Peggy Bechko takes writers “Off the Beaten Path”


by Peggy Bechko

I’m not going to talk about screen scripts or novels or even writing – directly – today. What I’m going to talk about is life. Now, it’s not going to be some great philosophical spew or anything like that, more of a rumination that applies greatly to writers.
Now sit back folks and ponder.

Life is interesting and little of it is planned. If you don’t believe me, look back on your own life and consider how much you really planed out and how much happened along a twisting, turning course and just kind of sorted itself out as you went along making plans.

Still with me?


All right, I’m a writer, I always ‘planned’ (or more to the point, hoped and worked toward) on being a writer. Cool. I’m here. But how I got here is a strange and twisted story, pock-marked with all sorts of interesting things like working in a transmission shop, delivering telephone books and working in law offices to help support my ‘writing’ habit while I helped hands-on to build my own house because there was no other way I’d ever be able to afford it, almost married a Brit (bad mistake because he wasn’t the right one, not because he was a Brit), found the right guy, went from poverty to a decent living.

Then there’s my niece. Comic book writer, Corinna Bechko (curious? You can find her on facebook at ) . She spent years getting her zoology degree, worked jobs with animals; still loves to volunteer and work with animals, but now writes comic books for a living and loves it as well as her animal volunteer work. Go figure. Not exactly planned.

There are so many things in life we don’t plan, but darn well happens anyway. It would be nice if when we’re young we could be informed of and understand this simple life reality. Think about it. When applying for college what’s the deciding factor? You really love Yale, but the fact of the matter is your state college will give you a complete ride with no huge student loan hanging over your head when you graduate. Both colleges accept you. Which do you attend?
What do you study? You start out enamored with whatever it is, but get bored after only one year. Do you continue or do you change?

You’re a writer. You love writing. You love creative writing but you realize you’re going to have to make a living even if it’s just a transition job. Do you want to doom yourself to working for fast food while you get your foot into the door of creative writing or do you want to learn about other writing that could be one leg of your three-legged stool such as copywriting, or journalism, or technical writing, or catalog description writing (heck, that’s creative!)?

Meanwhile, your grandfather taught you how to use a saw and a screwdriver. You need work and there’s a job posted asking for someone with those skills at a not too shabby salary. You apply and are accepted. Maybe you end up in the props area of the theatre department. That might be just the ticket and you stay forever – or not.

Maybe you get married and divorced. You have boyfriends or girlfriends along the way who nudge you in directions you never dreamed of. Maybe there are kids. Maybe you get fat and slim down. Maybe you move around the country; or out of the country. You trained for one job but long for another.

Life throws curves, many of them painful, some downright exhillerating. Some decide to drink their pain away, others just want to hide in deep depression, others are out partying!

But this is life, folks, the ever-moving, ever-changing event we were all born into. Sometimes it’s best to go with the flow and wherever it takes us – other times it’s time to dig in and follow those dreams. When you look back with clear eyes you realize you can never really plan it. You can choose your goals, feed your dreams and then choose which fork in the road to take.

Life doesn’t turn out like you plan. Really. Get over the “if only” crap and get ready to steer your craft past the rocky shoals. Because here’s the thing; the beauty of life is what truly happens in the space between those rock-solid plans and the waves that sweep us gently or fiercely elsewhere.

So choose. Follow those dreams. Then, in the space between learn to celebrate, fight, submit or whatever reaction you choose. Accept the dark days, embrace the light. It’s a decision we all make. But hey, there’s simply too much joy out there to worry about how things didn’t pan out exactly how you planned.

Chuck the plan.

Live your life.

Peggy Bechko is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about her HERE.