Writing Outside the (Idiot) Box

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About Greg White

Author, blogger, television writer, world traveler, and inveterate bon vivant Greg White is also a former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, now battling it out on the blogosphere at http://www.eatgregeat.com and http://www.gogreggo.com.

Greg has just finished his soon-to-be-published memoir about his Marine Corps boot camp experience. He served six years in the Marines. Truly a glutton, he also completed Officer Candidate School over the course of two summers---thus relishing the joys of basic training three times.

Greg has a voracious appetite for life and regularly contributes here and to The Huffington Post.

Follow him on Twitter  and Facebook

Comments

  1. Jane Jetson says:

    I could substitute “photojournalist” for “writer” and almost tell the same story. Thanks for sharing.

    • Greg White says:

      Thanks, Jane Jetson! I wonder if we could substitute a lot more professions in there? Wouldn’t it be great if artists could focus on art? I remember thinking once I had an agent that I got to sit back and create, but as you know, we have to work just as hard, agent or not. I hope your photojournalist career continues with great success!

  2. Aside from an enjoyable stint writing sitcoms with the Gregster, I’ve also written in other genres and mediums, and found that, each time I went from one medium or genre to another, people tended to think it was not a step sideways or exploring something new, but rather that I was taking either a big step or down. Recently I was asked by an exec, who’d gone on record as loving my work, why I hadn’t done sitcoms in so long. The expression on his face and the worried tone of his voice made clear that he was really concerned that if I wasn’t doing them at the moment, it must be that I am no longer capable of doing the job (or, at least, doing it well). I knew his concerns were echoed, if not suggested, by other sitcom writers who had never done anything but sitcoms and couldn’t imagine (or wouldn’t acknowledge) any reason why a person who’d done sitcoms wouldn’t be doing them still, unless they were no longer capable. It’s an aspect of the business I don’t really care for, but, to use a tired phrase, it is what it is. And you’ll encounter that no matter what medium or genre you work in. Few things feel as nice as being on a hit sitcom. The sense of validation and financial security can be intoxicating, and the cocoon of the writers’ room and the sound stage become a world all its own, to the point that it feels strange when you’re outside it, in the real world. Sometimes, that cloistered feeling overwhelms to the point that the comedy you create becomes overly self-referential, and you can deluded yourself into thinking your show is a bigger part of the world than it actually is. But, then, I saw the same thing happen when I was working in a grocery story, and there was a lot less money in that. So, if you are on a hit show, enjoy it and enjoy the flow of money. And, sure, enjoy how impressed people are when they hear what you do. But don’t enjoy it so much that you will miss it terribly when it goes away — as it will never the moment that sitcom goes off the air. Otherwise, you will be the person most convinced that you’re a failure if you don’t get right back on another sitcom. Glad to see that Greg has avoided that delusion, and found others to enjoy in its stead.

    • Greg White says:

      Thanks for those thoughts, Uncle Bob. You reminded me of the best thing (after the money) about writing on a show – the bonds, which I still enjoy with you and so many others, only forged in the trenches of the writer’s room and sound stages. I still write for friends, and it is out of pure love. If a show offered me a job, and it worked with my schedule — and I haven’t slipped into eastwooding land, I would do it. The key for me to avoid delusion has been my boyfriend. He has never, and will never have any interest in anything Holllywood, and when we are in town, he will rarely even venture East of our home in Santa Monica. What matters to him is that I take the garbage out.

  3. Comedy writing seems to me a most difficult undertaking as It has and is worked from every conceivable angle. So many thousands of shows have been produced and so much material consumed the generation of new humor would be such a task, such as trying to make a sweater funny (Ed Wood comes to mind). Then humor to one person is yuk to another. Classic humor such as All in the Family or Carol Burnet lives on and on, but then I never considered hits like Gilligan’s Island and particularly Green Acres more than silly drivel that mindlessness was a prerequisite to enjoy.
    Just saying…..

    • Greg White says:

      Hey now! When Lisa put whole eggs into the cake mix box, shoved it in the oven and pulled out a totally baked, beautifully iced birthday cake with burning candles – that’s funny! Of course All in the Family is close to my heart, and Carol still makes me laugh. I respect every writer and comedian – they are putting themselves out there to be laughed at, and that in itself is a serous business. Thanks for writing and no, you can’t borrow any money and I will not introduce you to Oprah, you get giggly.

  4. Christopher Young says:

    Thanks Greg – as a person looking to move further into writing, this was a great insight. There seem to be some good schemes in the UK to encourage submissions for emerging writers, I’m going to try my hand with a few pieces.

    I hope you’ve managed to find the right balance between producing the work you love and living well off it. All the best.

    • Thank you for commenting! One of my early mentors told me that “there is room in this business for everybody.” There really is, it is a medium needing content every moment. A network exec told me, when giving notes on a script, “You never learn anything form praise.” Promise me you will write with the most tenacity you can, and I wish you all success. Someone should have to rip the pages from your hand, as you are never ready to release them finally. I seek and find balance – and try to live in constant gratitude.

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