I first wanted to be a writer when I was in high school. I would bug my English teacher to give us creative writing assignments. It all started with Star Trek. That’s where my love of science fiction first began. I use to watch it in the evenings with my dad. Then we would discuss things like time travel, warp drive and life on other planets. One day, I was in the Huntington Park Public Library looking for Jules Verns and H. G. Wells book – the only science fiction writers I was familiar with at the time. I happened to see a copy of “The Making of Star Trek” on a wire rack and borrowed it. It was then I discovered what Gene Roddenberry was really trying to do. In an era of “play it safe” television, he was taking on controversial topics through allegory. That’s when I realized how powerful writing could be. Then Norman Lear came along and openly discussed controversial topics with humor on such show as “All in the Family”, “Maude” and “The Jeffersons”. Television would never just settle to “play it safe” with “least offensive programming” again.
All this eventually lead me to attend the USC Cinema/Television program and graduate in 1983. I got my foot in the door a couple of times with companies like New World Post Production, Showscan, and some independents. But I never quite made it. Through a series of events, I ended up at Keye/Donna/Pearlstein, an ad agency that produced commercials (“This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs” – that one was ours). But when the partnership broke up, I struggled to just find a job. That’s when I went off track. Or rather, that’s when I let myself go off track and get distracted by life. Little by little I stopped following my dream. I forgot I had things I wanted to say.
For a while, my wife and I were involved in Quattro University, an educational program for entrepreneurs. It was a good program. I saw it as a way to make money so I could eventually quit my day job and get back to my dream. But that thinking was all wrong because it meant I was still putting off my dream. One of the reoccurring themes of Quattro was to follow your dream. I message I had heard over and over again. But for some reason, one particular podcast lecture hit home. I wasn’t following my dream, I wasn’t doing what I loved, and I wasn’t happy.
My wife and I have been going to science fiction conventions for years. A friend of ours once commented that these conventions are full of talented people. Their work is in the art show, in fanzines, or on stage in the masquerade. But the vast majority of them never go beyond the convention center walls. For whatever reason, they don’t take their talents to a professional level. I was one of those people. But now I’m determined to take my writing seriously.
When the special edition of “Star Wars” came out, we went to see it at Mann’s Chinese Theater – where it all started. There were a lot of people there with their kid, the next generation of Star Wars fans. But more importantly, we know many of them who’s imaginations were sparked by Star Wars twenty five years ago. They were now professionals in the industry, costumers and prop makers. They followed their dream, and that the kind of person I want to be.
Looking back, my interest in science fiction started way before Star Trek. The shows I remember most from my childhood are “Astro Boy”, “Felix the Cat”, “Fireball XL5”, “The Thunderbirds”, “The Amazing Three” and the cartoon series “Fantastic Voyage”. Now it’s time to give back to the genre. I have three completed screen plays. Two of which I have sent out to agents – no takers yet. One of them is the first in a steampunk trilogy. And I intend to novelize all of them. I joined GLAWS to learn what I need to do to become a professional, help and get help from my peers and to make contacts. This is my journey from wannabe writer to has-been hack in a single lifetime. As some Kiwi friends of mine would say, “Oh, no, here we go!”