Writer friends and beyond: I hope you’re having a fantastic week so far. This is the second edition of The Weekly Ghost, a roundup of news, links, and exciting developments in the larger ghostwriting world and in our very own network.
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As the WGA Turns. . .
In the latest round of news around the controversy between the Writers Guild of America and the Association of Talent Agents, negotiations between the two organizations broke down this past Friday when the ATA declined WGA’s demand for a “Code of Conduct” preventing television “packaging” and other production deals that are detrimental to writers. As a result, many writers have fired their agents, including prominent writers such as Patton Oswalt and Lisa Hanawalt.
If you haven’t been following the saga, packaging refers to a practice in which agents are paid by a studio to bring elements of a TV project together, rather than being paid commision from clients (like writers). The agents are effectively behaving like producers, which puts them in opposition to their clients — like writers, for example. In response to the TV packaging trend, the WGA pledged to impose a Code of Conduct just after midnight on April 12 that would have barred packaging fees and affiliate production, a measure that was rejected by the ATA.
TV writer and GG friend Keli Goff offered a thought-provoking take on the situation last week in the Hollywood Reporter, both as a writer in general and from the perspective of a woman writer of color — a demographic that already disproportionately struggles for attention and representation by agents. She explained that “It’s not realistic to expect agencies to remain loyal to our interests” because they profit from studios more than they ever could from writers. “I know very few writers who believe the way agencies currently do business works for them.” Agents can be dismissive and will label writers as “difficult” for calling in their own interests, Goff writes.
Featured Writer of the Week
The first edition of our Featured Writer of the Week is a conversation with author and developmental editor Caroline Leavitt in which she discusses her writing journey, staying productive, and more.
“Working with editors is a collaborative process,” she writes. “I always tell clients I work with that sometimes I point out flaws because their intention wasn’t clear. And sometimes I can be wrong. You have to listen and figure out whether or not the editor’s ideas work for you or not, and if they don’t, you don’t use them.”
Read more of Caroline’s insights here.
Melanie D.G. Kaplan wrote an enchanting travel article for The Washington Post about her adventures exploring D.C. from a perspective that few will experience — standing on a paddleboard.
Sue Treiman wrote a two-part series for the wellness section of the website In the Groove, beginning with this one on women and heart disease.
Douglas Rogers has a new book out entitled,Two Weeks in November: The Astonishing Untold Story of the Operation that Toppled Mugabe, (Short Books, 2019). It’s a true-life “Ocean’s 11 meets Game of Thrones” political thriller about the dramatic coup that took place in Zimbabwe in November 2017. Learn more on his website.
Larissa Shmailo presented in two sessions amid the wealth of programming at the recent Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference: “Hybrid Sex Writing: What’s Your Position?” with Erica Jong and “The Critical Creative: The Editor-Poet.” She’ll also appear at the New Orleans Poetry Festival on April 21.
Author Kim Michele Richardson used the advance from her new book to build a creative space for authors called Shy Rabbit.
The Writer Mag shared a helpful roundup of questions to ask before pitching an agent.
When Nabokov began writing in English for the first time, he felt like “a champion figure skater switching to roller skates.” Relatable for any writer who’s switched languages or even forms before.
Last week was Encourage a Young Writer Day. This piece from Mental Floss documents writers who were famous before age 23.
A panel of writers on Writers Without Borders discusses the unique challenges of translating picture books into English.