We’ve all heard the saying “The longest journey begins with a single step.” True enough… but what’s interesting to me this morning, as I sit in my quiet living room, listening to the birds chirping and enjoying a cool morning breeze, is that most of the time, we have no idea where that journey will take us.
From the time I started to put “me” and “writer” and “television” together, my dream was to work in Hollywood, helping to put together one of the TV shows I loved. I worked doggedly at achieving that dream — at least, as much as a small-town girl with limited funds and a nervous nature could do. I wrote letters. I churned out scripts by the boxload. I asked favors of a number of kind, generous people (who granted most of them). But years went by, and I was still sitting in my tiny home town, watching TV and dreaming.
Then I read about a one-of-a-kind opportunity being offered by the producers of Star Trek: The Next Generation. At a time when every TV show on the air was refusing to look at unsolicited material, ST:TNG had opened the gates. Fill out a simple release form, they said, and we’ll read your script.
So I sent them one. And they offered me a job.
A dream job. The one I’d fantasized about for half my life. I was working in Hollywood, surrounded by actors and writers and crew members and fancy sets and a million different flights of fancy. But I discovered as my internship unfolded that this wasn’t a good fit for me. Writing on demand, long hours, having your work completely rewritten by someone else… Yes, the money was good, if you could manage to land a full-time gig, but you’d run the risk of your show being canceled after a few episodes. Add to that the fact that I was terrified of nearly everyone (I have issues with authority, whether it’s real or perceived), and I couldn’t imagine myself ever succeeding as a Big Time TV Writer.
Still, I decided to stay in California, and went back to writing fanzines. Which led to meeting the editor of the Quantum Leap tie-in novels, which led to publishing two of the tie-ins and becoming a “real author.” It also led to my being exposed to a lot of people I would never have encountered back in my little home town: people from countries around the world. It led to my being at the fringes of the riots that happened after the infamous Rodney King verdict. It led to my apartment being trashed by the Northridge earthquake and its many thousands of aftershocks. It led to new friendships and new challenges (among them, working for a spoiled-rotten Beverly Hills divorcee) and five years at an art museum. It led to a richness of experience I wouldn’t have had if I had said “no” to that job at ST:TNG.
The whole business of writing revolves around answering the question “What if…?” But LIFE revolves around that very same question. Some thirty years ago, I considered buying a small house a few blocks from my parents, a cute blue bungalow surrounded by trees that my dad would have helped me purchase. If I had said, “I want to do this,” it would have been a done deal. Instead, I took a different path, and spent more than a decade soaking up experiences that weren’t available here at home. I’ve chatted about this before, and I probably will again, because it’s something I ponder a lot. “What if…?” Where would I be now, if I had bought that house? What would I have accomplished? What would I have seen, and who would I have met?
Would I be here now, writing an author’s blog?