LB: Stop the Presses! Part 1

by Larry Brody

…Oh, wait, we don’t have any presses. And I’ve already stopped mine. (See the most recent TVWriter™ blog post below.) So what I mean is:

I just found a couple of things I absolutely MUST write about and here they are so start reading right the hell now, everyone!

There. That ought to do it. Now, on to the first of the the two, erm, “press starters.”

I just read an article at a site called – which I occasionally visit because Gwen the Beautiful and I have spent some of the finest moments of our almost-thirty-year life together on the current version of Route 66, AKA Interstate I-40.

The article is about the following claim regarding – oh my stars and garters! – “John Steinbeck’s popular me-and-my-dog road book, ‘Travels with Charley'” that:

Steinbeck’s nonfiction book actually is fiction. He made it up.

The article goes on to explain the fact-checking that went into the above statement, with which I have no qualm. Maybe Steinbeck’s trip mostly with his wife as well as his dog. Maybe they/he spent a lot of time staying at the usual fancy or not-so-fancy hotels and hanging out with sophisticated friends and at least one Texas millionaire.

So fucking what.

My experience as a writer of nowhere near the fame and literary importance as Steinbeck, and friend and acquaintance to literally hundreds of other writers of all ilks is that one of the primary differences between writers and other people is that, in the words of the above-mentioned Gwen the Beautiful, “writers, especially while writing or telling their stories, often can’t distinguish between reality and fantasy [AKA nonfiction and fiction] because in their minds both are the same.”

That’s the beauty of being a writer.

It’s the wonderment of the writer’s life.

The inner positive that makes putting up with all the bullshit writers put up with just to survive (yes, non-writers have to put up with bullshit too, but that’s a whole other issue we can talk about some other time) worth the pain, effort, frustration, and sorrow.

Many years ago, when I was first starting to “make it” as a TV writer and producer, an actor friend named Sammy Jackson and I had an argument over the fact that I had forgotten to follow up with him on an invite to have lunch with me in the executive dining room at what was then Columbia Pictures Television hq.

“You betrayed me, Larry,” Sammy said. “You set me up for an hour  of pleasure and a chance to meet a few important people, and then you just dropped me. Thud! Know how bad that made me feel?”

I said, “C’mon, Sammy. That’s ridiculous. Your feelings were all wrong–”

The look on Sammy’s face changed so much that I stopped in mid-sentence. He sighed a sigh that I hear in my head to this day whenever I realize I’ve fucked up and that fuck up has hurt someone because I’ve been an ass, he said, very quietly,

“Nobody’s feelings are wrong. All we have are our emotions, Larry. They’re what we are.”

As a kid, I was deeply moved by Travels with Charley when I read it. Maybe because I was young enough to still be able to not give one fuck about facts and simply recognize when something was emotionally true and that’s what mattered.

Steinbeck’s brilliant road trip with his beloved dog is emotionally true.

(And so is this account of what happened between Sammy and me, even though it’s nowhere near as well written as Steinbeck’s book.)





#tvwriting #screenwriting #writingtips #writerslife

Author: LB

A legendary figure in the television writing and production world with a career going back to the late ’60s, Larry Brody has written and produced hundreds of hours of American and worldwide television and is a consultant to production companies and networks in the U.S. and abroad . Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys, Writers Guild Awards, and the Humanitas Award.

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