Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Well...

Life is about slots and putting people into slots. We resist, but in reality, we're very comfortable in those slots. We know what we've going to get, and you actually get paid pretty well to stay in those slots. Innovation is RARE, and those who innovate tend to pay a price. When it comes to the business of writing, I've always had a yin-yang relationship with being in a slot and my desire to innovate.

For example, there are books outside of the African American genre that I'd like to write, however since my success is in the African American market, it's damn near impossible to break out. I'd have to cultivate a whole new audience, hell, before that I'd have to convince my agent that it was worthwhile to do. So I'm going to be writing books in the African American genre for my writing career. Is that bad? Not really. I LOVE writing about Black people. But it is bad in another way, since I'm basically constrained.

I mentioned that because in my 434, Dave gave us the real about how you are looked at as a Hollywood writer. If you establish yourself as a comedy writer, then voila, you write comedy and not drama. You fit into a slot. Women writers are in a slot. Black writers are in a slot. Etc. Your artistic sensibilities want to rebel against being slotted, but your bank account welcomes it. What's funny is that I like writing because I tend to hate anything that resembles a conventional occupation. But the more writing you do, you realize that writing is just as conventional as anything else. And every writer is slotted, whether they like it or not.

3 comments:

Tim A. said...

You can break out of the slot and move to another. Just takes a year of not making any $ and usually the hiring of a new agent. I've done it twice. Went from dark female protag writer, to fun kid flick writer and now to writer/producer of biopics and edgier fare. It can be done, but it's a huge jump off a very high bridge.
Tim

Lawrence said...

You're right. Dave was talking about having a great Western script, but not daring to show it. I remember watching a History channel doc about the guy who produces Makers Mark whiskey (my favorite). The recipe had been in the family for generations, but this guy wanted to make a smoother whiskey. So he burned the only copy of the whiskey recipe, and started over. It took years for the new product to cure, with no guarantee of success. But when they tasted the final product, it was just what they wanted. I think that's the same thing for me. I need to choose my genre CAREFULLY. Maybe milk the whole African American genre until I can't write it anymore, and then reinvent as something else later. So perhaps I should correctly say that these arend't slots, but stages.

business voodoo said...

or, you can just do what you want ... slots are for people with attachments to other's ideas for their lives ... having escaped hotel cali, that is the biggest mistake people make in california ... they think they need to be in a slot ... sure, work the slot ... so long as you are working it ... but stay true to your muse and journey ... move out of l.a. if you have to ... go to new york and the slots are all different ... go to london and, again, different slots ...

the one slot to definitely avoid ... the 'fear' slot! how many people have a project but are afraid it won't be accepted because i'm in this slot and they won't accept it ...

find the stages that show you off, but don't be afraid to jump off the stage and go direct to your audience ... that's when you get not just the $$ pay off, but the divine one as well!

peace & harmony,
elaine
'freedom must be exercised to stay in shape!'