Can someone tell me why these events cost $50? I assume they're meant for struggling WGA members and other struggling writers as a way to meet like-minded people and improve their craft. Guess who doesn't have $50 to fork over for an evening out? Struggling writers. That's who. There should be a struggling writers rate or something. "See how thin and pale I am? Please let me in for a mere $30, oh WG powers that be." Actually, scratch that. A lot of writers aren't that thin - it comes from sitting around on our butts all day, thinking.
Another rant. Why are there always a few people at these things that just don't know how to behave? You know who I'm talking about. Ladies chatting in French throughout and British bloke who, in an almost empty room, came and sat in the chair right next to mine, and then spread his legs all out into my chair space. I thought he was just being friendly, until I said 'Hi' and he merely grunted his reply. I guess if I had known then that he was a Brit, I would have understood that to mean "I want you to bear my children" and not "leave me the f--- alone". Oh man, I hope those people don't read my blog.***
Okay, back to Ms Shonda.
I would guess, from watching her show, that somewhere deep inside, SR is a bundle of neuroses tying themselves in ever-tightening knots. But in person, she was positively cucumberesque. Not Winnie Holzman's constant interruptions, always preceded by "Not to interrupt you but..." (it was cute), nor Robin Schiff's mention of the Isaiah Washington Golden Globes debacle could shake her. I was a little shocked, Shonda was fine.
Here are a few random items from the evening.
The way she deals with, erm, less-than-brilliant notes. Turns out, silence is golden. She keeps mum and lets the note-giver ramble on until it somehow comes out that the reason they want Meredith Grey to get a pet labradoodle* is to make her seem less like a hideous she-devil**. Still kind of an annoying note, but hey, at least there's a reason for it.
She doesn't outline. She writes a show that has nearly 97 main characters, and easily tells 35 story lines an episode, and the woman doesn't outline. There must be a virtual whiteboard in her head. There must be. I still can't quite believe it.
She's a monster rewriter. Like, she rewrites *all* of Derek's speeches cuz "I just know how Derek would say it". In fact, sometimes her writers even leave a blank space and a note "Derek speech here" instead of bothering to write something that's just going to get thrown out. I wonder how she manages that while working on two shows?
Her big break? After writing such monster movie hits as Crossroads and The Princess Diaries 2, she was signed to a TV development deal. Her first pilot got picked up but not made. Her second pilot was Grey's. She had never been in a TV writers' room before she started running her own show. Excuse me? Would that ever happen today? Because if it would, I'm dropping everything and writing a silly family film. Stat.
There were actual words of wisdom imparted last night, but you'll have to come back next time to find out what they were.
*Mentioning labradoodles is a total clam.
**I made that up. I'm a writer. It's what I do.
***By 'those people' I didn't mean Brits. I mean the guy and the French ladies at the thing. I like Brits. I really do. I want them to read my blog. Wot wot?
Do you like chocolate? Ice cream? Waffles? Yes? Then you should now be in your car driving towards the 101 Cafe at dangerously high speeds (hell, we all know there are only like 2 traffic cops in all of LA). When you get there, order the Chocolate Brownie Waffle. Order two. No, on second thought, only order one. It's amazing, but one is more than enough. You should probably share with a friend actually. Wouldn't want to get so fat you miss out on the starving writer discount at the next Writers Guild event.