29 May 2017

The following is my entrance essay for the Warner Brother’s Television WRiter’s Workshop.

I have a vivid memory from childhood of sitting in front of a 17-inch color television on Saturday morning in my footie pajamas, nineteen-eighty-something, watching “SuperFriends” and thinking to myself “I could write better TV than this.” Superman had no motivation other than to look like a hero, which made me hate him. Wonder Woman was wooden, two-dimensional, and completely extraneous to the plot. And don’t get me started on their take on Batman!

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to both consume and be consumed by stories. I grew up on Central Florida’s Gulf Coast… “Jesus’s armpit,” as we called it. During the summer, when kids “up north” would go to camp and play outside, it was nine thousand degrees with three hundred percent humidity, so all I wanted to do was stay somewhere cool and out of the sun.

Mom and Dad were both teachers, and mom was pursuing a graduate degree during the summer months, so she often took us to the library with her. I read probably two or three books per week during those grade school summers, and the stories I read became part of my DNA, making me the man I am today. “The Black Cauldron,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “Dune,” “Dragon Riders of Pern,” Dean Koontz, Steven King, Judy Blume, Arthur Clarke: I read them all. I loved them all.

But, a boy’s gotta eat. As it turns out, good reading, language, and retention skills make for a decent software engineer. So, for the last 20 years of my life, I’ve written more software than fiction.

While doing some work for the Obama Administration in 2011, I accepted a contract and wrote a technical book for Packt Publishing (available on Amazon). In the book, I wrote a backstory thread, running the length of the book, about a family pizza parlor that needed a website. I worked the technical examples into the backstory. When reflecting on that writing experience later, it seems obvious that I had loved writing the backstory far more than I had the technical examples.

Maybe I’m good enough to make a living with my writing. Maybe not. But I am going to write. I have to write. I can’t NOT write. The only question in my mind is whether I’m a good enough alchemist to transmute a career writing software into one writing television.

Thank you for your consideration.

Tom Stovall