The 60 year old is asked by the 30 year old – what would you have done differently?

About a month ago, I boarded a flight from Kelowna, British Columbia to fly to San Francisco to attend a writers workshop with James Scott Bell.

The young looking man who sat beside me on the plane for the first leg of the flight to Vancouver, turned out to be a Movie Producer. His name was Daniel Stewart. His company 144 Productions did commercials, and Independent Films. It turned out we had a lot in common. We’d both been to Israel. He’d spent almost two years there working with a production company in the past several years.

I had been there in 1971, and been an extra in Johnny Cash’s movie, called Gospel Road. We shared stories of our adventures, his in working in the film industry, and mine in my new vocation of writing, and we enjoyed a pleasant one hour flight to Vancouver.

The plane landed in Vancouver, and that’s when Daniel asked me the question, “Is there anything you’d have done differently in your life?”

Well, my life isn’t over, it is in the late innings (to use a baseball term) but I got what he meant. Daniel was 30 years old. I am 60, perhaps the Movie Director/Producer in Daniel was looking for the story in the story. I have no problem with that, and I think many of us should ask ourselves that question. Perhaps we should ask it when we’re 30.

Here is the answer I gave. I had told Daniel I developed this passion for writing in my 30’s, but I put it aside to start a business. The business did well, and from the business profits, I developed a second business in purchasing real estate, and that did well. I did retire early with a decent income from my profits – but here was the thing that always bothered me – I should have kept writing.

It was the thing I missed. I gave myself over to my business ventures, and for that 22 year period from 1988 to 2010, I was immersed in business and commerce. Did I have fun? Sure I did, making business deals and making money can be great fun. Just ask Warren Buffet, he can’t think of anything else to do…well maybe playing Bridge…he thinks that’s fun.

Before I started my business, I was enrolled in a University course to complete my degree in English, I gave it up to do my business. I was writing and getting published in magazines. I gave it up to do my business. I was working on my first fiction Novel, and yes, I gave that up to do my business ventures.

My final answer to Daniel Stewart? I’d wished that in the 22 years of working hard to make the money, that I’d kept up my love of writing. I did do some writing – I wrote business letters, proposals, and ad campaigns, but no fiction.

I am now a late blooming writer, one who is going through the learning curve, again, of writing, editing and publishing. I admit, I’m having more fun than I ever did in my business. This requires the imagination to take flight, the Muse to drop by and give the imagination a lift at times, and it’s a wonderful process.

I can only suggest to all those with a passion for something in their lives, that they do not give it up solely to make money. We all need money, it is a force that makes things easier for us in our lives, but it will never replace our inspiration, or our passion.

To all of you, who toil by day at your jobs, and work by night at your passion, whether it be writing, painting, acting or photography – don’t give up. At least keep the wheels turning, the well full of your passion as you make your money.

Who knows, one day, you’ll find yourself retired and living out your life saying, “I’d wished I just kept motived at my real passion.” Who knows what could happen.

I’m a late blooming writer, who waited 22 years for it happen to me. It is a long time to wake up again.

Feeding my Writing Addiction at a Writers Workshop with James Scott Bell

I admit it, I’m addicted to writing. How do I know? I flew on the Canada Day Weekend to San Francisco to attend a 3 day Writers Work Shop with James Scott Bell..

Now here’s the other thing that let me know I’m addicted to writing, the workshop wasn’t even in San Francisco! It was in Newark, California. Have you ever heard of it? I hadn’t, it’s a one hour shuttle van ride from San Francisco. I think I saw a outline of San Francisco in the distance as we crossed a bridge some many miles away to get to Newark.

So, at a Marriott Courtyard Hotel, with about 35 other would be, and some published writers, I was given the best course in writing I’ve ever attended. Now, I have attended some other workshops, one day mostly, and with some accomplished writers, such as Gail Bowen, here in Canada, an accomplished Mystery writer, but with James Scott Bell there was a difference.

The difference was in the presentation. In three days, from 9AM until 4PM, there was a complete presentation of plot, structure, character, dialogue, and writers voice. I felt like I was taking a compressed University semester in one weekend. But this was even better – because James Scott Bell loves film, and he used it to demonstrate each of the subjects he taught.

Now, I confess, I am slightly ADD, that’s Attention Deficit Disorder, or as my wife says, “selective hearing, and selectively present.” James Scott Bell was able to keep my interest, my focus, and my fascination with the process of writing for three full days with his variation of film and lecture.

He showed examples of how characters interact, and how plots unfold in pictures as varied as Moonstruck, The Fugitive, Lethal Weapon, and On The Waterfront. I don’t think anyone has ever been able to put all of the elements together for me like that before. It opened my eyes to how Novelists and Screenwriters play with Plot and Structure, and keep us involved.

This workshop was put together in part by Susanne Lakin, a writer, editor and writing coach. Susanne was also a wonderful resource at the workshop. She not only ensured the workshop ran smoothly, but also gave freely of her time in the evening to discuss with writers the various ins and outs of working with publishers or going the self published route.

At the end of 3 days, what did I learn? I learned that there’s a definite process and structure to writing. Perhaps I knew some of this before, but never have I had this put into such a structured format. I am a bit of a seat of my pants writer – James Scott Bell calls that a Pantser! Okay, that’s me, sometimes I like an outline, but it’s nice to flow, and see were it takes you.

Will this workshop make me, or you a better writer? I’ve always believed that good quality education, combined with effort, makes for success. The rest is up to us – one word after another – that make the stories come to life.

You can find information on workshop I just attended at www.writingforlifeworkshopscom

I wish you all happy writing, many downloads, and great reviews.