anxious, pacing around, rehearsing my introductions, practicing to sound nonchalant. Even Wifey could tell I was nervous.
Our Hero: I really hope he likes me.
Rachel: Why don’t you pass him a note in homeroom?
Our Hero: Jealous?
Erik was every bit as cool on the phone as he was in our email exchanges. In a forty minute call (yes, I even scored bonus time!) he gave me very practical feedback on my story concept, including weaknesses in the synopsis. He was very candid, yet encouraging. He told me his story, about working for a production company and struggling to sell any of his work. On the advice of a friend in the business, he took a sitcom writing class, wrote some spec scripts for existing series, one of which was read by Tom (Everyman Movie Star) Hanks! He scored a staff writing job on Band of Brothers, and the rest was history.
More than anything else, Erik helped demystify an industry shrouded in myth. He was just a regular guy who, through years of hard work and patience, achieved his goal and reached a pretty high pinnacle. I plan to use his consulting services down the road, so I am considering him a legitimate Mentor on my Heroic Quest.
These goals were accomplished despite putting in some major hours at work. The week I submitted my script I worked every night into the early morning, sometimes on the script, sometimes on a business proposal for my employer, the Parking Meter factory. Rachel made sacrifices as well, so per her wish, for Mother’s Day we took a weekender to an authentic, African-themed resort a few hours away. We spent the weekend battling Monsters with names like the Master Blaster, the Sahara Sidewinders and the Screaming Hyena.
Now, I’ve never considered myself a waterpark guy, it has a negative, mulleted proletarian connotation, but we had a helluva lot of fun with the girls. Most importantly, we took a break from the ratrace of holding down 9-to-5’s, raising kids, mortgage payments, caring for parents, mystery illnesses, and Heroic Quests.
Da Vinci knew all about hard work. But , to paraphrase the quote at the top of this post, don’t forget to to ride the Berserk Hedgehog from time to time. I wouldn’t be surprised if they found a blueprint of a waterslide in Leonardo’s notebook.
Now, on to the next challenge: the Industry Insider TV Writing contest.