Daniel wrote this as part of his application for an internship in 2001. In 2000 he was a finalist for the same internship. In 2001 he didn’t make the cut.
A lot can happen to a person in a year. Last year I applied for this program as a sophomore at a community college in upstate New York. My scriptwriting professor told me to wait until I was a junior or senior at someplace the Academy may have heard of. But I didn’t listen, I applied, and I earned a position as a finalist. I feel I earned that honor because I know how to write. Now I also know how to live.
Last year in my statement I wrote about writing. “Writer’s write, it’s what they do.” I explained that I write because otherwise I can’t sleep at night, that I love the power of the written word. And that was and still is absolutely true. I write because I have no choice, I get ideas and must purge them from my mind or else I can’t concentrate on anything else. But in the past year I’ve realized that though that’s why I write, that’s not why I want a career in writing.
In September I transferred from my small community college in upstate New York to Hofstra University on Long Island. I’m living in a dorm, on my own for the first time, and I find myself experiencing situations I’d never experience in Rochester.
In October I entered a screenwriting contest being sponsored by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Chris Moore, Miramax, and HBO. Project Greenlight. I entered it in the hopes of winning, of course, but by the time the first cut came around and I was eliminated by the other contestants, I didn’t really care.
On the Project Greenlight online message boards, aspiring writers meet, interact, and review each others’ work. There I’ve gotten to know a group of people interested in what I’m interested in, dreaming about what I’m dreaming about, and trying to do what I’m trying to do. And through them I’ve learned more than I have at any other point in my life.
AGONY is an acronym for Area Greenlighters of New York. On November 18, AGONY got together at Planet Hollywood in Times Square. I found myself in a room with more than a hundred people, and I’d never met any of them in person. I’d talked to a few in cyberspace, but most were total strangers. We had one thing in common; writing. And somehow, to my immense surprise, that was more than enough.
Since I was very young, I’ve been overcome by shyness. I don’t like meeting new people or being in social situations. But around these fellow writers, I found myself completely and inexplicably at ease. I talked to them about their scripts and their lives and what they would do if they won, and I made more friends than in any other single night of my life.
The other day I was thinking about this, and I realized why I want a career in writing. To achieve happiness you must find the one group of people among whom you truly belong. To achieve success you must have the courage to approach them. There’s no goal more important that achieving happiness and success.
I can write all I want without selling a thing, nobody will ever make me stop. But among writers I truly belong. This internship is one means through which to approach them. I’ll supply the courage if you supply the chance.