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

51z634jhfgl-_sy344_bo1204203200_THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM
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.

 

Write 4 a Day: Sunday 20 Nov

Write 4 a DayDon’t you deserve at least one day to write?

Write 4 a Day is a series of monthly one-day writing retreats in upstate New York. There is:

  • no workshop
  • no agenda
  • no required activities
  • no assignments
  • no schedule
  • no WiFi!

Unplug. Write. Don’t write. Think. Daydream. Doodle. Outline. Come for the whole day or just for part of it; network, collaborate or write solo; wander the woods, hills, fields and streams of Universal Pathways for inspiration (bring sturdy shoes) or sit in a comfy chair and brainstorm. It’s up to you.

WHO – you! We haven’t had to limit attendance yet, but it’s getting to be a consideration. If you want to be sure to reserve a space, email me via the contact form.

WHY – because you deserve a day to devote to your writing (or daydreaming or sketching or scheming or knitting or…)

WHAT – $22 fee for the space (cash/check/PayPal/$20 for HVWG members) and food (a dish to share or your own lunch)

WHEN – 10am-5pm

2016: Nov 20, Dec 18 | 2017: Jan 22, Feb 19, Mar 19, Apr 23, May 21…

WHERE – Universal Pathways, 692 Pleasant Valley Rd, Berne, NY 12023 – Phone: (518) 872-2272

Kindle Countdown: How to Keep Writing with a Full Time Job

Getting ready for NaNoWriMo? This book can help you plan your busy month of writing — and for a limited time you can get it for cheap! The price drops to 99¢ then slowly rises back to the normal $3.99 on Sunday, October 30th. The sale kicks off at 8am Pacific (11 am Eastern) at Amazon.com.

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Sun 23 Oct: Write 4 a Day

Write 4 a DayDon’t you deserve at least one day to write?

Write 4 a Day is a series of monthly one-day writing retreats in upstate New York. There is:

  • no workshop
  • no agenda
  • no required activities
  • no assignments
  • no schedule
  • no WiFi!

Unplug. Write. Don’t write. Think. Daydream. Doodle. Outline. Come for the whole day or just for part of it; network, collaborate or write solo; wander the woods, hills, fields and streams of Universal Pathways for inspiration (bring sturdy shoes) or sit in a comfy chair and brainstorm. It’s up to you.

WHO – you! We haven’t had to limit attendance yet, but it’s getting to be a consideration. If you want to be sure to reserve a space, email me via the contact form.

WHY – because you deserve a day to devote to your writing (or daydreaming or sketching or scheming or knitting or…)

WHAT – $22 fee for the space (cash/check/PayPal/$20 for HVWG members) and food (a dish to share or your own lunch)

WHEN – 10am-5pm

2016: Oct 23, Nov 20, Dec 18 [2017 dates announced soon]

WHERE – Universal Pathways, 692 Pleasant Valley Rd, Berne, NY 12023 – Phone: (518) 872-2272

Write 4 a Day: Sun 18 Sep

Write 4 a DayDon’t you deserve at least one day to write?

Write 4 a Day is a series of monthly one-day writing retreats in upstate New York. There is:

  • no workshop
  • no agenda
  • no required activities
  • no assignments
  • no schedule
  • no WiFi(!)

Write. Don’t write. Think. Daydream. Doodle. Outline. Come for the whole day or just for part of it; network, collaborate or write solo; wander the woods, hills, fields and streams of Universal Pathways for inspiration (bring sturdy shoes) or sit in a comfy chair and brainstorm. It’s up to you.

WHO – you! We haven’t had to limit attendance yet, but it’s getting to be a consideration. If you want to be sure to reserve a space, email me via the contact form.

WHY – because you deserve a day to devote to your writing (or daydreaming or sketching or scheming or knitting or…)

WHAT – $20 fee for the space (cash/check/PayPal/$15 for HVWG members) and food (a dish to share or your own lunch)

WHEN – 10am-5pm

2016:  Sep 18, Oct 23, Nov 20, Dec 18 / 2017: dates soon!

WHERE – Universal Pathways, 692 Pleasant Valley Rd, Berne, NY 12023 – Phone: (518) 872-2272

Detailed directions:

90 west to exit 1S

20 west to

146 west to

156 west to

254/Pleasant Valley Road (the left turn after the turn to East Berne)

The road winds along. Continue past the stop sign at Barber Corners, around two bends to the right and then down into the valley; look for the yellow house with a green roof and garage on the right hand side, just past the Browne Farm’s big brown barn with all the quilts. It looks like this:

2015-09-20 08.52.45

Write 4 a Day: May 22

Write 4 a DayDon’t you deserve at least one day to write?

Write 4 a Day is a new series of monthly one-day writing retreats in upstate New York. There is:

  • no workshop
  • no agenda
  • no required activities
  • no assignments
  • no schedule
  • no WiFi(!)

Write. Don’t write. Think. Daydream. Doodle. Outline. Come for the whole day or just for part of it; network, collaborate or write solo; wander the woods, hills, fields and streams of Universal Pathways for inspiration (bring sturdy shoes) or sit in a comfy chair and brainstorm. It’s up to you.

WHO – you! We haven’t had to limit attendance yet, but it’s getting to be a consideration. If you want to be sure to reserve a space, email me via the contact form.

