Four weeks ago was Barbara Walters last week as co-host of “The View”. I recorded the last two episodes of “The View” that week. I recorded the Thursday episode because every former co-host was returning, including my favorites Debbie Matenopoulos and Rosie O’Donnell. I recorded the last episode because it was Barbara’s last episode. I have watched less as less of the view over the years, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the show in my heart.
This week now that I have had extra time I have watched these two episodes. The other night as I watched the episode in which all of the former co-hosts returned I recalled my first days living in Los Angeles.
I made my permanent move from Boulder, Colorado to Los Angeles, California in September 2001. In fact I arrived in Los Angeles, in my little Geo Metro, on September 11, 2001. I dreamed of making it in the entertainment industry as a screenwriter.
For six weeks before I found my first apartment I lived in a hotel in Culver City. Every morning I would get up, shower, eat and print out resumes and cover letters on my old computer that had windows 3.1. While I was working on my job search I would have “The View” on in the background. I imagined that one day I would make it as a screenwriter and tell my story of watching “The View” every morning in interviews.
Cut to thirteen years later. I’m not a famous screenwriter, none of the 2001 co-hosts of “The View” are on the show any more and the hotel I was staying in is now where the Expo Metrorail line makes its stop in Culver City.
That isn’t to stay I didn’t give it a go. I literally applied for thousands of jobs in the entertainment industry and probably had at least a hundred interviews. I interviewed from everything from personal assistant to receptionist to mailroom at CAA. I never really got my breakthrough. I constantly ran up against the gate keepers system of Hollywood. You can’t get in without a key and you can’t get a key unless you know somebody in the inside. As hard as you think it is to break into the entertainment industry believe me it’s at least a thousand times harder than that.
It got to a point where I was just plain burned out. Then my attention turned to politics and education in 2004 and I didn’t truly write anything for six and a half years.
Then on MLK Day 2011 I picked up a pen and a legal pad and started to write. I didn’t necessarily know what I was writing I just wrote. I realized that my passion for writing hadn’t died, it had just been dormant.
In the three and a half years since then I have written several drafts of a novel called “All Anyone Could Ask For” about an estranged adult brother and sister who take a road trip together. I have also written two drafts of four part series tentatively called “Irish Eyes”, about four generations in an Irish-American family. I have truly loved putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and creating. I have found that fiction writing has allowed me to express myself in a way the screenwriting never could.
But I want people to read my books which brings up the issue of publishing. If I written fiction thirteen years ago I have no doubt I would have chosen the traditional route, get an agent and wait for a publishing deal. But it isn’t thirteen years ago. My passion for writing is about the writing process, it’s not about some lofty dream in the clouds. That is why I have chosen to self-publish.
I’ve been down the road of trying to break into a difficult industry. I’m not twenty-three years old anymore. I don’t have the desire to go the traditional route only to run into the gate keeper system again. I have watched it with friends. It can take years to get an agent or you may never find an agent. Then even if you have an agent you could wait years for them to find a publisher for your book or they may never find a publisher for your book. I don’t feel like I need be made legitimate by playing a game that is rigged against me.
I realize that by self-publishing I’m putting a lot of extra work on myself. I’m okay with that. If my books get read then I’ll claim the well deserved credit for it and if they don’t then I’ll just keep living my regular life (which is pretty darn good) and writing for the joy of it.
I don’t need to have some twenty-two year old intern who only got the gig because their father is a big wig reading my stuff and rejecting it.
So that is why I will self-publish. I will self-publish because the dreams I had as twenty-three year old didn’t work out but I dream again as and older and wiser man. I will self-publish because when I tell people I’m a writer I want to be able to tell them how to buy my book instead of saying I’m looking for an agent or saying my agent is looking for a publishing deal. I will self-publish because my work comes from the heart and I will decide what the finished product will look like. And I will self-publish because I’m not afraid to promote my own work. As Barbara Walters said in her final prime time special; if you’re proud of your work you should tell people about it…Stay tuned for the release of “All Anyone Could Ask For”. I’m aiming for a release date of MLK day 2015, four years after I started writing it.
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