“May 25, 2019. Bethany Carlson has won the coveted Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.”
So begins an exercise I did on 2/8/14 at this year’s BACCA writing retreat: write a press release, five years in the future, about achieving a major writing dream.
I don’t have an agent. I have only taken two screenwriting classes, one at WriterHouse, one at UVa. But not for credit. I didn’t even need to apply to get in. Just write the tuition check. I’m not famous, I don’t live in LA, I don’t have connections. So go right ahead and laugh.
This is the thing about having a great writing group: it’s a fortress. It’s not just me against the world. I know BACCA has my back. My writing group is a safe space to dream big.
The follow-up exercise was to list practical steps towards achieving that dream. I scribbled down: “Write three feature-length screenplays. The first two will probably suck but the third one might be pretty good.”
Who knows if that Palme d’Or press release will ever get written; it’s almost totally outside of my control. Except for the part about writing. I definitely can’t win if I don’t write. And one thing that has actually happened in the last two months: after years toiling on YA novels and short stories, I finally finished a draft of my first feature-length screenplay. And I’ve submitted it to BACCA for critique.
I’ll get honest feedback to make screenplay numero uno better. And the encouragement – and accountability – to move on to screenplay number two. And then #3. And they do say the third time’s the charm.
Bethany Carlson is a co-founder of BACCA Literary. She is a WriterHouse Board member and the owner of TheArtistsPartner.com where she helps authors and other artists to professionally produce and distribute their work.