Ever since the first time I heard the soothing calm voices of disc jockeys on a small radio station in Pennsylvania called WKBI, I knew I wanted to be on the radio.
I remember telling anyone who would listen, including adult friends of my parents. But whenever I would tell them, they would practically pinch my cheek and say, "You want to be on the radio? That's so cute!"
Apparently they thought I wouldn't pick up on the sarcastic nature of their words, but I did. And I vowed I would get on the radio one way or the other. So when I was 14, I wrote a letter to Joe Disque at a radio station 15 miles away from me called WLMI. It was a country music station, and the one that my parents would force me to listen to all the time. But I did like some of the voices I heard on there, and thought why not?
I told Joe in my letter that I want to be in radio badly, and would even work for free. I didn't tell anyone I had done it, not even my parents, because my cheek was already sore. And I also felt that the chances of this radio station responding to the letter of a 14-year-old kid was dubious at best.
But just a few days later, the phone in my house rang, and on the other line was one of the people from WLMI inviting me to come out to the station and meet with Joe. Apparently Joe absolutely loved the enthusiasm in my letter, and although he couldn't hire me without going to jail for breaking child labor laws, he at least wanted to see if I was for real.
So I rode my bicycle 15 miles through Pennsylvania's part of the Appalachian Mountains and arrived at the radio station. Joe was shocked I would ride my bike that far, but then he realized that this kid was for real.
I got a tour of the station, and had a chance to really talk to Joe. I was just a kid. He had children older than me. Yet, we connected at a level that even I didn't realize. And when I was 17 years old, Joe fulfilled his promise of calling me. A new owner had taken over the station, and was looking for a weekend person to do the news and other odd jobs around the station. Joe gave him one name: mine. And I was hired.
Why do I bring up this little tidbit of my life now? Well, I am in the final draft of my first ever full-length screenplay. I say "final," but I only mean "final" until I consider shopping it around to see if there is any interest. And I recruited a small number of people to actually give the second draft a read and give honest feedback about it. Trust me, it's been both humbling and extremely helpful.
But I am worried that I have to guard my cheeks. I'm a journalist, and been one for more than two decades. Now I want to write screenplays. How could someone not say, "You want to write screenplays? Oh, that is so cute!" I mean, if someone suddenly decided they wanted to become a journalist after spending 20 years as a dog catcher, they might have to slap my hand away from their cheek too.
To be honest, I don't know if this screenplay is good or not. I know I put a lot of myself into it over the last several months, one reason why I've been absent here from time to time. And I look at the story, and I'm amazed that something like this even came from my brain and through my fingers. But I want to avoid more than anything people dismissing me without actually reading the screenplay.
Believe it or not, my screenplay is not science-fiction. Even if I wanted to, it wouldn't match the type of material we cover here on Airlock Alpha, or any of the other GenreNexus sites. In fact, many of the people who read it were surprised to find that it's a thriller disguised as a love story, and a few have a hard time believing that this is something that actually came from me (apparently, I don't come off as the thriller-disguised-as-love-story type).
So let's see if I can get past that hurdle once again without having to ride my bicycle anywhere. Especially to Los Angeles -- that's a long trek from Tampa.
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