WHEN YOU GET YOUR FIRST WRITING DEAL:
1. Don’t spend the money before the check arrives.
People writing those checks are collecting interest
they are not in a hurry to cut your check.
2. Don’t spend money before the check clears.
Checks don’t always clear.
3. Don’t get too excited about zeroes. [The agent
takes 10%, Uncle Sam will take 35-40%. If you’ve
got a manager and entertainment attorney? They
each take a chunk too. Split those zeroes in half
and you have maybe a better estimate of what is
actually coming home — if you are in Hollywood,
cut it in half again and figure you are taking
home 25 cents on the dollar.
4. Don’t charge up the credit cards in anticipation
of a big pay day. There may be a big payday, but
it disappears pretty damn quick if you are
swimming in horrific credit card debt by the time
the check clears.
5. Don’t shuttle off to foreign countries in a vacay
extravaganza. Listen, Venzuela is nice, but there
is still writing to be done and also if you need to
make any research jaunts it might be nice to still
have cash in the till for that.
6. Don’t immediately buy a really expensive car.
See numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 above. Also do not
forget the cautionary tale of Diane Thomas who
got a really nice car for Romancing the Stone and
promptly went over a cliff in it.
7. Don’t quit your day job. Yeah, the day job is
not what you want to do with the rest of your
life but insurance is good to have and Cobra is
freaking expensive so hang in there at least till
the check clears. And look at those Cobra rates
before dumping the place for loftier ideals like
credit card debt.
8. Don’t think reality is going to alter just
because you got a deal. Take a good long
look in the mirror. That is who you are. With
or without a deal, that is still going to be who
you are. Learn to like what you see because
deals do not magically shave ten pounds off
anyone or make you taller or make your face
stop breaking out.
9. Don’t assume everyone is happy for you
for the right reasons. This is also known as,
Be leery of relatives who haven’t called for
five years who suddenly ring up to chat.
This is rarely a magical coincidence. And
the check has not cleared yet so you can’t
help them anyway.
10. Don’t complain to people who haven’t
been where you are and still want to be there.
They won’t get it and will just resent you
casting aspersions on the “dream.” Also.
Once the illusions are gone and you get
used to the idea you will not magically lose
ten pounds, grow two inches taller, stop
breaking out, and maybe do need to keep
an eye on the check book still?
[Oh feck you are still human noooo!]
Do not discount what you have achieved
simply because it is not the illusion you
have been carrying in your head to get here.
Take stock of what you do have —
Someone is paying you to write.
That is something you did not have
yesterday. Today you do. It is a great day.
When I was 21 I wanted to write like Kafka. But, unfortunately
for me, I wrote like a script editor for The Simpsons who’d
briefly joined a religious cult and then discovered Foucault.