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05/08/2006: A Really Touching Letter
Gosh, is it time to get out the mailbag again? Here's another pile of letters! A lovely card from Leona in Alabama, congratulating me on the new NBC/Uni deal. Thank you, Leona! Another pretty postcard from Ingrid in Germany, who wants more entries of the "Field Guide to Jokes" variety. Great! Because we've only just gotten started on that!
Oh, here's a good question from Lilia in Houston. She notes that I said not to refer to previous episodes within your spec, and wants to know if she can do it if it's important to her story. Oh! Absolutely! You can certainly refer to previous episodes all you want. My warning was about a self-conscious referencing of previous episodes done expressly to show off your knowledge of the show. I did not mean to suggest it as a general prohibition. Go crazy!
Tom in Brooklyn has some good basic questions about getting into tv writing. I refer you to the blog archives for a lot of your answers – look at the early entries. But the short-handed answer -- which I give here because I'm sure it applies to a lot of other readers -- is that you can get your first agent long-distance, but these don't tend to be the very best agents. If you're serious about the career, it does still seem that a move to LA is necessary. Check out the ABC Writers' Fellowship for a good way in – it's easier to move here if there's a reason to be here. Your feature scripts will be helpful in terms of getting an agent, and also in getting hired, but a tv spec of a show that is currently on the air will be a tremendous help to you. Even if you only use it to apply to the fellowship!
And finally, I have here the most wonderful letter (sent to the whole Buffy staff) from Sara in Jerusalem, who talks about Buffy and about Sara's own life as a medical student. I'm going to assume it's all right with Sara for me to quote this section about the parallels:
"... we are old way before our time, spend a lot of time around dead bodies and gore, and give up our youth dealing with things in the middle of the night most people will never have to see. Buffy captures the aftermath of that -- the effect on the person, the loneliness, the 'superiority complex with the inferiority complex about it,' the fear of how cold and hard you become..."
She goes on to talk about the comfort of having (even a fictional) hero… wow. A wonderful letter. Writing for TV is a pretty darn fun job. And the notion that it might sometimes be a useful one as well… I'm the luckiest person in the world. Thank you, Sara. And I know Joss would thank you too... what you're talking about really belongs to him.
Lunch: A store-bought Indian bean dish that came sealed in a neat little silver pouch. Just heat-and-eat. Tremendous.