Well, I got my walking papers from Nicholl. It was a beautiful, carefully crafted, gently worded punch in the face. I'm not bitter. There are only so many ways to say "Learn how to string together some nouns and verbs and we'll talk." But they really go out of their way to provide you with a spoonful of sugar. "Dear Writer on the brink of scribing away poverty and achieving world piece through a powerful three act indictment, You were so close . . ."
Me, I look at the Nicholl Fellowships as an annual charitable donation which I faithfully deduct from my taxes. This year, I hope it goes to the venerable Brett N
. Maybe next year I get a little somethin, somethin. I'll polish up my latest three-act fire alarm and send it west on the fastest horse.
I know it sounds like sour grapes or self deprecation, but it really isn't. Just my way of poking a little fun at myself and the whole process. I'm not worried that I'm a failure, or that I'll never cut it in this town. I just write the best stories I can and hope they can shine, contest or no contest.
It would have felt sooo good to open up the letter and get some form of validation, but I know deep down that I don't need to advance in the Nicholl to know that I have talent.*
I read a story about a screenwriter who had been writing for years. Each year she would submit to Nicholl and each year she wouldn't make the cut. Frustrated she gave it one last push and decided that if she didn't get in the next time, that she would hang up her verbs and call it a day. The Nicholl letter finally came. She opened it up. And . . . she didn't make it. But at the bottom of the letter was a personal note from one Greg Beal that said something like "You just missed the cut. Keep up the good work." So she did, and the next year she was a semi-finalist. Admit it, your heart just swelled and you lit a small candle. It's OK.
The point is that it seems that people tend to get what they need exactly when they need it. Call it luck, happenstance, magic, or providence. Doesn't matter. It just is. That's not to say you need to kick back and wait for senior Spielbergo to beg you for a script, but it is just to say: make an effort and be persistent and you will get what you want. Scary, I know.
*I was no where near a tall horse when I wrote that. I swear.
Labels: Contests, Screenwriting