In the Spotlight: Larry E. Coleman
Becoming a screenwriter is not a destination unto itself. It is a path and finds us in the most unsuspecting ways as it did for Larry. But once we begin upon this path it is up to us to find our unique voice as a writer which makes us stand out from the crowd. That is exactly what Larry has done. His work is a pleasure to read and I am excited to introduce you to him.
This is Larry E. Coleman...
Born and raised in the city of Indianapolis, I grew up loving the arts in almost every expression. I majored in art in high school and wanted to pursue it further after I graduated, but instead chose the path of music. I learned how to play drums (poorly, I might add) at the age of 10, but later in my teens learned how to play bass guitar, and in my twenties, I taught myself guitar and keyboards. I had some success with it and even got airplay on a national radio station as a solo artist. To pay the bills, I went into the field of social services, working in both the public and private sectors, including positions with the Indiana Department of Family and Social Services and the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction. After retiring from my work life, I still had a desire to serve the community. I started Crowner-Coleman Publishing--a small press dedicated to publishing self-help books that dealt with relationships, codependency, and child custody issues. My goal is always to write material that shines a spotlight on the human condition to stimulate solutions in this ever-evolving project called America. I was fortunate enough to win the Roadmap Writers Diversity Initiative Fellowship in January of 2018, and in 2020, I became a writer on the International Screenwriters Association Development Slate. Working with the ISA has been invaluable. I’ve been selected as one of the top 25 Screenwriters to Watch for 2021.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
I came into the craft of screenwriting through a strange door. I had been a songwriter, then a nonfiction writer, and tried to get my publishing company off the ground with minimal success. I was wearing too many hats. I remember complaining to my editor, who lived in Quebec, about my not seeing the results I wanted. She listened without interruption, and when I was through with my rant, she asked me if I had read Paulo Coelho’s, The Alchemist. I had not. A friend gave me a copy of the book within twenty-four of my editor asking me if I read it. A friend was throwing away old books and said she knew how much I loved reading spiritual material and had left me a book in my workbox. It was The Alchemist. I read it, loved it, and wrote my first novella, The Shepherd Boy of New York City, based upon some of Paulo’s quotes. I thought the book would make a good movie, so I bought a Final Draft copy and started to adapt the book into a screenplay.
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Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
No one inspired me to go down the screenwriting path. I come from a fragmented family and, thus, no support. My innate desire was to turn my novella into a movie because I felt the story was excellent and worthy of others enjoying it.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
My fourth-grade music teacher, Mrs. Woodard, was the very first one who believed in any of my natural attributes. She used to say, “Coleman, you should sing out more, boy. You have a beautiful voice.” Later, when I attended Indiana/Purdue University at Indianapolis, my English professor said that my writing was “strong.” My father-in-law, who was approaching ninety at the time, said that I would make it one day. I was working on a children's book at that time, and he loved reading it.
Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
That’s just it; I had no idea that The Universe would lead me into screenwriting. Early on, I knew I wanted to be a songwriter. I dreamt about it and applied myself to “making it.” I played for several years and had some of my work recorded and published. I never saw screenwriting coming, and. I wouldn’t have guessed I’d be one in a million years. I believe the Universe selects us for various tasks, and it gifts us with specific innate abilities. It uses our life experiences to teach us what is possible, and it moves us into those divine connections so others can see and enjoy our work.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
There are several ways I determine success. Creative Success is when I get up every morning with an attitude that I will accomplish something that will bring me closer to my end goal. Physical Success is when I make sure that I’m in the best shape possible and feeling good. Financial Success is when I’m investing and taking care of my financial responsibilities. And True Success is when I make sure I love my family and my fellow man to the best of my abilities. It sounds corny, but true nonetheless.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life.
A typical day in my life might bore you to sleep. I’m an old writer, retired, and I pretty much come and go and do whatever I please.
I get up in the morning, eat breakfast; it’s a protein shake, sometimes, a bowl of cereal or oatmeal, and then sometimes it’s simply my Starbucks and a pastry.
Sometimes, I’ll do my Tai Chi before going to the YMCA for a heavy bag boxing workout. I’m in the gym six days a week, and I ride my bike on the Indianapolis Monon Trail at least 3-5 times a week. If I don’t work out, I’ll feel like crap.
I try to make sure I’m doing something that’s leading me down the path of becoming a great screenwriter, i.e., listening to podcasts, rewriting, watching videos, etc. All in all, besides my daily workouts and attention to my craft, I leave time open to spending with my daughter and grandson.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
The most important skill I’ve learned is patience. I’m in no rush to push my work out there when it’s not ready. I have no control over whether or not a reader or exec will like what I do. I hope that I can attract people in the industry looking for the kind of material I offer.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
As far as my writing goes, I would have to say nailing down the structure of my screenwriting. I write scripts that are both linear and non-linear, and sometimes I miss the mark. I’m always trying to better myself and strengthen my weaknesses.
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
My greatest reward comes from having the confidence and belief that my work is worthy of being sold, optioned, or made. I’ve placed in several contests so far, the bulk coming in 2020, and even coming close to winning sometimes is a plus. I had a script about male sexual abuse that finished in the top 15% of the 2019 Nicholl Fellowship. I later signed a non-exclusive deal memo with Creative Screenwriting Productions to shop the script around for me. All in all, when readers feel that your writing has merit and deserves a second read or placement, it speaks volumes to the soul.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
I would know more about their writing process, the contracts they’ve made, and how they made them. Of course, peer-to-peer feedback is always a plus.