Choosing Acceptance Over Anger


This month marks the tenth anniversary of the first time I got paid for it.  I’m talking about screenwriting, of course.

In the past decade, I have developed a sense of Zen acceptance of all the insanity one has to put up with to continue working in the entertainment industry, as I was reminded once again this morning, when a pitch I have been working on all week – one that caused me to put other projects on hold – was rescheduled, without a moment’s thought from the rescheduler, I’m sure.

This is the most common practice in this business.  It is the surest way to know your exact status.  There was a brief period of time when I was the flavor-of-the-month writer, and nobody rescheduled on me.  In fact, I was probably the reason other people got their meetings bumped, so I guess what goes around comes around.

The secret to staying happy, and staying in the business, is to always see whatever is happening as a good thing.  It’s either that or become a bitter, drunken, ranting, bellyacher, which could explain why you see so many folks like that in cafes and on bus stops around LA.

Here’s my attitude, at all times:  “Oh, I am so happy that my meeting got postponed!

I can always come up with half a dozen reasons why.  In today’s case, it means: (1) I got to spend the day setting up my CreateSpace account for the book; (2) I will have a physical copy of Happiness as a Second Language to hand to the exec now when I walk in the door (instead of just telling him about it); (3) When I get the one-sheet from the graphic designer this afternoon for the other TV series I’m working on, I’ll have a chance to review it and possibly even get it to the producers before the close of business, so they’ll have it for the weekend; (4) I can really polish the pitch I was supposed to give today, maybe even turning it into a DVD or PowerPoint (which I prefer); (5) we rescheduled for a day when I am already going to be on the lot, so I don’t have to drive across town twice, and for the two hours in between those meetings, I get to hang out and read or do work at one of my favorite studios; (6) I now have something to blog about today…

With effort, I could probably come up with even a few more reasons.  Yes, it would have been great to get to pitch the show today, and maybe sell it in the room, and probably get hired to do a first draft, and meet the stars that we’ll be working with, and get handed a check for a million dollars just for walking in…but realistically, there is no difference between today and next week, so why get all agitated?

Life’s better when everything makes you happy.  It’s just as easy to get happy as to get angry, and the outcome won’t change regardless of how you react to it, so let bad news make your day, not ruin it.

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3 thoughts on “Choosing Acceptance Over Anger

    • speakhappiness

      Even as a full-time screenwriter, it’s always been freelance (moving from one gig to the next). The only full-time writing for the screen is in TV, and if you want to break into that, you have to be in LA. As far as being a full-time book author, there are people with a lot more knowledge than me on that subject. I listen to a great podcast at with a great deal of information about monetizing your writing.

      The only piece of advice I can give for breaking in as a screenwriter is write a script that is fucking awesome. I don’t mean, “My friends all say it’s great” awesome, I mean every single person who reads it tries to attach themselves in some way. I wrote three scripts that everyone told me were great and got me nowhere, because they sucked. Then I wrote the script that got me managers, producers, agents, and multiple paid writing gigs. You know you’ve got something like that when the people who read it ask if they can show it to someone else (i.e. to advance their own careers). Make friends with assistants — the people who have to read scripts all day for their bosses. get them to read it. if one of them asks you to show it to his/her boss, then you know you are onto something. If no one wants to pass your script on to someone else, then it sucks. No matter what they say about how great it is, or how much fun, or how much they love the characters, it’s all blah-blah-fucking-blah. if no one wants to show your script to someone else, or attach themselves to it in some way, it’s not good enough to launch a writing career. Keep writing until you get there.

      Best of luck!!