When I first meet someone and tell him/her that I’m a TV writer, I pretty much hear two responses.
1) “I don’t watch television.”
2) “What shows do you write for?” (go here if you were curious)
Followed by a, “Cool,” or the more common “Oh.”
Every so often, however, I’ll get asked by the stranger/person I’ve just met, “Can you read my ________ ” Go ahead. Fill in that blank. If it can be written, I’ve probably read it: screenplays, bios, spec scripts, essays, etc.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing. In fact, I owe a great deal to all the generous friends and mentors who’ve read and given feedback on my works-in-progress. One of my girlfriends flat-out told me the one-woman-show I was attempting to write was atrocious and that I needed to turn my stories into personal essays. I did, and those essays led to two pilot script deals (ps - THANK YOU).
It’s more the apprehension I have about being asked by a complete stranger to read his or her work. Then again, I’m not going to knock anyone for being daring and bold. Life’s not about playing it safe, right? (no, really, I’m asking…)
I can say, however, there’s at least one instance where you should NEVER ask someone (friend or not) to read your material.
A couple of years ago, a woman I’d just met asked, “So what do you do?” (see above). After I answered, she beamed and said, “I’m a writer, too!” She proceeded to tell me how she’s a songwriter and had a catalog of songs that are perfect for X or Y country artist. She then asked if I’d be willing to look at them.
All I could think was:
a) I know nothing about song writing
b) HOLY F’N *&%, I have a kid!
See, less than 24 hours prior to that, I had given birth. Un. Medicated.
The hubs and I were still staring at/in awe of this new alien being in my arms when the nurse sprang this question on me. Through my fog (and certainty that I’d somehow scarred the kid for life because I hadn’t figured out how to do a %&@* proper latch) I politely told the woman my lack of songwriting knowledge and wished her luck. Undeterred, she said she’d bring me her notebook the next time she came by.
Fortunately for me, she’d left that notebook at home.
So in case you were ever thinking, hey, that writer in that hospital bed is not going anywhere for another day or so, now would be the perfect time for me to give them my stuff.
No. No, it would not.
Why, yes, even though my bottom half is on FIRE and I can’t use the facilities unassisted, I would LOVE to read your latest masterpiece.