Letter writers

The literary world is divided in its opinion about simultaneous submissions—that is, submitting the same poem, short story, or creative nonfiction piece to multiple publications at once. Many literary magazines and literary journals discourage the practice, as it can complicate things for them: If you withdraw a submission from one publication because another has accepted the same work, the one from which you’re withdrawing might already have invested time, money, and staff resources in reviewing the work and might have been interested in publishing it as well. Some publications explicitly forbid simultaneous submissions.

When I saw that the memo contained nuggets of wisdom such as “ANY TIME TWO CHARACTERS ARE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT,” and “IF THE SCENE BORES YOU WHEN YOU READ IT, REST ASSURED IT *WILL* BORE THE ACTORS, AND WILL, THEN, BORE THE AUDIENCE, AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE BACK IN THE BREADLINE,” I knew the whole thing would be a must-read. Mamet also takes time to lay into TV executives, which he refers to as “penguins.” Overall, it offers some amusing and piercing insights into what makes good writing and storytelling. I’m left wondering though: Does Mamet’s work always live up to his high standards?  Hit the jump for the full memo, and savor the intensity (capital letters are from the original).

TO THE WRITERS OF THE UNIT

Second, that the economic position of writers has declined sharply in the last five or so years. Screenwriters have been struggling for a long time. They are now joined by television writers, for whom short seasons are at the core of the problem. In the last two years alone, the average salary of TV writer-prod ucers fell by 23%. Those declines have not been offset by compensation in other areas. In Basic Cable and new media, our script fees and residual formulas continue to trail far behind those in broadcast – even though these new platforms are every bit as profitable as the old model.

I’ve found that there is a difference between being stressful as in “busy” and being stressful as in “high stakes” and that’s what has made the difference for me. I was having daily panic attacks when I was in a very high stakes position and one mistake could tank my entire job for the year. But now I am in a job where I am sometimes very busy, but I’m handling mostly admin tasks, so I have much less anxiety because I know I can handle it, and also that if I mess something up, it will not ruin anyone’s year, just require some scrambling.

Letter writers

letter writers

I’ve found that there is a difference between being stressful as in “busy” and being stressful as in “high stakes” and that’s what has made the difference for me. I was having daily panic attacks when I was in a very high stakes position and one mistake could tank my entire job for the year. But now I am in a job where I am sometimes very busy, but I’m handling mostly admin tasks, so I have much less anxiety because I know I can handle it, and also that if I mess something up, it will not ruin anyone’s year, just require some scrambling.

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