Writers are constantly exposed to a form of rejection. Well, no one likes to be rejected in any area, but we writers need to face the music more often than others. We apply to a lot of writing gigs both online and offline, try to get our stories/novels published, and/ or get our scripts read by producers/agents. And it doesn’t always matter whether we targeted the right market or abided by the guidelines. It doesn’t always make a difference that our writing is good, or the query letters rocked. John Grisham got rejected. J.K. Rowling got rejected. Do I really need to give more examples?
And having been writing full time since late 2009, I can say that I am pretty much at the start of the rejection cycle. Because although I have been writing since I was basically a preteen, I had never sent my writing to anyone besides my friends. I loved being read and I enjoyed a loyal following that loved what story I would come up with next.
But we all grew up and our lives became much more hectic than just going to school, socializing or dating. We were distracted by our career and family plans. That’s when I finally decided that I was not satisfied with writing just for me and my friends. I also wasn’t going to settle for some job I didn’t want because the economy sucked. It was time to follow my. So I dove straight into heavy research. I studied how magazine queries were made, how articles were formatted. I read about how you could sell your screenplays even if you lived a world away from Hollywood.
I read about blogging and writing, and applied what I learned. In addition to running several blogs, I got some decent gigs and continue to have them. I also keep getting rejected. Here is what I’ve learned so far:
Yes, we understand that anyone who uses the phrase “quality insights into writing” probably should hang up his keyboard. That’s us, not Tarhan, but we’re going to keep at this writing thing till we get it – at least – almost right.
Celebrated author, playwright Gore Vidal dies at 86 – by Hillel Italie and Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press
Author, playwright, politician and commentator Gore Vidal, whose vast and sharpened range of published works and public remarks were stamped by his immodest wit and unconventional wisdom, died Tuesday at age 86 in Los Angeles.
Some of my personal favorite Gore Vidal quotes that have no relevance to politics or culture:
A narcissist is someone better looking than you are
Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.
The more money an American accumulates, the less interesting he becomes
We all know that Facebook keeps an enormous amount of information on all of its users.
One of the bits FB collects is how many viewers any given status update has, and there’s even a way to find out. (No, I don’t know how to do it deliberately. I just know that whenever I go to the TVWriter™ FB page – or whatever they call those things now – it tells me how many people saw each post…and then, for purposes of comparison, I assume, it tells me how many people have seen what it says is, “your most popular post.”
For months, that “most popular post” has been something called: “Who Really Determines the Fates of Aspiring Screenwriters?” Inasmuch as this is one of the most informative and helpful showbiz articles ever to appear on the web and I put it on the Facebook page before TVWriter™ existed in its current equally on-the-money, helpful blog form, it seems to me only fitting that I post it here and now, so it can get even more exposure and help more hopefuls understand the Showbiz Game:
Polone: Who Really Determines the Fates of Aspiring Screenwriters? – by Gavin Polone
…Aspiring and established scriptwriters likely fantasize about a high-powered exec or producer personally discovering their genius after a cold read and calling their agents, demanding a meeting. And those dreamers might be distressed to know just how much of their fate — when it comes to getting a staff writing gig on a TV show, a feature-film assignment, or the possible sale of their spec script — is in the hands of inexperienced low-level executives, assistants, and even interns.
I started as an agent 25 years ago, and I remember sitting in the Monday morning staff meeting where we would talk about all of the scripts we had read over the weekend. A huge pile of scripts in front of you was a red badge of courage, and I felt superior to agents with smaller piles. (Nobody has paper piles any longer, as everyone reads on iPads and Kindles.) Back then, I would routinely plow through up to about 1,200 pages’ worth of sitcom, TV drama, and feature scripts over a weekend. While I might not have read them super-thoroughly, I didn’t skim them either, devoting 45 minutes to an hour to each feature. It was exhausting and life-killing. Today, I read a fraction of the material I used to and none of my peers do much more.
Here’s the short list of what I do read: For a project I’ve sold into development at a film studio or television network, I will read and usually write notes on each new draft; if the changes made to that script were small, I will only read the pages that have been changed…But other than that, scripts submitted to me as possible development projects are given to my development executive and our assistants, who write a synopsis and critique on each…
[I]f you are one of those hoping to break into scriptwriting and are disillusioned that your prospects may rest in the hands of someone just out of school and with little experience, I’d say two things:
(1) Fear not, since, in my experience, truly good writing always finds its way to the decision-makers because the young people who are reading the scripts are more like the audience than those of us they assist. We do listen to these early readers, knowing that in some ways the opinion of an assistant or intern has even more validity than our own.
And (2) No, there isn’t a chance in hell that I’ll read your fucking script, so don’t ask.
The details, many of which I’ve excluded for reasons of space, are what really make this article. So I definitely suggest you read it all. I’d also like to point out, as one of the commenters on the original article does, that while this is the way things are done these days that doesn’t make it the best possible one. It’s simply the reality we live with…for now.