9 Steps to Writing Your Script for a Life You Love


Writing Your Script for a Life You Love
©  Sandy Peckinpah

You never could have told me the day I married David Peckinpah, several decades ago, that I would not be married forever. I visualized my whole life, from that day forward, extending into a lifetime.

On the night we first met, we walked along the beach in Monterey and shared our dreams. David said “I want to be a writer.” And I replied, “Well then, let’s begin!” We merged as a creative force that sent fireworks over the moonlit bay. Well, maybe not, but that’s how it felt! 
Married, 1974

Our courtship was not traditional in any way. We were together every night, but instead of romantic dinners or dancing, we spent evenings creating characters and  the storyline for our first project together.

David loved the western genre. He came by it quite naturally. His father, Denver, was the colorful  “Cowboy Judge” of the Superior Court in Fresno. He wore a Stetson hat, and Tony Lama boots under his long black judge’s robe. He even hand rolled his own cigarettes. Every day Judge Peckinpah drove his rusty old camper to the courthouse. At lunch he’d crank up the camper and cook a pot of beans and deer meat he hunted in the mountains near Yosemite.
Sam and Denver Peckinpah

And David’s uncle? Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get asked, “Are you related to Sam Peckinpah? The movie director?

The Wild Bunch, directed by Sam Peckinpah
Sam’s greatest movie was the Oscar nominated western, The Wild Bunch, starring William Holden and Ernest Borgnine. Sam was the first to portray violence in slow motion. Picture a man getting shot with the gritty reality of blood spurting everywhere and pain so real you could feel it in your gut. That was Sam, or “Bloody Sam,” as he came to be known.

He always said, even the ordinary man could be pushed to the point of violence and demonstrated it in films like, Straw Dogs with Dustin Hoffman, The Getaway with Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw, and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid with James Coburn and Kris Kristopherson.

The Peckinpah family even had Indian blood from Aunt Jane, a Mono Indian Princess who lived on Peckinpah Mountain outside of Northfork.  And yes, The Rifleman starring Chuck Conners was written by Sam who made the town of Northfork famous.

David idolized Sam, and Sam loved David. He often invited us to visit him in Malibu, attend screenings of his films, or join him on a film location.
Me, on set
sitting in Kris Kristofferson's chair

We even participated in Sam’s surprise 50th birthday party in the Hollywood Hills. We were absolutely star struck walking into this party. It was crowded with famous and talented actors, writers, composers and even musicians like Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, and Ringo Starr!

The conversations were alive! Exciting! Creative! On that night, I realized, this room was filled with talented people who were able to make a living doing what they loved!

David with the book contract. That's a pipe in his hand.
He thought it would make him look more like a writer. :)
Up to this point, writing had just been a hobby! With this inspired revelation, we arrived back in Monterey with writing as the focus of our dreams.  

David finished the novel we began during our courtship, and “They Were Spoken of in Whispers” was sent to an agent in New York.  Miraculously, the first publisher accepted it. We celebrated with champagne and thought, We’re going to be famous!

Our advance money arrived weeks later. We feverishly tore open the envelope and stared at the check for $1000. Two years work. Wow. We needed a back-up plan.

Sam encouraged David to write a screenplay and hired him to write a script from a book he’d optioned. It was the beginning of his passion for screenwriting, and we got $5000.

Sometimes the innocence of youth is a good thing when I think of the odds we had of “making it.” There was no doubt we’d succeed. It was the first time I truly experienced visualizing success at the inception of a dream. With that confidence, we began creating our beautiful family, beginning with Garrett, our firstborn son.
Our first born cowboy,
Garrett, named after Sam's movie,
Pat Garrett and Billythe Kid

David’s career took off and we relocated to Los Angeles.  While David was writing, I studied acting and took literature classes. After the children were in bed, I edited David’s scripts and we’d continue to talk stories and characters well into the night. There’s nothing like a creative union of two people. It ignites passion!

