For almost nine years I have been blessed to be the Editor-in-Chief of Script. However, the challenging year of 2020 has unearthed many unexpected insights, including the importance of not taking anything for granted as well as the value of knowing when to reach for a new quest, because life is indeed short.
This is my final week at Script before turning the helm over to a new editor and riding off into the sunset to chase yet another dream. It was not an easy decision because my passion for Script and Writer's Digest flows through my veins with the warmth of a first, unforgettable love. But do you know that feeling of finally realizing it's time to put a rewrite down and start a new story? That's how I feel. You will always love your darlings, but to grow as a writer, you need to constantly be ready to open a new file and type FADE IN.
Every day is one of possibilities but only if you say yes to change.
I recently compiled some of my Balls of Steel™ articles into a digital guide about the mindset needed to survive as an artist. As I read those articles, going back 10 years, from even before I was the EiC, it was akin to reading my diary. I grew up with Script. It was the first screenwriting magazine I ever purchased, back in 2004. Writer's Digest and I have gone back even farther. My dad subscribed for as long as I can remember. Copies of the magazine had permanent places on our kitchen table. When the then WD Publisher, Jane Friedman, found me on Twitter as I tossed virtual ROLOs and bourbon, instead of judging me for my chocolate and Twitter addiction, she watched how I networked on these new-fangled social media platforms and offered me my first WD print article about my Tweetaholic adventures, which published in 2011. What an honor for both me and my father, a writer himself. I owe these brands my first born. Well, maybe not. She's a great kid. I'm gonna keep her.
Not only did Script give me the chance to help writers learn, I also made amazing friends, like Shelly Mellott, the former Editor-in-Chief and daughter of Script's founder, Dave Geatty. Having worked alongside my own parents, I appreciated their close relationship. I even had the joy of meeting Dave at the very first Screenwriters World Conference in NYC. I felt like I was with the royal family. If only I had known I'd be running their magazine one day, I would have asked more questions! But what I do know is that because I met him, adored him, and called his daughter my friend, I was going to do everything I could to not only keep Script alive but to make it thrive. I marveled as Dave and Shelly bounced off each other, as if reading the other's mind, managing the harried pitching trenches. The energy of that room, even on a snowy day, elevated simply because Dave and Shelly were there, cheering writers on, as they did since the inception of Script in 1995. They set the high bar for my job, and I pray they feel I reached it. (Note: Shelly is now the President of Final Draft, still helping screenwriters.)
As I dug through my files on my memory-lane tour, I found Shelly's final Editor's Note in 2011, after F+W Media bought Script from Final Draft, titled "A Bright Future and a Fond Farewell." I had to honor her legacy by repeating the title for my own farewell words. Plus, it describes exactly how I feel. Fondness and hope for both my future, Script's, and our loyal readers.
I want to share some excerpts of Shelly's gratitude to her team, as they are important to the 25-year history of Script.
My dad, Dave Geatty, and his partner David Grow, who started this whole journey with a four-page newsletter in our basement. My mom, Misse, who made ends meet doing the accounting for so many years and then took over the Final Draft, Inc. ScriptXpert services. Finally, my husband Jeffrey who supported me through everything.
There’s Dave Trottier, who helped me come up with the name of the publication back in the spring of 1995 while I was still in college. Or William Martell, who has written columns for 17 years and tirelessly promoted the magazine on forums and at events... Ray Morton, who I met under circumstances that we both still laugh about, and who has been a faithful proponent of the magazine, services and contests for over a decade.
Now, I have to ask Ray about how he and Shelly met! More importantly, after all these years, Dave Trottier, William C. Martell, and Ray Morton still write for Script. I'm deeply honored they stuck it out with me. Oh boy, I thought I wouldn't cry, but here come the tears. I love these guys, and all of my contributors. I am humbled every time I get an email from them with a new piece of advice for our readers... and, often, for me.
Where am I going? For the past decade, my focus has been on helping writers learn the craft and business of screenwriting. But now, I want to tackle the biggest challenge of all—helping those hard-working screenwriters and novelists get discovered. I'm a pay-it-forward girl, and Pipeline Media Group and I share that same mindset. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to join their team and strive to make a difference for some writer out there who thinks no one cares. I care. Just as Script, Pipeline, and WD cares. So, hang in there, because I'm on my way!
I'll also still be writing the occasional article for Script, and working in partnership with them and WD in the years to come. For before a writer can get repped or published, they need a firm grasp of craft. Those lessons live large on Script and WD. I preach it all the time, because I firmly believe it, that more screenwriters should be writing novels. If you've learned nothing from me in these past years, it should be to grab every challenge you can, and toss out all the nets. Don't be afraid to try something new. Ever.
It has been a true honor and privilege to work behind the scenes with the amazing team at Writer's Digest and with hundreds of Script contributors over the years. When I say I love this Band-of-Brothers team, I mean it. We've been through a lot together, and we're stronger for it. Just ask how many tears I shed telling them I was leaving. I can't possibly list all of the people to thank, as they range from Script's contributors, to staff, to our readers, and to the many writers and filmmakers I have interviewed over the years. I've learned valuable lessons from every single one of them. You all have made me a better writer and a better human. Thank you.
Remember, I'm never far away. Just follow me on Twitter @jeannevb. After all, that's how I got discovered by Script in 2010 by Joshua Stecker, the then west coast/web editor. Believe it or not, Twitter wasn't always a hot mess. It changed my life and brought the writing community to my fingertips via a little laptop and 140 characters. I found my tribe.
So, one final time, I say, "Now get reading and get writing." I expect to see you all on the silver screen one day, and I expect you to remain loyal Script readers. I know I will be, forever.