I’ve never been comfortable with self promotion. I’m even uncomfortable writing in the first person. Maybe it’s a midwestern thing, maybe it’s just in my DNA. But this website? In my name? Run by me? Promoting my writing?
My grandmother hammered into me the danger of getting a big head — this despite the fact that I’m already 7 ⅝ hat size, which is close to balloon and/or pumpkin proportions. (Or was that her point?)
Last January, at the television critics association meetings in Pasadena, where in my emergency role as co-show runner of the Fox television series Alcatraz I was to be trotted out to face the press and promote the show, my reputation preceded me: those executives at Fox and Warner Bros. who know me from my previous incarnation as a t.v. creator were in continuous contact to ensure I’d attend (in the past I sent my mentor, Bill Sackheim, telling everyone I was too busy writing the next episode to take time out to talk about it).
Happily, the critics had no interest in me. Their focus was on J.J. Abrams, whose production company developed “Alcatraz,” and who is deservedly an entertainment superstar. And seems to enjoy it.
I just don’t, sorry.
But in the age of social networks and the culture of personality, an aversion to self promotion is professional suicide.
So here we are.
My history, in a nutshell: nine movie credits, some television series that didn’t last, some pilots that didn’t sell, a modicum of uncredited script-doctoring, just enough unproduced original film and t.v. work to push me to finish the novel I intended to write when I stumbled out of Stanford with a degree in economics and more creative writing coursework under the tutalege of Chuck Kinder than was probably healthy.
Well, not exactly the novel I intended to write then. That one is still in a box, unfinished. UCLA film school sent me to an alternate universe.
Pacific Heights was my first produced film. My feature directorial debut, Where’s Marlowe? was distributed by Paramount Classics, much to their chagrin.
You can look the rest up on IMDB, or Google me, they’re fairly ancient credits, and I’m proud of them, but I didn’t win any Oscars or Emmys and they’re not on the critical radar except in tepid footnotes or anecdotal passing reference in retrospectives on the many fine and famous directors with whom I’ve had the good fortune to work.
I’m currently working on a movie script for Studio Canal, and a pilot for Lifetime television; not long ago I adapted the Alfred Bester sci fi classic, The Stars My Destination (only to have it spiral into turnaround hell) and my first novel, Twentynine Palms, was published by Counterpoint Press eighteen months ago.
Which was spectacularly satisfying.
Now I’ve written another: A Hole In The Ground Owned By A Liar.
A third novel, Fifty Mice, is in the works.
I still teach one graduate seminar in screenwriting at UCLA film school. I was a writing fellow once at Sundance. I’ve been a journalist, an advertising copywriter, a cartoonist, a sculptor, a silk screener, a failure at short fiction (some of which you can find in the fine webzine hotvalleywriters.com) , a pretty good dad, a television staff writer, a producer, a director, a screenwriter, and, on Alcatraz, a kind of script-doctor show runner for the first thirteen episodes.
It’s been a good career, and a long career, that finally has circled back to the prose fiction I’ve wanted to write since I started, and that it probably took me this long to learn how to do.
In my perfect world I could remain invisible, letting the work speak for itself.