November 14, 2007
Kiss & Tell
No More Words?
Each time a writer sits down to write (like women peeing, I'm assuming most don't do it standing up) he or she faces a blank page. No one else who is involved in making a film or television show must face that abyss. Their job is to interpret the existing words on the page whether the person is a producer, actor, director, cinematographer, or prop person.
Creating something from nothing, conjuring compelling characters, witty dialogue, and plots which keep you guessing is a daunting task and those who do it well have my utmost regard. Unlike big-name actors and directors you never hear stories of writers holding out for $20 million paychecks or insisting in their contracts that their hair only be washed in Evian water. They even have to ask permission to be on the set of their own films.
The Writers Guild of America is now officially on strike due to the miniscule residual payments writers receive from DVDs, the Internet and other new media outlets. While this strike reality may not have crossed your path yet I have news to make you stop in your tracks – "Grey's Anatomy" has shot its last scripted show. McDreamy and McSteamy have put down their scalpels and are relegated to McRerun status.
Guild member writers have turned off their laptops and taken their carpal tunnel to the picket line. NPR ran a story pointing out that they had expected more in terms of slogans since of course these are some of the most talented and witty writers around and found "On Strike" slightly disappointing. They liked the one sign "No money. No funny," slightly better although one commentator pointed out that if writers are on strike the sign should technically be blank.
What will happen to writers who don't write? I predict a rise in marital and relationship problems, not only because of the economic uncertainty but because there's only so much laundry and cleaning out your spam that you can do before you start driving yourself and everyone else crazy. And if they choose to sit around and watch TV all day, all they'll have are reruns and reality shows. And given the amount of reality programming on right now are we ready for more? (Although TV's little secret is that even reality programs have writers.)
So what exactly does a day without writers look like?
Think what would happen if the columnists who entertained you here at this paper went on strike. Would you really want to look at blank pages with just a bunch of headshots of me and Jerry and Rick and everyone else? Some of you might relish the opportunity to enlarge them and use them as dartboards but for those who enjoy entertainment along with news you might actually miss us. You must know that the reason we write, at least columns in local papers, is never for the money because it's barely enough to cover a decent pedicure.
We write because of the voices in our heads (the good kind) that have something to say. We write because every once in a while we connect with someone else and make that person laugh, think, cry, or say, "I know exactly what you mean." We write because we believe this is what we are here to do . . . and we suck at picking stocks.
Yet excellent writing should be rewarded and more than just emotionally. It should be rewarded financially and for all the producers who are making money off a product which, until a brave writer brought it to life with words, was nothing more than a blinking cursor I would suggest sharing the cash pie.
You can find more of my writing at HamptonsHeather.com or drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.