Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Secret of My Non-Success

I’ve just had one of those quintessential LA writer experiences. I visited a writer friend on the set of the network show he writes for. Because you know, really, we’re all friends. At least we pretend to be. He gave us the full treatment: headphones to listen to the dialog while we watched the monitors, intros to the show’s stars, and even dinner at the crew’s craft service table.

This writer friend is one of those effortlessly successful people. In truth he’s the friend of a writer friend of a writer friend so I didn’t know that much about him. Curious as to how he grabbed one of the brass rings of the writer world: the Staff Writer Job, I asked him more about his background.

It seems he’d always been into film but had started out with his sights on a law degree. So he got one. From a really good school. Then, while he was passing the bar he decided to apply to grad school for film. With his glowing, brainiac scholastic record, he obviously got in. He then worked as a junior lawyer while going to film school and soon he had both his JD and his MFA.

With the contacts he had in both worlds, he was able to parlay his thesis film into representation and then this job. As he told me his career history, I began to feel like a big fat poseur. No credits to my name. No fancy advanced degrees. Just producing an Indie because I’m silly enough to think I can.

They say writers are really a bitter bunch and that we hold any other writer’s success against him. As this charming Southern boy aw-shucks-ed his way though his personal triumphs I found it hard to hate him. But I managed a modicum of resentment and ire.

Sure, I mused, I’ll just run right out and get my Jurist Doctorate and bang out a few well-received short films. Then I’ll just casually pull off an MFA and voila! It’s all so clear to me now. Why didn’t I think of that before?

Watching the set up for the final scene, I clung to my wisp of belief that my path is just different that his; my lack of “esquire” after my name won’t in fact preclude me from Hollywood success. At last I reasoned that anyone that has such success in so many other areas can’t be that good of a writer. I mean you have to bleed ink to really be a writer. A sideline interest never makes a byline paycheck.

Then I watched the scene film; a tense moment between father and daughter with subtext and understated emotion. At last I found the will to genuinely dislike this man. Now I’m a real Hollywood writer.

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