DIARY OF A LOST SCRIBE
Here’s to Hindsight
by Carlo Dall’Olmo – President and Board Member of PSA
When I was growing up, I often heard the phrase “hindsight is 20/20” and though I understood the meaning in a vague sense, it wasn’t until many years and many mistakes later that the phrase finally connected with me. Isn’t that the way things go though? Youth blinds us with possibilities while age gives us clarity. I sometimes think this was meant as a joke and it went awry.
It’s this twisted dilemma that has put me where I am today. I was talking to my son the other day about soccer and the importance of not giving up because he’s struggling and pushing through his fear. He has been struggling getting back to his former self after his knee surgery. The physical wound has healed but the emotional wound is still there, ready to rear its ugly head every time he touches the ball. This fear has stunted his growth as a player and kept him from excelling in the sport he loves. As a parent, it breaks my heart to see him struggle and want to throw in the towel but as someone who has been there, it petrifies me.
My son’s struggle is in soccer – mine was in life. Growing up, I didn’t have a sport to play. Being born with a heart murmur, organized sports were out of the question. Instead, I spent my time alone and secretly watching from the sidelines, hoping I’d be the kid picked but knowing deep down inside that wasn’t possible. Through the years I chose writing and ended up with a degree in screenwriting. I moved out to Hollywood and decided to give it ago. Upon graduating I thought for sure it was a matter of time before someone would see my brilliance and buy my screenplay – after-all, it was the 90s and studios were buying stories written on cocktail napkins (or so the rumors went). Well, as fate would have it, I didn’t sell a screenplay and frustration mounted. After a whooping 3 years in LA, I threw in the towel. Of course, at the time, I didn’t tell myself I was throwing in the towel but deep in my gut I knew.
The discussion with my son brought me back to conversations I would have with my father about embracing the struggle of Hollywood. For him it was pretty simple – work hard, get in with a company and things will work out. For most lines of work (my father’s being one of them) – this is the way. In the creative field though, not so much. There is a reason screenwriting is called a “craft.” You can work hard, get in with a good company, work your way up, become a creative executive and still NEVER sell a script. You can toil at night, put off having a family, go to all the parties…meet all the A-listers and still NEVER sell a script. If you focus all your energy to learning the craft, learning the rules, writing, and then rewriting – then rewriting again and embrace the struggle – you might succeed. There is this little thing called persistence – that above all else divides the successful from the unsuccessful. The winners from dare I say the losers. If I could tell my younger self one thing, I would say
DON’T GIVE UP! EMBRACE THE JOURNEY.
Writing is a journey of self-discovery not a destination. Take the “no” and smile – feel pride in the rejection and move forward. If you can’t smile, scream – yell in your pillow…complain to your friends but above all else – don’t give up. It’s a tough road but if you want it bad enough, you have to stay on it. Life is a challenge – no doubt about it and as the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.