Hopeful Writer & the Unsolicited Manuscript
by Howard Shirley
(With apologies to Monty Python)
The Knights of the Library Study Table:
HOPEFUL WRITER (HW)
EAGER ILLUSTRATOR (EI)
NUMBED FINGERS (NF)
SINCERELY the SUBMITTED (SS)
REPETE the REJECTED (RR)
EMBARRASSED TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH THIS IDEA
THE ASSISTANT JUNIOR AGENT’S ASSISTANT (AJAA)
THE ASSISTANT ASSOCIATE EDITORIAL ASSISTANT (AAEA)
THE ASSOCIATE ASSISTANT EDITORIAL ASSOCIATE (AAEA 2)
Exterior. A fog bound plain. Indistinct shapes move about in the fog.
MUSIC: Eerie music.
TITLE: Mercia. 955 A.D. 8:55 A.M.
Two shapes bump into each other.
SHAPE 1 (HW): Oops. Sorry.
SHAPE 2 (RR): It’s okay. Is this the coffee room?
SHAPE 1: I don’t know. I was looking for the registration desk.
SHAPE 2 (gesturing vaguely): Oh, that’s over there. Better hurry; the keynote’s about to start.
SHAPE 1: Thanks! (wanders off.)
SHAPE 2: Didn’t anybody make any freakin’ coffee? What kind of conference is this?
Camera moves away, following SHAPE 1. The fog begins to clear, revealing a low table set on a barren hillside. On the table is a sign that reads: “SCBWI-Mercia Conference Registration” in gothic calligraphy.
NUMBED FINGERS sits at the table next to SINCERELY the SUBMITTED. We now see that SHAPE 1 is HOPEFUL WRITER.
HOPEFUL WRITER: Registration?
NUMBED FINGERS: You’re late. Registration is closed.
HW: That’s okay. I’m pre-registered. Hopeful Writer. That’s with a “W.”
NF (flipping through pocket folders): You’re still late.
HW: I was delayed at the airport.
NF (looking around): The airport? In Mercia?
SS (looking over): He could have taken a shuttle from Wessex.
NF: Do you have any idea how expensive that is? No writer could afford that.
SS: Yes, but the hotels sometimes offer free shuttle service.
NF: No! I had to thumb a ride with Repete the Rejected. I could have ridden in a shuttle for free?
SS: Well, it depends, of course, but...
HW: Could I have my packet, please?
NF: Sure. Whatever. (Picks up a packet and tosses it to HW.) Tell me more about this shuttle...
HW shrugs and walks off. Fade to black.
TITLE CREDITS: The Knights of the Library Study Table proudly present:
SUBTITLE: Subtitle Missing.
SUB SUBTITLE: “Uhm... where are the subtitles?”
TITLE: Hopeful Writer and the Unsolicited Manuscript.
SUBTITLE: Still Missing.
SUB SUBTITLE: “That was Embarrassed’s job.”
SUBTITLE: Missing, missing, missing.
SUB SUBTITLE: “You gave that job to Embarrassed?”
Fade in dramatic sepia-toned still shot of Hopeful Writer.
TITLE: Hopeful Writer
SUBTITLE: Nope. Still got nothing.
SUB SUBTITLE: “The poor woman’s swamped!”
Fade to Eager Illustrator.
TITLE: Eager Illustrator
SUBTITLE: Zilch. Nada.
SUB SUBTITLE: “ She’s got home schooling, volunteer commitments, and a three-year-old!”
Fade to Numbed Fingers.
TITLE: Numbed Fingers
SUBTITLE: Hello? Remember me? Anyone?
SUB SUBTITLE: “But she’s really good.”
Fade to Sincerely the Submitted
TITLE: Sincerely the Submitted
SUBTITLE: I’m waiting...
SUB SUBTITLE: “I thought it would be a confidence booster.”
Fade to Repete the Rejected.
TITLE: Repete the Rejected
SUBTITLE: Look, if you’re not gonna use me, why even put me up here? Geez-a-rama, can’t you get anything together? What, I’m just supposed to blah, blah, blah, till the whole screen is filled up? I could do that, but who has time to read it all? Get an editor, for the love o’ Pete!
SUB SUBTITLE: “Oh, yeah, right. ‘Embarrassed, there’s so much you have to do already that I’ve given you another assignment.”
Fade to black.
SUBTITLE: Oh, just forget it.
SUB SUB TITLE: “Sorry. I meant well.”
Fade to blank space, same size as other still shots, but empty.
TITLE: Embarrassed to Be Associate with This Idea
SUBTITLE: I mean it. I’m gone.
SUB SUBTITLE:“Look, rather than redo the whole thing, let’s just end the credits and get on with the movie.”
BLACKOUT. Soundtrack comes to scratchy halt.
(Beat. Beat. Beat.)
SUB SUBTITLE: “I said, ‘get on with the movie!’”
MUSIC: Soundtrack swells up again as we go to:
SCENE: Exterior. Day. Grassy field. HOPEFUL WRITER, EAGER ILLUSTRATOR, NUMBED FINGERS, SINCERELY the SUBMITTED and REPETE the REJECTED are walking across the field together.
SS: That was the strangest keynote address I’ve ever been to.
EI: The Power Point presentation was nice.
NF: Yeah, I suppose, but what was the point of all the subtitles? They didn’t make any sense.
RR: I think it was an inside joke.
NF: Yeah, well, they could have let us in on it.
HW (looking in his packet): What does everybody else have next? I’ve got the agent.
SS: Me too.
NF: Same here.
EI: Writer’s Market says the agency reps artists too, so I signed up for it.
HW: Wait. Nobody signed up for Alan’s writer’s workshop?
ALL: (Murmurs of “no,” etc.)
NF: Oo, he’s gonna feel really bad.
RR: Naw. It’ll be just like a book signing.
ALL: (Murmurs of experienced agreement.)
TO BE CONTINUED...