by R.A. Riekki
job is to get your butt in that seat.Ē Thatís the work of the
writer, because once you sit there, force yourself in front of that
computer, the ideas inevitably will come.
canít remember who said that. And I will agree that itís true. But
. . .
want to round out that idea and say that if you really want to
succeed, youíve got to get your butt out of that seat. Maybe even
get your butt out of that city you currently live in. I know. I
know. You think you can be J.D. Salinger or Thomas Pynchon or Emily
Dickinson. You think youíre agoraphobia wonít stop you from
reaching the heights of the publishing industry. Iím telling you
that opportunity awaits once you get out of Opelika, Alabama, or
Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Iím not picking on those cities. Iíve
lived there. Iím just saying that if youíre a playwright and youíre
living in Flagstaff, Arizona, and you feel like youíve hit a plateau
with your career, you may just want to consider a move.
economyís too bad for you to take such a risk?
unemployed. How the hell am I supposed to do that?
say: If not now, when?
not talking to the amateurs right now. Iím talking to people out
there who have writing in their blood, that want to do this from now
Ďtil they croak. Where the pen is your life. Especially that
dedicated writer who just isnít moving up to the next level. Some
of you might be stuck in academic careers in Fargo or administrative
jobs in Cheyenne. This might not be a cure-all, because I donít
know if you have talent or not, if you have luck or not. But I came
out to L.A. last summer to scout out the city, to see if I wanted to
make the move, to allow myself the opportunities that a major city
offers a writer. Through a series of very fortunate events, I found
myself in the office of the Vice President at Comedy Central. And
with her towering view of the city, she told me and Iím
paraphrasing, ďIf you have talent, youíll succeed here. It may take
awhile, but eventually theyíll find you. Because this city always
needs writers.Ē I went back to my university job for a year and
saved like crazy, because I wanted to come back. Iíve only returned
to L.A. for a month, but those
series of very fortunate events have continued to fall into place.
A producer read my novel U.P.
and is interested in turning it into a film. That led to more
interest from two other producers. That led to my having
meetings with two literary managers and three literary agencies.
Iím in the heart of this wonderful madness right now and have no
idea whatís going to come to fruition, but I do know that if I would
have stayed in Alabama and waited to be discovered, there is no way
in the world that all of these meetings would have happened.
My book is published by Ghost Road Press, a small publisher with
little to no film and television contacts. But by moving to
Los Angeles and letting people know that I want to be a writer with
all my heart, things have started to happen, dreams are starting to
come true . . . or at least Iím taking myself closer to those
dreams, much closer than would ever be possible if I was in [insert
your small town here]. God helps those who help
themselves. If you want to move to the next level, why donít
you make the physical move?
youíre a playwright, why arenít you in Chicago?
youíre a screenwriter, why arenít you in L.A.?
youíre a fiction writer, why arenít you in New York?
course, there are a long, long list of novelists whoíve never come
within two hundred miles of Times Square, but in my opinion Jack
Kerouac would still be an unknown Lowell French-Canadian if it
wasnít for Horace Mann School and Columbia College. New York
allowed him to co-create the beat scene. And whoever you are
out there reading this, I want you to meet the Allen Ginsbergs and
the Neal Cassadys of your life. But to do that, you canít only
sit behind a computer. You have to go where the action isóthe
conferences and workshops and cities where things happen.
Then, if youíre lucky, hopefully everything will fall in place after
that. But whatís critical is you have to take the chance.
Greatness comes through risk. Your job is to get your butt out
of that seat. Your job is to get your butt out of that city.
Go where you need to be.
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