Thursday, December 6, 2012
From Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop, I give you a little story of a life lesson learned from a college experience.
I wanted, more than anything, to be an actress! I took classes, called in sick to my day job so I could be an "extra" in non-union productions, and even took some work that could only be filmed from midnight to morning (grocery store commercial). I was young and stupid, but not yet willing to let go of the dream. When I tired of competing with the gazillion other young and stupids chasing the same dream, I thought about looking for work on the other side of the camera...writing. I had no idea whether or not I was any good, but I had always enjoyed writing. Let's give it a shot! I went back to college and enrolled in a screenwriting class. I was pumped!
For a project, I scoured the newspaper for a word or two that spoke to me. I found some, and began writing an outline and the first few pages of a script that included suspense, romance, and exotic locations. I had a specific TV show in mind to work this story around. It was fun, challenging and such a boost to my self-esteem to complete the project. The creme was getting an "A" on it, which meant stamp of approval from someone who was currently working in the business. "Someone who was currently working in the business" should have spoken to me, as well!
Flash forward a few years...it's a 2:00 a.m. feeding for my second wee one...I turn on the TV to a rerun of a favorite show of mine. The story seems familiar, and I just think that maybe I've seen it already. Then the proverbial light goes on. IT'S MY STORY!!!!!!!!!!!! It's my story, with a few minor changes in dialogue. I curiously and patiently waited for the credits at the end of the show. Guess what? The screenwriter was one and the same as my teacher! I felt robbed, and after the initial four-letter words spewed from my lips, I realized there was nothing I could do about it, and I actually conceded that maybe he needed the work more than I did.
My college lesson...and loving suggestion to all writers...protect your hard work.
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