How to Become a Soap Writer
Posted Friday, January 25, 2008 11:28:35 AM
by Elizabeth Lee
As the World Turns writer Susan Dansby decided to turn lemons into lemonade during the current writers' strike. In an effort to pass the time -- and make a little money -- Dansby decided to write a book on something she knows very well: how she became an Emmy-winner soap opera writer.
In November, Susan Dansby stopped receiving a paycheck. The As the World Turns scribe was just one of the many writers impacted by the Writers Guild of America's work stoppage. With her days free, Dansby looked for a way to turn her misfortune into something not only positive, but money making.
"I was pretty na´ve," she explains. "The Writer's Guild demands seemed reasonable. I figured the two sides would come together fairly quickly."
She hung in there for a month, but when the studios stopped talks with the writers in early December, push came to shove.
"When the talks broke off," she says, "I had to do something to make money."
Her resolution resulted in "How Did You Get That Job? My Dream Jobs and How They Came True," a Kindle digital book. Writing a book that details how to have a fantastic career in soaps had long been a goal. The writers' strike gave Dansby an opportunity to make it happen.
Dansby (a former director- for Guiding Light, Generations, Port Charles, and As the World Turns) has had a varied and enviable career. In addition to her soap work, she has held jobs at hospitals, Yellowstone Park, Carnegie Mellon University, and Sesame Street. Her book details her goal-setting strategies, and explains how visualizing your dream job can make it career reality.
"People always ask how I got started in television," Dansby says. "The truth is I followed a plan that's fairly simple." Her strategy worked. Dansby has worked for 20 years in television, as a writer, associate producer, and director. When not on strike, she works from her home in Atlanta as a breakdown writer for As the World Turns.
The book also reveals behind the scenes antics and anecdotes.
"Working with ambitious and creative people can get intense sometimes. I write about one actor who tried to get me fired, and one who delivered a letter to Oprah for me. In soaps, you run the gamut."
Dansby is thrilled with her career despite the difficulties of the past several weeks.
"I've hated to be away from my work, because I truly love my job," she says about the strike. "But people need to know they can have fulfilling careers, and be happy in their work. If (my book) can help get that message out there, it'll all be worth it."
Look for "How Did You Get That Job? My Dream Jobs and How They Came True" through Amazon.com.
Photo Credit: Greg Weiner/PGP
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