We have thousands of people daily trying to enter into the arena of the writing profession only to find that they’re like salmons swimming up stream and getting eaten by the bears in the process. What I mean is that quite a few good, deserving people never make it when it comes to writing books or screenplays.
Recently I have noticed so many schemes on the internet where dream sellers are out to separate people from their money. People come up daily with ways of feeding off writers who are swimming upstream. Yesterday alone, I saw four new screenplay contests. It costs to enter these and the entrepreneurs who craft them have found a terrific source of income via potential writers.
I noticed on Linkedin how many people are breathless in excitement as they search for entry into the world of becoming a real (not ersatz) money-earning member of the writing community. Then I noticed on Facebook an invitation for people to attend a whole convention on screenwriting that is being held in a large Canadian city. You are invited to attend workshops of all sorts—for money of course. That’s a lot of change to pay for airfare to Canada plus the price of admission to the convention not to mention these fabulous workshops. Sure you can probably get some good feedback from people but the bottom line is that you’re paying money for a dream. The truth of the matter is that selling a screenplay is almost a closed shop these days.
I have mentioned such things in all of my blogs since the very first one early this spring—yet the mass of want-to-be writers don’t care to hear my FREE truth. All of my blogs are free and do not promote lessons, workshops, editing or anything that costs the reader money. Apparently most people would rather read a Pollyanna blog where hope and dreams can come true if you only throw some money in the pot. Most people will pay hard-earned cash to hear fairy tales rather than the truth which is free. A few years back, I got so upset with all of this, I wrote a stage play entitled TIJUANA LADY. The principal theme is that people would rather hear a lie than the truth any day. At least my play has had some very good acceptance by audiences and critics.
I dare say if I preached a bunch of syrupy rhubarb about how hunky dory things are in the screenwriting world and that success is just one re-write away, my readership would quadruple over night. Most people believe in the tooth fairy and don’t want a thing to do with cynics like me.
I wish I could believe in the dream-come-true aspect of these fantasy schemes but I have seen most of them be what they are—money-making plots that are helping max out a lot of people’s credit cards.
I’d say the reason behind all this craven dream selling lies in the way we’ve developed as a nation over the last fifteen or so years. In the past, it was possible to pitch your hat into the ring with a dream attached to it and maybe come up with something, However, in these present days it’s almost a complete waste of time because dreams now cost.
Fifteen years ago you could write someone in power a letter and have an actual chance to get an answer. Nowadays, you can write all the letters you want to powerful people and you are guaranteed that you will not hear a peep back from them. So, bingo, the exploiters among us came up with a way to turn the situation into a gold mine. They will promise you access to these powerful people for a price via their workshops, contests or personal meetings. This has become big business and not only adds more bucks to the pockets of the powerful for their participation but especially to the bank accounts of the flim-flam people.
The poor and unknown used to have some rights but no longer. In the latest issue of a very popular entertainment magazine, a successful screenwriter being interviewed was asked what advice he had for aspiring writers. He answered that first of all, it’s best if your father and grandfather are in the industry. Closed shop? You bet.
We are living in times where equal opportunity no longer exists. A wall just as visible as the Berlin structure has been erected in recent times between the haves and have-nots in show business. It’s getting worse by the day because those with wealth and power and privilege are making sure that there is no equal opportunity.
The people at the bottom of the totem pole find that they have to pay to get even a hint of making it to first base. What a tawdry world for an aspiring and perhaps very talented person. The one thing that really gets my goat is when these people who take your money make statements such as, “A truly good screenplay or book will always find its place and be discovered.” That is total nonsense and it’s just their way of raking in more money. I suppose the only way to stop such a merry-go-round is to stop subsidizing these people who live off the hopes and dreams of others.
America must get back to where some opportunity is available for all. When will that come about—especially for writers? My guess is that day will come once we get our national psyche repaired, which will be done when we restore our middle class. Right now we have 400 families having as much money as the bottom 150 million of our citizens. That doesn’t foretell an exciting plot line for either the written or oral word.