Archive for January, 2015

When I was a young kid back in 1989, I had it in my mind that I would be dead by 2015. Not for any morbid reason, mind you—it was more that I could not imagine an adult TJ running around a world full of flying cars and hoverboards. Like every kid my age, I fixated on Back to the Future II and viewed it as a prophecy. By 2015 we would have holographic movie trailers, our clothes would be inside out, and weather would be predictable down to the second. If only.

Well, 2015 finally arrived, and while we have certainly made tons of advancements since then (a little invention called the Internet comes to mind), things are not as different as Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale led me to believe. Computers have gotten better and smaller, cars have gotten greener, and we have more ways to overshare our lives then ever before. But the bionic implants and Mr. Fusion are nowhere to be found. I wanted hoverboards, and instead I got a million ways to show complete strangers that I am eating a taco—or tell complete strangers that I hate their pictures of them eating tacos.

But rather than lament the lack of gravity-resistant plastic or self-cleaning jackets, I thought it would be more constructive to take an honest look back at 2014 and set goals for 2015. Some are specific to my job, others may be a bit more personal. Either way, I’m committed to succeeding in at least one. 2014 brought me a lot of successes I’m quite proud of—but it was also the most challenging, frustrating, and yes, panic attack-inducing years I’ve ever faced. So let’s look at some of the things I hope to do in order to make 2015 a better year.

Resolution #1: Write outside my comfort zone.

2014 was a great year for my career. I got to write some really fun projects with producers and actors I admire. From the Berlanti folks to the Donners’ Company, I worked with some insanely sharp people last year (special shout-out to the amazing Sarah Schechter). I’ve learned a great deal from all of them.

What I feel like I’m missing is a genre detour. Around town, I’m often brought in for action-comedy or adventure. You’ll hear no complaints from me on this one, as it’s every writer’s dream to be able to write crazy car chases and stories about stone creatures that protect humanity. But when I look towards the future (where flying cars and hoverboards do exist, goddamn it), I don’t want to be the writer who falls into a specific bucket and stays there. I love suspense thrillers, horror, and gritty crime stories. I recently watched Locke and found myself wishing I was a part of that movie, despite knowing full well that I would not be the right guy for it.

Now, loving a genre doesn’t mean you should write it for a living. I’m probably far better at action-comedy than horror. But even if it’s just for a fun personal project, I’d like to force myself out of my comfort zone and try a story that is different than my usual fare.

Resolution #2: Get back to graphic novels.

I’ve collaborated with editor Ben Abernathy on two comic books during my career: Ratchet & Clank and Legends of the Dark Knight: A Game to Die For. Since then I’ve wished I could return to comics for a project or two. It’s just a fun medium. So far it’s only been my schedule that has kept me from doing so, but if time permits in 2015, I’d love to get back to it.

Resolution #3: Be a better brother.

My siblings and I have a strange relationship. I have not spoken with my older sister in over two years, and my younger, autistic sister lives in an assisted-living community on the east coast. My relationship with my older sister is sadly nonexistent. More than likely we will never speak to each other again, and I have made my peace with that. But my younger sister deserves a big brother who will Skype her more often, and too many times I’ve put it off because “I have too much to do.” In 2015, I’ll make more of an effort to see how she’s doing and let her know that I love her.

Resolution #4: Trust my gut more.

In 2014 I learned a valuable lesson: always trust your gut. Your brain and heart will often lie to you when it comes to friends, work, significant others, and what movie to watch on Netflix. Your gut never lies. If your gut tells you to do something, trust it. It’s impartial and fair, and will save you a lot of stress.

Resolution #5: Fix my damn work/life balance.

Those of you who read my blog know that my family ran into financial difficulties when I was a kid, and it took us years to crawl out from under the wreckage. Because of this, I am—and will always be—afraid of going broke. When I left Insomniac, I did it for the right reasons (though it was not because of the Ratchet movie, as one article suggested). But going from a full-time employee to a contract writer became the single most stressful thing I’ve ever done.

I started having anxiety attacks, piling more work onto my plate “just in case,” and sealing myself inside the Condo of Solitude so I could get my writing done. I spent every day, night, and weekend writing. I canceled plans. I backed out of dinners. I started new scripts. Meanwhile, outside, the world spun on. As writers, we draw on our lives and experiences in order to fuel our stories. For whatever reason, I forgot that and decided I should dwell in my condo like the Hunchback of Sherman Oaks.

In 2015 I’ll try to get out a bit more. I’m already looking for a dog so I have a reason to go outside everyday. It’s time to rediscover life outside my house.

Resolution #6: Get in shape, eat better, etc.

Self-explanatory here. We could all use this one, but it’s double-true for those of us who sit behind laptops all day.

Resolution #7: Blog/engage more.

I’ve been a slacker about blogging and interacting with my followers. So, I’m sorry! It’s my fault! It’s not you, it’s me! Etc. I promise that in 2015 I’ll do a better job of managing this blog. For Twitter, I’ll do a better job not just tweeting (which I probably do too much of), but engaging. Answering questions. Talking to followers. Maybe snapping a selfie or two. Just kidding…

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And there you go! Those are my resolutions for 2015. Have resolutions of your own? Think anything here is insane and begging for a snide response? Well that’s what comment sections are for! Just please remember I am somebody’s son, so keep the vitriol to a minimum.