20Q with Ali Laventhol
20 QUESTIONS with ALI LAVENTHOL
Twenty things you (probably) didn’t know about TV writer/producer, Ali Laventhol.
- My first job was… At 16 I worked in the stockroom of Mary’s Tack & Feed, which was a mecca for horse people in San Diego. Pricing and restocking shelves of bell boots and hoof picks wasn’t exactly exciting, but it gave me plenty of time to day dream about what I was going to spend my next paycheck on since I was horse-obsessed at the time.
- If I wasn’t a writer, I would likely be… Working with animals in some capacity. When I was a kid I wanted to be a vet until I realized there would be blood involved.
- I collect… Memories. That’s pretty much it, really. Cleaning out closets and taking stuff to Good Will is one of my favorite pastimes.
- My favorite word is… Well, these days (I’m writing this during Trump’s 1st week in office), my favorite word is “mobilize.” Second favorite: “resist.”
- I’m a big fan of… Tennis. HUGE fan. Going to watch any one of the Grand Slams in person is at the top of my bucket list.
- The single best piece of (writing related) advice I have ever gotten… Don’t be afraid to write shitty first drafts. Anne Lamott, a writer I really admire, first planted that seed for me in her lovely book on writing, “Bird By Bird.”
- I have always wanted to… Have a sibling. Go to Spain. Write something that moves someone deeply.
- The best thing I have ever read, (but did not write) is… That is an impossible question. Novels like Catcher In the Rye, She’s Come Undone, or To Kill a Mockingbird. The boldness of Tom Robbins or Chuck Palahniuk. A genius script like the West Wing or Breaking Bad pilot. And the only one email I have saved from my Dad – there are days I consider that to be the best thing I ever have or ever will read.
- People often tell me that I… Am lucky to have such a kick-ass writing partner. And they are absolutely right!
- I really think that my best work (published or not) is… hopefully still to come.
- I find inspiration in… Real life stories like The Moth or Unfictional. The unthinkable things people go through and the resilience of the human spirit is totally inspiring to me.
- The best thing about being a professional writer is… Seeing your work produced so quickly after it’s written when writing on a tv show. Putting a scene “on its feet” with a professional cast and crew not only makes you a better writer by leaps and bounds, but it’s gratifying in a way that writing a brilliant but forever unproduced feature, let’s say, never will be.
- I spend way too much time… In traffic.
- The funniest person in my cell phone is… Ducky Punch.
- It really bothers me when… These days, whenever I read the news.
- The worst thing about being a professional writer is… We never know if or when our next job is coming. Living with constant uncertainty around earning a living can be challenging.
- One mistake that most aspiring writers make is… Becoming too attached to their first good idea, either for a scene or an entire script. I knew an art teacher who made his students draw something and then immediately rip it up, even if it was great, in order to instill the belief that they had a constant stream of great work still inside them. You have to have that faith even if you can’t see your next idea yet. Being able to rely on yourself in that way helps a writer not be too precious and encourages the willingness to hear notes, rewrite and “kill your darlings” if need be. We all know that can be brutal, but it’s so important if you want to move forward in this career.
- If I knew the apocalypse was coming in 24 hours, I’d… Find my boyfriend and hop a flight to Mallorca maybe? Or maybe the Himalayas so I could go out chanting with the monks.
- The three websites I visit most often are… Amazon, HuffPo and Deadline. Oh God what have I become?
- You’d be surprised to know that I… Am a grown woman who is terrified beyond reason of needles.