A few days ago, Josh Olsen, a semi-successful screenwriter, published a piece in the Village Voice. It was called, “No I Won’t Read Your Fucking Script” and, like most screeds, it quickly made its way around the Web: people posted links to it on Twitter and on Facebook, which is where Laura saw it. She retweeted it onto Twitter and was quickly informed that there was a huge controversy about the piece taking place on Facebook and other forums where people where commenting quickly and rabidly — either in support of Josh’s position, or against it. It’s probably unnecessary to post any excerpts from the piece since, obviously, the title makes it pretty clear what his point is — No, he won’t read your fucking script, in case someone wasn’t quite sure — but for the sake of sharing, Laura will post a brief snippet here:
I will not read your fucking script.That’s simple enough, isn’t it? “I will not read your fucking script.” What’s not clear about that? There’s nothing personal about it, nothing loaded, nothing complicated. I simply have no interest in reading your fucking screenplay. None whatsoever.
If that seems unfair, I’ll make you a deal. In return for you not asking me to read your fucking script, I will not ask you to wash my fucking car, or take my fucking picture, or represent me in fucking court, or take out my fucking gall bladder, or whatever the fuck it is that you do for a living.
It goes on, of course, to tell the story (one of many, Laura is sure), of being asked to read something, saying yes reluctantly, only to realize that the thing he’s agreed to read sucks, then trying to decide whether or not to be honest with the writer about the fact that it sucks, deciding to be honest (big mistake), and then regretting the whole thing when, post-critique-email, he is informed by the person who connected the loser-writer with the semi-successful-screenplay-writer, that he is “a dick.”
This is Joel Olsen, and while Laura has no idea whether he’s a dick or not, she does know that if she wrote a piece like Joel’s it would be called: “No, You Don’t Want Laura To Read Your Manuscript Because Every Now And Then She Will Totally Fuck Up and Say, With The Best Of Intentions, That She Will Read It, But Then, Inadvertently, Because Life Gets Out of Control In One Way Or Another, She Will End Up Not Reading It and Feel Really Bad About Fucking Up.”
Laura read Joel’s screed and while of course she could relate to the many times she’s been asked to read something that she knows will probably suck, and then being in the extremely awkward position of having to decide what to do about it, much more often than that she has read things by friends and acquaintances that have been really really good. But occasionally, and she can remember with a sick feeling in her stomach right now several instances of this, she has said she’s going to read something and then she ends up not reading it: either it gets buried under a huge pile of shit (literally) and she unearths it months later, or she starts it and then gets completely run over by life events and things that feel completely beyond her control, and before she knows it three or four or five months has gone by and the situation seems beyond apology. She’s tried to get better about this over the years but she knows that even though she’s tried and even though she’s had some excellent and very valid excuses reasons for fucking up in this way, the fact remains that it’s pretty inexcusable when it happens and she wishes it didn’t. For anyone reading this brant who has been disappointed by Laura in this very way, she’s truly sorry.
Laura’s not sure whether the answer is to completely stop saying yes or to say yes and force herself to get better on the follow through part, but either way, Joel Olsen’s piece certainly struck a nerve with a lot of people. It struck a different nerve with Laura — the guilty shitty I’m a fuck-up nerve — so she’s going to stop branting and add a note to her long list of things to do this week: Go through house and find manuscripts I promised to read but didn’t so someone doesn’t write a piece about her: “No You Don’t Want Laura Reading Your Fucking (Manu)script.”