Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words
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“T. R. Locke is a critically acclaimed author, screenwriter, humorist and former stage and commercial actor. He has ghostwritten over a dozen books. He writes an authoritative blog for artists about the entertainment business at TRLocke.com. His work has been featured on TV, in national magazines, on Yahoo and across the web. He has lectured at Northwestern University's Graduate School of Journalism and other colleges and universities.”
“T. R. Locke abandoned dreams of being a writer and an actor in exchange for a comfortable life in suburban Chicago as a college administrator and real estate investor. Success didn’t make him happy though, it left him bored. So Locke took a chance on his old dream, wrote a screenplay and sent it to Hollywood. To his surprise, he made the semi-finals of a screenwriting contest developed by Stephen Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. Soon Locke was flying out to L. A., having meetings with literary agents and producers, hobnobbing with movie and music stars and anticipating an exciting future following his bliss. Two years later he was broke.
That’s when the real WORK of following his dreams began.”
What I Wish I Knew … works on at least three different levels. The obvious is for someone who wants to follow in Locke’s footsteps and take a shot at their Hollywood dream. Whether that dream is acting and writing screenplays, as it was for him, or something else, you should find plenty here to give you a reality check. As Locke says more than once, his goal isn’t to crush your dreams, but to paint a realistic picture of what to expect. That way you can go in with eyes wide open rather than learning the lessons the hard way, as he did. The book is arranged into two sections. The first, the “WIK” section, starts with a quick summary of Locke’s life until he arrived in California, followed by a series of stories about his experiences to demonstrate the lessons he’s learned and wished he’d known going into the experience. The second part consists of interviews with others to tease out additional lessons pertinent to those hoping to fill different roles than those Locke was aiming for.
On another level, WIWIK is a humorous and entertaining read for those who like memoirs in general, especially if you like reading about the life and experiences of a relatively normal person living a life that is not at all like your own.
The third way to approach WIWIK as a reader is for anyone who wants to “follow their bliss,” as Locke describes it, quoting Oprah Winfrey. Many of the lessons and insights Locke has had in his quest to make it in Hollywood translate well to other fields. Many of those who read my reviews are authors. As I was reading about Locke’s experiences I kept thinking, “that applies to an author, too.” For example, how many times have you authors read a variation on, “for most people this is a marathon not a sprint”? I’ll leave you with this quote, which applies to anyone with a dream, whether you want to get to the top of the heap as an actor, author, or any other field:
Perhaps you play a sport. To draw a comparison, consider how much different a professional athlete’s life is from yours. Day-in and day-out they condition, train, and focus—forcing their muscles to memorize the actions necessary to succeed in their sport. If you play a decent game of basketball on weekends at the Y, you may want to think twice about your fitness for the NBA. Do you have that kind of commitment and focus? Do you have that level of desire? Is your game that tight? If not, you might want to stick with the Y on Saturdays.
A small number of typos and proofing issues.
Rating: **** Four stars