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Kevin Wolf

Is this comment of mine "writing"?

Good post, Lance. (And I'm a sucker for Rob & Laura.)


Speaking of writing a novel...*wink*

I know a few playwrights and even a TV writer (worked on a few NBC sitcoms in the 80s and 90s) who are desperate to try to finish up (or start) novels. I can imagine they would be in Rob Petrie's shoes.

Me, if I could, I'd rather do both. I imagine Michael Crichton might be one of a handful who were able to pull that off, but at a great and dear cost to his novels, which towards the middle and end of his career ended up sounding more like screenplays than books.


See, now, LM, you know I heart you, but don't even.

You practically every day let stuff roll down from your brain and off your fingers, and I read it, and it's stuff I learn from, or at least (seems feeble, that at least) think is resonant and/or well put.

Which means you're writing. And if you're not writing in a form you feel you need to conquer, then do that, and I'll line up for a copy.

But you're writing. So don't.


Doing a TV movie rewrite under a ridiculously tight schedule. (Why do they always wait until 3 weeks before production begins to bring in the rewriter? Actors are being fitted for costumes in scenes that aren't even close to done. It's insane. "She'll be wearing a red velvet dress in this scene, make it fit, okay?") About ten days in, I made a quick trip to LA for some interim meetings with the production staff, so the day went like this: Have a meeting, go to empty office to keep writing, come out for another meeting, go back and keep writing, and so on. The switching gears part is terrible for digestion. But every time I was in the writing office, I would see the executive producer pacing outside the door. Like this would help, know what I mean? During one lull when I was sitting staring into space, trying to sort out the next lines, her pacing picked up. I shouted, "Marian, writing is not typing!" She went away. I loved that I made her gone, but - even though what I said was absolutely true - I still felt guilty for not having something to type in every second. In other words, Lance, I think the guilt, the gnawing dissatisfaction, the "I should be doing this better...maybe like that over there" is just part of the terrain for pretty much everyone who writes. Whatever they write.

Mike Schilling

I wonder who wrote that episode...

According to IMDB, it's Lawrence J. Cohen and Fred Freeman. They wrote one other episode together, and oddly, it's also about writing: the one where Rob and Laura write competing children's books. ("Danny was morose...")

Man, I love the internet. Seriously, if it didn't exist and I got one wish, it would be "Create something that let me look up anything about everything." (OK, that might actually be second after Catherine Deneuve.)

Ken Muldrew

When I read this post I immediately thought about an old NFB animated short that I had seen about 30 years ago that showed someone "writing" by looking out a window, pacing the floor, sucking on a straw, etc. It turns out that the film, Getting Started, is actually about learning a piece of music (not spanish guitar, but why quibble). It's funny how much overlap there is between writing and practicing music.


Thinking about writing is not writing. Planning to write is not writing. Writing is writing.



Ok, ok, if you insist, but the first editor shows up with a six figure address, I'm out of here.


Great story. Funny you should mention the guilt. Have you seen that episode of DVD? It starts with Rob out in his front yard digging a hole for a new shrub. He's proud of himself because he's made the hole perfectly round. After he gets the news about Harvey Bellman's novel he makes fun of his hole. He says he only dug it to bury his guilt at not finishing his novel.

J. Thanks for the links.

Cleveland Bob

I'm with Julia on this one, Lance. You're a wonderful writer whom I read nearly everyday. You're focused, clever and have a style that suits your sensibilities...and I have no idea what that means, but it's true.

My claim to fame so far is being published as a member of the original cast in a Samuel French script.

Here's the link...

Chris G.

I am fairly certain that Vonnegut was said that about Cheers, not Frasier.


Chris, you're absolutely correct and I'm ashamed of myself for blowing that one. Thanks for the catch. I made the correction.

Chris G.

No problem. I just remember Vonnegut saying that because it was a turning point in my understanding writing.

Lou Gravity

I first became aware of David Simon through his book Homicide, which predated and inspired the tv deries of the same name.

Gary Farber

"Someone like David Simon [...]feeling a sense of failure or loss because what they’ve written for The Wire or Mad Men makes them not writers people read but writers that other people say what they wrote?"

Maybe someone like David Simon -- if there is someone else like David Simon -- but probably not David Simon, because I thought his book was fantastic long before he wrote for televsion.

"Who reads the credits on a TV show anyway? Who remembers the names of the writers of even their favorite episodes?"

Since you're asking: me. Me.

"David Simon didn’t write every episode of The Wire, David Milch didn’t write every episode of Deadwood."

J. Michael Straczynski wrote, to lazily quote Wikipedia, 92 out of the 110 Babylon 5 episodes, notably including an unbroken 59-episode run through all of the third and fourth seasons, and all but one episode of the fifth season. He also wrote the four Babylon 5 TV movies produced alongside the series. Miniseries get written by single writers. So do, I believe, a number of British tv series.

Fiction is, of course, as a rule, vastly less colloborative, than writing for the screen. (It's still somewhat collobrative, unless you're self-published.)

"But I’d think that every writer who ever worked on Cheers, every writer who’s ever written for television, would be tempted to trade in their residuals to be able to say they’d written one novel like Slaughterhouse-Five."

Sounds like a good question for Ken Levine.

"Lance, I think the guilt, the gnawing dissatisfaction, the 'I should be doing this better...maybe like that over there' is just part of the terrain for pretty much everyone who writes. Whatever they write."

I think Victoria is a wise woman.

"I first became aware of David Simon through his book Homicide, which predated and inspired the tv deries of the same name."

Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets. There's a reason it won an Edgar; it's a great book; you should read it, Lance. (It's nonfiction, to be sure, but so what?)

Gary Farber

Speaking of Ken Levine, he has a post here about a Dick Van Dyke Show episode, by the way.


"TV writers envying fiction writers. That’s like saying what they really want is to be bloggers."

LOL! Nice one!


"David Simon didn’t write every episode of The Wire, David Milch didn’t write every episode of Deadwood. Thomas Pynchon, though, he wrote every word of Inherent Vice. Jonathan Lethem wrote every word of Chronic City."

That's a figment of the Romantic depiction of the artist. Many people now think that Homer was two poets, not one. Collaborations are common in Elizabethan drama. One of the most interesting books in modern philosophy is Alexandre Kojeve's Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. Which is actually Raymond Queneau's class notes from Kojeve's seminars, not a book actually penned directly by Kojeve himself. Thomas Aquinas' De regimine principum is now thought to be half-written by Aquinas (a monarchist) and half by his student Ptolemy of Lucca (a supporter of republics).

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