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Careful What You Wish For

Thursday, 06.28.2007 / 8:22 PM ET / News
New York Islanders
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Careful What You Wish For

Nick Santora
The recent NHL draft got me thinking about one of the most terrifying moments a person can ever experience in a lifetime.  That moment is when you realize that everything you've ever dreamed of, everything you've ever wished for, everything you've ever worked toward ... has come true.

Now, before you come to the conclusion that I've been drinking Jim Beam straight up from the Stanley Cup, I promise you there is a method to my madness. Just think about it -if you've swung and missed every time you've been up to bat, if you've fallen flat on your face again and again, if you are a bigger loser than, well, a Rangers fan - you really have nothing to lose.  There is no place to go but up, and hence, you live in the wonderful Nirvana known as the "No Pressure Zone."

However, the opposite of "No Pressure" is "Nothing But Pressure" and the opposite of Nirvana is Hell ... and that is exactly where you'll find yourself once your wildest desires become reality.  To illustrate, let me use an example from my own life.

I had wanted to be a writer since I could first hold a crayon.  It was my only dream, my truest passion.  And one day, through fate and luck and a million stars aligning, I received a call that David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos, wanted to meet with me about writing an episode for his show.  He had read a screenplay I had written a few months earlier and now he wanted to sit down with me - a lowly lawyer from Long Island.

Well, I drove to Queens to meet him at his office - I remember thinking as I walked into the building that everything I did and said in the next hour would dictate the rest of my life - whether I'd remain a miserable lawyer forever or finally get a shot at a professional writing career.  I was wrong.  I went to the meeting, said the right things, and got the job.  It was then that I realized that THE MEETING wasn't going to dictate the rest of my life, but instead how I performed AFTER the meeting.  You see, all of my dreams had come true - I had just been hired to write for the hottest show on TV - I had gotten everything I had ever desired, and I was in hell.  I was in hell because I knew if I didn't produce, if I didn't hit it out of the park, if I didn't totally capitalize on this opportunity, that I would never get such a chance again and I would become one of "those guys."  You know "those guys."  They sit at the end of bars all over America and buy bottom shelf, watered down drinks and have bad teeth and comb-overs and talk about how they a shot at the big time once but they choked.

Well, newest Islanders - Mark Katic, Jason Gregoire, Maxim Gratchev, Blake Kessel and Simon Lacroix - are now hoping to not become one of "those guys."  Their dreams have come true -- they've achieved everything they've hoped for since they've skated on ponds with their dads and stayed up late to watch Hockey Night In Canada as kids -- they have been drafted into the National Hockey League, and by one of the League's most storied franchises to boot.  Careful what you wish for boys.  I've been there.  After years of hoping and praying you suddently find yourself in the drivers seat of your own destiny and the last thing you want to do is drive off the road.  Not to use a cliche, but you are the captain of your own ship ... you just don't want that ship to be the S.S. Minnow.

So you buckle down, you hope that you don't spit the bit, you roll up your sleeves and you get to work.  Will some of these draft picks feel the heat?  Probably.  I have to admit, there was a moment, about 5 pages into my Sopranos script, where I realized: "Holy @$%@$, I'm writing dialogue for Tony Soprano."  Suddently my fingers didn't dance as quickly as they normally do across the keys and I started to get inside my own head, question my word choices, doubt my ability.

But I fought through it and at the end of the day, I turned in a script I was proud of.  And now I am a working writer in Hollywood - I have 2 shows on the air, a National Best Selling novel called "Slip & Fall" and a movie I'm shooting in September with Ice Cube.  But, if I'm going to be honest with my fellow Islanders fans, there isn't a day where I don't think - "Oh man, I sure as hell hope I don't mess this up, because if I did, I'd become one of 'those guys'"  And I stress about it constantly.  When you are given the gift of being able to do what you've always wanted, you just don't want to mess it up.

So, all I can say to the newest Isles - Mark, Jason, Maxim, Blake and Simon - guess what? All of your dreams have come true ... you have my condolences.



Long Island native and Islanders fan NICK SANTORA has a new national best seller, "Slip & Fall," distributed exclusively through Borders Books. To order Nick’s book, go here or visit the Borders nearest you.

Nick will be signing copies of "Slip & Fall" at Borders in Westbury on Sunday, July 15 at 2:00 pm. We encourage Islanders fans to stop by and say hello to one of their own.

Nick is a writer and co-executive producer of the hit Fox drama, Prison Break. He has also written and/or produced for several television series such as The Sopranos, Law & Order and The Guardian.




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