Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I can't hide in the corner forever

Hung out with Maggie from Bootstrap Sunday. She feels bad about the mix-up over Battlestar. Don't feel bad, Maggie. I liked learning about St. Catherine and her exploding wheel at the Getty Center Icons exhibit. Maggie knows things.

I was at the Getty Center to meet a bunch of other writers but I couldn't find them. The two of us had fun anyway. Fun with turkey soup and brie sandwiches. Mmmmm brie.

One of the best things about writing a blog is the opportunity it gives you to connect with other writers. I sound all obnoxious and outgoing in my posts, but I'm actually kind of shy in an unfamiliar situation. If I have a mission - say, stamping people's hands at boxed lunch distribution at the Expo or directing a wild herd of meandering teenagers into their classrooms - I'm fine. I know the rules, I've got clear instructions. But a new room with new rules and new people throws me for a loop. When I finally land that staff writing job, I doubt I'll say anything at all the first time in the writer's room. The second time they won't be able to shut me up.

And don't get me started on how much I hate phone calls. I spent a whole miserable five months of my life a a small town news reporter before I realized how much I hate calling strangers on the phone.

But these are things every writer must be able to do. Pitching I'm not worried about. Pitching is teaching; you have a mission, an expectation and an act to play out that you can plan ahead of time. What worries me is the networking.

Every writer must be able to walk into a room filled with industry people and come out with a dozen business cards. You have to wow people with your storytelling ability and convince them that you're an up-and-comer. You have to cold call agents and their assistants and smooth talk them into agreeing to read your brilliant spec.

The thought of these things fills me with terror. I once stood right next to Paul Haggis for a full ten minutes. I avoided all eye contact. At the Battlestar Galactica showing I watched Jane Espenson walk right by me and didn't say anything, even though I knew she'd come there with Maggie and I had a legitimate reason to talk to her. The show's writers stopped to talk to the dorks in front of me over and over. Did I say anything? No. Then I blamed it on my looks.

That's why the Scribosphere is important. It's almost impossible to avoid meeting new people when you fall into the daily blog reading. Everybody's so nice. One of the reasons people tell you to move to LA is that everybody here is out to help each other. That's very true. People you've only just met are perfectly willing to go out on a limb to give you a leg up because somebody gave it to them once. It's a very pay-it-forward town. There are assholes, of course. There are people who only help you if you can help them. But they're few and far between. Most people in LA are very nice.

But you have to able to say hi to them first.


  1. Hi Emily...

    Not to tell you your blog business, but I'd make more sense under tv writers as I've never done movies other than tv movies.

    But happy to be here.

    And get out of the corner!

  2. I have great sympathy with you. Give me a structure and a list, a way to know I'm doing things exactly right, and I'm an arrogant SOB. Show me a new situation with subjectivity and relationally-ness, and I'll freeze right up.

    Although you're at least polite. My first day in the writer's room, they'd all hate me within five minutes.

  3. Not entirely unlike me.

    First word to someone is difficult.
    The tenth word is much easier.
    The hundredth word is too easy.

  4. Good to see I'm not alone.

    And how dare you, Will. I'll tell you what you can and cannot write, dammit. Do what I say. Write some movies.


  5. Anonymous8:06 PM

    Yup. Scary how close some of that comes to describing me.


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