I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script (Village Voice)

Here is a daunting reality: professional screenwriters don’t like being treated as life coaches for free. Take a read. The title says it all.

To note: I’m on the receiving end of this advice. I’d love to be able to reach out to industry professionals and solicit professional-quality feedback, but I know better now. Instead, I guess I’ll…just…produce my own work and hope it works out? I dunno. There’s a better path, I’m sure. Anyway, it never does me any good to meet working professionals whom I admire. I have a history of awkwardness.

Just read the article.

I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script – New York – News – Runnin’ Scared.

 

7 Replies to “I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script (Village Voice)”

  1. As far as how aspiring writers can get professional feedback… I think he thought he covered it with the whole “go to school and take writing classes” bit. For any artist who wants guidance, that’s really the only option.

    I’m not sure that I agree that it’s a lack of respect for the artist that causes people to do things like this. It’s more of a lack of understanding of what the work of art really is.

    Or, more to point – it’s a lack of understanding that art is work.

    Non-artists really do believe that art is inspiration. An artist is struck by a vision, and voila! Art! Like Athena bursting fully-formed from the mind of Zeus.

    People who don’t do art, and who haven’t put in the time to learn and practice it, don’t understand that it’s work – slogging, grueling, frequently boring, work. They don’t understand that it’s far more about technique and craft and hours spent than it is about inspiration.

    Hell, even I thought art was just about inspiration before I started acting. Theatre was a brutal wake-up call. I always thought that the reason I wasn’t a writer was because I simply didn’t have a properly inspired mind. Now I know that – while inspiration, or the lack thereof, is a factor – the real reason I’m not a writer because I’m not willing to slog through the mind-numbing hours of work it takes to write. That’s a skill set that I haven’t paid the dues to acquire.

    Anyone who hasn’t learned this lesson the hard way will never understand what being an artist is. No matter how much they may respect art and artists, they can’t understand what an artist does or how they do it.

    1. Agreed. It is work. Lots and lots of work. Time and effort. That’s part of the paradox of being an artist — a properly finished product will not reveal any of the time and effort put into it, so audiences tend to appreciate only the finished product and not the time or work put into it. Then artists find themselves talking on a regular basis with people who have no appreciation of the craft, only the product, and resentment starts to seep in.

      I’m going to make a point of getting to the same level (someday!) of Mr. Olson there, and I’m going to re-read this article from time to time to remind myself that if anyone should ever ask for advice in this manner, I must remain patient and sympathetic, but not at the expense of my own sanity. Surely there’s a happy medium.

  2. I agree with Keogh.

    One point I would like to make is that am I the only one who finds it odd that when you ask a favor (which is what this is) and the person you ask refuses that is within their right, and you as the asker should recognize that and not think that that person is a dick? Last I checked if asked any of you or a random person on street to do the same, you’re operating under no requirement for you to read or do anything and I’m not entitled to those benefits either. Now If I was paying in some form then it would be different.

    I just just don’t get this mentality that someone is at fault if a request is made and refused.

    1. Ah, yes, here we see some of the burdens of living in a civilized society, of being psychologically complex animals. Asking a favor, especially from a known acquaintance, carries certain expectations, and refusing a favor carries unspoken guilt. I personally think it ought to be the other way around — the one asking the favor should assume any feelings of guilt, and the one doing the refusing should assume certain expectations (explanation for the refusal, counteroffer, etc.).

      I think this article, whether you find it elegant or not, is an attempt to achieve exactly that. The sentiment is that the asker is placing undue guilt upon a an artist who behaves in a professional and logical manner. The tone is that of an artist who receives this treatment quite frequently. So as a rebuttal against frequent undue feelings of guilt and resentment, the artist places the guilt upon the asker, who, logically, ought to be the one feeling guilty.

      I see your point — why any feelings of guilt at all? A simple favor, and a simple yes or no. We should all be so lucky if every situation is as easy as that. But our civilized society is complex and ridiculous, and solutions to simplify on a grand scale do not happen overnight. So we need articles like this one to get the ball rolling.

      1. I realize that is the authors point it’s just stunning to me how there are these layers of guilt and forced commitment with bad feelings for any outcome for people who do have better things to do. I guess it comes from a mantra my old career training: learn how to say no. With grace and compassion at all times but in the end say no so you don’t deliberately take up commitments that you don’t need or you can’t do. This not to say I haven’t spectacularly failed at this on occasion but it was something I keep as part of my operational mentality. I have said no to commitments I don’t need and if there is guilt on my part (and hopefully others) it’s smoothed over by my professional standards. But that’s just me.

        As another tangent to this I have to wonder about the mindset of the aspiring writer. I know that he touches upon the point that if you want to get feedback ask those you know long before you ask a professional in the field to get you past through the first few drafts. However, the perceived expectation of the aspiring writer to stringently request someone act as a mentor is interesting, traditionally mentors get to pick their students not the other way around which seems to be the case here. The person with the 2 page proposal acts, in the writers view, as someone looking for assistance and then displeased with the assistance they got. I know it’s just one case, but it’s an odd stance to take to me.

        1. But yes we can hope that essays like this can bring about a better standard of treatment for artists and the unseen work that they do to bring their art forward to be seen and used.

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