Somehow it seems appropriate that I would start my first blog entry on my newly launched site with a story. It is the sordid tale of how I entered this trap of becoming a writer.
It seems like I was always writing, be it a poem, a song, a script, short story, or even a full-fledged novella. My first paid article was published when I was only 15, which gave me a certain wisdom. Working the mind was clearly more effective than doing physical labour. Besides, I was too much of a klutz to handle working at a restaurant or folding clothes at a store — which were a few of the more traditional options available to me at the time. I am still a klutz.
I dove into writing. I wrote movie reviews, interviews, trend stories – even a column. I also began editing for popular movie websites such as CountingDown (which was owned by Dreamworks SKG – Steven Spielberg’s company) and MovieWeb, one of the first movie websites. At some point, in 2000, I think, I took over for what was then an ezine called Moda Magazine. I turned it into an online entertainment magazine with a monthly readership of about 600,000 — I worked with a team of wonderful writers and human beings and it’s amazing how much it grew over the years. It was mentioned in the San Francisco Chronicle, Toronto Star, Premiere Magazine, BBC Radio, JoBlo, Dark Horizons, Mrqe, and lots of other media outlets. We even had some celebrity readers. During that time, I watched a LOT of movies.
Oddly enough, I started in the online media world and moved into print. Usually, it’s the other way around (as people keep reminding me: print is dying). I always believed in knocking on the doors I wanted open the most (otherwise, it’s a waste of energy) and that attitude paid off, at least for me. I had a few initial lucky breaks, which led to a lot more doors opening up. My hand didn’t even go stiff. I quickly found out that my favourite type of journalistic writing happened to be interviews. I’m naturally extremely curious, obsessive compulsive when it comes to research, and a bit of a human lie-detector (I even studied lie detection!). I love that I have the opportunity to ask the most talented, interesting, brilliant people, questions. In fact, it’s my job. In my interviews, I try to maintain a personable approach and bring out the personalities of my interviewees – I want them to share their most interesting thoughts with me, after all. I could probably interview people all day, every day, and never tire of it. Sometimes, I even make new friends. I have interviewed everyone from Pulitzer winning writers and Academy Award winning actors, to mentalists, jewelry thieves, top chefs, publicity legends, photographers, and fashion designers. I can’t complain, really. One of my very first interviews was with Groucho Marx’s son, Arthur. It was like having a conversation with Groucho himself, they sounded so alike (though his dad once sued him!).
Although much of the time I choose what I write about, every once in a while I get assigned stories on subjects I would have never expected to tackle. What I discovered is that fascinating stories can be found in the most unexpected places. I recall doing one about a competition for theatrical makeup, a topic that initially held very little interest for me. What I discovered while researching the story and speaking to its subjects was the human interest aspect of it. I learned something that day. There are interesting stories everywhere, if you look deep enough.
Aside from my journalistic writing, I have secretly been writing scripts and songs. My songs are particularly old fashioned and would have been huge hits…in the 30s…my scripts, I hope, might find an audience today. I find that anytime I’d start to write a drama, or a thriller, or a sci-fi, it would magically turn into a comedy. So, having given up the fight, I write comedies. Sometimes satirical. I believe that comedy comes of out of pain and drama. And that, drama, in turn, like life, always has moments of comedy. Sometimes we laugh the hardest in between the tears. There is a quote from an interview with the late Richard Jeni that expresses this particularly well. “People always talk about the fine line between comedy and tragedy and the line exists because it’s a way to keep from crying,” he said to me. He shot himself a year later. He is not the only person I have interviewed who is no longer with us either.
I don’t want to end this entry on such a sad note, but sometimes life is like that. It is a series of fleeting moments, like snowflakes they can appear magical but don’t last for long. Writers have the power to capture them forever in their unmelted state, making them immortal.
That is why I write.