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Thursday, April 17, 2008

In the First Person

By Rouge Waver Diane Stredicke

I still have trouble calling myself a screenwriter.

I walk into my writing group every other Tuesday which meets in Times Square and we have to go around the table, introduce ourselves, and, of course, the introduction starts with, "Hello. My name is. And I'm a screenwriter."

You see, I've never actually been paid to write a screenplay. And because long ago I equated what you do with what you get paid for, when someone asks me what I do, I immediately fall to the thing which pays my rent, buys my food, supports my family.

I recently attended a film festival. A script I wrote won an award. And the whole day at the festival was spent introducing me to others as a screenwriter. As the day wore on, I got used to the title. My real life, my real job, slipped into the background. It helped that I was on the other coast. The coast where they actually make movies. The coast whose entire identity is caught up with movie making. There, everyone writes movies. There, everyone seems to be an actor, a director, a producer or a screenwriter.

It was amazing how easily it slipped off my tongue.

"Me? I'm a screenwriter."

And no one asked me what I do for a living. No one asked how I pay my rent. It was my secret for the day. There was no separation between those paid, and those unpaid. We were all writers. Together. Being celebrated.

On the plane, flying back to my reality, I secretly hoped that some unsuspecting average Joe would ask me, "What do you do?" I was ready for them this time.

But no one did.

No one looked at me while I flipped through a script. No one payed attention while I worked on a script in Final Draft.

I was just like everyone else on the plane. A working stiff. Doing what I do. To live.

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Anonymous said...

Wow, this is weird. I just had this discussion about this the other day with my peers. And I think the consensus is what you do and what you do for a living have two different answers.

Elver said...

I am intrigued. What do you do to pay the bills?

Diane Stredicke said...

web design....

Anonymous said...

Obviously my bills are paid, but not from what I'd like to be doing- filmmaking. And I'm not considering myself an aspiring filmmaker either, just filmmaker. So if you strip by night and write by day, which title would you refer? I don't strip by the way:) But some people did and went all the way to the Oscar.

JPS said...

When I first started out as a novelist, lo these many--okay, 35--years ago, I had a mentor, a former professor who was also a published novelist and short-story writer.

I was writing a novel a year without much luck, and by the time I wrote my third attempt I asked him when I could reasonably call myself a writer. He, Flatbush Irish as he was, said, "You write, don't you? So you're a writer. It's when they start paying you that you can call yourself lucky."

PJ McIlvaine said...

Stripping is easy. Screenwriting is hard.