What a peculiar and miraculous facilitator the internet is for cultivating screenwriting relationships. Obscure nobodies develop email, instant message, and blog relationships with screenwriters, directors, movie stars and producers who wouldn't consider entering into a discussion with that same person through old fashioned fan mail.
In the two years that I've been screenwriting (wow, only two years) I've talked to several aspiring writers who have begun a promising career with the assistance of a big name they met online. That's great. In this way, I think internet relationships can be a very good thing.
Yet I've talked to others who left their spouses for other aspiring writers as well as one or two screenwriting wannabes who actually wound up having an intimate relationship with an amateur or professional screenwriter that they "met" online. Depending on circumstances, I'm not sure this is such a good thing.
While I would assume that these "romance" situations only occurred after the two people actually followed up their online discussions with a face to face meeting at a film festival, coffee shop, or book signing and only after they subsequently shared a drink, meal, or a few good laughs, this is not the story I've gotten from those aspiring screenwriters who kiss and tell. Most say they got very personal before a face to face meeting to which I ask some poignant and somewhat disturbing questions.
Huh??? Grownups? Educated people? Getting emotionally involved with somebody they have never laid eyes on? And writers, no less!! It doesn't compute and here is why...
If you meet a "writer" online and your entire relationship is based on what you "write" to one another over a computer, what would lead you believe that you have an accurate portrayal of this person's thoughts, personality, values, and goals? This person is a writer! If he is a good one, he can portray himself as any type of person as may be necessary to attract attention.
Imagine, for a moment, dating an actor. Now, I'm not talking about the kind of role playing we do in every day relationships, but a professional actor who earns a living faking it for the camera. When are they genuine? When are they acting? Did you really make her cry or is she wheedling a new diamond bracelet out of you? Is he really late because he had a flat tire in the rain or did he soak himself with the garden hose before he entered the front door?
That's the way I see online relationships with writers. Writing is what they do. Writers are who they are. How do you know if something written is contrived for your benefit?
Naturally, I must admit that there are probably some good relationships that began this way. But the tales I've read smack of heartache, frustration, insecurity, and mistrust. Of course, each of these accounts was given to me ... ahem ... by a writer.