24 October, 2007

How to Become Famous by Tomorrow

American Chronicle:

" I was recently approached by a marketing guru who wanted me to pen a slap-dash ebook for him by Christmas that would carry a grabber title along the lines of “How to Write Screenplays for Fun and Profit”. Quite the little stocking-stuffer to be sure, its intended readership to include those who had already purchased how-to’s that instructed them on the craft of building backyard bird feeders, making perky stencils from vegetables, and fashioning 150 Halloween pet costumes out of napkins.

When I diplomatically suggested that screenwriting wasn’t exactly a pursuit for the weekend hobbyist, his ballistic retort affirmed what I already suspected; specifically, that hawking a dream is more lucrative to the seller than imparting any useful reality that could actually make that dream come true for the buyer. As my grandfather used to quip, the quickest way to make a million dollars is a two-step process: (1) write a book called “How to Make a Million Dollars” and (2) sell it.

The screenplay and fiction workshops I’ve taught over the years have only reinforced the notion that we’ve become a microwave society that wants instant results. I recall a student who once asked me what the secret was to becoming a writer. (Had I told him to put a blank ream of paper under his pillow at night and let the words flow out of his head as he slept, I’m pretty sure he would have believed me.)

“The first thing to do,” I told him, “is to pull out a chair and sit down.”

“Then what?” he asked.

“Then start writing,” I replied.

“But seriously,” he pressed with an underscore of whininess, “what’s the secret?” "

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