Happy birthday, Anna Beth. I miss you, old lady.
Keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow’s negotiations… and for tomorrow night’s episode of Samantha Who? — which moves to its brand-new time slot at 9pm (8pm Central)! (Following the season finale of Dancing With the Stars!)
(My life is so very very very weird.)
Want even weirder? “The Hypnotherapist” episode of Samantha Who? is currently number 28 on iTunes. It’s the first time I’ve gone to check over there. This strike is bumming me out. Which is why I decided to plow back through the inbox, to give myself a little pep talk from all y’all. With Oprah’s “Favorite Things” episode playing in the background. And coffee. Yeah, I’m pulling out all the stops before Week Four.
I’m of mixed feelings here.
I’m a writer. I’ve been a writer since the moment that I first learned that the little squiggles on pages represented words and that those words could go inside of me and come out again, revealing thoughts and emotions and all kinds of things that were filled with magic and passion and life.
I’m also a ghost writer. I’ve ghost written screenplays and novels and non-fiction books. I get paid for my product, and that’s it. After that, someone else gets to do with it what they will. I merely used my talents to get the words out. (Yes, I’ve ghost written some screenplays and television shows that have earned the people who hired me a lot of money, and I didn’t see a dime of that. That’s fine, though — because I got paid for my initial product.)
When someone tells me that forty-eight percent of Guild writers are unemployed at any given time, my immediate response is: “So what?” Take a look at the rest of the country and ask me to shed a tear for the poor, unemployed writer. They’re unemployed because they want to be paid for living out their passion. The rest of the country is working at jobs they hate working at because that’s what you do when you have a family to support. Let’s face it — you think that someone like me enjoys getting next-to-nothing for writing a novel, while I’m also holding down two jobs? Of course not, but that’s what you do when you’re a grown-up.
Seems to me that a lot of the writers out there are babies.
The writers need to be careful here. As it is, more and more people are walking away from television and movies, and turning to the internet. But, they’re not turning to the internet to watch television and movies. They’re turning to the internet to watch “user content,” and some of it is really good. It’s the kind of good that might actually have gotten someone noticed if they had been able to get it into the right hands in the entertainment industry — but because the system is so closed, they couldn’t do it. (By the way, I’m not talking about myself here. That’s not my gig, but I know people who have more talent than the guys who wrote [edited to be kind — p.], that’s for sure.)
Sorry if my thoughts are rambling but I’ve been pulling a double shift and I should be in bed, but I just clicked on a link that was talking about the strike and why writers are doing it and I just wanted to share with you the thoughts of the great unwashed from Texas.
On the other hand, though, I’ll admit that I love SAMANTHA WHO and to let you know that you’ve got a talented team there.
Hi, Richard. I’ve thought a lot about your letter, and often, and I wanted to make sure to respond to it. I’m doing it publicly to show you that I really do care.
I started writing just as you did. Working on freelance projects, turning in a product and then never seeing it again, nor making any money off of it. I worked in Anime, creating the Americanized dub scripts for several series. Some made it to VHS and later DVD. They still sell them to this day. When you search my name on Amazon, it pulls up series I scripted, but I don’t get a dime off of that. But it helped me when I needed to earn enough money to come out here to Los Angeles and try to make a career out of writing. I wrote my first novel on unemployment, while hustling an assistant job for money under the table. I’ve written for the Internet for almost a decade now, and that’s money you can’t always count on. People used to tease me that I’ve got five jobs at any one time. That’s how you had to do it, to be a full-time freelance writer. To be able to afford the rent, the bills, self-employment health insurance, and all the things that come with the unpredictability of that kind of job. Was I whining that it was too hard, and was I being a baby? Not really. As far as I was concerned, there wasn’t another choice. I walked away from tech jobs. I stopped trying to make my website into an ad-blasting money machine. I didn’t give up performing, either.
But I didn’t start a family. And I had to leave Texas.
You and I made different choices in order to focus on what we had to do. We’ve both made sacrifices. We both went through hardships and financial difficulties. I don’t know you, so I can’t assume anything. I’m only going off of what you wrote here.
But here’s why I’m not being a baby. If your job was suddenly paying you less than you were supposed to earn, trying to roll back your health care and pension, and deciding which of your co-workers to supply health care and pension (namely, your upper management, but not you), and you decided to do something about that? I would fully support you. And it doesn’t matter what your career is, or where you work, or how much you make. You are entitled to a fair share of your business’ revenue.
