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Being Young And Successful: Why Not?

By Caring Lova on August 21, 2011

In 1999, a publicly hyped young writer, Riley Weston,
was disclosed as a fraud for claiming to be at the age of nineteen,
much younger than she truly was: 32 years old.

 

Riley Weston was just another victim of how hard working in entertainment business could be. If she revealed her real age of 32 to Warner Brother’s Picture, they would probably think of her as an average screenwriter. But, claiming to be a recent high school graduate, with the shaped talent of 32-year-old screenwriter, she was hailed as child prodigy and wunderkind and even featured on Entertainment Weekly’s October 1998 “it list” of the “100 Most Creative People in Entertainment”. She could be a Hollywood megastar, if only her real identity and age were not discovered after her producer checked her social security number.

Weston herself was quoted as asking, “If I were getting a job in any other industry, do you think anyone would care how old I am?” After Weston’s controversy, one of Hollywood insiders made a comment of how impossible it is to be such a talented screenwriter on the age of nineteen. As weird as it may sound, I heard that comment precisely when I was nineteen and happened to be a professional screenwriter for more than two years.

I Started Even Younger

I started writing back on my elementary years, when my mother gave me a diary to write on every day. The diary had never been fully written, which proofed that writing about my life in daily-basis is not quite a successful method for me. I even began to use the diary as some kind of self-made year book, which being passed around my friends to be written with their own personal data, including their mottos and their testimonials about me.

Even though the diary was a failure, the message from my mother which carried by it had successfully shrunk into my deepest thoughts: writing can be a fun way to express my ideas. And so I began to write my own poems and short-stories. If my mother gave me the idea of the way to express my ideas, my father gave me the ideas. He did that simply by giving me books. My father, who likes reading, always provided me with any reading materials a child could ever ask for: from fairytales to textbooks, from children magazines to national newspapers.

My early creative process began with making other versions of stories with characters borrowed from Lindgren’s[1], Blyton’s[2], Lewis’[3], or Hitchcock’s[4] books. The writing style was also mimed out of their writings. My principal was just to write down every inspiration that popped out in my mind, without thinking about any technical things. What I did was learning by doing, or as people began asking me questions about where I learn to write, I put it in the term “autodidact”.

Screenwriting Is Somewhat Different

Looking back at my writing journey, the term “one thing leads to another” applied just right. On junior high school, my first short-story was published nationally. It boozed up my confidence as well as my creativities. On senior high-school, I was selected to participate in a writing couching held by a national teen magazine. By the end of the couch, I was not only winning the best three short-stories but also began to earn money by writing. It happened at the beginning of teen-lit[5] fever era all around the world, including Indonesia. Without hesitation, I wrote my first teen-lit novel, which was published in the year of 2005. With all those writing experiences, I began to search for new opportunities in a whole new department: the entertainment business.

Since its first appearance, television has never failed to attract people, both those who watch it and those who want to be in it. I have never completely been in one of those categories, but faith gave me a way to be involved in the production of Indonesian TV soap-operas, also well-known as “sinetron”. As my eagerness to learn something new in writing grew bigger, I applied to be a co-writer of one of Indonesia’s famous screenwriters. It was then that I first learn how to write a screenplay. But there are more important things about entertainment business that I could not get from anywhere else unless being in it myself: how to compromise with others’ (in this case, the producer, director, and market) wants; how to write effectively under pressure to meet deadlines; and moreover, how to be tough in the dirty business of entertainment, where we must be cautious to trust others since everyone could do anything to be on top and therefore get the most money.

Surely, screenwriting is something different, not just the technical things such as its structures and idioms, but also about how you can work creatively and try to compromise with what people want while keeping your own principals at the same time.

It Is Possible!

Starting to work as a professional screenwriter at my teenage years did not give me as much exposure as Riley Weston got before she was busted. Of course, I did get profiled by teen magazines who claimed me as a young successful writer, but it was just a tiny advantage comparing to so many doubted minds when people I work with see how young I am. Even now, at the age of 24, I am still being judged according to my age, not my experiences. But I do believe that it is totally possible to be both young and successful at the same time. At least, just by being young, we have all the chances and time to learn that we need in the world. As Malcolm Gladwell[6] stated in one of his books, “Outliers”, outliers are made not necessarily just by their intelligence, but mostly because of chances and time they spend to practice their talent.

*Melody Muchransyah is a young Indonesian screewriter. She has published more than a hundred writings, including novels, articles, short-stories, and screenplays. She currently received a Fulbright scholarship to teach at School of Advances International Studies (SAIS), John Hopkins University, Washington, D.C., USA.

Endnotes


[1] Astrid Lindgren was a Sweden author who mostly wrote children’s books, including “Pippi Langstrump”, which has always been my favorite character of all time.

[2] Enid Blyton was an author who produced series of children’s adventure books, including The Famous Five, Mallory Towers, and St. Claire’s series.

[3] C. S. Lewis was well-known for his novels “The Chronicles of Narnia” which not only inspires me but also many other writers over the world, including J. K. Rowling when she wrote “Harry Potter” books.

[4] Alfred J. Hitchcock, an author and film director, was well-known for his series “Alfred Hitchcock and the three investigators”, which was my childhood obsession.

[5] Teen-literature, a genre of books made by, about, and read by teens.

[6] Malcolm Gladwell is an inspiring author who wrote “Blink”, “The Tipping Point”, “Outliers”, and “What the Dog Saw”.

 

About Caring Lova


Artikel Being Young And Successful: Why Not?

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