Heath Ledger – The One that Got Away When Ego Got in the Way

We all have different strengths. For some, writing is difficult. Finding the words to put together to express and idea is challenging. For some, writing is perfunctory. It’s all about the periods and commas in the right place. For some, writing is just something you have to do as a part of life.

Then, there are those of us who see stories play out in our head and try our best to translate those images into words to share with the rest of the world. For me, I see movies in my head. I see them clear as day. My challenge – one that gives me great joy – is to capture those stories in the form of scripts, books, and short stories.

I have definitely become a better writer over time. It’s true that you don’t improve without effort.

Like many overly confident artists, I once had a difficult time accepting criticism. Eventually, I realized that you have a choice. You can write what you want to write and have 100% satisfaction that you told your story the exact way you wanted to as it sits on your shelf collecting dust, or you can take constructive feedback and you can turn your words into something that someone will want to pay for.

You’d be surprised at the number of people who sit idly by, content to think their work is perfect, despite the fact that nobody buys it. They are legends in their own minds.

Was I ever one of those people who let ego get in the way of success? You bet I was. I’m not proud of it, and I probably lost a small fortune because of it, but at least I learned from my mistakes. At least, I hope so.

In 2002, my first book was published. It’s a novel set against the backdrop of the seedy side of the entertainment industry. My Fractured Life was a fiction book, but many of the stories were inspired by real events. The book did well, eventually being named an Amazon.com Top Ten Recommendation.

In fact, it did really well. The film rights were optioned. David Bryan, keyboardist for Bon Jovi, was attached to do the score. David has since gone on to win multiple Tony awards as a musical theater composer and continues to record and tour with Bon Jovi. So, you may wonder what’s so bad about all that? What comes next is my example of my ego getting in the way of my success.

I was not a big star, but I was a known actor. I was enough of a known actor that the producers thought it would help the packaging of the film if I was to play one of the roles in the screen adaptation of My Fractured Life. I was on cloud nine. Not only was my book going to be made into a movie, I was going to be in it. Then, the producers came to me with a great opportunity. If I was willing to give up my role to Heath Ledger, he and best buddy Andrew Keegan would be interested in doing the film together.

I was an idiot. I thought so highly of my material that we’d have plenty of suitors who would be willing to let me keep my role. I respectfully declined the opportunity to bring Heath and Andrew on board. It was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. Health Ledger of course went on to win an Oscar while I still have that script sitting on my shelf collecting dust.

Is it too late? Has my window of opportunity passed? I don’t think so. I’m not going to give up, that’s for sure.

My screenplays have been finalists in many prestigious screenwriting competitions including Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards, Chicago Screenplay Awards, Portland Screenplay Awards, New York International Screenplay Awards, Filmatic Comedy Screenplay Awards, Las Vegas International Film & Screenwriting Festival, Southern California Screenplay Competition, Marina Del Rey Film Festival, Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition, Miracle Makers International Film Festival, Vancouver Badass Film Festival, and Boston Screenplay Awards. I’ve also had a few books published.

I guess the point is that I’m always working on something, and that includes rewriting and re-editing. I work hard at evolving my writing so that it continues to improve. That’s what I encourage you to do with whatever your talent is – work at it and be the best you can be. That way, if you ever get a chance, you’ll be ready. And when that opportunity comes, if you can help it, don’t be stupid.

Peace. Love. Trust.

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