SciFi Writer David Gerrold Reacts to Olson's "I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script"

Among the hundreds of comments we've received in reaction to Josh Olson's acerbic rant, "I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script," was this gem by longtime science fiction writer David Gerrold. For those of you who don't obsess about Star Trek, it was Gerrold who penned the "Trouble with Tribbles" episode of the original series. A Hugo and Nebula award winner, Gerrold has written dozens of novels. And here's his take on Olson's piece:

Josh is being way too polite. The only proper response when an amateur attempts to hand you his manuscript, his screenplay, his unpublished novel, his short story, his treatment, his outline, his notes, is to take an axe to his laptop, follow him home, burn down his house, and salt the ground.

Not too long ago, a writer of my acquaintance (a person of some fame in the industry) was hired to work on a major franchise. After several months of development, the project was making genuine progress and looked good. Then one day, out of the blue, an amateur from West Elbow, Nevada, sends him an email containing her outline for a spinoff of that franchise, asking him to help her sell it because "she has the story, but he has the access to the people who will produce it."

My friend backed away in horror, but the damage was done...

He had received this woman's email. Even the act of telling her, "No, I can't help you," was an acknowledgment of receipt. Therefore she could prove that he'd had access to her material -- and it didn't matter that he'd already done six months on the project -- her email had created a situation where she (and an unscrupulous lawyer) could claim that he had ripped off elements in her material.

The studio's lawyers were not happy and my friend almost got booted off the project, until he informed the amateur that he intended to sue her for compromising his ability to earn a living. She signed and notarized a waiver and he got to keep his job.

After that, he changed his email and now has an assistant screen everything and reply with a, "Mr. Twain does not live here anymore and if you send anymore unsolicited material, we will forward your email address to the Dept of Homeland Security for attempting to terrorize an American author."

Reading someone's manuscript is a great way to get sued by an idiot and an unscrupulous lawyer.

Real writers write, they understand enough about writing to know that writing time is so precious that you NEVER impose on someone else's working time.

On the other hand, if you're really serious about getting the opinion of a professional author, I bill at $500 an hour....

David Gerrold

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