Special guest blog by Ray Dorey
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
– Wayne Gretzky
A few weeks ago, I caught up with a good friend over coffee. You might have heard of her. She’s the driving force behind the Happy Act blog, Laurie Swinton.
One of our exchanges was about a course I’ve been taking in genre fiction, which led to a discussion about comedy writing. I brought up the iconic Saturday Night Live, and what an absolute blast those writers must have crafting timely sketches for that particular week’s show.
And then, casually out of left field, Laurie suggested, “(SNL creator and executive producer) Lorne Michaels is Canadian. We should ask him about sitting in on a couple of writer’s meetings.”
I smiled. Was she serious? Surely there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of that ever happening.
But then I recalled a time in my life when such a proposal was common.
I grew up captivated by all that was Disney; the movies, the tv programming, and the theme parks. I couldn’t get enough of the Mickey Mouse brand magic. Disney fueled my imagination, and creative passions.
Eagerly, I would scribe my heart out; sometimes conveying ideas, other times making requests, and nearly every time, I received a response. It made no difference that the replies were often form letters. I was still ecstatic.
Sometime between then and now, I grew up, at least a little, and perhaps I lost some of that youthful exuberance. Today, I might only execute similar reach-outs when I thought I had a high chance of success. Dreams perhaps died before they ever had a chance to blossom.
But my younger self always had it right. What’s wrong with asking, even though a voice might warn you there’s a slim chance of reward? You could be inaccurate in your presumptions, or you could simply catch lightning in a bottle. Stranger things have happened. Why not to me? Why do people buy lottery tickets? Because the prize is so much greater than the risk–despite the low odds of winning.
Feeling buoyed, I told Laurie I would write to Lorne Michaels with our request. And I did. A brief search yielded multiple mail and email addresses for Mr. Michaels. So I crafted and launched the following missive:
Mr. Lorne Michaels
Creator and executive producer, Saturday Night Live
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY – 10112
Dear Mr. Michaels,
No, I am not high and/or mentally unstable, depending on who you ask.
A friend and I, fellow Canadians and aspiring writers, are both long-time fans of Saturday Night Live.
While meeting recently over coffee, our conversation led to speculation about the creative process used to craft and hone material for the show, and how much indescribable fun it must be to participate.
So we were wondering (here comes the crazy part)…
Would it be possible for the two of us to sit-in on one or two writers meetings as observers?
We are not asking for anything else, and we can only offer our undying gratitude in return.
A few days later, I received a response. My heart leapt in my throat.
One of the email addresses had bounced back. Oh well… it wasn’t the response I was hoping for, but it wasn’t a no, and it was still early. Seeds need time to yield mighty oaks.
But whether Mr. Michaels ever responds is really secondary here. The point is that I made the attempt, and knocked on a door that would have never had a chance to open otherwise.
I encourage you, as I re-encourage myself, to dare to defy logic, and to be more creative and optimistic with your pursuits. We’re only here for a short time, and fortune favours the bold as they say, so why not?
You can read more of Ray’s adventures and short stories at storiesfromdoreyville.wordpress.com.