Don#8217;t mess with writers

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 9, 2007

“Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.”-Olin Miller.

If all the hoopla on that other planet we call Los Angeles has not taught you not to mess with writers then I’m sorry you have ink on your face.

When I first learned about the Writers Guild of America going on strike and watched as random actors picketed along side their “colleagues,” I thought sarcastically, “Great, here goes another soundless Hollywood cause.”

The strike involves many of the scriptwriters for several well-known shows like, “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives,” “24,” “Law & Order” and every other show you might sit down to watch each evening.

Yep, that means while the writers are out on the streets marching to their “Put the pencil down” chants your favorite shows will be on reruns. The writers are striking for more of a cut in internet and DVD sales.

There seems to be a misconception that since these writers are associated with Hollywood, they some how are millionaires and probably don’t need a hike in their paycheck.

And with a typical salary of $100,000-$200,000, there is a part of me that says they don’t need a hike.

However, that money is only guaranteed if you’re a writer that is working, otherwise you may be writing for much less or unemployed.

Compare that salary to the millions of dollars actors and actresses get for one episode and if there were a working class in Hollywood it would probably be the writers.

It always has been and forever will be an unpredictable job market for writers as they are involved with an art form.

It’s just like being a musician that plays the piano and an artist that paints. The only difference is the choice medium.

If you don’t believe writing is an art form, then you’ve never been a writer.

You’ve never worked into the late night, huddling over a pen and pad or keyboard and screen nor have you been compelled to wake up at 3 a.m. because a sleepless night has rendered one good sentence.

If you haven’t been a writer you probably don’t know what it’s like put your feelings, opinions and observances out there for the world to judge.

If you’ve never been caught in a daydream nor know what it’s like to spend hours, days months frustrated with writer’s block then you don’t have a clue what it’s like to be a writer.

Writers are often moody, defensive and we often take things personally. We think in words, sentences and stories. We don’t see a flower and think, “Oh, that’s pretty.” Instead, boundless adjectives come to mind.

Although we’re usually a solitary creature, when a group of us gets together we know we can share that wit and humor only other writers would appreciate.

We write even if we’re not getting paid. This is probably true even with the protesters. When they put down the picket signs and retire for the evening the first thing they do is go home and write.

And God knows if you come between a writer and their story…woof, you might as well be between a lion and its kill.

Believe it or not, writers do their part to make the world spin. They bring you your news and your entertainment as evident with the Writers Guild strike.

It’s kind of strange to see these wealthy actors marching along side with these scriptwriters who make “pennies” in their sorted, twisted dimension.

But there they go, flocking to the streets of Burbank, slinging signs over their shoulders with the “real” folks. Yes, being Gregarian is like, so in now.

Still the biggest question remains. Why have all these flaky actresses skipped their manicures and pedicures to hold up a sign and chant like Hugo Chavez is trying to take over L.A.?

There’s no one to tell them to exit stage left.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.