WHY – because you deserve a day to devote to your writing (or daydreaming or sketching or scheming or knitting or…)

WHAT – $20 fee for the space (cash/check/PayPal) and food (a dish to share or your own lunch)

WHEN – 10am-5pm

2016: May 22, June NO MEETING, July 17, Aug 28, Sep 18, Oct 23, Nov 20, Dec 18

WHERE – Universal Pathways, 692 Pleasant Valley Rd, Berne, NY 12023 – Phone: (518) 872-2272

Detailed directions:

90 west to exit 1S

20 west to

146 west to

156 west to

254/Pleasant Valley Road (the left turn after the turn to East Berne)

The road winds along. Continue past the stop sign at Barber Corners, around two bends to the right and then down into the valley; look for the yellow house with a green roof and garage on the right hand side, just past the Browne Farm’s big brown barn with all the quilts. It looks like this:

2015-09-20 08.52.45 How to Keep Writing with a Full Time Job

What’s New, Pussycat?

Rook Chant Cover

A few new things to let you know about:

HÁVAMÁL

After an inadvertent break, my translations and commentary of verses from Hávamál have returned over at Pagan Square. September ended up being even more of a juggling act than I had anticipated, so I am glad to finally get back to the project. Bit by bit, the work will be done. Yes, plans are to gather them all together in a single volume eventually, but for the mean time we’ll all have to be satisfied with incremental steps.

On a related note, to boost interest, I’m giving away ROOK CHANT for free beginning the 27th of the month and running through Halloween/Samhain. If you haven’t picked up a copy, that will be the time to do so. And need I add? if you read it and like it, reviews in the usual places (Amazon, Goodreads, etc) are always welcomed.

A CUT-THROAT BUSINESS

Chastity 3You can now read chapter 1 of the latest CHASTITY FLAME novel over at Scribd. I figure it helps people to get a sense of the book. And as it’s available in formats other than Kindle, it seems a good idea to put out samples in other locations (at Amazon you can automatically download a sample). Drop by the Tirgearr page for Chastity to see all the books in all the available formats. The third book is a bit of a departure from the first two: it’s all about the thrills and the chase. I did my best to give it a breakneck pace and I think I succeeded.

HOW TO KEEP WRITING WITH A FULL TIME JOB

My other new project is a handbook just in time to encourage you to try NaNoWriMo. How to Keep Writing with a Full Time Job developed from the question I’m always asked, “How do you write so much?” I started the Writer Wednesday posts to address the topic and the workshops, but at last decided I should just put the materials together in a short (60pp) handbook. No filler, no fluff, just the basics (and an impressionistic snapshot of twilight Helsinki on the cover).

How to Keep Writing

Have you always dreamed of writing, but didn’t think you had the time?

HOW TO KEEP WRITING WITH A FULL TIME JOB: Award-winning author K. A. Laity, writer of the CHASTITY FLAME novel series, OWL STRETCHING, THE MANGROVE LEGACY and many more books, essays and stories will help you attain your writing goals in just minutes a day with this short 60pp guide.

From the Introduction, “In Praise of the Part Time Writer:

“You’re a writer? How much do you make?”

If you have any doubt that we live in a culture that’s all about money, make an announcement that you are an artist of some kind. Most people don’t even try to disguise their sneering. “How much do you make?”

Maybe you didn’t decide to have your life assessed only in monetary terms. To most people, it doesn’t matter: that’s how they will evaluate your ‘success’ — or lack thereof. However much you make, it’s not as much as they imagine. When people think of successful writers, they think of J. K. Rowling or E. L. James.

Needless to say a handful of people in a generation make that kind of splash. A good number of writers used to be able to make a living with smaller but consistent publications — what was called the “mid-list” (to distinguish them from the big blockbusters and the big busts filling the remainders tables).

Then came the digital age and the explosion of electronic publishing, including a huge contingency of self-publishing. If you check Worldometers.info’s count of book published this year, you’ll see just how much of an explosion that is. As I write this (near the end of August 2013), it’s over 1.6 MILLION. Doubtless we’ll make two million before the end of the year.

That’s a lot of books.

Why do so many people think they have a book in them? Or that writing is easy?

It’s mostly because you have to learn to read and write to get along in our culture. Illiterate people have a big struggle to cope with a written culture. So most people can write a sentence or two and everyone thinks they have a great story in them: how many times have you heard, “You could write a book about me!” No, they’re not always right about that, yet a lot of them feel they should try. No one paints a wall and thinks, “Hey, I could be Michaelangelo!” but anyone who can write a sentence harbours the hope that they just might be the next J. K. Rowling.

The digital revolution and services like Amazon’s Kindle Direct and Create Space (as well as Lulu, Lightning Source and so many more) have made the publication process a simpler one — and one that sidesteps the big publishing houses in New York, who were the traditional gatekeepers of publishing, winnowing down the would-be writers to a very few who ever saw print. The gatekeepers are still there, but hundreds of other gates have opened up and nobody’s watching them at all...

***** Simple Yet Effective Advice “This book although short and simple has enthused and inspired me. That is worth more than money.”

Just $3.99 at Amazon. Pick it up for your Kindle or free Kindle app today. Click the picture!