My friend PJ McIlvaine, author of the current best seller, VIOLET YORKE, GILDED GIRL: GHOSTS IN THE CLOSET, and close friend and companion of dragons everywhere (yes, it’s an inside joke – my apologies) recently appeared on the bookechoes.com podcast and talked about, among other things, the age-old problem of how to best balance the writing life/family life relationship.
This particular situation is something I still haven’t mastered, but I’m working at it. And what PJ has to say here definitely helps.
As a Redditor might phrase this sort of thing on one of the interweb’s most popular sites:
TIL [“Today I learned,” for those over 40] that not even 10mg of oxy can give me the feeling of joy my mother saw on my face when I was 8 years old and the local radio news announced it was a Chicago School District snow day.
But Gwen the Beautiful did get to see me smile more than just a little as I read a “Get Better Soon” text received from a junior high buddy I’ve been telling her about for sixty-five years.
…As indirectly revealed to me by my Oldest Daughter J— just the other day:
We’re visiting A— this weekend. She’s happy as a clam and taking a film class taught by SK’s ex-wife. It’s a —
To truly appreciate the upcoming punchline, you may need a few additional facts.
I say this because I’m an old-fashioned writer who likes to make sure everything is clear, mostly so I can tell myself that the reason my work has always been misunderstood (okay, maybe not always, but a few times at least) has been because the readers or viewers weren’t paying proper attention and not because I, erm, screwed up.
In addition to being my oldest daughter, J— is my first child in general and a producer/writer at NPR in San Francisco. Her second daughter, A—, is one of my – wait, I’ve got to count – five granddaughters and is a sophomore at UCLA.
SK has been a writer and/or producer on a ton of Marvel films among others. He’s also been a close friend of my older son (also a human whose name starts with a J–) since their college days, which means that SK’s ex-wife has at the very least been a part of the overall Brody extended family.
Older son J– also is well-known within the same business as SK. I’d say a Remembrance of Things Past worth more of great things about him, but he likes to keep a low profile.
I also have another daughter and another son and two grandsons that don’t figure into this conversation. And even though I’m not using their names, I do know them. Just don’t ask me their birthdays, okay?
Now that you’ve been alerted to the backstory, I’ll finish telling you what Oldest Daughter J— was telling me. Let me start over:
We’re visiting A— this weekend. She’s happy as a clam and taking a film class taught by SK’s ex-wife. It’s a small, nepotistic world!
There. That’s it. ODJ said it with a sigh, which is pretty much what this kind of fact of life deserves, but the point remains, not only in showbiz but in all walks of life. The Secret of Success is to always keep in mind that we do indeed live on a small, nepotistic planet. If you can’t manage to get yourself born with the right contacts, then go out and forge other connections with everyone you can.
LB’S NOTE: This, btw, isn’t what I did. Connecting and Larry Brody do not even occur in the same universe. I got started via what I’d have to call “The Second True Fact Secret of Success,” which I’ll throw in now because what the hell:
In spite of possibly being the most antisocial human anyone could ever know, I spent not only my college years but most of my adult life happy as a clam because I was the luckiest son of a bitch you may ever know.
My recent post about Alan Moore reminded me that way back in the mid-60s, when I came to L.A. to try my hand at conquering the written word, I wrote porn novels and short stories and even edited various slick publications of the same wondrous genre – pseudonymously, of course. That phase of my career didn’t last very long, fortunately, and it was onward and upward in the loveliness of showbiz within the blink of an aspiring eye.
Many years later, in the early 90s, I retired from showbiz and moved to Santa Fe, NM, where I donated all of my papers to the local college, including the porn because I am, if nothing else, a completist. A few years later, the college threw out all the material I’d given them. I assumed it was because of the porn, but the head of the Visual Arts Department confided in me that it was because the school didn’t want to be “tainted” by TV.
The second-best agent I ever had, the late, great Leonard Hanser, liked to say, “Ain’t life unfair!” as a statement instead of a question. Of course, life’s unfair, but my journey through this world has shown me again and again that a sort of bizarre (and often stupefyingly unfair) irony is the real name of the game.