January 9, 2014

Saving You, the Writer

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

As writers, we all bring our life experiences into our work. This occurs naturally. We need to realize this since it can affect negotiations for our written work.

In the Disney movie, "Saving Mr. Banks" the life experiences of Mary Poppins author, P. L. Travers, come crashing in on her while negotiating movie rights with Walt Disney. The creative Disney also shares his reasons for wanting the rights. He shared in the movie how his childhood experiences led him to create childhood entertainment and build "the happiest place on earth."

The movie makes it clear Travers needed money, but she was willing to walk away and withdraw from the project, when she felt her book was misunderstood. This movie may be part fiction from the reality of the situation between Disney and Travers. However, it is a very compelling movie.

Fact or fiction it really doesn't matter. What does matter is that, as authors and creative people we need to identify what experiences have influenced our characters and be prepared for the eventual edit process. What artistic integrity are we willing to give up in the edit process and the selling of the rights? Will your characters become unrecognizable in the hands of a giant corporation? What is your deal breaker?

If you do not think your life experiences are influential in your writing, "Good for you."

As for me, I prefer to know my past affects my writing. I don't want to find myself one day sitting in the grass outside the offices of the CEO of Disney Movie Studios making a fairy house out of sticks and leaves, contemplating my next move with my characters.

How about you?

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