…Especially if we are, or want to be, writing TV:
by Leslie Schapira
Growing up, I was a “winner.” Not that I was particularly special or talented; I just happened to be part of a generation that, as the stereotype had it, received trophies for everything from tying our shoes to brushing our teeth. In school, we were promised that as long as we tried, we would succeed. But now that I’ve entered adulthood, the rules have changed. Job competition and fewer opportunities have made those instantaneous wins hard to come by. And for the first time, I’ve had to come face-to-face with a word that was rarely spoken when I was a kid: failure.
If I had known the obstacles that awaited me in the real world, I wouldn’t have been so quick to race through college. But I did, believing that if I took the right classes, made the right grades and got a head start on a writing portfolio, my dreams of becoming a TV writer would turn into reality. I graduated early, networked like crazy, wrote every night and day, took random freelance gigs and waited for any window of opportunity to crack open. Then, four years later, through the grace of a godlike mentor, I was invited to join the writers’ room of a network TV show in L.A. It was the chance of a lifetime.
Every day at work, I obsessed over my performance, always sure that I could do better and avoid even the slightest mishaps. At night, I would go home, replay the day in my head and think of all the ways I could improve. Even if I had a good day, it never felt good enough.
Despite my insecurities, colleagues reassured me that I was doing well for a beginner. I was able to contribute a couple of story ideas, jokes, a decent casting suggestion. Executives were starting to learn my name; agents were suddenly interested. My future was beginning to look promising. As long as I kept my head down and tried my best, everything would continue to move in the right direction. At least, that’s what I thought.