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Settling Back into Screenwriting

For most of us, once we’ve found a craft we enjoy or a meaningful pastime, it sticks with us — even if we haven’t done anything with it in years. That was the case with me and screenwriting, a pursuit I began in college after recognizing a knack for writing dialogue while working on a short story in my first creative writing course. I started slowly, with an introductory playwriting class. We wrote one-acts. I was hooked.

I was lucky (or smart) to have selected a university with a wide array of options for coursework, and it also happened that mine, the University of Michigan, had nurtured some of the writing greats, like Arthur Miller, Valentine Davies, and Lawrence Kasdan. By the time I graduated, I had studied advanced playwriting, film analysis, TV writing, British film, British theatre, and advanced screenwriting.

This, of course, was in addition to my major coursework in an individual concentration program entitled Technology and Society, which of course is the career direction I took for the past twenty years. As much as I loved screenwriting — and I did — those courses didn’t prepare me for the business of theatre or filmmaking, and I feared entering those worlds without more clarity. So I settled on my other love, technology, and headed to Silicon Valley, with the thought that maybe someday I’d go back to screenwriting.

That day has come. Actually, it already came, late last year when I made a big decision to close my digital strategy firm and to work on developing a biopic script that has great personal meaning to me. I’m not ready to share publicly the full story, but I will say that the screenplay is done. I submitted it for copyright, registered it, and I’ve been working through multiple revisions over the past few months. It’s getting a lot of positive feedback. Meanwhile, I’ve gotten to know the film industry better. I’ve read dozens of books on how it works and I’ve reconnected with friends and colleagues in the industry, taking several brief trips to Los Angeles and meeting more Bay Area filmmakers as well. It’s an exciting shift and I’m enjoying it.

Of course the skills never left, and time has sharpened them, as I spent much of the past twenty years writing articles, blogging, editing books and writing a book. I also wrote scripts for video shorts and chatbots. It all helped me to become a better writer and storyteller. So recently I started polishing a couple of scripts I wrote a long time ago and never pitched. Suddenly I find myself with multiple screenplays that are almost ready to release to the world and it’s a thrilling feeling. I’m still doing other writing, of course, because that’s who I am, but now I’m finally ready to call myself a screenwriter. It’s about time.

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