I am a character in the book of life. Here is my backstory…
I grew up in the burbs of New Jersey. Great state! I studied communication at William Paterson College before transferring to the University of Maryland and graduating with an English Lit degree. I wrote my first screenplay at William Paterson College and have continued to write screenplays to the present. I love writing screenplays!
My first job out of college was at MTV Networks working for VH1 Production Management. After a few years at VH1 I moved on as a freelance coordinator for Sony Electronics and local production companies. I got married then left freelancing for a steady job and became an office manager. I had my son, started my own billing and management company and settled in. All was good. Problem was, I still wanted to write or I should say, needed to write.
So we moved out to Los Angeles for two and a half years to check out the writing scene. I learned from talking to various entertainment people that you need to have what “they” want the moment “they” want it and know how to get it to “them”. I had a prominent screenwriter tell me, “You can write the best screenplay ever written and if it’s not what they want the moment they want it, it will sit on a shelf until it’s thrown away.” Of course, there was the idea of producing my own movies but if I had a few million dollars laying around, I would have done that already.
When we returned to New Jersey (we drove cross country both there and back – I highly recommend this driving adventure. It’s amazing!) we pulled into the driveway and I said, “And scene. That’s a wrap people.” I figured that part of my life was done. I jumped back into my life duties – taking care of stuff, coaching, volunteering and being the best mom I could be. Then this weird thing happened. On a family vacation to Hawaii my perspective changed. In what I can only refer to as a rebirth, I started over. There was a voice that said, “If you want to write then shut the fuck up and write. Stop complaining. Stop distracting yourself with little things in life and write.” So I did. I figured out what had to stay and what had to go. Being the best mom I could be also meant being who I wanted to be. So it was my kid first (always) and writing right up there with him. Everything else came into play only if it wasn’t a distraction from writing; meaning, if I had to do it, then I had to do it and I gladly would.
I decided to start from the beginning. I focused on the first real story I had every developed, Under The Veil.
I have always enjoyed creating and writing. The first book I wrote was about a baby skunk and little chick that were friends and went to the store. I was about ten years old. I remember it. I can still picture it.
My father worked at Technicolor in Manhattan and would bring scripts home after they were done being used at work. To me they were gold. I loved looking at the screenplays and pondering how the black and white words on those pieces of paper, were transformed into a movie.
When I was in college I wanted to make films and loved my film classes. From writing to shooting, it was all fun for me. The problem was, as it is for most college students, money. Back then, producing a short film meant buying film stock like Super 8, renting equipment, having the film processed and then editing it. Every part of it costs money. If only I had had a magic phone that could do it all!
Fast forward to 2015 and my trip to Hawaii. “Shut the fuck up and do it.” So I did. I decided to turn the ideas and screenplays I had over the years into novels. Under The Veil was never a screenplay but a story I started to develop when I was around fourteen years old. It was time to just do it or bag it. So I did it.
I sat down and wrote Under The Veil. It took me a little over a year from start to finish. Then I gave it to friends and family knowingly and anonymously (pen name) to see what they thought. Did I do what I set out to do? Did I create and write a compelling story that grips the reader from start to finish? Did I write a future movie? I knew I enjoyed the book but would others? Thankfully, the answer was yes.
Next step was to publish. I did my research, had my meetings, then launched on my own terms. I’m thankful for every person who said yes or no to me and for every person who pointed me in a direction whether it was what I wanted or not.
Now I don’t have to shut up. Now I can talk all I want. I co-wrote the movie Journey of a Female Comic. I have an optioned screenplay working on becoming a movie. I have two novels printed and another on the way. I also wrote and published two children’s books. I am a novelist. I am a screenwriter. I am West Michell.