Tom Leopold: Writers on Writing

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But when you find those people who really spark to it, you know that you’re on that same wavelength, and it’s the only real wavelength you’ve got. And it takes some guts, you know? Because wow, I’m really putting myself out there. And how else can you really do it? Painful as it is, you might as well go all the way. As painful as writing is anyway, you might as well invest it with yourself.


And how has that helped you as a writer?

It’s really helped me deal with rejection. I always say that I’ve been luckier than a lot. I’ve never had a job outside of showbiz, and so I’ve been really blessed that I’ve been able to make a living out of it. But I also say that 94 percent of my career has been disappointment. But that other 6 percent was a gas. It really was. I think that as painful as it is, rejected scripts are like what painters, artists must feel when they go to a gallery, they put their paintings up on the wall, and they don’t sell, so they put them back in their beat-up old Volkswagen and take them home. I have a lot of scripts like that. And sometimes I think, ‘Man, I loved that script. I still love that script.’ Maybe there’ll be a life for it later, or maybe its time will come. And boy, I’d rather have a shelf of unproduced stuff that I love than a shelf of unproduced stuff in which I tried to outsmart the audience – outsmart the buyer, if you will.

With rejection, you never expect it. And maybe that 94 percent is a high number I’m using as a joke. But even so, you never expect it. I think that’s what makes us such idiots. Because every single time, I think the world’s gonna fall in love with what I’ve written, and mostly they don’t, and I’m disappointed and surprised every time. And you think I would learn. But the thing is, I don’t think you can keep doing this if you don’t keep falling in love with these little babies that you create, that maybe nobody else will like.

—Gabriel Packard is the author of The Painted Ocean: A Novel published by Corsair, an imprint of Little, Brown.

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