Why I Do Not Want to Win a Nicholl Fellowship:

When I found out a script of mine was a quarter-finalist for the most prestigious screenwriting competition on the planet, my eyes sprung a little leak. I was still a long way from actually winning, but to be validated like this? Sensational.

Then I thought about it some more, and realized that some deep-down part of myself didn't really want to win. If I won, after all, this whole crazy screenwriting dream would suddenly become real. Agents would call. Not just one agent, but agents. There would be producers, lunch-dates with executives, free coffee.

And one day, someone would plop a novel down in front of me and say, "Here's a property we've bought. We'd like to hear your 'take.' We'd like to hire you to write a screenplay." In that moment, all the BS would be stripped away and everyone -- everyone -- would see what I had seen all along... that I had no clue whatsoever about what I was doing.

What makes a story work, or not work? What's a compelling character? How do you know if what you're trying to say is coming across, or if it's even worth saying to anyone other than your mom and a few select dinner guests?

I had no idea. I was winging it, and suddenly I felt a little too close to the sun. The wax was melting. I was bound to fall.

But then I remembered that I had not actually won a Nicholl Fellowship. That the month of August was long, but soon it would end and I would most likely (statistically speaking) find out that I had not made the semi-finals. I could go back to being an amateur. To wonder, again, what it might feel like to take wing and soar through the sky.


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