I’m a script consultant, speaker and seminar leader, and author of 11 books, including 8 on screenwriting and three on spirituality. In 1987, my first book, MAKING A GOOD SCRIPT GREAT, was published. It became an industry standard and is used throughout the world. That book opened up the world to me, and led to giving seminars in 31 countries around the world on screenwriting.
My educational background includes a ThD (doctorate of theology) in Drama and Theology from a seminary in Berkeley. I call it the least marketable degree in the world, since it’s an odd combination, and the drama people didn’t want someone with a theology degree and the theology people thought I was probably too dramatic for any job in theology. I finally started my own business, first out of desperation, and then I realized that I was very suited to being an entrepreneur. When I created the job of script consultant, it didn’t exist. I based my work on my doctoral dissertation on “What makes a script work?”
Since 1981, I have focused on the script consulting work and seminars. In 2002, my husband and I moved to my dream house in the mountains right outside of Colorado Springs in Cascade, Colorado. Around that time, I realized I wanted to expand my work to include books and speaking in the area of spirituality. My latest book is on spirituality and success.
1. Tell us about your latest book.
The book is called SPIRITUAL STEPS ON THE ROAD TO SUCCESS: Gaining the goal without losing your soul. It’s written from a Judeo-Christian perspective, although I believe the spiritual issues are universal. When I began my business, I decided to try to apply spiritual principles, and my own relationship to God, to my work, hoping that I could make a living while also being spiritual in the difficult, competitive world of Hollywood. I found the issues were different than I expected. Some of the chapters in the book discuss “Becoming Important”, “Meeting the Seven Deadly Sins”, “Developing a Sense of Smell” (so one becomes wise at sniffing out the scoundrels), being “Willing to be Blessed”, and combining one’s contemplative life with the very active life of someone in business.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 10, and began writing short stories, and then poetry shortly after that. I wrote my first novel when I was 13, which took three months to write, and then wrote more short stories all through college and into graduate school. When I started teaching screenwriting and discussing my theories, participants in my seminars kept asking, “When are you going to write a book about this?” I finally did, and then my agent asked when was I going to write another book. I realized that I loved writing non-fiction, and I am now writing both screenwriting books and spirituality books. Since 2008, I’ve written 11 books, and just signed a contract for another screenwriting book, and am now trying to sell a proposal for another spirituality book.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
I generally start my day eating breakfast at the computer and reading my emails. If I’m on a tight deadline, I then write one to two hours, and then turn to my other work, such as the consulting work and emails. If I’m not on a tight deadline, I might write later in the day. It depends on how much creative work is necessary for the writing, and how much is more research, or thinking time. If I have reading and research to do, I tend to do that later in the day.
I usually write two mornings a week. I’m clearly a morning writer, and if I need to, I’ll get up very early, but usually I’ll start writing about 8 a.m. I wrote my 9th book, a book on theology and politics, in five months, working five to six mornings a week, while keeping my business going. But usually I ask for a year to write a book.
Two afternoons a week I go out to ride my horse. If I’m writing, I use the driving time to think about an idea or a chapter, or think about a consulting problem I’m trying to resolve. Several times a week I also go to the pool. Usually my writing time is 1-2 hours.
4. Describe your desk/workspace.
I have the dream workspace. I have a small cabin on our property, which is in the mountains (in the first mountain town west of Colorado Springs.)My computer is by the window, and I look out over hundreds of pine trees, magpies, sometimes deer. The cabin is large enough for a table and two bookcases and several file cabinets and just about anything I need. And it’s just 29 steps down a small hill from our home. I have little knick-knacks on the window ledge in front of the computer that inspires me. One is of a Nordic sailing ship that I got from Norway that encourages me to go to big and new horizons. One is of a unicorn, that tells me I can be original and one-of-a-kind. I have a red metal lion from South Africa (very small, obviously!) that encourages me to be bold. A little Savorski piano that encourages me to sing my tune. An angel. Some sea shells. And a mug that has the Prayer of Jabez on it..that asks God to bless me and expand my territories.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
I love Anne LaMott’s writing, especially Bird by Bird. Years ago, I read a Journal of John Steinbeck’s that he kept while writing East of Eden, which is my favorite book. I think the journal was called the East of Eden Journal…really fascinating about his process.
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you
I bought my first horse when I was 58, although I had been doing horse-back riding one-week vacations for about 12 years by then. I’m now competing in reining, which is a difficult form of western riding.
I am totally in love with Colorado, and have been since we first came here when I was 13. I remember the first time we entered the mountains, and I determined to live here somehow. It took many, many years.
I’m a Quaker. Many people find that interesting.
7. Favorite quote
From Maria Von Trapp in SOUND OF MUSIC, (although I think someone else said it first): “God never closes a door without opening a window.” I call Maria my favorite theologian.
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
The worst part is to keep trying to sell one’s ideas. Even when one is known, the selling still is a waiting game. On the other hand, I have a wonderful agent.
Best part – being able to work with ideas, and seeing people’s lives change as a result of ideas. I love to work with words, and as time has gone on, I have paid more attention to alliteration, internal rhymes, and having fun with words. I love working with the style of a book – and becoming better at making writing decisions about style. How funny should I be? How surprising? Should I be a bit outrageous? How tender?
9. Advice for other writers
Writing is a process, and becoming good at it doesn’t happen overnight. True, we might do a very good job on our first book, perhaps because it’s been percolating for many years, but sustaining being a writer demands some kind of mastery over the craft and the ability to have found your own voice.
And it demands being honest and authentic. That means telling the truth, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
Well, no crazy ones, but I have written sections of my books in very interesting places. I wrote part of my book, WHEN WOMEN CALL THE SHOTS, in the Beijing, China airport, while sitting on the floor against a column with my hands through all my personal belongings – purse, backpack, etc. My plane was delayed, so I used the time to write. Once I wrote at the L.A. Airport while it was evacuated (the wing where I was waiting was the only area not evacuated, but we weren’t allowed to leave.) Once, when I was working on a book during an airplane ride, the plane landed and the man next to me looked at me and said, “I have never seen anything like that! You concentrated and never lost focus for 3 hours straight!” So, I can write just about anywhere.
Where can people buy your book?
My website is the name of the book: www.spiritualstepsontheroadtosuccess.com
My blog is being created, but will be part of this website.
The book is readily available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, and will probably be in various Christian bookstores as well. Perhaps in other bookstores.
Readers can also visit my other Web site, www.lindaseger.com for photos, speaking engagements, information on my other books, etc.