I was reading an article by Academy Award nominated screenwriter Josh Olsen. He writes in it that he will not read anyone's script, and stated his reasons for this somewhat controversial stance.
Now from my view as someone who is a virtual nobody in the writing world, I say his reluctance in reading someone's screenplay, along with the reasons he gives, is because of competition. It does plays a small part.
What I am about to say is not a knock against Josh, because he is far better screenwriter then I'll probably ever be, but before he penned the phenomenal "A History of Violence", he was just another struggling writer trying to make his way in Hollyweird. He got an option of a good graphic novel and adapted it into a great screenplay. (Not easy to do, possibly more difficult then writing a spec.)
Now with that being said, I have to state that if I become a writer with some status, I will probably behave the same way. I have to be honest about that.
Where I am right now, I have no problem with reading anyone's work. I am writer who likes to encourage others of my ilk. I am in the position to this because no one knows who the heck I am. I believe my mentality stems from the fact I am not successful. I can relate to someone who also struggles.
A bestselling novel, or successful movie based on your screenplay can change your mindset real fast.
You are now a successful professional. Everyone who knows the alphabet comes to you for an opinion about something they wrote. You know they really don't want to hear that opinion, because frankly, it would probably crush them.
I am with Josh in the fact that some people see screenwriting as something that a person with no skill could actually do. That is so far from the truth. Speaking as someone who has done all forms of writing, I think script writing is harder than any of the others. It takes years of hard work, practice, and experience. Let's not overlook the fact you must have something called talent.
As I wrote earlier, competition plays a part. I mean it is hard to break in. And once you do, you want to stay in, so the best way to stay in is to not read other people's writing because it is a possibility they might be better than you. Then take the fact in this era of agism, this aspiring writer might even be younger than you.
So, right now I will read anything you write because I am not afraid of you. If success happens to find me, I probably will not give you any pointers about your writing. It is not because I don't want to hurt your feelings with your sub-par scribbles, it's because now I am afraid you may be a better writer than I am. I don't want you to take away my livelihood.
When it comes down to it, writers are by our very nature are an insecure and jealous lot.
If you make it big, would you still help me? If I was a betting man, I wager against it.
For those of you interested, this is Josh's article in the Village Voice about reading someone's script. It is a very interesting read for all aspiring writers, regardless of genre. As a warning, it contains explicit language not suitable for younger readers.
Josh Olsen - I will not read your f**k**g script