A Day In The Life of Author/Screenwriter Rebecca Serle
[box type="note"]Note from Adam: Every month Pub(lishing) Crawl will be inviting a different member of the publishing industry (agents, editors, assistants, publicists, community managers, bloggers, etc.) to share a day in their life! Today we’re hosting Rebecca Serle who is adapting her latest young adult novel for TV![/box]
6:30 AM: My alarm goes off and I laugh MERCILESSLY in its face. Well, I don’t open my eyes, but in my head I am annihilating dawn. I roll over and turn it off and then I immediately check my email. I wish this wasn’t my habit, but it is.
I have a few saying things to me like “Enjoy this time! Everything is about to change!” or “let’s do X before we’re inundated with work.” My eye starts twitching. I respond to nothing.
Teeth brushed. Face washed. I buy a lot of fancy products and devices but I never use them. They just sit on my shelf, mocking me. Tomorrow I will start up with the Sonic Derm again. Tomorrow.
7:30 AM: I started doing Transcendental Meditation (TM) on my last trip to L.A and it’s helping my anxiety a lot. This isn’t a particularly mellow time in my life. I need all the help I can get.
I spent all of February in Los Angeles because God told me what the weather was going to be in New York and I was like “f*ck that.” No, actually I spent February selling a television show! My third novel, Famous in Love, is coming to ABC Family and I am writing/producing with Marlene King. Bella Thorne is starring. I love them both. A whole lot.
I can’t really talk about this process without sounding completely schmaltzy, and I was told to be a witty sarcastic punk in this piece so let’s move on. Here’s what I will say: It’s a total dream come true. I’ve been worshipping at the alter of television for over half my life, and now I get to make it.
I do my meditation for 20 minutes because those are the rules. 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes in the afternoon. Sometimes I do 18 in the afternoon but I’m trying not to. I’m looking for results here!
8:00 AM: I scramble to put on yoga pants and a sports bra and a long-sleeved t-shirt. I get coffee at Newsbar and then I head to my favorite pilates class at SLT. I go to SLT 3-4 times a week and have for about 3 years. I like being a regular at places. It gives me a sense of structure in a career that has no walls. SLT’s slogan is: “If pilates, strength-training and cardio had a baby, this would be it!” But I find it’s more a mix of Britney Spears, Satan, and a root canal. Whatever, it’s effective.
On my walk over Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never” comes on my iPod. I immediately feel powerful and full of possibility. Bring it on! I will fight to forever! This is my destiny!
I pick up a green juice and a gluten/sugar/dairy free muffin from Hu on my way home from class. I am very into health. Well, health and wine.
9:45 AM: I’m home and at my desk. Normally this would be my writing time, but I’m not actually writing right now. I believe that half of my job is writing, and half of my job is supporting what I have written. The last year has been about the latter. Since we sold the show, much of my days consist of emailing and taking care of BUSINESS. Today I need to:
Transfer funds to my new bank account, look for any outstanding checks and then close my existing bank account. I’m switching banks, because this new place deals more closely with people in entertainment and can help with things like getting a mortgage or whatever. Sometimes in life you have to “be the moon” which is a philosophy my sister came up with that means: put systems in place for things before you have them. Dress for the job you want not the job you have. Make out with a lot of people before you settle down, etc. (OK that last one doesn’t have a ton to do with banking, but it’s still important).
Fill out the forms for the Writer’s Guild (weeeee health care!)
Set up a corporation. My lawyer tells me that yes, in fact, we got “The True Love Corp.” I came up with that name as an homage to the boat Pacey builds on Dawson’s Creek. All of my major life decisions have roots in Dawson’s Creek.
#2 is giving me some trouble so I call my friend, Michael Weber, who happens to be the genius screenwriter behind The Fault in Our Stars, 500 Days of Summer, and Rosaline, based on my first book, When You Were Mine. That’s how we met. We’ve been friends for almost six years and he has helped me in my career in numerous ways, although when I tell him that he tells me I am ridiculous. #Writers
Weber explains a bunch of very helpful stuff about the Writer’s Guild East. “I knew you were the right person to call!” I tell him, before forcing him to give me a 30 second love-life update. We acknowledge we will catch up properly next month.
10:20 AM: I put on Spotify. Man, Ariana Grande is killing it. I like every single one of her songs. I Google how old she is. It hurts.
The ABC Family Upfronts were last night and Famous in Love got a huge reaction. This fills me with joy and pride. I decide to make more coffee.
Marlene sends me an email about our pilot script. It’s still kind of crazy that we’re doing this together. I mean, the woman wrote Now and Then and created Pretty Little Liars. I pinch myself a lot. She’s a genius, and lets me call her “M.” I am learning a ton from her.
The pilot kicks ass. I’m sorry, but it just straight-up ROCKS. It’s an amalgamation of Gossip Girl, The OC, and Entourage (all early seasons, obvs) and whatever your favorite food is. It’s delicious. I would eat this pilot with a spoon if I could. I tell her this.
