Writer Wednesday: Rita Lakin – The Only Woman in the Room

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Rita Lakin

I can’t recommend this book enough. A terrific travelogue through the Hollywood and television industries from the PoV of writing — and you know how those industries hate writers. Lakin has a multifaceted career that spans the 60s, 70s and 80s, everything from Dr. Kildare to The Home Front and Flamingo Road.  A suddenly-widowed woman with small kids Lakin landed a job as a secretary at Universal Studios, where she had the time — and the support! — to begin reading scripts to learn the trade. And did she ever! Her first big break is a script for Richard Chamberlin’s Kildare that uses her own experience of grief to give it emotional punch.

Of course things don’t go swimmingly forever after: this is television after all. Lakin breezily recounts moments of humiliation and betrayal with a survivor’s comic remembrance. Her dogged pursuit of a career despite these setbacks, the sneering of her fine arts writer pals (sound familiar?) and the active sabotage of some real stinker relationships (oh. my. god.) demonstrates the real love Lakin has for this form of writing. Her prose is lean and lively. There’s never a dull moment. She loves to hold you in suspense by changing topics.

But she never forgets: her pal Doris who wrote that one short story that did so well amongst literary mags, who wouldn’t even watch her script debut on television — sixteen years later asks for an entré into the business. Lakin, despite working all of those years to get where she was, helps her friend out. That’s a lesson, too. Opening the door for other women was a touchstone of her entire career. After going to Writer’s Guild meetings where she was ignored or to meetings with producers that were just couch casting attempts, Lakin learned a lot but she never got bitter.

–even over her terrible, lousy, leeching loser of a husband Bob. That takes some doing. Though she is plain about Harve Bennett stealing her MWA Edgar in 1970 for Mod Squad (what a creep! who of course went on to a long and successful career as a producer: crime pays).

Things you can learn from Lakin: Never trust Aaron Spelling. Always be leary of producers who promise the world. Get everything in writing. Seriously, everything. Praise people who do good work even if they steal it from your mouth. Hollywood hates writers. Hollywood has trouble remembering that women are people until women remind them. Still.

Lakin has nothing but good things to say about the people who were generous to her over the years. Sydney Pollack, Richard Chamberlin, Steve Bochko — she has a whole chapter on Bochko as the break-through show runner, a job she tried to convince producers to give to her when she pitched a series, but there wasn’t a name for it yet. Every innovation builds on what went before. We just don’t always know or see it.

In the scriptwriting business getting breaks matters, Lakin makes clear, but having done the hard work to be able to make use of them is the real key.

 

Call for Submissions: My Wandering Uterus

medieval pilgrimThe fabulous Byron Ballard (forensic folklorist & village witch) suggested putting together an anthology of women’s travel writing to be called My Wandering Uterus. And while I continue to say, ‘No more editing jobs!’ somehow I have been roped into this project. So here is the call:

We seek essays, stories and poetry about your experiences of being a woman on the road — the joys, the perils, the lessons, the changes. Whether a spiritual pilgrimage or a forced evacuation, in pursuit of opportunity or escape from your past, travel broadens. What have you learned?

We would like to see a diverse treasure trove of entries from women across the globe from every walk of life and as many different experiences as possible. If you no longer have a uterus or were born without one, never fear: all women are welcome.

Submissions should be:

  • Previously unpublished anywhere
  • Not submitted anywhere else
  • Length 3-8K prose/3-4 pp poetry
  • Formatted: Times New Roman, regular, 12 point; 1″ margins; 1 space after full stop; lines spaced 1.5; use paragraph formatting to indent first line not tabs; no header/footer
  • Identified with a title, your name (and pen name identified as such), working email address on the first page: the file name should include your surname & the title
  • Submitted in DOC, DOCX or RTF format via email to victoriasquid at gmail with your name, the story title and total word count included in the body of the email; make sure the Subject line includes “Submission: Traveling Uterus” + your name
  • Due by July 1, 2017.

We will ask for world-wide print & ebook rights for a year and pay at minimum $10 via Paypal plus give you a copy of the book. We hope to do some fundraising to make the payments more generous but that will be determined as we go along.

Good news: we have already hired the amazing Stephanie Johnson to do the cover art!

If you need a little background on the concept of the ‘wandering uterus’ as a diagnosis to control women, please read this wonderful piece.

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Happy Know Year

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Begin how you mean to go on,

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Take up your weapon of choice,

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Fill you heart with joy,

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Summon all your powers,

Hecate

And show the world what you’ve got.

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Broad Universe Wikipedia Project

Hey kids! Want to help raise the visibility of women writers of the fantastic? With trumpet’s blare, let me unveil:

broadspectrumA Broad Universe Project for Women’s History Month: Women Authors on Wikipedia!

Women artists made a concerted effort recently to get more of them written into history.  More people turn to Wikipedia than to any other source. Women are still largely missing unless they are the few really big names in history. Here’s Mary Shelley’s page. It’s fairly comprehensive, but there aren’t enough 20th C women with the same detail. Comprehensive is great, but every little bit helps.

Only 2% of the users edit Wikipedia. A huge percentage of them are male. And as time goes on fewer people are doing any editing, so diversity is bound to be an issue.

This is a great way for members who want to be more active in promoting ALL women around the world who write, especially those who write speculative fiction and to give them the recognition they deserve.

Interested in making a difference?

Here’s a video on the basics of editing Wikipedia I use this in my classes. That also links to lots more detailed videos. Here’s Wikipedia’s own page (which might show why so few people decide to edit the source).

But, don’t stop there!  Share with us what you’ve done on our email list and on Facebook! Report back with “I added biographical to details to X” or “I linked to an academic study of Y” and show others how easy it is to do. Not a member of Broad Universe (why not?!) just share your links here.

I will collect these links here and show us how much we’ve accomplished during the month.

BROADS ASSEMBLE!

(I had to say it).