I did something ill-advised this morning. I read anonymous comments on a blog. That’s always a bad idea for one’s blood pressure.
The blog in question was from screenwriter Josh Olson. It’s great, read it here: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2009/09/i_will_not_read.php
Be warned, it’s a minefield of F-bombs, and understandably so, because his experience you can file under “N” for “No good deed goes unpunished.”
He’s the screenwriter of the critically acclaimed “A History of Violence,” starring Viggo Mortensen. And it sounds like, heretofore, Olson has been helpful to those aspiring screenwriters around him. Recently, to paraphrase his experience, a vague acquaintance asked him to read a two-page synopsis which turned out to be terrible. Olson turned himself inside-out trying to compose an e-mail response that would be both kind and honest, which is what the acquaintance claimed he wanted. Honesty.
It backfired on him, in terms of a terse reply from the acquaintance, and people being pissed off at him within their circle of mutual friends. So I don’t blame Olson one bit for refusing to read any more scripts from vague acquaintances who impose on his time and leverage a relationship for their own personal and professional gain.
Here’s where it gets awful to the point of comical. Several of the commenters in the first part of the comment thread after the post (I could only stomach so much and gave up reading them) seem to believe that Olson is a jerkface. One rascally commenter, playing off the title of the blog, “I Will Not Read Your (Bleeping) Script” said, “I won’t see your (Bleeping) movie.” Oh, ho ho! So clever! Another brilliant commenter compared Olson’s photo to “a rectum with eyeglasses.” Zing! Yet another said the critical acclaim for his screenplay for “A History of Violence” doesn’t count because it’s an “adapted” screenplay, therefore Olson must not be very good, thus he’s not worth listening to. Gotcha!
The hilarious part of this is that if these commenters think Olson (or anyone else like him reading the post) are hoping he’ll be shamed or zinged into revising his policy, they’d better think again. Their entitled, sourpuss, crybaby attitude only proves his point.
I am not famous enough to have to deal with such desperate approaches, I’m happy to say. The people who have asked me for help have been polite, have had a legitimate connection, and more to the point, they have shown an actual interest in my own work. And they have been gracious if I’ve had to decline.
The only exceptions were a couple of instances where through rather strange marketing techniques, some have tried to get me to tout their manuscripts, though we had no connection, no introduction, and here was the galling part: they did not even feign the slightest interest in my own books. (They could have at least read the back cover copy and pretended to have liked my work.)
Confession time: I once made my own hamhanded approach to a bestselling writer. I look back and shudder at my tackiness, and presumption. I wish someone had talked me out of it. But I did it over email, it was easily deleted (and forgotten, let’s hope) and I certainly did not hold it against Bestselling Writer that he ignored me, not one whit.
Look, if you’re ever tempted to grouse and bitch because someone famous can’t take time from drinking mimosas by the pool to lavish praise on your manuscript, please, for the love of printer ink, check yourself. Someday you might be lucky enough to be fending off such advances, and a little positive karma certainly wouldn’t hurt.