Let’s go to the other extreme. Some jobs out there are extremely dangerous. To take them means to put your life at risk. You risk injury or even death. Does that mean someone who takes such a risky job shouldn’t complain when they’re injured? When something happens that requires health care or a pension? They knew that job was risky when they took it. Should I not feel for them when their families are struggling? When city ordinances or big business makes it harder for them to do their jobs, should I say if they don’t like it, they should get another job?
As for the Internet, and writers becoming obsolete with more and more people turning to user-created content — that’s why we’re striking. Not to save our jobs, but to protect those who will find themselves generating revenue and creating viable content for the Internet. Or soon you’ll find those same big companies owning those sites you love, and user-created content will turn into the same kind of work you and I used to do — but all of the revenue will be going back to those six companies. Do you really think it makes sense that the writers of the Emmy-award winning webisodes of The Office weren’t paid a single cent, when NBC makes money every time someone watches it?
The little guy needs someone to help them battle the big guy. That’s what the WGA is trying to do. That’s why we’re striking — not for ourselves, but for the writers that are going to be working here in the future. Most of the people walking the picket line won’t ever see the rewards of what we’re striking over. But someone who’s just starting out, hustling her ass off to make ends meet, hoping she can turn her passion into a career, hopefully after this strike is over, when she gets her big break, she’ll be entering an industry that protects her a bit more, and compensates her for the hard work and sacrifices she had to go through to be lucky enough to work.
It seems to me, the only way to be a baby is to complain without doing anything. I promise you, I’m doing everything I can to change what I perceive to be unfair. And the good news is, I’m not the only one doing everything I can. Unlike when I first started out in this business, I’m no longer alone. I’ve got thousands of people just like me, with the same drive and ambitions, all trying to reach the same goal. We’re not whining; we’re fighting.
My name’s Amanda, and I’m a junior at Boston University studying film and television. I’m also a long-time reader of pamie.com and your recaps at television without pity. I was so glad to see you writing about the strike, as I have been checking your blog religiously to see what your perspective was on the entire situation. I have always been entertained by everything you write, but in the last few days I have been moved as well.
I wanted to tell you that I am coming to study “abroad” in LA next semester through a program at BU, and everyone I have been talking to has been asking me again and again what I am going to do if I get out there and there are few internships available because of the strike. After reading unitedhollywood.com and your blog, as well as all the press coverage, I know that if I can’t find an internship (and really, even if I do), I’ll be coming out to the line, picking with the people who are picketing for me and my future. I wanted to thank you and everyone else out there for taking a stand, for not giving in, and for helping secure the future of those who will come after you. All the members of my Writing Episodic Drama class really appreciate it. I hope (or don’t hope) to see you all in January. I’ll try to bring you guys some of Boston’s finest Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.
Thanks, Amanda! Man, I hope by next semester I’ll be bringing you coffee while you’re working your internship. Tell your class I said hello, and that we thank them for caring.
Hey Pam, Just wanted to send a little love your way! You are very much on my mind this week and I’m behind you guys all the way. I think it is incredibly brave what you guys are doing and really RIGHT of you to do it. Y’all are the brains, humor and heart behind some of the most amazing art being made today and you deserve to be paid for it. Long story short. GIVE ‘EM HELL!!! My best to you this week and always, With affection and respect, ~Jami
I know you receive a ton of e-mail, and you don’t have to answer me if you don’t have the time. Just wanted to tell you that I love your work. I wouldn’t have started watching Samantha Who? if it weren’t for you, but I love it. And I loved your novels so much, I wanted everyone to read them.
But I also wanted to tell you that I support you and the writers. I love my tv shows, but I also want you guys to get the compensation you deserve. I talked about the strike on my blog, though it doesn’t really reach (anyone!) people in the US. Yeah, it’s in French. I also talked about you when I read your novels.
I hope for your sake that this doesn’t last too long. I hope you get to work again soon on Samantha Who?.
France is going through their own strike hell these days, and I’m always amazed when something that feels like it exists just in my neighborhood reaches so far and wide. Thanks, Annie, for spreading the word, and for getting in touch with me.
I’ve been keeping up with your blog the last few days (and I read it periodically–I am a TWoP-er from the days of yore), and I can’t believe you were in a car wreck on Sunday and out picketing and taking on security guards on Monday. You are awesome!
