BY SUZANNE KELMAN
August 26, 2015
Many of us who are ‘creatives’ know the challenge it can be to make a living doing what we love, which is, of course, making art. Some artists take on jobs outside their home to subsidize their art “habit.” I take on multiple writing and film producing assignments in the hope that one of my ships will come happily sailing home.
Let me repeat that…in the HOPE that ONE of my ships would come sailing home. And. after working at this writing habit for five years, often doing 12 hour days, what happened this summer was the arrival of the equivalent of a writing Armada.
In the month of August alone, I became an Executive and a Co-producer for two separate movie projects, one of which is winning major awards. I also had the unique opportunity to write the ending for another movie that was filmed in Ireland, giving me my much-desired IMDb writing credit.
Then there was much cheering as my stage play, “Over my dead body,” was a winner in the well-respected Annual Writers Digest Competition. Then, on the back of that celebration, my script “Held,” which I wrote with Susannah Rose Woods, battled it over 16,000 other scripts to make it to the top 1% of not one, but two, very prestigious competitions. One of them is run by the Academy of Motion Pictures (that’s right, those are the people that are right now polishing Oscars for the Academy Awards next year.) Then to add a huge dollop of cream to the top of my cake, my book “The Rejected Writers Book Club” was just picked up by a major Publisher.
Phew, it was tiring just writing all that and the month’s not over yet.
And it’s not that I’m complaining—no, Siree! Because this outcome means each of these projects was well received in the world. I am, in fact, ecstatic, (if not a little mystified). It’s just—I wasn’t prepared for the workload that comes with navigating all your celebrated cargo safely home. Right now I’m desperately spinning all my plates to keep up with the demand to respond to the needs that arise from each success.
I am mystified because I didn’t become a writer to become successful. I write because I enjoy the sheer delight of throwing the clay of words onto a spinning potter’s wheel and seeing how many funny and amusing shapes I can make with them.
I’m like a kindergartener at her first pottery class. “Oh, look! I can make a long smoochie tower if I roll it up like this!” Then if I smack it with my fist and stick my thumbs in, it becomes a fat wobbly pot! It’s all about the sheer delight of writing for me because I love it. It’s fun to throw down words like a gauntlet, words that come cavorting and cascading out of my odd little brain in their own wild and abundant exuberance. I have my own little personal circus of words.
But I realized a couple of things in all of this homecoming cheering.
Firstly, there is a ledge between “fighting your way up to the top and having enough money to pay people to help you” that I didn’t know about. It’s called the ridge of “how in the heck did I get here!” I think there isn’t a successful small business owner that doesn’t know what I’m talking about: the “Ledge of In-Between.”
Then secondly, I kept throwing things out into the world day after day, month after month, year after year, hoping that one of them would do well but with no plan for them if they did. And as far as I know there are no “how to manage your success” classes, only “how to become successful” classes. Once you’re hanging off the ledge of “oh heck, how did I get here,” the only help up is the big boot of the universe as it kicks your patootie in the success door. And you have to figure the rest out for yourself.
But it was as I was hanging by my fingernails that something struck me; it’s you guys who have made me successful—my readers, my Superfans, my family and friends. My book publisher informed me that my Amazon and Goodreads reviews were something they had taken into consideration before they approached me. So, never underestimate the power of YOUR words. The truth is without someone to enjoy and celebrate my words they are just… well, words.
So, this post is just a roundabout Kelman style way to say “thank you.” Thank you for not only believing in me but voting for me with your incredible Amazon and Goodreads reviews, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter posts. I always feel pretty humbled by the praise, not unlike a waitress that has just been thanked for preparing the fabulous dinner you just enjoyed. When all I did was be a careful vessel of the delivery from the story house of the universe. The inspiration, the humor, the sheer joy I enjoy in my work all comes from somewhere else, something I have no control over—the enormous sea of storytelling that surrounds us all; I am just grateful to have been blessed with a rather large, quirky and absurd fishing net.
Suzanne Kelman is a screenwriter and author of “The Rejected Writers Book Club.” Her writing voice has been described as a perfect blend of Janet Evanovich and Debbie Macomber. Some of her accolades include best comedy feature screenplay at the 2011 LA International Film Festival, a Gold Award at the 2012 CA Film Awards and a Van Gogh Award at the 2012 Amsterdam Film Festival. She can also sing Puff the Magic Dragon backwards! You can learn more about her on IMDb.
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