Writers are Noble, Writers are Brave…

…to paraphrase Nigel Molesworth

Reading about R J Ellory’s “sock puppeting” in other words, saying great things about himself and rubbishing his writer competitors I was struck not by the perfidy of what he’d been doing nor even wondering why he’d done it, but by the notion that the poor man may not have many friends. And he will certainly have even less now.

Ever since I started writing there has been one constant in this career. This has been the incredible kindness and generosity of other writers.  What’s more even though I’ve been agented on and off ever since I started writing, ninety-five per cent of the money-making work I’ve achieved has been from introductions by other writers who either didn’t want the gig, or thought I was better suited to do it, or mentioned my name in a meeting, or gave me a tip about who was looking for what type of project. This includes my six years at BBC – thank you John Brennan.

There are so many other writers who have read my work, taken the time to give me detailed notes, shared information not to mention the pep talks.  Even people I barely know have been kind.

Everyone does it.  Why? Because writing itself is hard enough, without trying to screw each other.   Also other people – non-writers – are sometimes not very nice to writers.  If this is news to you, read William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screentrade.

A few years ago I was working on a writing team. This involved sitting in a room with other writers trying to be funny; trying to come up with ideas.  The strict hierarchy in the room, meant that the two most junior writers – me and Rob MacGillivray –  recognised each other’s lowliness and secretly referred to ourselves as Scum 1 and Scum 2.

Pond Scum

Pond Scum (Photo credit: Max F. Williams)

Years pass, Scum 1 becomes a successful TV producer and director.  He still reads my work. I read his.

And because he’s at heart a writer, thus noble, brave and generous, he’s made a brilliant film for my website. It makes me look rather more charming, erudite and fun than I really am.  This man has great talent.

So by the sound of it, R J Ellory is going to miss out on this type of generosity.  And even if he has non-writing friends who are impressed with his alleged sharp-dealing, will they be as noble and brave as my writer friends?  I think not.

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About merlenygate

Writer, script editor
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