Typing Faster

August 3, 2009

Breaking In: Myth of the Over Night Success Story

Filed under: Breaking In — petertypingfaster @ 9:00 am

We’ve all heard it before. A struggling writer (or actor / director / mashed potato sculptor) is plucked from an obscure existence working in a fast food restaurant, based on the utter brilliance of their first screenplay. They then go on to a long, award winning career full of multi-million dollar spec sales and Academy Award wins.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Only one problem.

It’s complete and utter bullshit.

No one comes out of nowhere. Don’t believe people who say they made it big based on the “first thing they’ve ever written.” I’d stake my life on the fact that 99.9% of the people who say that are lying through their teeth.

They’ve written something else.

Just take a look at Diablo Cody. As far as most people are concerned Cody made it huge based on the first thing she ever wrote, Juno, and she wrote it while working as a stripper.

It makes for a great story, doesn’t it? Stripper makes good with sweet coming-of-age tale. No wonder people buy into it. It’s aspirational. It makes all those struggling writers working crappy jobs at MacDonald’s think “hey, if a stripper can do it, why can’t I?”

Of course that’s not how it went down at all.

Diablo Cody didn’t write Juno while swinging butt naked around a stripper pole. In fact, Juno was far from the first thing Cody ever wrote either.

Let us briefly review Diablo Cody’s (née Brook Busey) professional writing career:

  • After graduating from the University of Iowa she worked as a legal secretary and copy writer.
  • She then started a blog called Red Secretary.
  • Then another blog called Darling Girl.
  • Started stripping, and wrote another blog The Pussy Ranch.
  • While stripping, started writing for City Pages, one of Minneapolis-St Paul’s weekly alternative papers.
  • She jumped from City Pages to write for Jane.
  • Based on her blog, The Pussy Ranch, an LA based manager (Mason Novick) put her in touch with a New York based book agent, which turned into a deal to publish Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper.
  • She then wrote Juno as a writing sample for her new manager, and the rest is history.

So, does that look like an overnight success story? To me it looks like someone who worked their ass off, developing their craft for years, before finally getting their “big break.”

And that’s the fundamental problem with all of these “over night success stories,” they continue to promote the idea of the “big break.” There’s no such thing as one big break. Careers aren’t built on one big break, but rather a series of small breaks, and if you want to make it in this business you’ve got to be willing to get out there and make your own small breaks.

Sitting around, waiting to be discovered, waiting for your big break, is a fast road to nowhere. Don’t but into the myth.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: