“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure”.

Guess who said that? You never will. It was Bill Cosby!

I have spent the past hour trying to find another quote to go alongside that one, possibly by someone like Ray Romano, that says “In order to succeed, your desire for others to fail should also feature high on the hateful scale, even if you think you’re a good person, you will reassure yourself that you are driven by revenge, hatred or a generous dollop of superiority in your own talents because you’ve heard that, in Hollywood, nice guys finish last”. My search continues for the spokesman of these wise words.

So, I’m going to be brutally honest, even if you really, really, really like a fellow writer, chances are it’s going to feel like you’ve eaten a large plate of rotting tapeworm on that inevitable day that they email you with the subject header “Guess what!!!!!”

Gulp. They’ve got a big gig/greenlight on a feature film/article in Variety of Top People Exactly Like You But Who Are Just That Bit Better.

What will happen next is formulaic in its ugliness. Your first thought will be, “well, this had better not be a writing triumph because, if it is, someone should tell you that that should be ‘Guess what????’ if you knew your apples from your onions”, your second thought will be, “Please be pregnant, even if you’re a guy” and your third thought will be, “Oh God, I’m such a failure” before getting on the phone to your agent who will inevitably be busy with clients who have just got greenlit/big blockbuster writing jobs/picked as one of Screen International’s Stars of Tomorrow.

Dealing with other people’s screenwriting success is a law unto itself.

Dealing with other people’s success is a law unto itself. It’s a vicious pendulum that swings between, “Good on him if he thinks the world needs another Spaceballs parody. I mean, I won’t go and see it but someone surely likes that crap” and the other side, the one where you’re so eaten up by jealousy you can’t even see the bright side – that he will have a horrible time on the rewrites, that his idea will get trampled and mangled by the million voices that are now involved and that, if the movie succeeds the director will take the credit and, if it fails, your dear dear friend who you are currently wishing chronic meeting diarrhoea on, will get the blame.

screenwriting envy

The Damned United: driven by Clough’s envy of Don Revie…

But here’s another thing I’ve learnt. Success breeds success. I did not make that up but you can have that quote on me. If your friends are doing well, it causes you to up your game. A friend of mine (and yes, I really had to struggle not to put ‘friend’ in inverted commas there, the bitch I am) recently had a film made and made A List of Importants, another had a script on the American Black List, another attended the Oscars (not as a nominee but I ain’t picky here, she wore a dress that night whilst I wore jammies), meanwhile, I’m sat here getting fired, libeled and dropped left, right and centre.

But guess what I talk about in meetings? That’s right. I talk about cats, mine, GIFS of other peoples, YouTube videos of them stealing dogs’ beds. And after that, ‘my friend so-and-so who has just made such-and-such” and, by very virtue of the fact that I have absolutely no morals whatsoever, I wear their coat-tails as a jaunty cloak and go gently into that bright sunshine, bathing half-naked in their reflected glory.

Because anything that happens in the industry is a bonus and if your friends get there first, well, they get to kick the crud out of the way for your grand entrance. And I’m planning something really special for my next outing. *cough, red carpet chariot pulled by cats, cough.*

Take that OTHER WRITERS!

Tamzin Rafn is a screenwriter and former Development Executive, represented by Casarotto Ramsay in the UK and WME in LA. She wrote ALBATROSS, worked in the main vein of script development in the UK, and gets unlucky quite often with London’s winged rats doing their business on her head. No she will not read your fu*king script, Industrial Scripts do thatand do it well thanking ye kindly. You can follow Tamzin on Twitter, check out her IMDb profile, read more of her scribblings and tell her where to go in the comments box below…

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Seething With Screenwriting Envy!
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