Sunday, November 11, 2007

Meeting Lew Hunter and Sherri Sanders

Contrary to what you might think, there are people with real power in this neck of the woods. I’m not talking about the ones with .50 caliber weapons, I mean those who actually know someone and can influence them to ‘come on down and sit a spell’ here in the backwoods. In this neck of the woods, we have been blessed with a fine human being, a great person and she’s a writer!

Sherri Sanders decided to leave LA and move back home. Home now being about 15 miles south of me, even though she grew up just down the road. We met through a friend at a local library who is also an author. OK, local in that this library is 22 miles away and the one closest to me is 17 miles. People wonder why I only leave the farm every week to ten days or so. It’s pretty simple. Time and gas prices. It cuts into my writing.

So, Sherri and I begin to email each other about the Lew Hunter workshop that she is going to put on in Selmer, TN. That’s right, a small town that most people wouldn’t notice if they drove through it. 3,900 some people just don’t impress those who have lived in cities of millions. I’m intrigued, how the hell did she get a major Hollywood screenwriting icon to show up down here?

In August I broke my foot and it’s slowed me down. I have farm work to do before it gets really cold and I know that I can’t do the workshop. This really tears me up, as I have traveled to NYC and LA just to attend workshops, seminars and other writing events. So, I’m only going to attend the Friday night meet and greet.

One the appointed day, 2 November, I shut down early at the shop. After cleaning up, I make the trek to Selmer. Most of the writers were early, some of them had driven from across Tennessee, which is a journey of about 350 miles. Others have come in from Mississippi. This is great! I didn’t realize that we had such a diverse group, ranging from college students to farm-types to musicians and professionals, even a doctor.

Lew and his lovely wife, Pamela, show up and immediately charm the group. I thought he was an extremely brave man from the outset, wearing a red Nebraska sweatshirt, right here in the heart of Volunteer country. We didn’t go into the football stuff too much. I don’t follow the game now. It’s become too commercial for me.

After doing the ‘your name, your game’ scenario, Lew launched into giving us an idea about his life in Hollywood and screenwriting in general. This sort of thing always fascinates me, as each person will recount their experiences and give you something on which to base your future plans. It also fires me up to keep writing.

Lew and Pamela outlined the workshop projects for the weekend and then talked about various influences on them. How Billy Wilder impressed Lew and his classes at UCLA. Concerns about the WGA strike, which unfortunately, is now going on all over the country. What really impressed me though, was throughout it all, Lew kept emphasizing that we could do this. We could work as writers.

I’ve been to seminars where the speaker has stood up in front of 800+ people and told them that in five years, probably none of them would be writing movies in Hollywood. Which might be true. It sure doesn’t give a person hope though, does it? I had just spent major bucks, flown over 1,000 miles and then I hear this? Should have stayed on the farm? Not likely.

Not everyone will become a screenwriter, some of us will go on to do other things, some of it will be in the realm of writing. Those who only do it for a hobby still get the satisfaction of completing the work. Just as long as you write.

I might be down here, miles from nowhere, but you’re reading this, wherever you are.

Thanks, Lew, Pamela and Sherri. I had a great time. You really fired me up. Let’s all get back to our writing.

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