The End…Fade In:

Time for rebirth…
Today is my 36th birthday. It’s also Jesus’ rebirthday. No, I’m not comparing myself to Jesus. And yes, I chose the picture because it’s so ridiculous.

I just love the idea of MEGAJESUS, looming over Earth like a hypoglycemic Galactus, pissed off at our stupidity and failure. He’s so angry, the back of his head has exploded outward, forming some awesome new nebula. The moon is this painting’s version of Jackie O., and it’s getting drenched in MegaJ’s cosmic brain splatter.

The tear rolling down The Boss’ cheek? That’s his burgeoning sense of retribution, the volume and pressure of which is so great it has begun leaking in liquid form from his improbably blue Jewish eye.

Just look at his brow. It’s telling you the entire story. That’s the brow of a man who is about to take a bite out of a planet.

But I digress…

I want to talk about endings and beginnings. Those of us who write are plagued and blessed at once by an overexposure to cycles. No, I don’t believe in reincarnation or the divinity of Jesus or some of the hippier notions about how we’re all one with Gaia, etc. I do, however, believe that all human experiences begin, then progress, and then end.

I’m a writer. I’m soaking in that. And because I write, I find myself constantly beginning stories, places, ideas, people, moments…then experiencing them progress…and then watching them end.

And when they end…they end as finally as anything can. I do not know what Keyser Soze did after he got into the car with his lawyer at the end of The Usual Suspects, and I’m pretty sure I never will.

Just like that….(poof)…he’s gone.

All this beginning and ending stuff can start playing with your head. Like mathematicians who started noticing small recursive fractals as compositional blocks of larger recursive fractals, you begin to see the cycles in your own life on multiple levels. There’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And then there are multiyear arcs, like movements of a symphony.

Maybe you don’t see this, but I do.

Curiously, my cycles seem to take on four year spans.

I won’t bore you with childhood, but high school was an interesting four years. College…four years. After college, I spent four years trying to make my way toward something I could do as a career…a search for permanency, perhaps.

And I found it.

I spent the next four years establishing myself as a working screenwriter as well as a husband.

I spent the next four years establishing myself as a solo working screenwriter, as well as a father.

And I’ve spent these last four years establishing myself as a…for lack of a better phrase…successful screenwriter.

Ding! Four years are up.

And now?

Last week, I had lunch with a friend. Another writer. I look up to him in a very pure way; there’s no creepy jealousy or competitiveness or resentment to infect my relationship with him. I’m not particularly prone to those things, but I’m not inhuman either—I’m lucky that circumstances are such that I can admire someone as cleanly as I admire this guy.

By the way, he doesn’t blog or comment in here, so don’t bother guessing.

Hint…it’s not Josh Olson.

So anyway, we sat at lunch and this guy lectured me. He actually said, “I want to lecture you about something.” And then he did.




In fact, it was such a good lecture, it sent me hurtling toward my therapist, but in a good way. What this guy said to me was something I really needed to hear, and I really needed to hear it from him. It was the best compliment I’ve ever received, and almost certainly the scariest too. Good for him. His lecture may very well be the thing that sets the table and defines my next four year cycle.

What I’m saying is that I think I just typed FADE IN: on myself yet again.

“Okay,” you’re saying. “Enough preamble. What was the lecture??????”


…would you mind terribly if I didn’t tell you?

Cuz I’m not.

It’s not for you. It’s for me. It wouldn’t apply to you, and that’s true if you’re a hundred times more successful than I or a 15 year-old desperate for some guidance. This stuff was custom advice (although if you really want a hint…I’ll say this…I doubt I’ll use the language I used to describe the last few cycles when it’s time to describe the next one…)

What I can tell you is that you’re in a cycle right now, whether you like it or not.

Did you know? Do you understand it? Is there a rhythm to it?

Are you at the beginning?

Lost in the desert of your own 2nd act?

Nearing the end (that’s the scary one)?

Do you care?

You don’t have to. Honestly. Most characters are blissfully unaware that they’re in the stories we write, so why should we torture ourselves by getting recursive with the narrative of our own lives? I only dabble with the recursion myself. I’m sure Pirandello would think of me as a self-oblivious dolt.

Still, birthdays tend to do this to me.

And so, I’ll think I’ll give some of you a gift.

This gift is for the struggling. Particularly, it’s for the struggling young. This gift is for the people who have begun the “set out on my own” cycle. Maybe you’re in a new city. You’re trying to make it in a new business. You have no experience. You have no connections.

That was me…beginning of Cycle 3.

I don’t archive much of my life, but there’s one piece of paper I’ve saved all these years. I finally scanned it and laminated it, because it’s so important to me. When I arrived in Los Angeles in July of 1992, all I knew is that before anything good could happen to me, I needed to get a job.

I stood out on the corner of La Cienega and Pico, leafed through a payphone yellowpages (ahhhh, the pre-cell, pre-net days), and started cold-calling temp agencies.

I had a pen, which ran out of ink…and a pencil.

Today, I’m a rich guy with a hot wife and two great kids and a nice house and I do what I love for a living.

But fifteen years ago…

….I was this piece of paper.


Note the boxed note in the top middle. The one where I set a meeting with Louise at The Friedman Agency for 2:30 on Wednesday, July 29, 1992. That’s the meeting that gets me my first couple of temp jobs, one of which becomes a permanent job, which becomes a writing job, which gets me a marketing job at Disney, which leads to my career as a screenwriter.

I’m particularly fond of the question mark floating above it. I have no idea why it’s there, but I love that it’s there.

This paper is not some trophy or something. It’s my reverse Ozymandias. Know what I mean?

Look upon my Beginning, Ye Mighty, and smile!

I’m not saying you’re going to be rich and happy and famous. Honestly. I don’t know what you’re going to be. Drug-addicted hobo isn’t out of the question.

What I’m saying is…treasure your beginnings. That’s where all the fun is. That’s what I’m doing right now. Because I’m beginning a new cycle.

Let’s see where it goes.

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