How The King’s Speech Screenwriter David Seidler Emancipated Me

Dawn enjoying her freedom

Moments of liberation don’t happen often. Every now and then, someone says something that emancipates you from destructive thoughts. The CNN report on screenwriter, David Seidler, who won the Oscar for The King’s Speech, does not just inspire me. It sets me free.

Hollywood notoriously places an expiration date on its talent. Screenwriters are no exception. Scribes who do not make a splash in the industry right out of film school climb an uphill battle be a working screenwriter. This deadline loomed in my mind, often ticking louder than my biological clock. When I received a brain tumor diagnosis (and then another), the sunset of my writing career was all I could think of.

Perhaps pain or stubbornness kept me from seeing the inevitable. I ignored the complications of juggling a brain tumor (and then another) and a writing career at first. I swallowed my tears and my pride when my play made it to Hollywood, but I could not go.

As long as I was writing, I was fighting. I was in control.

But the brain tumor (and then another) began to tug on my mind, body and spirit. And the public fight against my health insurance company wore me down further. Letters to my former health insurance company and politicians replaced screenplays, and eventually even paid writing assignments.

Looking at my laptop, I’d curse myself a failure for forgetting words. The electric shock pain from my brain tumors was (and is) so excruciating I not drag myself to bathroom, much less muster up the creativity to be a writer. I’d contemplate the value of a life with brain tumors that my former boss called my “shortcomings.”

I’d helped others deal with their circumstances with my words, but the moment the brain tumors threatened my writing—my words—I could no longer deal.

And then David Seidler gave me freedom.

After wrestling with stuttering for years, he wisely decided not to confront it with paper and pen so soon after conquering it. The 73-year-old screenwriter stated the mind requires time to heal from the battle—to mature, to write about it objectively.

It’s smart advice for any writer hoping to avoid the trap of melodramatic writing. But it’s a powerful rule for health activists who can easily collapse under the weight of their stories.

David Seidler’s patience struck me more. Most writers recognize the potential literary value of their battles, especially those cognizant of the expiration date Hollywood places on talent. The media is dubbing David Seidler a late bloomer. He reminds me not to try to outrun my illness, only to crumple under the weight of false deadlines.

He got his Oscar on time. Whatever destiny awaits me is not going to match the timelines and bucket lists I scribbled out in college. I must begrudgingly trust God’s divine plan just the same.

I will still cry when I have an idea that my brain tumors won’t let me type. But if my writing is a God-given talent, I now know that no illness can hold me back from seeing my words in the fullness of their destiny.

My new freedom comes in knowing that all things come in due time…right on time.

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About Dawn S. Smith

Dawn S, Smith is the writer of the critically-acclaimed chroreoplay "Sunshine for a Midnight Weary," books, articles and business copy. She is surviving brain tumor in the key of Beyonce and a warrior for health equity. Atlanta is where UGA, Grady graduate was born and raised..Kentucky is where she spends most of her days.

5 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Dionne
    March 2, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    Very touching story about dealing with life-changing health issues in order to accomplish your goals.

  2. Diane
    March 3, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Facing one’s fears and letting go of the hold it has on you can be difficult to do. I applaud you for your strength and determination. I also saw the King’s Speech and was In awe on how he was able to overcome his fears that were deep rooted to rise to a great leader. It don’t matter if you are a king or not, we all have the ability to choose how we react.

    • Dawn
      March 8, 2011 at 9:46 am #

      That is so true, Diane. Sometimes you have to “take a leap and build your wings on the way down.” I believe I got the quotation wrong.

  3. Dawn
    March 8, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    Thank you for sharing this post on BUTTERFLY BLOG. It is nice to see an Atlanta-based organization being champions for children with brain tumors.

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