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A couple of years before I retired I faced the prospect of nothing to do.  I decided there must be something I could do, or else the decades probably ahead, with my long-lived family history, would be intolerable. 
I have a friend in Washington who volleys emails with me on Big Questions.  Over the years I had carefully and thoroughly written dozens of these emails.  I now thought about the short list of what seemed desirable but impossible for humanity to achieve.
The biggest one was what Miss America finalists have been telling us for decades: World Peace!
Just as Arn Schaumberg eventually did in the S.P.E.A.R. books, I worked backward to list what barriers would have to be overcome.  When I thought I had something going, my first thought was, “Nobody reads (present company excepted), and to disseminate ideas widely will require a movie, or a mini-series.”
My first step when I knew my retirement date was to call John Byrum, known since our high school days as “Jake.”  He has written and directed studio films and surely he would see how important this could be.
He read my pitch.  Would he write it?
Jake’s response was, “Ellie, only you could ever write this.”  A man of few words is Jake, especially for a writer.
I attempted to write a script, and wrote six of them in fact, and a producer friend of Jake’s said he was impressed.  Actually an astonished “Who ARE you?!?” were his first words.  He praised the premise and vision, just one thing was really wrong: it wasn’t written in the only format acceptable for scripts
Encouraged, I Googled and found Final Draft, an app that makes all the scriptwriting rules pretty easy to do with just selecting the right function key for each element: scene, character, dialog,  and so on.  I stuck labels on the keys so I didn’t even have to memorize them.
Having written the six scripts already (the wrong way), in about a year, I thought converting the formatting would be faster.  But as I went through it all again questions and ideas kept popping into my brain. So it took over a year longer.
Finally I sent the Pilot to a TV producer-writer-director I know.  They said it compared well to any other pilot they had seen, and gave it to their agent, but advised: “Don’t hold your breath, he doesn’t always read my  scripts.”
I met an acting teacher who offered to do a table read of it with her students, after the Christmas break.
This was going great!
That was December 2019.
COVID stopped everything.  But I had gotten a taste for how long and political and collaborative a film venture would be.  Maybe, for non-confrontational homebody me, a book would be better?
So I novelized the scripts.  Also not as breezy a task as one might think. I kept finding fault and making it better… until I decided, enough with the gestation, it’ll never be perfect, time for the delivery.
The first manuscript the publisher got in January 2023 was 740 pages with color graphics.  Amazon said it would have to sell for $84.  What?!?
So I  went to greyscale graphics and broke the book in two, so it could be cheap and not be such a commitment for readers.
So there you have it.
When did I start writing these books? 2017.  Or, in a way, in high school, when I started to think about what’s in them.  When were they published? 2023.
It is never too late to start being what you might have been.


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