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Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Migratory Pattern of Writers

Here is something I posted on a message board recently and it received some thumbs up. Forgive me if it isn't written with my usual élan (and thanks to the Rouge Waver who tåüght me høw to üse the fünn¥ åccent kéy - ît's a høøt!) but I take it it was relevant:

Here is the usual trajectory of a new screenwriter:

*You learn the rules, you write a terrible script that you think is brilliant. You are crushed to learn it's not brilliant.

*You write script after script, you hew to the rules but your writing is mediocre. You are crushed to learn your writing is mediocre.

*You get totally sick of the rules and the system and you keep writing.

Then you go one of two ways:

A) IF you have talent, real TALENT, and in your heart of hearts you know this, you become somewhere between pissed off and unafraid and then your writing starts to skyrocket and transcend rules because it's just so compelling and personal and full of your voice. Then, slowly, good things start to happen and your tenacity and determination fuels the fire.


B) You search yourself and realize you just don't have the facility with words and story that you thought you did, nor the insanity it takes to keep trying and you bow out with grace and don't look back.

If you are in the A category, you keeping trying with some sort of diagnosable tenacity that scares family members and you live on the vapor of possibility, of stars aligning and of the sheer high you get out of writing. And that path could just lead to a sale, or an independently produced film, or representation and then the story continues....*

*average length of this journey - ten years.

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PJ McIlvaine said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: talent is only one part of the equation. Persistence, determination, luck, good karma, destiny, a chance meeting, voodoo...

Julie Gray said...

Couldn't agree with you more, PJ. But a writer who gets a real career going, one with legs, has got to be talented. Ain't no way around that. You might be a no-talent and make a sale out of sheer, dumb luck but you have to bring something to the table to sustain any kind of actual career. Talent is one aspect - but it's pretty damn important.

This Space Left Intentionally _________. said...

Or you sleep with a studio or production company honcho and slip in the club under the covers...

Whatever it takes.

The trick isn't the first sale, it's the one after that and all the ones which follow.

Julie Gray said...

Yeah well, I don't want to depress everybody, Blank, lol. There are so many milestones to this; getting a rep, getting a sale or option, and then getting ANOTHER ONE, i.e., staying relevant and competitive in a very crowded market. One step at a time. Also, never under-estimate the power of showing up with cupcakes :)

PJ McIlvaine said...

Or magic brownies.

I've known many talented writers who simply didn't have the intestinal fortitude or the discipline to keep going in the face of rejection, roadblocks, parental objections, whatever.

Let me tell you, there is always something to keep you from writing. The trick is to ignore it. It's not easy. But if it was easy, if everyone could do it, it wouldn't be worth it, would it?

Anthony Peterson said...

Julie (shotgun blast) Im way beyond (reload) pissed (shotgun blast) off (reload). After 13 years, two false starts, one MBA, three kids, and more crappy jobs than I can count, I finally have a second draft that made me cry writing it. Failure is not an option.

Julie Gray said...

LOL Anthony! Okay, I believe you!