11:00 AM: I make a calendar note that I need to promote my BEA signing. The follow-up to Famous in Love, Truly Madly Famously, comes out in October. It’s a drama-packed book and I’m really, truly excited to share it.
It hasn’t been a problem yet to juggle the TV world of Famous in Love and the book one. They’re different. In FiL the TV show, Paige is in college; in the books, she’s in HS. There are other differences, too, but honestly I sort of see it as one big, branching universe. I’m really lucky to work with a woman who gets these characters as much as I do. I think that’s what makes it seamless. At this point, I feel this world is as much Marlene’s as it is mine.
11:25 AM: My manager, Dan Farah, wakes up on the west coast and joins the party. He’s in LA for the week working. He responds to some of the emails I have sent him in the last three hours. About half of his replies are just the sunglasses emoji. He is a very chill dude. Most of the time I like this about him. Sometimes it makes me want to strangle him. But he got me a T.V. show so we call it even. Dan asked me not to talk about him in this piece. Hi, Dan!
Christ! I am late. I shower and throw on jeans, a t-shirt and blazer and head uptown to meet my friend Katie. We’re squeezing in a lunchtime manicure/pedicure and I’m supposed to be at 57th and 7th at noon.
11:49 AM: There is a lollipop on the subway, just sitting on an empty bench. It looks sealed. I don’t really consider eating it, but I consider considering it.
12:10 PM: Katie tells me to get light blue on my nails because apparently it’s the hot spring color. I’m a total sucker for trends. In. I make her take a video of me to post on Instagram about recording what I’m doing all day. I obsessively check it for likes, per usual.
1:02 PM: Starbucks. I want an iced coffee but I get an iced herbal tea. #health #kilo
1:08 PM: Dan calls and we discuss a few things that are going on with Rosaline. He asks me if Friday at 3:30pm works for a notes call with the studio about Famous in Love. I’ll be in Seattle and we were supposed to go hiking in the afternoon, but I say yes. No slowing down the train.
I think the biggest difference for me has been how many people are in the mix on this project. In books, it’s just me for years and then my editor comes in. Two of us, deciding content. That’s it. It’s entirely different in television. There are at least twelve people right now whose opinions on content matter. And that number will just grow. At first I was admittedly a little scared. I wasn’t sure how territorial I’d feel. But I’ve come to really love and value the collaborative aspect.
1:23 PM: I get on the subway because I am going out to Brooklyn to visit my good friend, fellow YA author, and co-owner of the literary incubator, Paper Lantern Lit, Lexa Hillyer. Normally Lexa comes into the city and we work at a Le Pain Quotidien around the corner from my apartment, but Lexa is having a baby and has to wait for a crib to be delivered today. We exchange some snarky texts before I get on the train about how ridiculous this is. Like weren’t we just boozing with lunch? Now a baby? What is this, a sitcom?
I do my afternoon TM practice on the train because I am not actually sure I will have time later. I like the afternoon sits a lot better than the morning ones. I feel vaguely smug because Jerry Seinfeld feels the same way and speaks very publicly about how the afternoon 20 minutes are a real game-changer (suck it, morning meditation). I don’t even pull the plug at 18 today, despite the fact that the person sitting next to me is listening to a podcast INCREDIBLY LOUDLY in Japanese. I am a winner.
2:05 PM: I arrive at Lexa’s and she is still running the Paper Lantern Lit meeting, which I kind of assumed she would be. This delights me because my old assistant, Tara Sonin, is there and I get to see her. She left me to go work full time for PLL but I am not bitter about this because it’s a killer job and she works for my friends. Plus, I still send her texts most days that say things like “do I back-up my computer?” and “what is my Tumblr password?
I eavesdrop a little on their meeting. Lexa sounds like the coolest boss ever and Tara sounds smart and professional and I am very proud of them both. Plus everyone compliments my hair.
2:30 PM: I can’t believe I have gone this long without saying this: I love Twitter. Like loveeeeee Twitter. I would get Twitter pregnant because I’m pretty sure twitter’s genes are dominant and I’d just get another Twitter. I love talking to readers and chatting about books. It’s also an incredible news source. I’m answering some email questions and I decide to open things up to Twitter. “Anyone want to know anything about #FamousinLove?” I tweet out. Immediately three people respond asking if I can talk about the television show (not yet). One person asks if I’ve ever considered releasing stories from Jordan’s POV. (He’s one of the main characters.) I think this is an excellent idea and immediately get to work.
2:40 PM: Jordan has a dirty mind.
I think about how Cassandra Claire released those scenes from Jace’s POV. Those were dirty too, right?
2:42 PM: I replace “neck” with “hands” and move on with my life.
