Great Expectations

My favorite opening line in literature is from David Copperfield: Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station shall be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”

I love Dickens.

My reach has always exceeded my grasp. For artists, I think this is norm. It’s next to impossible to make a good living with words and rhyme, melody or canvas. Somehow, we keep striving, because we must. And part of that is the belief that somehow, some way, we will succeed, and hit something out of the park. I’ve clung to that belief all my adult life, perhaps foolishly. I’ve worked towards that goal, too, sacrificed time and memories and relationships at the altar of words. Sometimes I am plagued by doubt, brought to my knees by my innate selfishness and the thought of the tens of thousands of hours I’ve spent over a notebook, a guitar, a computer.

I remember the times I came so damn close, only to have things evaporate. The songs “on hold” by huge artists. The books that seemed poised to take off, only to wind up at the discount bin. I get my hopes up, and crash and burn, and it’s painful. At this point, I’m jaded. I still believe, though. I really do, deep down.

Yesterday, I got news that would have made my younger, less jaded self, dance naked in the streets. A major television network is very interested in my books. They want a meeting. Twenty years ago, I’d have lost my mind. Hell, twenty years ago, I’d never have believed I’d have books published, in stores. I was a songwriter, not an author. Life is funny.

I still have great expectations. This may fall through, and if so, it’s on to the next network, the next book, the next script, the next article. I can’t stop writing.

And if I never hit it out of the park, at least I can look myself in the mirror at the end, gray and worn out and full of regrets, but not that one.

So to my fellow creatives, keep writing, keep singing, painting and smiling. Keep believing.

Let’s be heroes.

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WRATH goes to Hollywood 


I recall those early heady days when Permuted Press offered me a contract for Objects of Wrath . They signed me to a trilogy, and paid me for two books I hadn’t even written yet. I got the advance within three weeks of signing, just days before Christmas. And, let me tell you,  it saved Christmas for my family. I had visions of family vacations in Jackson Hole and delusions of movies made. That was before reality set in, and I realized that a) the books weren’t going to sell themselves and b) Hollywood sure as hell wasn’t going to be kicking down my door.

Since then, I’ve finished four novels. Tears of Abraham, a stand-alone novel about the next Civil War, went into bookstores all over the country last year. Once again, I thought, “okay this is it.” Alas, the book died on the vine, after zero promotion and being miscategorized as science fiction (despite my vehement objections). So, after getting my hopes crushed many times, I’m jaded.
Still…

I signed an agreement last week with Council Tree Productions, a Hollywood based film and television production company helmed by veteran producer Joel Eisenberg. It’s a new company, but Joel has some juice in Hollywood, and he’s also a writer. I really look forward to working with him. The other partner in the company (also a writer) is the founder of a successful private equity firm. They invested $180 million in Telemundo, and have conducted billions in transactions. These are serious people.
What now?

After my initial dance in the street, I’m looking at more waiting, hoping, and work. Just signing with a producer is a big deal, a tremendous opportunity, but it’s far from the end of the journey.  The producer will come up with marketing materials and shop the idea to various studios. We’re hoping for a televison series with one of the streaming services like Netflix, or with cable. I’m busy writing scripts for episodes, which may or may not ever see the light of day. Once the series has the attention of a studio, things start to get interesting. The producer will attach a director, and secure financing for the project. I’m hoping for a “direct to series” deal, which is the best possible scenario. That means the first season (13 episodes) gets picked up by the studio. What’s more likely, though still statistically improbable, is that we get signed to shoot a pilot. If the show gets green-lit, that’s when the real celebration begins.

I’m anticipating something of a roller-coaster ride. Highs and lows, some near misses and dashed expectations. Hopefully, by the end of the year the project will be in development, somewhere. Even then, I won’t know until the studio green lights the series.

I’m quietly optimistic, and very grateful for this chance. My work will be in front of people who can change the trajectory of my life with a phone call, and that’s exciting. The thing is to enjoy the journey, to embrace it. Even if things don’t play out the way I hope they will, it’ll be quite the ride. And other doors may open that I can’t foresee now. I’m learning how to write for film, and that’s a fun process, a very different beast from novels.