Between Enthusiasm and Money – Interview With the Author of Sideways – Rex Pickett

In a time when Kirstie Alley is on the cover of People Magazine for gaining eighty seven pounds, Elizabeth Edwards rules the airwaves with a book that promises to dish dirt on her husbands affair and possible love child – do we care about the novelist who puts it all on the line?

We better. It’s our only chance for great stories. Novelists starve, they endure, they barely make it for years. You are always presented with a choice. Keep doing this wrenching wonderful thing or take the easier road like so many before and get a regular job. It is the writers plight to hang by a thread, a nanosecond away from oblivion as you send out your hundredth query, write that final chapter, begin that new story. We hear of the starving artist. For many this is true. The difference is in that moment when you think you can go no further, when truly oblivion seems a better way and nothing good will come of your labor–the difference is the writer who then takes it all and puts it on the line for one last shot and then puts themselves into the writing. That moment when there is nothing left to lose–that is when the possibility of something great quivers on the horizon. Rex Pickett, the author of the novel and movie, Sideways, hit that moment.

“I thought this was it. I’m going to cash it in,” he said on the phone, speaking in a quick staccato voice. “There I was. Rejection letters plastered all over the apartment, divorced, broke, my mother in the hospital, my agent had just died of AIDS, I was in a rent controlled apartment and I still couldn’t pay the rent…a few produced movie shorts, rejected screenplays, novels…but nothing had worked….that’s when I sat down to write Sideways…and it literally saved my life.”

What happened then was a nine week writing marathon that left him exhausted but thrilled.

“I started with this place I went for wine tasting called The Bull Pen…I wanted to write this short story…so while I was writing it this epiphany struck me and I got out of my chair and came up with the idea of Jack and Miles heading up to the wine country for a last hurrah…that was it, I knew I had the book.”

Rex finished the book and after quick rewrites sent it off to an agent at Curtis Brown who loved it, brought over a bottle of wine, and said it read like a film and devised a plan to go after publishing and film simultaneously. The first salvo went down like the Titanic. Fifteen rejections poured in from New York.

“They hated it. Just hated it. Vitriolic. Said it wasn’t literary at all,” Pickett sighed.

So his agent pulled the book and Rex buckled down to rewrite the novel again. Another round of rejections came in and then his agent left the business and he was back to square one.

“Broke…no agent…no prospects…nothing….that’s when I really thought about driving off a cliff. I don’t want to be over dramatic…but I literally didn’t have any money, my mother had a stroke, divorced, and here I was a writer…this is who I am, and I can’t get anywhere.”

Five long dark months later another agent took over the book and went over to creative agency Endeavour. Brian Lipson who wades through material for Alexander Payne read it and after a month of signing with Endeavour, Pickett gets a message on his answering machine from a producer raving about the book, saying Alexander Payne has picked it for his next movie.

“But there’s an old saying in Hollywood, between enthusiasm and money, lies the Grand Canyon,” Rex says laughing. “I mean I met with Alexander and we hugged and all, but then he went and made About Schmidt and my project got shelved.”

Movie deal in hand, Pickett still could not find a publisher for his book. Publishing turned it down again and then the book just dropped from site as a project. The film was on hold for at least two years and Rex Pickett was still without a publisher for his novel. Then agent Dan Strone read an article that said Alexander Payne was making his next movie from an unpublished novel called Sideways.” Strone found it incredible that a successful director like Alexander Payne was making a movie from a book that nobody had picked up the rights too.” He got in contact with Pickett and finally sold the rights to St. Martins for a modest advance.

“I mean here I was….my movie was coming up for production and nobody would publish the book…it was really unbelievable…and yes, I still was waiting for Alexander to begin making the movie.”

Finally production began and Sideways the movie became a reality. The book no one wanted sold a hundred and fifty thousand copies and was translated into eleven languages. The movie Sideways became a hit and launched the careers of Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsen. Rex Pickett found fame and some fortune.

“You know most writers toil and don’t make a lot of money. So when a film comes up you get caught up in all the hoopla…people calling you, emailing, offering money for this or that…” Rex pauses on the phone. “But really, at the bottom of it all, I am a storyteller. And the main character, Miles, is me. This guy whose novel has been rejected, divorced, looking for salvation in a bottle of wine. He is the guy behind that film. That guy trying to find himself.” Rex pauses again. “I wrote Sideways when the tank was empty and I was on fumes. I say this very seriously, if I could have afforded a gun I would have shot myself…my whole life was in tatters at that moment…but that’s when I sat down and wrote the book that changed everything.”

Rex Pickett still lives in a rent controlled apartment. He is still writing. This is a good thing.

Where Can You Find Funding for a New Startup Business?

