I began my creative career working as a graphic designer in a University environment. At times challenging (designing logos, brochures, medical illustrations) the majority of the work involved preparing statistical material for publication and conferences. (boring, boring).
One fateful day my best friend visited me in my studio and found me slumped over my drafting table, drooling and incoherent. After rudely waking me, my mate said
“This is bad, man – you can’t go on like this!”
Behind my vacant stare he detected a distressed, lifeless husk - but also a flickering flame of life, slowly fading. It was time for action.
My friend and mentor (let's call him Obe Won) then took me to our favorite seedy night spot and we spent some time talking over a few quiet drinks. Then, hoping my unfortunate but deep set inclination to resist change might be effectively inhibited, he said:
‘Mate - You need to wake up and get your act together'
‘You’re bored out of your brain churning out all that technical crap’
‘Well, it’s a steady job and it pays the bills’
‘Listen to yourself! Are you happy with this boring job? Is this the REAL you?'
'What’s that got to do with anything? Life is not a Hollywood movie where everyone 'finds themselves'
'God! This is worse than I thought!'
Obe Won then told me he had (true to his name) won the contract for a challenging tourism project and wanted me to come on board as the creative director. Now in a much more receptive frame of mind, I warmed to the idea of resigning from my boring and unfulfilling graphic design job, and I committed to accepting the position.
I woke the next morning with a sudden start, scared out of my brain about what I had done (or thought I had done).
WHAT HAD ACTUALLY HAPPENED?
Oh yes, now I remember - I’m quitting my secure government job for an anything-could-happen ‘challenging, creative’ contract that will take four months with no guarantee
of work after that. Ok, no worries...
Believing I had acted rashly in resigning my job at the university, I decided to hedge my bets by asking my boss if I could take the 16 weeks as leave and come back to my graphic design job. I felt better immediately. Unfortunately, the conversation with my boss went something like this:
'I was wondering if I might just take the 16 weeks
as leave without pay...and come back to my graphic design job?'
'Sure, happy to do that – NOT'
'Oh, ahh… yes, but I was hoping that - '
'It's just that I’m not feeling – '
'Hu.. ummm… ok'
'Is there anything else?'
I retreated in defeat and humiliation and was left fearful about facing an uncertain future, knowing I had effectively burned my bridges (or more correctly, my boss – who could see what I needed to do – had done it for me).
So, as the Reluctant Hero, plagued with self-doubt, beset with fears, I made the leap of faith into… (whooa - hold it. ‘Leap of Faith’ ? Let's not sugar-coat it - I was PUSHED off the cliff).
Let me re-write that (I would be doing a lot of that where I was ultimately headed).
So, as the Reluctant Hero, plagued with self-doubt, beset with fears, I was pushed off the cliff, screaming and cursing, FALLING INTO...
Thankfully , the project was completed successfully. I then moved into film and television production as a writer/producer.
I soon discovered that the writing aspect was what I
found most satisfying, where I truly came alive.
Was I 'finding myself'? My best mate and mentor was right, and in fact, both he - and my former boss - did me a big favour.
We then had another conversation at our favourite seedy night spot. Knowing we had both always been passionate about film and that I loved writing, we decided I would leave and commit to full time screenwriting. At this point, that decision was
relatively easy to make.
After two years working through a zillion books on screenwriting, completing several screenwriting courses and - most importantly - reading LOTS of screenplays - I started writing in earnest. I found myself attracted to true stories or adaptations of classic novels – stories that affected me personally and meant something. This has continued to inform my approach to writing.
For fighting procrastination - which will often involve an inordinate amount of 'writer's block', necessitating Netflix binges (for inspiration) coffee shop binges (for stimulation) and finding 'more pressing matters' that always seem to
need my attention.
I then entered some screenwriting competitions and told myself if I didn’t at least place well, I would try something else.
My first screenplay, The Valley of the Kings, became a quarter-finalist in the Nicholl Fellowships, a semi-finalist in the Scriptapalooza Screenwriting competition and a finalist in the American Accolades Screenplay competition. That was enough to keep me writing
(and to put a final end to self-doubt and to turn fears into FUN)