Before everyone gets all up in my face about this blog post, let me state right up front that I didn't really "steal" from my man. I was protecting him from someone else stealing his intellectual property. He knew I was doing it; or at least he should have known because it isn’t like I didn’t tell him in advance. I don’t think he believed me. Silly boy.
My husband, Brad, has been a writer of one kind or another his whole life. He started as a news reporter, then became an advertising copywriter; eventually he wrote and directed television commercials. He had a great idea for a screenplay about a murder case that he covered as a reporter. Terrific idea. Lots of twists and turns. Eventually he figured out how the murderer got away with it, so there were wonderful possibilities.
I went back to Indiana and dug through the newspaper morgue (the archives) and did the research for him. It had been a number of years since he had covered the case. He poured over my research and began talking about the story to friends. A year later he was still talking – to everyone within earshot.
“Quit talking about it and write it,” I mentioned ever-so-tactfully about a million times. “Someone is going to steal it from you.”
Another year passed and he was working as a producer on a small feature film. The executive producer was a big deal from Hollywood. One day I walked into a break in shooting to find Brad telling the Hollywood guy about his idea for a screenplay – telling him in excruciating detail.
“Shut up, shut up, shut up,” I gently suggested. “Are you insane? These Hollywood guys would steal the food from their mother’s mouths.”
A year later, I finally gave him an ultimatum. “If you are intent on letting someone steal this thing, then keep it in the family. You’ve got until September to write at least a treatment (a synopsis) and get it registered with the Writer’s Guild of America or I’m going to steal the damn thing myself.” Honestly, did he think I was kidding?
The following January we were getting our taxes together and he saw a bunch of cancelled checks made out to WGA. “What’s this?” he asked.
“That’s the Writer’s Guild of America for my many treatments,” I answered helpfully. “I took your screenplay and registered it seven ways from Sunday. It’s registered as a true story, a piece of fiction, a third-person narrative, a first-person narrative from the POV of a young reporter covering the story, and a first person story from the POV of the murderer. It’s mine now.”
The British have a word for what Brad was. It’s called Gobsmacked. It means confused, shocked, dumbfounded. “Suppose I still want to write it?” he asked.
“Well then I guess you’ll have to be a lot nicer to me.”
Men. They really must start taking us more seriously.