A Good Writing Story
Each month, the magazine profiles 2-3 developing writers, who have sold their first scripts to Hollywood. In this issue, one of those writers is Matt de la Peña. In answering the prompt, "Writing Quirks," he related the following:
A successful painter works out of a studio on my block. Like me, he seems to prefer working late at night. And, he works a lot. Just about every night, I end up needing something at the local bodega; and on my way there and back, I peek into his window to see if he's hard at work. At first it was just to entertain myself: "There he is again," I'd say, "hard at work." But, over time I've developed this insane, borderline unhealthy competition with him. If I walk by with a couple slices of pizza and he's working, I'm moved to sprint up my stairs, wolf down my food, and fire up my laptop. I have to outwork him to make it as a writer. Conversely, if I pass his studio on my way to write and his lights are off, I literally pump my fist in the air and shout, "Yes! I've got you now!" Then I scurry up my stairs and get to it. I guess we all do what we have to do to motivate. The strange part is, I don't believe the painter even knows I exist.
I love this story for a number of reasons. First of all, I used to love to look at people's lit up apartments as I passed them at night in New York City. No, not like a peeping Tom or anything! Just a glance to see what interesting things were there (and left visible for the whole city to see, not through curtained windows or anything). So I relate to this story. Second, I love the way he found a way to use the painter as motivation no matter which way he encountered him (working or not, both motivated him). We all need to do this, I think.
Lastly, I love the idea, which he brings home in his last line, about how the painter doesn't even know he exists. This is a concept I've thought a lot about -- the way we affect so many people's lives around us without even thinking about it. We all can have huge impacts on others around us, which is both gratifying and astounding, but also brings a great responsibility with it. We can bring such good to the world around us, even unknowingly, if we act as examples of good. Since the converse is equally true, we must be aware all the time, and hope that we only make a negative impact rarely, if at all.
Anyway, find your own "painter" as a motivating force, and use it in such a way that it motivates no matter what.
Tags: screenwriting, Matt+de+la+Pena