Beyond the Craft
Each semester, I’m asked to speak at classes at Emerson College and Boston University on both magazine writing and screenwriting. On Tuesday night, when I return to Emerson, I will bring a thick folder of more than 200 rejection letters. It includes my favorite from Mad Magazine, a check next to a line that reads: “It just didn’t tickle our funny bone.” Universities do a wonderful job of teaching the craft of writing, but rarely touch on the psychological aspects of rejection and the necessary business skills to market your wares. Close to half my time, especially in those early years, was spent peddling my writing to editors and production companies. And almost every day, I would return from the mailbox with a stack of rejection letters. It was an incredible struggle, the reason why many of the creative people I met in New York are no longer in the business.
Dealing with rejection and building a strong support group to help attain your creative aspirations is just one of the numerous topics my brother, Jim, and I will discuss in a 3-hour seminar we’re doing in Boston, Providence, Portland, New Bedford, and Stamford this October. Called Beyond the Craft: How to Be Proactive and Take Charge of Your Creative Career, the motivational workshop will also delve into finding mentors to guide you, distinguishing yourself from the rest of the pack, the art of schmoozing, creating an effective networking system, finding time to work on your craft while paying the rent, and getting your work out there any way possible.
For close to a decade, Jim worked as a talent agent at ICM representing some of the entertainment world’s greatest success stories—Academy-Award winning actor Alan Arkin, the grande dame of Broadway, Helen Hayes, and the most popular man on television in the 80s, “the Fonz,” otherwise known as Henry Winkler. When he left that job to pursue his creative ambitions as screenwriter, director, and producer, he would face wave after wave of rejection, often wondering how people like Alan Arkin and Helen Hayes could endure such negativity and hardship to make it to the top. His relentless perseverance and serious dose of patience have paid off with the release of the critically acclaimed Samuel Goldwyn film, Passionada (which I co-wrote), in 2003, and the heart-wrenching, Em, winner of the Grand Jury Prize as best film in the 2008 Seattle Film Festival. Please help spread the word. Thank you!