Do our artistic pursuits outside the law get stifled by our intense legal careers? It’s a question a lot of us ask. Here’s one perspective from a guy (me) who has tried to make a go of both, for what it’s worth.
I didn’t always plan to be a lawyer. Growing up in the ,70s in
By the late ,80s, I had earned an English degree from
During law school, I scribbled short stories in my “spare time,” and, in my third year, I got a call from
In 1993, I began putting bad guys in jail and submitting fantasy stories to tiny magazines in my elusive “spare time.” Soon I’d collected more than 100 rejection letters. Undaunted, I sat down and wrote a novel. It took over a year of my life, and nobody wanted it. Okay, that was daunting. But about this time, I discovered screenplays. I loved the form — it was very direct, like me.
Then Demonkeeper happened. Demonkeeper was a story inspired by a street kid I used to prosecute in juvenile court. I imagined life on the streets as a monster that would eat him up, as it does so many lost children. The Demonkeeper script married my love of fantasy with themes I was seeing in the courtroom every day. It won competitions, and, by 1999, I was trying to sell my stories to
Over the next five years, I had children of my own and moved into adult felony prosecutions. My wife worked full-time too. I stayed up nights — typically until — either writing like crazy or preparing for jury trials. This … was a problem. I even fell asleep at my desk once, sitting up. And though I won amateur competitions, I couldn’t break in professionally. By now I’d been doing it over 10 years, and I felt like I was chasing a silly dream. In 2004, with my career and family obligations weighing on me, I resolved to quit writing fiction and concentrate on real life.
That same week, Micro¬soft e-mailed me. They offered me a job writing a fantasy story for an Xbox video game. I impulsively left my legal career and wrote Microsoft an incredible story. A few months later, Microsoft cancelled the project, and I came crawling back to the prosecutor’s office to beg for my real job back. My boss was gracious about it, so long as I promised not to fall asleep at my desk anymore.
This time, I decided I was truly done with writing.
Along about here, Atchity Entertainment International (AEI) called and asked if they could read Demonkeeper. I sent my script to
Then AEI called back. They loved Demonkeeper. They told me that they’d sell my novel in
Around Christmas of 2005, AEI sold my novel, Demonkeeper, to Penguin in
Looking back, it occurs to me that achieving this dream wouldn’t have been possible without those real-world attributes for which we are famous. We are lawyers. We are smart, committed, hard-working, thick-skinned, multi-tasking professionals. Sure, doing both made me busy, but the traits that make me a lawyer helped me get the job done — plus I didn’t have to starve while I was being an artist. In the end, I believe that being a lawyer didn’t hinder my creative dream, it helped make it come true.
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