Discover more from LegalDispatch
Greetings from New York City. I’m here to help send my oldest child off to college.
I’m feeling all the feelings.
I won’t bore you with them, however. Suffice it to say, life happens at warp speed. Perhaps its greatest pitfall is that you don’t fully appreciate the little moments until they’ve passed.
WRITING SAMPLE FOLLOW-UP
Last week’s post which included advice on writing samples received a fair amount of positive comments. I’m glad it was helpful to at least some of you.
I’ll use this space to encourage those of you with questions about process (or anything, really) to sound off in the comments.
One reader asked the following:
Great advice about not saving the best stuff until the end where it's not likely to be read! Is it different in comics, where if you are pitching to a publisher, you are not coming in a with a full script? Or is it the case that if you are able to get a meeting to pitch in the first place, the publisher is going to take their time to read the script and so you don't need to frontload it?
When I pitch to comic book publishers, I still try to put the “best stuff” up front. Specifically, I’ll begin the pitch with the “high concept” — a 1-2 sentence summary of the story I’m pitching. That’s the very first thing they read. I don’t want the editor to have to go hunting through the document — of any length — to find the essence of my idea.
There’s actually not that much for me to chat about this week. I just received the line notes on the back half of PROJECT FROST. I’ll be diving into those next week. But first I need to finish a TV pilot I’ve started writing on spec. More on that when it’s a bit more fully baked.
Largely as a result of the WGA strike, I’m a participant on a variety of WhatsApp and Discord chains. They’re of different varieties, but in general, it’s a lot of writers and showrunners talking about a lot of different things, including their own careers and experiences.
A bit like social media, reading these posts can have the cumulative effect of making one (okay, me) think more than I want to about my own career. Generally speaking, I find it’s healthier for me not to turn the lens inward. If my career is a car, I prefer not to look under the hood.
The antidote to this temptation, I’ve found, is to just keep my head down and… keep… doing… the… work. That’s been particularly helpful this past week working on the aforementioned spec pilot. I’ve written here before about difficulties finding creative inspiration in the midst of a dual strike and total shutdown of the entertainment industry. As with thoughts of career etc., one antidote is to — say it with me — keep my head down and… keep… doing… the work.
It turns out that the Germans have a term for this: sitzfleisch.
In German, sitz means to, well, sit. And fleisch means “meat.”
Basically, “sitzfleisch” means to sit one’s ass down in a chair. It’s generally used to talk about sitting down for long periods of time — but I like the idea that it can also be used to refer to the act of being focused. Just sit your ass in the chair and do the work.
Now, this isn’t exactly a way to find inspiration while the muse is out of town, but it’s nevertheless a helpful way of overcoming — more accurately, forcing oneself to overcome — the lack of desire to write.
Billy Joel has often spoken of his process when experiencing writers block (or the like): He would sit at a cafe in Little Italy with a pen and notebook and order a glass of wine. Onlookers would be like, “Ooo. It’s Billy Joel. He must be writing a new song.” And the act of pretending to be Billy Joel helped prompt him to be Billy Joel.
In other words, fake it til you make it.
Or put ass in chair and see what happens.
NOTICE AND COMMENT
Last month, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and DOJ (Department of Justice) jointly released proposed revisions to their Merger Guidelines, a policy document designed to guide law enforcement around corporate consolidation (i.e., mergers and acquisitions).
These new Draft Guidelines are part of an effort by these agencies to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement. Compared with prior versions of Merger Guidelines, they give significantly more weight to the ways that mergers can be harmful and, for the first time, explicitly direct agencies and courts to consider how mergers can hurt workers.
The Draft Guidelines are currently in what’s known as the “notice and comment” period, the time during which the agencies can hear from the public. Here’s the text of the letter I sent:
Dear Chair Lina Khan and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter:
I'm a writer, showrunner, and producer of television shows and movies. I'm also a 23-year member of the Writers Guild of America and an attorney (licensed to practice in Massachusetts).
I’m writing in support of the FTC and DOJ’s Draft Merger Guidelines which are a critical step towards reviving antitrust enforcement in this country. In particular, these Draft Guidelines affirm the importance of considering the impact on workers of any merger or antitrust investigation.
The media and entertainment industry’s history of consolidation is a key driver of corporate practices that caused the strike of 11,500 writers including myself on May 2 against our employers, some of the largest media conglomerates in the world. Companies like Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Netflix, and Amazon have aggressively consolidated and vertically integrated, and have used that market power to undervalue our labor, lower pay, and worsen working conditions, threatening the sustainability of writing as a profession. Still, Wall Street continues to demand even more consolidation among our employers, which would give the fewer remaining companies even more power to control content and push down wages, resulting in fewer writers able to earn a living and less diversity in the stories we tell.
I've been a professional writer in film and television for the past 23 years. I've seen firsthand how rampant corporate consolidation has diminished competition, lowered wages and salaries, and damaged working conditions. I've also seen how the corporations who survive these mergers use their monopolistic power to exert downward pressure on employees while raising prices on consumers.
It is essential that antitrust agencies consider how any future proposed mergers in this industry would impact writers and other industry workers, and antitrust agencies should proactively investigate the competitive landscape of media and entertainment. These Draft Merger Guidelines are an important step in strengthening enforcement to foster a vibrant, competitive environment for writers and audiences of the content we create.
I strongly support the Draft Merger Guidelines.
Thank you for the consideration of my comments.
(If you’re interested, you can also post a public comment by going here.)
Be good to each other.
New York, New York