Today’s piece is written by Nick Wauters, Staff Writer on “Eureka.”
Why do I write? I guess I’ve never really thought it was a choice. This is just the way I’ve been for as far back as I can remember. Already as a kid, I could tell I was different. I didn’t really know how, or what it meant, but as my parents will still tell me today, they always knew I was… “special” (sic.) Many times, I have asked myself why this? Why me? Why did I have to be different? Life could have been so much easier if I’d grown up to be… say, a waffle maker (no offense to waffle makers, and yes there’s a pay-off later). But the truth is, my head has always been filled with ideas, and for better or worse, I’ve never really been good at keeping my imagination to myself.
As a boy growing up in Belgium (Belgium… waffle maker… get it?), I was fascinated by film, television, theater, novels, comic books — anything that involved the imagination. Sure, it got me beat up more than once by the jocks and bullies who loved picking on the faggy and geeky (yes, double-whammy) writer kid, but I didn’t care. This was who I was.
I remember writing plays and musicals that I would then perform in front of my unwilling family trapped in our living room. Throughout middle school, my productions would bring school operations to a halt. Literally. I guess I just assumed that everyone — classmates, teachers and custodians — had the same urge I had to see my material come to life.
I would often lock myself up in my room for hours, typing away on an old typewriter, writing entire seasons of shows I created — sitcoms, dramas, soaps, which I would then force my mother to read as soon as I’d finished typing the words “the end.” I would then sit and watch intently, trying to gauge her every reaction as she made her way through the pages.
I eventually decided it was time for me to make my Hollywood dream come true (again, I just assumed everyone was born with a Hollywood dream.) Being a Hollywood writer was the only thing I could imagine doing, and my parents were kind enough not to discourage me. They probably assumed it was just a phase.
So I started sending out some of my scripts. Using a French-English dictionary, I painstakingly wrote a cover letter explaining to Brandon Tartikoff that I would be honored to write for a network with such dedication to high-quality programming, and that if he would just have my scripts translated into English, he would see how great they were. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. But give me a break, I was thirteen and I had a dream.
After getting no response from Hollywood, I decided it would probably be a good thing for me to learn English. Maybe NBC didn’t have the time or resources to get my scripts translated after all. So I started watching TV shows on the BBC to complement my English classes, and that’s how I started picking up English.
I clunkily translated a couple of my pilot scripts and sent them to Warren Littlefield and his counterparts at the other networks along with a resume listing every play and school show I’d ever put together in my “career.” I knew Hollywood was waiting for me.
And this time, I finally got a response. It was a very nice and short letter from “Beverly” in the HR department telling me NBC could not accept unsolicited material, but that they reviewed my resume and that although there were no openings at the time, they would keep it on file for the next six months should anything open up. Sure, I thought it was a bit suspicious that all the responses I got from the other networks said exactly the same thing, but that was just a minor detail. I just had to be patient and wait 6 months, right?
Many years and twists of fate later, as I walk around in circles and chant in my red shirt in beautiful downtown Burbank, I can’t help but look back and wonder how the hell I actually made it here. Maybe it’s because I’ve always believed that somehow the rules of storytelling also applied to my own life, that whatever obstacles were thrown in my way, I would always prevail and eventually get my happy ending in the third act. Maybe it’s because I never stopped dreaming, never stopped imagining. Maybe it’s because part of me never grew up and established permanent residence in Never-Never Land.
Writing is not just something I do. It’s what I am. I’m not saying I’m good at it (I wouldn’t be a writer without having insecurities), but that is who I am. And although I am one of the lucky few who get to make a living out of it, I know that wherever my professional life takes me and whether or not I get paid for it, I will never stop writing, because I need to get that stuff out of my head.
And that’s why I write.
WHY WE WRITE is a series of essays by prominent – and not so prominent – TV and Film writers. Conceived by Charlie Craig and Thania St. John, the campaign hopes to inspire and inform all writers. If you’d like to comment, or tell us why you write, visit the Why We Write WordPress site or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.