We had successes and failures. We made money and spent money. Then one day, the Writer’s Guild went on strike for 9 months.

Our income came to a halt and I was terrified. I would lie awake at night with visions of empty bank accounts, unpaid taxes, and piles of bills.

Our bank accounts sank, and I even had to ask my best friend for $100 to buy groceries. It was during this “financial drought,” I developed a pattern of fear around money. Its power was so strong, it consumed me, even when money wasn’t an issue. There was never an amount in the bank that made me feel safe.

During the strike, our creative minds never stopped. David wrote every single day and I edited, every single night.

When the Unions finally reached an agreement, we diligently rebuilt our financial base with the scripts written during the strike. One of them went on to be made as a Disney movie, Man of the House, with Chevy Chase and Farrah Fawcett.

Beauty and the Beast, CBS
David transitioned into doing television series and was even nominated for an Emmy for Beauty and the Beast, on CBS, starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perelman!

It may sound like we had nothing but success. Far from the truth. Like any business, the entertainment industry is a roller coaster of emotional and financial ups and downs.

Rejection was just part of success. All stories have successes and failures…that’s what makes a good story… even in real life.

Then one day, our personal story had a tragic ending. We lost our firstborn son, Garrett.

Our creative marriage couldn’t survive the despair of loss. We broke apart, and then David died suddenly at the age of 54.

With those tragedies I realized life isn’t about careers, or jobs, or money. Those things can enhance life, but really, there’s only one thing that matters, and that’s love..love for people, love for what you do, and how your love inspires other people.

Sometimes, there’s a time limit, and we don’t get to have those we love for very long. The loss of two people I deeply loved changed me forever.

I was challenged to build a life that was the highest expression of love I could possibly have. 

Until then, it never occurred to me I should have a back-up plan. My husband was a successful writer and I worked with him every step of the way, but I never took ownership. I tormented myself thinking if only I had written a script on my own, or at least shared writing credits.

I learned quickly that hindsight serves no purpose other than to torment our present lives.

I was forced to find strength beyond the debilitating grief. My three living children needed me more. I realized I had to create a new script for our lives.

We moved south of Los Angeles to a lovely affordable town called Murrieta. The children now say it was the best thing I could have done for them.

I began a new career as a real estate agent and I dove into it with passion. Failure was not an option.

article for the newspaper
We all have to find the one thing that drives us…that one thing when we wake up in the morning, we think about it and can’t wait to start our day. For me, it’s writing. Is real estate my passion? Not completely, but within our jobs are pieces of something we can find to feed our souls. I’ve found great inspiration from my clients and their personal stories! I love participating in making their dreams come true! 

I write articles on selling homes. I create ads and write home descriptions like they were stories! And, on my days off…I’m writing my own story in articles and for my books.

Like the entertainment business, I’ve had good years and bad years in real estate. We’re just coming out of the current real estate crisis and we’ve all learned an important lesson. Resourcefulness. No one and no career is immune to the ups and downs of life.

Lives and careers have cycles. There’s no magic number or perfect career that gives peace of mind, because life isn’t about a number. It’s about following your heart, doing something you love, and expressing love every single day.

When it’s a “down” time, be creative in making opportunities. Additional streams of income offer a back-up plan. I made jewelry and sold nutritional products during the worst year of the real estate crisis. At first, I was embarrassed, but then realized we do what it takes to survive. I was sharing these products because I loved them, and they enhanced my life. Ultimately, it also opened doors to new friendships and business alliances.

Remember, you’re in control of how you react to circumstances in life. It’s your life script. I’m still writing mine and discovering the lessons from my past are actually a platform for my future.

Here are 9 Story Points for Writing Your Own Life Script


1.    Do something you love and it will never feel like work. If you can’t work in your dream job right now, pursue your interests within your job and that may lead you on the path to your dream career.