My writing partner and BFF Leila Sales sends me a piece she wrote for The Toast today where she answers reader questions. She’s probably the funniest person I know and I laugh out loud while reading it. “Thank God you sent this to me,” I tell her. “It’s after two and I hadn’t yet mentioned you in my day.”
“WTF kind of a day are you having if it doesn’t mention me?” she responds.
A commenter on the blog Forever Young Adult once said that Leila and I were the “wacky buddy cops of the YA world” so now that is what we go by.
I tell Leila my eye won’t stop twitching and she responds immediately. “Worst. Do you know why?”
“I guess lack of sleep,” I write back.
“I wish I could help,” she says.
“Why are you the greatest?” I respond.
“That’s exactly how I feel about YOU,” she says.
Most of our conversations end in one of three phrases: 1) “We’re so lucky.” 2) “That’s why there’s two of us.” 3) “You’re not going to be awake then, but fine.”
(We both love sleep, but are on opposite ends of the spectrum. If Leila could she’d sleep from 4 am to noon, daily).
My friend Carina MacKenzie who lives in LA and writes for The Originals sends me a text confirming what I have suspected: she did not mean “zoo” in her SMS last night, she meant “pool.” Autocorrect probs. Although the former would have been cool. She’s moving. Carina and I talk briefly about what is going on out in LA. I am REALLY LAZILY looking for an apartment out there. This means I say things like “I really need an apartment out there” but I don’t actually do anything about it. She tells me she can help when I’m ready. She has been on this merry-go-round with me for a while.
2:35 PM: The PLL meeting finishes up and Tara comes and finds me in the other room. We discuss Nina Dobrev leaving The Vampire Diaries and how devastated we are. We agree we will watch the finale together.
2:45 PM: Lexa tells me the crib was delivered early and then starts eating a salad. I practically knock it out of her hand.
“I’m STARVING,” I tell her. She looks at me with a mix of terror and amusement. We decide to go to lunch sans computers.
3:05 PM: We arrive at Frankie’s, one of our favorite restaurants in Lexa’s hood, and order the quinoa salad, roasted vegetable salad, and avocado and fennel salad. We sit outside and Lexa fills me in on her recent trip to LA. We discover that we know a few producers in common. Hollywood, man.
We also talk a lot about millennials although we are not totally sure what they are and if we are them.
3:25 PM: I order another quinoa salad. One was not enough.
4:05 PM: When the check comes I make Lexa calculate the tip and she explains to me, once again, about moving over the decimal point. This may be a good time to mention that Lexa and I wrote a personal finance book together. Our agents don’t appear to actually want to represent it, though. I bring this up and we speak briefly on how we might extend our platform. A blog post mentioning it, probably.
4:15 PM: I cave and get an iced coffee. Listen, I love health, but I love caffeine more. We go to this new artisanal coffee place that uses cups made out of recycled corn, or something. #Brooklyn
5:00 PM: Lexa walks me to the train and asks how I’m feeling about a recent breakup. “Better,” I say, and it’s true. I haven’t really thought about him at all today. Lexa then rolls out the metaphor to end all metaphors about this situation. It involves a butler and a party and some kind of mid-century townhouse and after she says it we both just kind of stand there, taking in the wisdom of her words. “That’s fucking brilliant,” I say. “I know,” she agrees. We end on that note.
5:45 PM: Back in the city. I swing by Kate Spade and buy a pair of sunglasses I’ve been eyeing. I broke mine last year changing in an airport bathroom (story for another time), and haven’t yet replaced them.
I black out and come to in line at the Gap, a handful of t-shirts I don’t actually want or need in my arms. I leave the stuff on a table and hightail it out of there.
6:30 PM: I walk home. It has been the first true spring day today and everyone, it seems, is in a good mood. I think about how much I love New York. If I’m honest with myself I’m at a point in my career in which it probably makes more sense for me to live in LA, but I just can’t do it. New York is my great love. I am Michael-Buble- starry-eyed about this city. Eight years on, it still has me weak in the knees.
7:00 PM: I need to leave for the airport at 6:30 am tomorrow and I haven’t packed. I throw some things in a suitcase before diving into bed. I have more emails to answer, and I want to answer them in the reclined position
Life for me right now is a lot about putting one foot in front of the other. I don’t know much about what the future holds, so for now I’m just trying to move, slowly and deliberately, forward. My mantra for this year was “don’t get ahead of it.” So far, so good.
8:00 PM: I eat the rest of my muffin from this morning. My eye is still twitching.
8:30 PM: I spot Rebecca Rosen, the extraordinary psychic medium’s, new book Awaken the Spirit Within, on my coffee table. I stole it from my agency, Foundry, yesterday when I was in signing contracts. The book is about how we all have the capacity to know what is right and best for ourselves, we just have to get better at listening. How to be your own psychic, basically. I decide I will read it on the plane tomorrow. I could use the power of prediction right about now.