Risk

drama, features, screenwriting, storytelling, T.V. writing, women

I think the Ed O’Neill character on “Modern Family” is based on my real dad. He’s engaged to his 29-year-old maid. She’s an evangelist from Brazil. He still pays her to clean the house.

This is not the kind of story I would ordinarily tell on the internet, because I’m a private person by nature. But I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want this space to be. And I’ve decided — if I’m going to write about story, I need to fucking tell stories, right?

Story is risk. When you’ve got something to lose, you’ve got a story to tell. When you’ve got something big to lose, you’ve got a big story to tell.

Though on the surface it’s funny, the story of my dad feels raw, acute, and dangerous. Talking about it publicly feels risky. I feel like I have everything to lose — by telling it, I risk being unsafe, insecure, unloved, or exposed. And that’s where this story lives — where the risk is.

Get big, get brave, get risky, or don’t tell stories — because no one gives a shit about the story of how comfortable, complacent and compliant you are.

Story doesn’t grow in the middle of the road. But my dad’s fiancee’s village in Brazil seems to have plenty of poor relations who need new houses (hint hint Dad) where I suspect it thrives.


  • I wanted to thank you for this post. You make an excellent point – maybe time to stop being so guarded. I’m not a writer – but whether you are writing the story or living the story – it’s still the same thing. So… thank you for taking the risk.

  • juliebush

    Oh thank you so much for saying this. Because here’s the deal — I haven’t posted in two weeks because I knew I needed to stop hiding behind ideas and fancy words and just start telling stories. But because I hate feeling exposed, it took me two weeks of contemplating what that would look and feel like — before I finally just realized, you know what, I’m a writer. If I can’t step off a cliff every day, I might as well pack up and go home.
    And I completely agree with you that this idea applies to us all — we’re creating the story of our lives day by day, and it’s up to us to make it compelling and worth sticking around to see the ending.

  • Uptown/Downtown

    I really appreciated your honesty in this post. It’s HARD to take a risk, but it’s also vital to tell a story. I recently took a writing workshop with Lynda Barry, who believes every story has elements of, what she calls, autobifictionography. Our fingerprints, our lives and our DNA are woven into everything we tell. I firmly believe that’s what makes a story tell-able and listen-able.

  • juliebush

    Hey, thanks for saying that. I particularly love your last sentence. How elegantly said.