“Doesn’t matter, get up, keep fighting.” J. Michael Straczynski
After reading this quote in the New York Times* about a new memoir called, Becoming Superman: My Journey from Poverty to Hollywood, I knew I had to read on. J. Michael Straczynski, the memoir’s author, is a writer of screenplays and comic books as well as the creator of a TV series. He’s led a rough-and-tumble life, but like the superheroes whose lives he’s conjured up, he’s survived to fight another day. Highlights of his journey:
Escaping gave him hope: As a kid growing up in a challenging family environment, discovering Superman helped him cope. Seeing how Superman managed to survive and thrive gave him hope: there was a very different world beyond his doorstep.
Storytelling gave him a path: Comic books inspired a love of storytelling. As a kid, he read every issue twice. Even at a young age, he read like a writer, reading first for sheer entertainment and the second time around, to see how a story was structured: “It never occurred to me that I might one day want to write comics for a living,” he notes. “I just wanted to peek under the hood and figure out how the engine worked.”
He reached out for help: At one point, he met Rod Sterling, creator of the classic TV series, “The Twilight Zone,” who offers him this advice: “First, cut every third adjective. Second, never let them stop you from telling the story you want to tell.”
He threw his hat in the ring: He gets his start by writing a spec script for a cartoon; it attracts a producer’s eye and wins him a staff job. He keeps moving and creating, and ultimately decides to share his personal story and what he’s learned in a memoir.
Bravo, J. Michael! May we find our superhero within as we all write on!
*’Tired of Running’: A Sci-Fi Veteran Tells his Own (Earthling) Story, George Gene Gustines, New York Times, July 20, 2019
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