by Larry Brody
One of the most upsetting truths new TV, screen, and even literary writers need to learn as early as possible is that very few professional writers (or editors or producers) want to read your masterpieces.
To ask a working writer to do so is present yourself as an arrogant, thoughtless, and very unprofessional soul, especially if you want us to do it for free (which is the way this request usually is presented).
Hmm, actually I’m being kind by using the word “request.” Usually, it’s presented as a demand, an entitlement, if you will.
There are many reasons why writers react badly in this situation. Probably the biggest is that reading other people’s work opens the pro up to legal action if for any reason something the pro later writes resembles, in even the most minor way, the work the noob thrust upon them.
Or even if it doesn’t.
The reason I’m bringing this up is that just the other day I ran across a blog post by writer/mentor/editor Jane Friedman that brought up another interesting angle on this subject. In “To Everyone Who Wants Me to Read Their Writing and Tell Them What to Do,” Ms. Friedman makes this very salient point:
The request is perfectly natural, especially for those who know me in some way. I’ve spent 20+ years in the writing and publishing community, and my name gets around as an expert. Yes, I can often read something and know exactly what a writer should do.
But here’s the real superpower: I often know what writers should do without reading a single word of their work.
She knows what new writers should do with their work (and, no, I don’t mean she wants them to stuff it) because all of us go through the same process at the beginning of our careers.
The same obsessive worry and crazy mood swings from “I’ve just written the greatest thing ever written by anybody in the history of the human race!” to “OMG, this is fucking shit! I’ve written nothing but shit!”
And because Ms. Friedman knows, she doesn’t have to read your work and endanger her work and career. She can tell you upfront. And does, right here at: https://www.janefriedman.com/to-the-people-who-want-me-to-read-their-writing/
Between us, I believe everything she says in the article is a bullseye, and I’m suggesting that anyone reading this who is looking for someone to read their work and tell them what to do with it next should definitely click on over and have at it.
While I’m on this subject, I’d like to recommend another post on this same subject but with a decidedly different perspective.
I’m talking about Josh Olson’s epic diss of the demands new writers have made of him over the years. Anger isn’t often entertaining, but Josh’s post at: https://www.villagevoice.com/2009/09/09/i-will-not-read-your-fucking-script/ is.
Josh’s rant is a classic and, well, that’s all I’ll say. Sit back, disengage yourself, and enjoy a wonderful shredding.
LB’S NOTE: While we’re on the subject, if you want to pay a kindly, sensitive, retired old pro who is now in the business of occasionally reading the work of new writers and giving a tip or three let me know. I may be able to hook you up.