Wouldn’t everyone love having a T-Rex-size nest-egg under their mattress when starting a new business? A few million, a few hundred thousand, heck, even a few thousand would make a world of difference. In today’s economy, you’ll be hard-pressed to live your dreams without any sort of tribulations, however minor or severe they may be. Potential business owners, you’re definitely not alone in the dark here; there are a few ways you can get funding for your business.

All you have to do is be prepared. Why do you need a lot of startup capital? Well, you’re going to need marketing, inventory, facilities, expenses, and money set aside for an infinite list of variables. Cash flow is very important. This isn’t to say you can’t start small or even with no budget, but for the sake of this blog we’ll talk about those ideas which do require startup funding.

It’s not like you want to run out and put an entire business on your Visa card. Sure, you’d be a business owner – a broke and indebted business owner. What you need is a serious plan of attack in order to borrow the money to start up your dream venture. Look, nobody’s going to help you unless you can help yourself. It’s absolutely vital that you have a thorough business plan laid out, illustrating the finer points of your business, from concept to conclusion, entailing what you expect to spend and what you expect to make in return. If you don’t take yourself seriously, nobody else is going to either.

You have to prove this concept. And since you believe in your business, this hill is far from insurmountable. There are two main types of business financing out there for you, debt financing and equity financing. With debt financing, you simply borrow the money and agree to pay it back at regular intervals and a set interest rate. However, you’ll owe this money in return, whether your business thrives or flounders. This is risky, but with the aforementioned proper business plan, a lot of lenders are willing to take the chance on you. With equity financing, you’re selling partial ownership of your business in exchange for the startup funds. If the business fails, the investors assume the risk. But if your startup business succeeds, they’ll be the ones making the lion’s share of the profit.

Don’t think that the above methods are your only options for startup capital. You can also try out friends and family. You would be pleasantly surprised how willing that distant cousin or estranged friend is to partner up after they see an amazing business plan. Most likely, they’re also entrepreneurs at heart, and if you show them something that appears to be ironclad, you could have the capital you need. Private lending is also a way to go if the bank says no.

Basically, they’re the same as banks in terms of lending; they’re just more of the “special interest” variety. Leasing is also a great way to go for expensive items, like huge equipment such as vehicles and machines. And although credit cards are a no-no when it comes to funding your entire business, it’s still okay, and probably even in your best interest, to grab some items, such as repairs and small remodels, with your credit card. Today’s video is about key cashflow tips to manage your business finances.

Business Travel Destination Spotlight

Chicago – the city that has it all – from a diverse population, world-class educational institutions, and sensational restaurants to a breathtaking skyline and countless museums. Dubbed the ‘Windy City’ in 1893 by Charles Dana, the editor of the New York Sun – not for its weather but for its long-winded politicians, Chicago has grown from a village of just 350 to a bustling city of almost three million.

Transportation

Airports Serving Chicago

There are two airports that service the Chicago area – O’Hare International and Midway. O’Hare (ORD) is the larger of the two airports, servicing over 70 million travelers per year. Located 20 miles from downtown, there are many transportation options including public transport, taxis, shuttle services and hire cars.

O’Hare is an airport full of modern amenities and services. Recent upgrades have been completed at the International Terminal 5 and additional renovations are underway at Terminals 2 and 3. Expected completion date is later this year.

Midway (MDW) is significantly smaller than O’Hare, serving 17 million travelers per year, but is only 10 miles from downtown. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) offers transportation from Midway to downtown Chicago via the orange line buses. Other shuttles, regional buses and of course taxis and car services also offer transportation to downtown.

Midway has all of the amenities that you would expect from a major airport, including restaurants and gift shops. You can do some sight seeing in Concourse A where the Battle of Midway Memorial and an SBD Dauntless dive bomber are housed.

Getting Around Chicago

Getting around town is much easier in Chicago than in some other big cities. Renting a car is a good option if you need to visit different locations during your visit. The city has several major highways, but plan to avoid them from about 7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 7 pm on weekdays – the traffic delays can be very frustrating. To avoid traffic delays, the train system in Chicago can get you almost anywhere in the city – making it another good choice for business travelers that are sticking to downtown.

The Loop is the heart of the downtown business district – named for the elevated train tracks that circle the area. All of the cities addresses begin at the corner of Sate and Madison streets in The Loop, making the streets easy to navigate. Each 400 increment in an address equals one half mile.

What to See

There is an endless list of things to see and do while in Chicago. If you like to shop, be sure to check out The Magnificent Mile, a one-mile stretch of shops between the Chicago River and Oak Street Beach. There are also numerous internationally known museums in the city. The Field Museum of Natural History is home to the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil and the Art Institute of Chicago is famous for its collection of French Impressionists art.