Are You Ready?

by limebirdlaura

Do you ever get that terrifying thought that you’re just not cut out for this?  That you, the small time – back country – super shy girl can’t really “get out there” and make a name for yourself. (If you’re male just pretend you’re female…and if you’re from a big city just pretend like you’re from the country for the sake of argument. Just to recap, you city men are now country girls for the remainder of this post. Humor me here…)

This past month my husband and I went to a seminar about screenwriting for television. The man, whose name I don’t want to give out because he did speak of a topic that he didn’t want out there in the world, had worked as a screenwriter on several television shows and movies. He was a great resource to the both of us, and even stayed after to answer our questions.  But I’m here to tell you, he scared me to death!

He didn’t so much talk about the “how-to” to screenwriting, as he did the experience of living in that world. Maybe he was just jaded, or ran with the wrong crowd, or met one too many people who woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but he made it out to be that screenwriters are nothing but a bunch of backstabbing thieves. You better not mention a peep of your idea to anyone or they’ll steal it and make millions leaving you crying in the corner of your mom’s basement that you had to move back into after failing miserably. (Ok so you’re a shy girl from the country and you have a mom with a basement… stay in character!)

Maybe it’s good, he wasn’t sugarcoating or mollycoddling us – this is the real world and this is what you can expect if you try to go out there and be a big time screenwriter. Can I confirm this is the experience every screenwriter has? No, I cannot. But he really opened my eyes to some real posibilites of the screenwirting world that has me shaking in my boots.

So tell me, do you have what it takes? Are you ready to go out there and destroy the world with your cold shoulder and deathly glare? What do you do to pump yourself up and prepare yourself for negativity? For me, I think I’ll let my husband do all the talking. He seems good at that.

Okay, you’re free to go back to being whatever you were before I made you into a shy girl. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to stick around and be me for a while longer, but I understand you have things to do and stories to write, so as you were!

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41 Comments to “Are You Ready?”

  1. I know how you feel Laura!

    I’ve attended a couple of workshops on writing (not screenwriting) where the impression given is that it is almost impossible to break into the business! However, as the very intimidating speakers continue, they then started to talk about what a writer can do to get, if not to the top of the pile, at least to the area in a pile that gets a serious consideration (much of it about avoiding simple mistakes!). So I’ve ended up feeling that it will be difficult, but I can do it! I have another one coming up, this time from Joe Haldeman, and I know that he got some very negative feedback about his first science fiction novel “The Forever War” which then went on to win a Hugo, a Nebula and a Locus Award!

    As a non-screenwriter I have been trying to get my work out there so that I have a CV to show. That has included getting things in online publications, podcasts and physical magazines. As a screenwriter it might be useful to get involved with one or more online productions (either audio or video) so that you have some success to point to.

    Good luck!

    • Thanks Dennis! It’s always good to not feel alone. I love hearing stories like the one you’ve shared about Joe Haldeman — getting negative feedback then going on to win some top notch awards! That is amazing.

  2. It can be very intimidating can’t it Laura!

    I’ve attended a couple of workshops on writing (not screenwriting) where the impression given is that it is almost impossible to break into the business! However, as the very experienced speakers continue, they then started to talk about what a writer can do to get, if not to the top of the pile, at least to the area in a pile that gets a serious consideration (much of it about avoiding simple mistakes!). So I’ve ended up feeling that it will be difficult, but I can do it! I have another one coming up, this time from Joe Haldeman, and I know that he got some very negative feedback about his first science fiction novel “The Forever War” which then went on to win a Hugo, a Nebula and a Locus Award!

    As a non-screenwriter I have been trying to get my work out there so that I have a CV to show. That has included getting things in online publications, podcasts and physical magazines. As a screenwriter it might be useful to get involved with one or more online productions (either audio or video) so that you have some success to point to.

    Good luck!

  3. I think there’s probably a bit of truth in it, simply because the screenwriting world is part of the movie and TV world which is very cut-throat and where there are a lot of big egos, and a lot of insecure people trying to overcompensate for their insecurities. But I wouldn’t let it put you off, if screenwriting is your main area of writing interest, then you should go for it! You can do it girl, I know you can 😉

    • Thanks Vanessa! It is pretty scary for me since I am so quiet and non-confrontational, I always wonder what on earth I’m doing thinking I can work with these cut throats! But when I get int the “zone” I’m a bit crazy myself 🙂

  4. One of the things I like about the writing biz is that it is collegial … in many ways it is a mutual support society. Writers are always sharing leads for new markets and craft ideas. The actual screenwriting business may be very difficult to break into, but I don’t think anyone should be discouraged from trying, or from improving their storytelling craft. It never means one has to “give away” his or her story ideas in the process. I’m not so sure it matters that one is a “country boy” or whatever … at a certain point those who are driven to write the best stories they can will find some measure of success. You know, I’ve been reading Bill Bryson’s book on Shakespeare, and there are still those who doubt a glove maker’s son from the provinces could have written such amazing plays and poetry. Real writers know that such a Shakespeare is entirely possible, just as it is entirely possible that a shy country girl could write an amazingly successful screenplay 🙂

  5. This does not bode well for all of us bloggers who talk so openly about our story ideas! I used to worry about something like this many years ago. Then I read in several different places that every idea has already been written anyway. What we have to worry about is how well we spin our ideas, how well they’re written, and if we keep it fresh and original–even using an age-old idea. So, I guess I wouldn’t worry too much about idea-theft and more about how hard am I going to work to make sure my take on the idea is a hit.

