One thing I wish I’d known

… three years ago.

I get this question a lot lately.

To be fair, I also ask this question myself a lot lately.

And here is my answer:
I wish I could to be more open and less frightened.

I was open enough to live in a foreign country not knowing a single soul in LA when I embarked on this journey.

I was also brave enough to dare myself to write screenplays in English when I had no professoinal training in creative writing in my previous life.

But at the same time, I wish I could be more open so I would have more diverse experience livin’ the California dream. But I said no a lot to social events. My excuses came in threefolds: a) I had no money; b) I can’t drink; c) I had too much shit going on from writing to life in general.

I’ve always been quite skeptical about networking. It’s like debating whether or not to marry a rich asshole who can give you your greencard although he may divorce you whenever he wants. Worse yet, he may call off the wedding in the middle of ceremony.

Okay. Networking, you’re way better. Sorry for the inappropriate metaphor.

Joke aside, I just don’t want networking to mess up my biological clock. I’m a morning person in general – not so much these days as you see when I post my blogs over the last few days.

But lately a friend’s remark makes me think twice, “You know, networking is working.”

I looked at the dude and realized it was the truth. Just by spelling out
“n-e-t-w-o-r-k-i-n-g,” you realized that ‘work’ is in the word.

Dang it.

But truth is, I realize that people can be much more fun elsewhere when they are not in the workspace. Maybe I’ll give it second shot when I’m back in Shanghai before I get too complacent after settling in.

Stay tuned!


Yours truly,

PS. Seth Godin’s Podcast Fellowship is opening an autumn program. Check it out for yourself if you’re also playing with the idea of podcasting.

PPS. Check out the latest #RBYZ episode featuring myself. It reads narcissistic. But hope it won’t sound so. Judge it for yourself.


Shut up and show up

Photo Credit

I went to a story pitch session this afternoon.

The host sent out the invite to all 41 screenwriters in the program.

Guess how many showed up (apart from the host).

Two. Me and another guy.

Then the host showed me the RSVP list. Quite a lot confirmed. But in the end, they decided to spend those hours doing something more important than talking through the new stories for the new quarter.

I was going to be one of them — Confirmed and bailed out later. I then told my flatmate that I just wanted to be left alone since she was moving out today. My flatmate quipped —

Get yourself out. It’s the only way to meet men.

So I did. It turned out to be two men after all.

The host friend felt a bit hurt. He didn’t do anything wrong. He said he tried not to take things personally. Well, I can’t. That’s why I stopped trying to host events that involve more than four people a long time ago. It’s exhaustive, underappreciated. You beg people to confirm, then you follow up when the date is close. Excuse me, but —

Who is doing whom a favour?

I much admire the friend keep hosting events like this. I myself can’t bear the thought of people not showing up, or promising to show up and bailed out in the end. Then I thought, not showing up is your loss. Today I got some interesting directions which I will use in the actual story pitch tomorrow.

Three brains are better than one.

Days ago, my cohorts had a Spring break barbecue. Quite a few joined. I was not on the invite list. All were the popular kids. Of course, it hurts a little. But I’d rather join stuff like today’s than “hanging out” with cohorts. I hang out with another bunch of people. To me, cohorts are cohorts. If I find interesting cohort that I want to get to know better, I ask him for one-on-one coffee. That is so much more meaningful and worthy of both of our time. I might appear like a lone wolf. But I cultivate deeper friendship over time.

A professor once said, “Take any meetings as you start off your career. They might surprise you.” To me, events like the one my friend held is one of them.

Shut up about all those excuses that you can’t make it. Just get off your ass and show up. Or, don’t bother RSVP.

Well, you never know what would ensue.