I moved to L.A. at the beginning of the year because I want to work on a television show. So I’m 100% behind the idea that the people who create these shows–writers, actors, producers, etc.–should get compensated for all their hard work. It physically hurts me that I [couldn’t] be at the big rally at Fox. But I’m trying to do my part. I honk when I drive by the studios, I’ve written letters to AMPTP and signed petitions, and today, I brought snacks to some writers at Sony. Tomorrow I’m going to go back and picket on my lunch break.
Also, I’ve seen some things in a similar vein.
Keep fighting the good fight!
Discovered your site last year when we all got to donate books to the Gulf Coast, and have been an avid reader ever since (and laughing at the charming Samantha Who?). First you get knocked by a bunch of selfish and greedy folks of AMPTP, and then you get knocked (again!) in a car accident. I hope you and your body are recovering from the accident even as you continue to fight for the right to earn a fair and living wage.
I can’t make it to LA to bring you sunscreen and water, but today I left work early and walked the line with your compatriots at the Time Warner Center in NYC.
ps- And I really really hope you are feeling better. Listen to that cool doctor of yours and keep taking the vicodin while you are healing.
(I’m all healed. No more bruises, no more bumps. Thanks to those of you who have written with your kind words and drug-pushing.)
I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I started this e-mail with the typical, “Dear Pamie, I’ve been a fan of your blog for years.” In all honesty, I have a few friends who follow your blog religiously, and I’ve stopped by from time to time over the past couple years. However, it hasn’t been until the past couple of days that I’ve been there every day. I’ve been doing my best to keep with all the strike info I can find, and pamie.com has been a great source of information for me. But it’s more than just a source of information. It’s reading about your personal struggle that really brings this thing home for me.
I don’t live anywhere near California. I’m stuck out here in the middle of the country, in Nebraska. As I read the latest news every day, I wish that I could leave my desk behind – I’m an accountant – and fly out to L.A. to join in your picket lines. Television is a medium that has meant so much to my life. The stories that television tells, the friends that I have made through the mutual love of a television show, the creativity that well-written television has inspired in me, well, it’s invaluable to me. Thus, I wanted to do some small something to help you guys (and gals) get what you so rightfully deserve.
My feeble attempt was to make a Livejournal post stating that I’m not going to stream episodes online or pay to download them, nor am I going to buy DVDs, until this strike is over. I also stated that I intend to write to the various networks and tell them exactly why I’m not doing these things. Included in my Livejournal entry was a picture, and really, the picture is the reason I’m writing to you. A couple people suggested you might like to see it. You see, I’m a huge Office fan, and like every huge Office fan, I have a Dwight bobblehead. The other day, I had an idea: if the Office cast is on strike, then Dwight should be on strike too. So I made him a little sign, and took a little picture.
Basically, I just want you to know that Dwight supports you. And I do too. I may not be able to strike with my physical presence, but I’m striking with you in spirit. Thank you for what you create! And thank you for standing up for what you deserve. Dwight and I are behind you 100%.
P.S. Sorry to hear about your car accident. I’m with you, though – I drive a 2000 Honda Civic right now, and I love that car. I will be a Honda driver for life! I hope you can get back to work and get a new Honda soon!
I love your Strike Dwight, Heather. Thanks so much for sharing it with me, and the readers of pamie.com. And thanks for your support.
See? The inbox is helping. …. and I’m going to pour myself some more coffee. It’s been an hour. How long do you think it’ll take to write this entry? I haven’t even unpaused Oprah.
Speaking of The Office, the other day I got to walk the line with one of their writers. Minutes earlier I was walking with a writer from King of the Hill and got so fangirl geeky with him that I noticed he kind of faded into another part of the line. Perhaps I shouldn’t go on about how funny Bobby Hill is when he’s hepped up on sugar. But Anthony was much more patient with me, even when I went on and on and on about how I was sure someone from his writing staff was spying on me, because when Angela told Dwight how to care for her cat — from rolling the insulin in his palm to putting half a capsule of a pill into the wet food — the instructions were so specifically what I do for Taylor that I had to ask if they were watching me. He said that Greg Daniels wrote that speech, and that he’d done internet research before writing it, and that Greg will be happy to hear he got it spot on. I kept saying, “But when she mentioned half a capsule in the wet food — it was just too similar!”
This is just another item in the long list of why I’ll never be cool.