Why Would A Girl Like Me Write A Book Like That?
I am a nice girl. I have a nice family. I live in a nice house. Sure, I am Israeli, which does mean I say things that are a bit in your face every once in a while, but in general I’d like to think that I am just not one who says – or does – as Jennifer Lawrence so aptly put it in Silver Lining Playbook “More inappropriate things than appropriate things.” So… What gives? Why would a girl like me who prides herself on managing – for the most part – to remain Switzerland in situations both professional and personal, write a book that’s already ruffled feathers even before it was published?
When I initially approached my publisher, Michael Weise Productions, with the book proposal for Getting It Write: An Insider’s Guide To A Screenwriting Career, I was asked to conduct a survey with my existing coaching clients, both professional and emerging. The purpose of the survey was to ask piercing questions about my own strengths, weaknesses and coaching style, which would in turn inform the tone of my book. To be honest, I braced myself. I always worried that my style was a bit too in-your-face. Like every other good Israeli, I was never one to mince words. This is a tough industry, and I spoke about it. I never coddled, I never sugar-coated, I never tried to inspire false hope in my clients in order to keep me going. I imagined some pretty strong words coming back in that survey. Words like: Harsh. Unforgiving. Grim. Demanding. I imagined that someone might even write something to the tune of “when I first heard you speak, I thought you were a bitch… ” Instead, the terms used to describe me took me by surprise: Clear. Concise. Authentic. Firm but supportive. Friendly. Understanding. Real.
Which is when a lightbulb went off in my head, and I understood the very thing that has carried me through my coaching work: Writers are not the fragile creatures everyone fears them to be. While there are some writers out there who are just starting out and are focused entirely on the confirmation of their brilliance, most writers who have been around for a while, whether working or emerging, want the TRUTH. They want to understand how the industry works, so that they are able to navigate through it. They want the bottom line about their work, so that they can get it in the best shape for the industry. They are eager for some straight-talk about what it takes, what works, what doesn’t, and where they should invest their time and energy in order to consistently and effectively move their screenwriting career forward.
When I first started talking about this book, very few people believed me. No one thought that a book whose Forward says flatly: “If it’s an easy road you’re looking for, the snap of a finger, a fairy tale in which you send your script to a single industry executive and become a screenwriting sensation overnight, this book is not for you.” would find an audience. Let’s face, this is an industry without guaranteed results. There is no 3-step plan to becoming a working screenwriter. You have to try every avenue available to you deliberately and methodically in order to give yourself the fighting chance you deserve. Everywhere you look, you will find evidence to support it: Kenny Kyle failed to get into any of the TV fellowships, but went on to win Final Draft’s Big Break, which opened endless doors for him. Every one of my writers who got picked up for representation by an agent or manager was passed on by a slew of others. Fortunately for me, my publisher, Michael Weise Productions, got behind me with this message and allowed me to write an entire book about it, the book that is now Getting It Write. Just as importantly, the screenwriting support community has embraced my message, and helped me get the word about the book out there.
That said, let’s be clear on one thing: This book will not please everyone. While I have no vendetta against ANYONE, my mission was to provide insight about what – from the crowd sourced information I’ve gathered over my many years in this space – works, and what doesn’t, which brought with it some casualties. Long before this book hit the shelves, I was called out on material that can be interpreted as upsetting to writers (for example, why a screenplay fails or the disadvantages of living outside of Los Angeles), as well as services and providers out there whose promise may not be relevant for today’s market, or whose offerings provide a benefit different – or less glamorous – than the one advertised to the masses.
So why did a girl like me write a book like that? The answer is simple: Because all the writers I’ve worked with have taught me that writers are strong enough. Sure, writers want to find success, to see their name up in lights, to stop having to suffer disappointment and frustration. But ultimately, I learned from the writers I work with every day that, for the most part, the individuals out there who have dedicated themselves to this craft, who are grinding out script after script, who are just fighting for that break, are looking for someone to give it to them straight. Yes, it might ruffle some feathers. It might live up to my worse fears and somehow offend. I might get called any one of those words I so feared when I sent out my survey. But this book had to be written for those hard working writers out there who are doing all they can to find their way to success.