    So, Laura, keep at the screenwriting and don’t let something like that scare you off. Ya hear me, girl???

    • Thanks Kate! I get so paranoid sharing any ideas I have. I let them slip to my hubby more than anyone (of course I don’t mind him knowing because he usually has a good idea here and there for me to improve on!) But when it comes to the web, I get so paranoid!

  6. Wait so I’m a scripwriting country man, with a penchant for stealing people’s work.. or I’m a city girl with a … oh never mind! 😉 Anyhoo, great post Laura, gosh that man sounds like the life and soul of the party doesn’t he! He just sounds bitter and grumpy to me, don’t let him scare you! Keep your wits about you and use Woo as a bodyguard to protect your precious scripts!!

    • Hehe I like to force people into roles they’re not accustomed to mwuahahahahah. I liked his seminar when he talked what it was like to work on a show for TV, but then he started talking about the big wigs in Hollywood and how ruthless they are (which I’m sure is true) but he just went on and on and on about bad experiences he’s had, made it sound super horrifying!

  7. You certainly don’t need to be a backstabbing jerk to succeed; you just need to able to identify them in a crowd.

  8. I’m on a novelist track, but can see where screenwriting could get quite nasty. I’d not be leaking out ideas, at least those that are original, foundational, and can be built upon absent your vision of the remainder.

    Marketing, hate it, with damn good reason. I’d rather write a good story than talk one up.

    • I feel the same way Nelle. I’d like to just write something and then have the story deal with getting “out there” on its own. Sigh, if only it were that easy!

  9. I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve been referred to as a back country super shy girl.

  10. What a great gift the screenwriter gave you. Now you have full license to write about the wonderful backstabbing world of movie-making. The late Fred Allen once said,”You can take all the sincerity in Hollywood and stuff it into a flea’s navel and still have room left over for an agent’s heart.”

  11. I get a similar feeling when I read about writers’ horror stories with agents, editors, and publishers or about how hard it is to breaking into the publishing world. I’m left wondering if I have what it takes to even try, let alone succeed. But we can’t succeed if we don’t try. And our experiences may not be the same as other people’s. So keep at it!

    • And you keep at it as well! I guess the old cliche saying comes in handy here – it’s better to try and fail than to not try at all. Or maybe better yet, “Do or do not, there is no try.” – Yoda ..which leaves us with only – DO!

  12. “So tell me, do you have what it takes? Are you ready to go out there and destroy the world with your cold shoulder and deathly glare? What do you do to pump yourself up and prepare yourself for negativity?”

    I, for one, write for fun at the moment. I hate to think of someone stealing my fun, but at the end of the day I guess it’s not that serious for me.

    It’s horrible to think that there are people out there who would knowingly steal someone else’s idea – and for what? Where’s the fun in that? There’s no pride, no satisfaction; nothing good.

    I actually got so worked up writing this response that I had to go and do something else for a bit in case I said something I didn’t want to (I noticed you can’t edit comments…). Am I ready to be a cold-hearted, backstabbing, thieving bastard? No. And I hope I never will be.

    • LordScree I completely agree! (Oh nice that rhymed……you can steal that if you want!) I get so worked up and paranoid myself about any ideas I have. Even in school we had to share our scripts with all our classmates, and I didn’t want to do that! they told us to register everything we wrote but that could get pricy, I guess it’s a good idea though. Don’t be a backstabber though, I think we can get a lot farther in life being nice (Or maybe I’m being naive!)

  13. Perfect timing for this post, Laura. I’m facing releasing my memoir to “the world” in a couple of months. That means I have to promote it and stand by and listen what people have to say about it (if anyone reads it). I have skin that’s thinner than Kate Moss after a colon cleanse.

    I had what it took to write the book. I must have what it takes to see this journey to its logical conclusion, whatever that is. I just have to.

    • Oh good luck Lorna! That has to be particularly tough to not only be sharing your work with the world, but your life! I hope it goes smoothly for you, let us know where we can get a copy!

  14. Am I ready? Nope. Prepared? Nope. Hopeful? YES!

  15. Interesting! I suppose it’s true that a person needs to keep their mouth shut more than open until the whole writing effort has crossed over into writing success. But I wonder if one person’s negative experience is inevitable for everyone else? I hope not!!!

  16. Laura,
    Thanks for taking the time to voice what all storytellers think of ourselves, at one time or another. Fear is important – it can offer a great kick in the pants – but it’s dangerous if we let it stop us.

    Sounds like your speaker is more than a bit jaded by the industry, which I think happens more often than we’d like to admit. Still, it’s great that he stuck around to answer your questions. So, perhaps not so hardened as he might make himself out to be. 🙂

    Have you ever seen a documentary called Tales from the Script? It offers many interesting perspectives on screenwriting (mostly in Hollywood). Some jaded, yes, but there are also great tidbits of insight there, too. I’d recommend it, especially if you can stream it on Netflix or Amazon.

    • Thanks for commenting Mayumi! I did watch that streaming on Netflix, it’s really interesting, and terrifying all at the same time.

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