Let me tell you a little story about FEAR (aka F-E-A-R ~ False. Evidence. Appearing. Real)
Let me set the stage for you first…
When I graduated from Florida International University in Broadcast Journalism school in 2003, I was so excited about getting a job in TV. I loved script writing, and the live excitement of being in front of a camera. I also have always been a huge movie buff and can remember movie lines like flash cards in my mind. To this day, I love words and storytelling, and I know that writing is where I’m meant to be. However, as time went on, I realized more and more that it wasn’t my love for journalism as much as it was my love for writing fiction and telling a story the way I wanted to tell it. Also, I didn’t want to stay subjective and write a story about someone else’s tragedy or trauma; I didn’t want to depress the world anymore, I wanted to uplift the world, and take them out of reality – not put them more into a somber one. That’s where my love for fantasy writing stepped in. But before I even get into that story, which is for a different day, I want to tell you how I turned into a screenwriter…
Let’s rewind a minute here. Let’s go back to the word I mentioned earlier, FEAR. So shortly after graduation and the job hunting in broadcast journalism became a bust, I dreamt of writing a movie – a screenplay. But how? I already had the exact story in my mind, an animal-talking inspired one with all the furry friends ~ my pets ~ who’ve I had at some point during my life! Basically, an animation feature. So, I pick up this book, “Screenplay: Writing the Picture,” by Robin U. Russin and William Missouri Downs from Barnes & Noble (no Amazon then, peeps)!
With a cup of coffee in hand, ready to learn and write, with anticipation and excitement in my mind and heart, I read these sentences, “It’s a sad fact, but after all the months of brain-wracking effort that went into writing, most screenplays submitted get rejected.” Also, “Improper format is the surest way to get your script tossed in the rejection pile.” That’s all it took for me to see, and I was already done before I even started. I shelved the book for years where it collected dust, and I never wrote that story as a screenplay. First, I was like, “I don’t know how to write a screenplay, it’s for sure getting tossed in the rejection pile. What am I even doing? I don’t stand a chance!” That fear was enough to strip away at my dreams! But halt… not entirely. That is not the end. In fact, it was just the beginning of my writing career… and lots and lots of rejections to come!!! But, not no success.
So, there it is… a long story short. I was too afraid to write the screenplay. But that story was inside of me still. I decided to write it as a children’s book instead, and I did. I named it, MURPHY: THE PHAT CAT, a 19,000 humorous animal-talking chapter book, which started my journey as a published children’s book author. I put the screenwriting out of my mind… until. Until a movie producer (fatefully), walked into my life and an opportunity for another screenplay crossed my path. This one is a true story about my Italian great-grandparents, set in 1917. There’s historical written record about it, and how the Black Hand Society and murder, revenge and love affected their lives and future generations to come. Well, what do you think I did? You guessed it, probably. With more confidence than five years prior, I took that “Screenplay: Writing the Picture”, book back out. I dusted it off, and I wrote my first ever screenplay. It took me and my co-writer, Richard Sorin, about two full years from start to finish. We named it MANO NERA – a 129-page drama feature. Not to mention, we’ve revised it over the years, time and time again, and I am so unbelievably proud of this project! We really worked hard and passionately on it.
Now, let’s fast forward to today…two finished screenplays later, one in the works, and three finished children’s books (two of which have been published), and lots of years of tears and rejections, I haven’t quit. I’ve been going ever since. Has FEAR peeped it’s ugly head back in? Of course, it has… a lot! However, this time around, I haven’t allowed it to get in my way of giving up on my writing dreams. There’s still a lot of uncertainty and ups and downs. There are still rejections!! But, if I would have given up, I wouldn’t currently be an official selection and winner in nine different film festivals. I mean… NINE and counting… for both of my scripts combined. Who knows what’s to come? But if I had to bet, my movie(s) are – it’s just a matter of divine timing, persistence, never allowing anyone to tell you “no,” and/or allowing FEAR to stand in your way! Remember, it’s just false evidence appearing real. It’s not real. The only thing that’s real is the thoughts you tell yourself. There’s no one ever getting in your way other than YOU! Anything is possible if you set your mind to it, then there’s no telling what can happen! Shoot for the stars – the sky is the limit. And it’s okay if that little monster FEAR steps in on occasion… it’s normal. It’s a part of life and being human. Just befriend him. He’s a reminder that if it didn’t scare you, it won’t change you. If it’s not scaring you, then you’re not dreaming big enough! So, go dream BIG, and when your monster FEAR is screaming at you in your nightmares, “You can’t do it, you’re not good enough!” Know you’re exactly where you should be. Because it’s the fear that’s afraid of your light and how great and unstoppable you can become. Oh, and one more thing…TRUST over FEAR. Trust that everything is unfolding for you exactly how it’s meant to. MURPHY was meant to be a children’s book, and I was meant to pursue that road first. It taught and gave me so much more than I could’ve ever imagined, even friends. All those roadblocks and setbacks and doors closed for me, only led me to the path I was meant to journey on. Also, I’m blessed to do both – books and screenplays. I really do LOVE both! No two people’s paths are the same, so never compare. Not even FEAR can keep you from accomplishing what you’re meant to do. Live your dreams, unapologetically, pursue your passions, and you’d be surprised how the universe will open itself up to you. Allow it to surprise you! Look at FEAR in the face, and just say to him, “Oh, you again! Can you please step aside? You’re in my way.” Keep ROCKIN’ on, peeps! It isn’t over until it’s over. Just never give up!
And if you need proof… just look below. The proof is in the pudding!