The Ellie Kanner directed film, "Authors Anonymous" is about a dysfunctional bunch of Los Angeles writers who each sink into their own version of author-envy when the seemingly least talented of their group secures an agent, publishes her book, and gets a film deal. The girl doesn't even know who Jane Austen is but she's suddenly the "it" girl living a charmed life with a famous author boyfriend. Written by David Congalton, "Authors Anonymous" missed the mark for me as a snarky mockumentary but I have met, in real life, every sad character in that film.
And, you just feel bad for them.
You know them, too. There's an egomaniacal Tom Clancy wannbe who has a self-published book signing in a hardware store, a romance novelist who is really just exploring her inner sex kitten, and a Fitzgerald devotee who probably has some real talent but doesn't spend as much time writing as he should because he is delivering pizza and cleaning carpets to pay the bills.
We've all met people like this. Some have talent. Some don't. All believe they've been given the go-by. And some decide to do something about it.
Like this guy:
Introducing James R. Strauss, a man who was outed by Lee Goldberg as living the screenwriter life and speaking at seminars as a guru acclaimed for working on television shows that there's no real evidence he worked on. He apparently bypassed all the slammed doors and rejection letters and just went straight to getting paid to teach about a career he never had.
It reminds me of the book, "The Woman Who Wasn't There" about Alicia Esteve (Tania) Head who pretended she was in the World Trade Center when the towers fell. Her deception went unexposed for quite some time among survivor groups and she gained some acclamation for her heroic story of escape.
The difference in these two people is that while both of them appear to have some kind of deep-rooted need for recognition or acknowledgment, Alicia never made money off her lies. She broke a lot of hearts but didn't profit by it. James R. Strauss, on the other hand, is being vetted by Lee Goldberg's internet friends and has a colorful history of being accused of fraud and profiting from it.
How many times have I had the discussion about writing for the sake of writing versus writing to be produced and how even though screenwriters want to see their words breathing on film, there is also a level of satisfaction in putting pen to paper and doing what you set out to do?
Rhetorical question. Duh.
Point is, jumping to the finish line without running the race seems like an excruciatingly unsatisfying life. And I genuinely feel a deep sense of regret for the choices made by this person I've never met.
I think I would rather write and be unknown than not write and be known for writing.