When Fate smiles, a hush falls over the room, and our inner caveman dares to venture outside the circle of firelight to gaze open-mouthed at her seductive ghost. For she speaks to us from the shadows in capital letters, no matter what name we call her: Serendipity, Lady Luck, or perhaps Divine Intervention.
A thousand horrible little misfortunes may assail us daily with neither rhyme nor reason. We shake our heads at the sheer random chance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But when that one Opportunity or that uniquely special Someone walks through the door with a million dollar smile and our heart in their hands, we know that Kismet has turned her eyes upon us and we are Chosen.
We may sacrifice, we may meticulously plan and work our fingers to the bone. But when Destiny offers her benediction, she arises like a parade balloon saint and steals all the credit.
Me? I don’t believe in fate, with or without the capital letter. I think more things are random than we care to admit. And yet…and yet…when an unbelievably apropos writing opportunity landed in my lap, I backed away from the fire and gazed up at the stars and wondered, why me?
It isn’t wise to dwell on such questions. Rather, let me relate my brush with Kismet (yes, she is as beautiful as they say). I was lying in a cheap motel in a small town in Utah watching bad cable TV when my phone rang. At ten o’clock at night? Who would call me here? Now? Must be a wrong number. Through the miracle of technology (aka cell phone caller ID) I ruled out any number of familial crises and chose to answer anyway.
The voice on the other end asked, “Remember me? You helped so much when we were editing our movie trailer last winter.”
I recalled nodding my head a lot on a Skype call after meeting the aspiring creator of the “White Storm” property at San Diego International Comic-Con. I’d corrected some grammar and awkward contractions, which didn’t seem “so much.” But size is relative, right?
“Yes,” I answered, “that was fun.”
“We’d like you to write the whole screenplay.” Screenplay. As in full-length, science fiction motion picture.
My brain blanked out. I knew nothing about the art and science of script writing. I was a babe-in-the-woods. So naturally, I asked, “What’s the deadline and how much is written so far?”
“Nothing is written, but we have about 30 versions of the story idea—a lot is in my head. The first draft has to be ready in two months.”
That’s when I saw her. She appeared as Nisaba, Sumerian goddess of palace scribes. She glowed, all muted gold, like a statue unearthed from a tomb. She leaned over, brushed my hair back, and kissed me on the brow. I stared deeply into her eyes, and insanity became me.
“I’ll do it. When do we meet?”
A few weeks later, I had a seven-hour marathon meeting under my belt, a stack of library books and movies to serve as training wheels, some spanking new script writing software, and a blank computer screen with only the words, “White Storm.” Just last weekend (three months from the start), I turned in a 120-page first draft of which I am inordinately proud. Don’t be fooled by electronic versioning and back-ups; I wrote it in blood.
I know the story will change. I may be just one of a string of writers, but I’ve accomplished something that I never dared dream.
I put flesh on the bones of a cast of characters who have the potential to live on the silver screen (is it still silver?). For now, they live inside my head and pester me relentlessly about all the things they’ll do differently in the second draft. Less humor. More cinematic moments of heroic greatness. I have no choice but to comply as their faces morph from well-known actor to imaginary newcomer.
Nisaba peeks in on me now and then when I’m feverishly typing. I long for her to come cool my brow, but no, she just laughs and disappears again.
I don’t know where she goes. Perhaps you’ve seen her?