Today’s piece is written by Ed Fowler, Writers’ Assistant
For the last year and a half, up until the strike, I’ve been lucky enough to work as a television Writers’ Assistant. I’ve had the pleasure of working with three different writing staffs on three different shows. The first two were ABC’s TRAVELER and Lifetime’s SIDE ORDER OF LIFE. The third show, which I began about two weeks prior to the strike, is Sci-Fi Channel’s EUREKA. The first impression most people have of this position is that I get coffee, answer phones and make copies…if this is your impression too, you would be correct.
But that ain’t all.
The work of the average writers’ assistant also parlays into the sacred, hallowed halls of what’s called The Writers Room – which is really just a fancy term for a conference room. The writing staff gathers in this room to break stories, crack jokes and throw out various bits of dialogue and it’s the job of the writers’ assistant to write down every word that they say. It’s not an easy gig and also not advisable for the thin-skinned considering you are the prime target (both figuratively and literally) for any jokes or objects that may be hurled out at any given moment. Quick dodging reactions can be a plus. As crazy of a gig as it can be it’s still one of the coolest places to be and there’s almost nothing better.
After the day is done and the whole writing staff is tucked snug as bugs in bed, I go home. At home I kiss my wife hello and then I kiss her goodbye as I go to work on my own writing for another five or six hours. Maybe it’s writing a spec for another show or maybe it’s writing an original pilot or feature, either way I’m there writing. Yeah, I’ll wake up bleary-eyed and tired the next day, but for now that’s part of my process and, as crazy as it sounds, I love it.
Recently, scientists developed a theory that the memories of our ancestors are actually locked somewhere deep within the recesses of our DNA. It’s a pretty interesting concept when you consider the ramifications. I come from a long line of blue-collar workers, Coal Miners, Nurses, Auto Plant Workers, Teachers, Homemakers, Police Officers, Barbers, Farmers, and even a couple Moonshiners back in the day; so in my case this translates to every word I write, every story I lay out is influenced by my ancestors and, as fate has allowed, I sit on the precipice to be able to tell these stories, or stories like them, for a living. I write because it’s what I’m here for, right here, right now. The enjoyment I get out of telling a story, no matter how excruciating the process can be, is out of this world. So hopefully, with a little more time, and little bit of luck, I’ll get my shot. Until then I’ll be writing, because no matter where I may “professionally” stand, I am a writer.
WHY WE WRITE is a series of essays by prominent – and not so prominent – TV and Film writers. Conceived by Charlie Craig and Thania St. John, the campaign hopes to inspire and inform all writers during the strike, and perhaps beyond. If you’d like to comment, or tell us why you write, visit the Why We Write WordPress site or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.