David Hal Chester
DON'T LET FEAR HOLD YOU BACK
2022 was perhaps the most challenging year of my life. I started off with a health crisis that I was sure spelled the end for me. By the end of the year, the crisis had become a whimper and I have been able to move forward a bit more confidently. All I can say is: don’t just get a second opinion; get a third or fourth. So, with health somewhat stabilized, I want to share a few of the things I’ve learned about being an independent screenwriter who’s managed to keep working without an agent: If you have a creative idea that you think is worth pursuing, find a way to pursue it. Do not wait. Do not hope that the “universe” is going to someday open a portal to its dream factory and “make it happen” for you. You have to make it happen for you. Do not count on others to open doors for you. Find a way to open the doors by yourself.
Don’t underestimate old ideas or ideas that you aren’t sure about. Ideas are the stuff that dreams are made of. Your idea might end up becoming a major motion picture. But if you discount it or dismiss it (as I so often have with my own), then how will anyone know about it? I have kept a running diary of sorts for God-knows how many years. I rarely look at them, but I decided it was time to revisit them and isolate passages that may be of value. I found one that I think is appropriate for this post:
Fear is useless. You have be willing to be laughed at, spat on, shat on and ridiculed. You have to be willing to fail. That is how you succeed.
For so many years I have lived in fear: fear of failure, fear of not being liked, fear of not being loved, fear of being dismissed, fear of being thought “less than,” fear of being “discovered” (my sexuality), fear that I am too old, fear that I “don’t belong,” fear that I don’t “fit in,” fear that I have no value, and, maybe the worst, fear that my voice isn’t important enough to be heard.
This last one is the one that has almost silenced me. I have decided that I am not going to let others define my voice for me. If they do not like my voice, they can leave the room or find someone else’s voice they like better. I don’t really care anymore. I have worked hard to become a “working screenwriter,” and I am proud that I have achieved some credits (by writing screenplays based on the ideas of others). But I have often times put my own “original voice” on the back burner because I have either felt that it wasn’t important enough or that it couldn’t possibly earn me any money. This is stupid thinking and will never allow me to achieve my goal: getting my original screenplays produced and released. All I can say is that I suddenly woke up. When you have lived on the receiving end of rejection in almost all areas of your life, you assume it’s just how it is. This is why it’s been so hard for me to hear the real true voice of my heart calling out to me. I’ve suppressed it, ignored it, turned it off, yes, turned it away. I don’t want to do that anymore. And if you’ve been where I’ve been— I don’t want you to do that anymore, either. Let’s make a pact, shall we? Let’s meet again, soon, and says, “I’m on track with my goals. I’m writing what speaks to me. I’m using my voice to tell my story, and I KNOW there is someone else on this planet who will hear it and understand it.” Don’t deny the words. Let them flow freely, from pen or fingers. Let ideas FLOURISH. Give them the love and attention they deserve; do not starve them. Embrace your beautiful creative self and sally forth ( yes, it’s a phrase, and a perfectly good one) into 2023, bursting with ideas — and then nurture those ideas into strong, powerful stories that will lift you, and others, up and give others the courage they might need to say, “I have a voice, too!”