‘Cause you're there for me, too.
Early 2016 I re-took one of my favorite writing classes. The teacher encouraged us to swap scripts with fellow classmates and someone posted their AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D spec which caught my eye. They in turn read my THE FLASH script. We bonded over superheroes and parenthood. It was my first experience with a critique partner, and I came to cherish the camaraderie as much as the great script notes.
Over the years, I’ve accrued more writerly connections; a beautiful web of silvery threads crisscrossing from this connection to that with the occasional glint of a jewel. Some have become true friends. People I’d unlikely meet in my muggle life and am still in awe that I get to genuinely call a friend. From my little weekly writing group and my amazing accountability buddy, to one of my best friends—we have big writing plans, she and I, and there’s no one I’d rather be partnered with in them.
Finding our people is important in all aspects, all industries, and crucial to survival.
Writing is solitary; there’s a reason a lot of us pursue it. Hours glued to a screen typing away, or the coffee-break sessions. While we may revel in transporting ourselves away, in the end, screenwriting, even novel writing, is a collaborative pursuit. Once in a writer’s room, or on set, making changes on the fly, we become a part of the whole. So having those connections, even if they’re just endless email and text threads or weekly Zooms, brings us one step closer to that end goal feeling. The one we might not even realize we’re chasing.
Connecting with someone who is pursuing those same goals is empowering and inspiring. Having your work read and critiqued is key to becoming a better writer. Being accountable to someone in the trenches with you: invaluable.
I recently spent a week in L.A. It was dreamy and exhausting and literally allll the things.
In the Venn diagram of humans I know, there is an assortment of contacts that I truly cannot wait to see. Whether we can help each other “make it” or not, doesn’t really matter because, for writers, the journey has to be as important—it’s literally how we spend all our time. Writing and pitching and talking about our writing and pitches and on it goes.
You don’t have to love the ride, but accepting it is freeing.
Thus I simply enjoy my time with them. Time is the most valuable thing we can give each other in this industry. It’s also one of the hardest things to acquire from some and therefore why it should be cherished oh so very much.
Especially when it comes to true networking. Honestly, the more I do of it, the more exhausted I become.
It’s a necessary part of this job though, another rung on the ladder towards where I want to end up. I constantly remind myself that “some high stat” of the other people in the room probably don’t love networking either. There are also the ones who are very good at it. They seem to be friends with everyone.
But as one such friend explained: there’s a difference between being true friends, and friendly acquaintances who know you’re both there with the goal of hopefully being able to help each other in some way get one stop closer to your goals. It was a lovely distinction they made, and while connections are important to make in Hollywood, knowing where the lines are is as well.
We make connections, if we’re lucky we make friends, too, but at the heart of all the creativity is a business. We’re here for the writing job.
What makes that more apparent during a slew of holiday writing mixers is the continuous rollercoaster of “What do you write?” in hopes it’ll lead to a fruitful place somehow is, well, I don’t like rollercoasters. I avoid them at all costs—even in my happiest place on earth. Yes, I’m literally talking about Disneyland. But I do love L.A. because I’m fortunate to have met a solid group of humans who love the same nerddoms I do, write, and we truly take an interest in each other’s lives.
There was one day in the middle of my trip where everything that was spoken manifested one way or another. The joke between my friend that I was spending said day with and I was: we should therefore talk about our writing! We shall see 2024, shan’t we, how that turns out?
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” Walt Disney once said.
And oh my does this whole writing gig ever feel impossible some days!
So, find your people. Be in it with them for their successes as much as they’re there for yours. There’s enough room for everyone’s story in whatever shape or form it ends up being told. We don’t tell them for ourselves, after all, so know your audience.
That goes for making those networking connections, too.
In “real life” I’m lucky to have very dear friends—all of them supportive of this crazy little dream of mine to be a full-fledged screenwriter and published author. Do they fully understand it? The final, finished product, sure, if I’m ever lucky enough to get there, they’ll see my name on the screen or hold a book by me in their hands. But the true, day-to-day, real work path to getting there? I’m not so sure.
We can’t ever fully understand another person’s journey—we’re not living it, so how can we? We can empathize and be there at the low and high and all the points in between. But truly get it?! Naw. And that’s okay.
That’s why I believe genuine “industry” relationships are important to a writer’s soul. These humans are in it with me in ways my muggle friends can’t be, and that bond is part of the foundation that creative souls can draw and thrive from.
*Feature illustration by dikaya888 (Adobe)