Peggy Bechko: Big Moments In Writing!

Yes, there are many of those in a writer’s life and they come in a wide variety of very good, very bad and lots of in-betweens. When I look back on the twisting path that brought me to where I am, it never ceases to amaze me. True, there are lots of quiet times tucked in throughout the ‘biggies’ but it’s the bigges we remember most clearly.

My first big moment came when I was about 20. I’d been writing since I was 14, full length novels. And I’d begun submitting to publishers. Back in the typewriter and carbon copy days. Before computers, before copy machines could even made decent copies (scary, huh?). I’d connected with an agency that had taken me on (that was a pretty big moment), things got rolling – then I found out the agency had gone belly-up. Really bad news because in that moment I realized a number of things; agent search would have to be initiated again, time was lost, and worst of all I’d have to retype the entire novel to have it ready for presentation (remember the carbon copy and no computers?)…. Ahhhhhhh!

Next big moment – I got a phone call a few days after the above first big moment. This was a much better big moment. A agent from the defunct agency was calling. He was starting his own agency, liked my work, had an offer from Doubleday and was I interested? Welllll……saved by the weird finger of fate! First novel sold, published when I was 22, a western by genre, Night Of The Flaming Guns. Followed by secondary smaller big moment – told by editor (did I mention that book was written by a 22 year old female in the first person as a 45 year old male?) “women don’t write westerns”; would I be willing to use my initials on the cover – P. A. Bechko? Okey dokey, but only ‘cause ‘women don’t write westerns’. You have to remember this was a few years back…ahem, quite a few as a matter of fact – but sadly probably not as many as you might think.

Next big moment another double header. Said agent from above paragraph was busy selling novels for me, about one per year when he decides he’s going to close his agency and go work as a managing force at Harlequin. Oh, shit hell Fred, here we go again…but wait, here’s where the other shoe drops, he thinks I’d be great writing romances, historic romance set in the west, was I interested? Hey, quadruple the money, work with a guy I liked, enjoy the writing – yep, chalk up another big moment that turned out on the plus side.

So I’m writing books, moseying along (get the western reference) having a generally good time when I realize my books are like movies in my brain. It was sort of an epiphany moment and I though, hey, I can write screenplays, just have to learn how. That ushered in big moment when I met Larry Brody who was teaching at the college of Santa Fe at the time, yep, screenwriting. Thanks Larry! Learned a lot from that big moment and have since optioned scripts in Germany, the US and worked with Larry in addition to ghosting a script for another person. Still writing books too.

So get ready. The Writer’s Life is filled with big moments (and a lot of smaller ones) and they’re heading your way. You may want to embrace them or you may just want to duck. Whichever comes first, the other will no doubt follow.