I just want to get this out of the way right away, and I know that I will most likely get tons of hate-mail from aspiring screenwriters reading this, but I officially retired from professional screenwriting in 2015.
And I honestly couldn’t be any happier. I finally get to consistently do the things that fill my life with joy: spend time with family, train mixed martial arts, spend time with family, go to heavy metal concerts, spend time with family, play videogames on my weeknights, spend time with family, take computer programming classes, spend time with family, draw my own comic books, and most importantly . . . SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY.
I have committed to another role since I’m completely out of the business and have absolutely zero silver screen aspirations – the role of the mentor. Previous students and friends with Hollywood aspirations still reach out to me inquiring on how to transition their dreams into reality. I don’t offer to introduce them to people who can turn magically materialize their dreams like a genie, but I do offer my time and honesty about the 15-years I spent in the business.
It’s been a lot of fun thus far. I get to meet up with people who I generally admire for their passion and catch up with them. I listen to what is going on in their lives and what they would like to accomplish. I pull no punches when I express my stories of going through similar situations and make suggestions on what their next step may be on the path to their dreams.
It’s a very rewarding experience until they ask the dreaded question, “Do you want to come onboard my project?” My stomach immediately churns. Haunting memories flood my mind of working non-stop every waking second, dealing with difficult people in high stress situations, getting paid pennies if paid at all while having a family to support, missing out on precious time that should go to people who care about me, and either completely collapsing from utter exhaustion when I get home or becoming a person I don’t even recognize from the irritation of the difficult day.
My reply is always, “No thank you, but good luck on your project.” That never works and the persons seeking advice are usually too ambitious for their own good. Fortunately, I wrote a big enough back log of original material when I was a young man in the business that I still have a Hollywood agent who sells my material on speculation even though I’m retired. I’m certain the studios won’t have any problems finding writers to perform the revisions on assignment. My mentees don’t seem to understand that their passions are no longer my passions and keep asking me to work on their projects until I drop the ultimate door-in-the-face, “Talk to my agent.”
And that does it. There is a hand shake and we get to go home. They’ll continue their quest and I’ll receive a thank you letter in my email shortly after. I am completely satisfied that I helped someone on their path and I get to go back to the happy little life it took me years to create.
Look, I have no problem showing a padowan the ways of the force, just please don’t ask me to pick a lightsaber back up.