2.     Keep your drive young-at-heart!  Never use age as an excuse. Louise Hay started her business at 60 when she sold her self-published book, You Can Heal Your Life out of the trunk of her car. At 86 she heads the Hay House publishing empire. Set your goals now and begin renegotiating a life you love.


3.     You’ll never run out of money because you’ll never run out of ideas. A wise friend told me this. Your ability to think and create ideas are the tools God gave you to be resilient. Use your talents and abilities to open new paths. Consider reading The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris.

4.     “If someone says no, just say NEXT!”-Jack Canfield, author of  Chicken Soup for the Soul, Think Positive. The entertainment business is constant rejection with success sprinkled in. Don’t stop pursuing what you love. If you give up too soon, you may have been standing at the door of the person who was about to say “Yes!”

5.     Take steps to push worry out of your life, and let passion fill it. That’s resilience. I remember seeing the actor, Will Smith, interviewed by Oprah, and she asked if it felt good to be rich. He said he still falls asleep worrying about money. That’s the pattern he learned in life. Will Smith! If he worries, then “worry” is really the enemy of our spirit. “Worry” is just fear at war with your faith.

6.     Consider additional streams of income. Look to your talents like cooking, tutoring, or selling products or services for a cushion. Ask a friend what they think your talents are. It may surprise you! Even if it just pays the utilities or helps restock your savings…it’s worth it. Consider reading Rich Dad Poor Dad

7.     Life is about expressing love. Never let career or money issues spoil an evening with your partner, ruin a day with your child, or interrupt your sleep at night. When you feel those concerns taking hold, exchange it with expressing love. Take your partner on a date or spend a day with your children.

8.     When you have a tragedy, recognize it as a time to grow in faith and strength. William Bridges author of The Way of Transition wrote:  “Change can happen at any time, but transition comes along when one chapter of your life is over and another is waiting in the wings to make its entrance.” 

9.     Look to your past and write the first act in your life script. You’ll see the cycles you’ve already lived. There is no story without conflict, but you’ve survived! Now write the second act just as you’d like your life to be. That’s called having a vision for your future.

I found peace around money, my job, and my spirit, the day I decided I would be grateful for what I have and the lessons I’ve learned. My will to survive was stronger than I ever dreamed possible. I raised my three children on my own!

When I write, I often search for my husband’s inspiration. I miss our creative union, and never thought I’d experience that kind of love again.

My wedding 2011. Blending our  family,
and always honoring Garrett and David
But I did. A year ago I fell in love and married a man who captivated me when he first wrote “Hello” on Facebook! And… he writes beautifully! Now, he’s the one who edits my work! It feels so good to be loved and to share my life with someone who also shares my passion.

I couldn’t have written a better second act for myself….or maybe I did!

Not a day goes by that I don’t long to hold my son in my arms, or feel tears for the loss of David. I miss them so... but my love for them still resides deeply in my heart. 

When you lose someone, you have the opportunity to transition and express that love into those who are living. Their loss taught me to focus my life on love in the present moment, and to never, ever, take a single day for granted.

I urge you to begin writing the next part of your life. Write your story with passion! You’re the star of your own show! And remember…Live life with love. It’s the only focus that will bring you peace and a life filled with joy…happily…ever after.

Let me know when your script is ready!
With love,


Sandy Peckinpah writes books, articles, and speaks and teaches about resilience and using your past as a platform to the future. Her new book, How to Survive the Worst that can Happen, won the Pinnacle Book Award. Read more at http://BreakthroughToHappy.com  book website: www.HowToSurviveTheWorstThatCanHappen.com Email: Sandy@sandypeckinpah.com

4 comments:

  1. Melissa Ellen GilbertFebruary 1, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    Perfect. Inspiring. Comforting. Real. I wish I could print this on thousands of fliers and drop them from a plane.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Melissa, This means so much to me...Could I just print your comment on the flyers we are dropping from the plane? Love you BFF.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. HI Claire...I just saw your comment today! I'm thinking of reposting this artice. Thank you for reading it!

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