Connected with an anonymous astrologer recently who was offering free chart interpretations online. I like to receive different interpretations from random sources, as there tends to be nuggets of useful information, stemming from a source that was previously unknown. This one was no different. It took nearly three months to finally connect, though, which troubled me a bit. It was only when I said I was going to seek out other sources that he responded and we met last Friday.
The reading was…okay. However, it was the fact that I was a writer that made him finally commit to meeting, it appears. He — like every person I’ve ever met in my life — was working on a project and “needed” a professional writer involved.
No matter whom I meet in public, when I let on that I’m a writer, I hear, without fail, some combination of these words.
Oh, I always wanted to be a writer. I have a story that will blow every one away.
Here’s a recent ad from Craig’s List (actual wording):
I LOOKING FOR A WRITER THAT WOULD LIKE TO WORK WITH ME ON HOPEFULLY A IDEA I HAVE FOR A BOOK. I THINK MY IDEA IS MAYBE PRETTY GOOD. SERIOUS WRITER ONLY.
Seems to be an epidemic of those who, for whatever reasons, believe that writing is something so easy, a child could do it. Just grab your crayons and you’re set!
So this guy had a project along the lines of other bio-pics we’ve seen — my favorite being Temple Grandin, with Clare Danes as the autistic savant doctor of animal science, a professor at Colorado State University, a best-selling author, an autistic activist, a consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, and an engineer. I agreed to look into the subject matter to see if there was a viable story in there.
Not as dramatic as, say, the film mentioned above, but still…the person as subject was a pioneering woman who singlehandedly changed the way the world views our environment.
So we were scheduled to meet this morning. In advance of that meeting, my intuition was whispering things to me. Who is this guy? it asked. Maybe you should look him up first.
Thinking, Of course…it only makes sense to know who it is I’m about to partner with for a project.
So I looked him up.
At the top of my Google results was a local news story, alleging that this same person had been arrested this past July for attempting to lure, then force, a 13-year-old girl into his vehicle. He allegedly made more than one attempt that day. My jaw dropped.
No, that’s not something you simply volunteer to someone you just met. But I felt very conflicted about continuing any sort of professional relationship with this guy. Whether he’s guilty or innocent, it’s also my reputation as a writer that is at stake in this. When and/or if the film ever got produced and released, this event in his past would surely surface in not very good ways.
I emailed him to ask about it in advance of our meeting, and he offered to “explain” during our meeting. The more I thought about it, the less comfortable I felt. So I withdrew from the project.
I have never been confronted with a moral dilemma like this before. I have friends who’ve done time for various things — robbery, assault, drug trafficking — and those things have never interfered with our friendships. This though… Having survived a lifetime of physical abuse at the hands of my parent and stepparent, this made me sick to my stomach. And I knew I’d acted in the best way I could. Self-preservation is a trait that is quite strong in me. I’ve survived a lot. But morally and ethically, I simply could not abide by the idea that this person had gotten himself a felony for child endangerment, and who is very likely on the sexual predator list.
After I sent the email, I had to take a shower, because I felt somehow dirtied by his alleged actions. But I don’t regret withdrawing. That would hang over my head the entire time we worked together, and would negatively impact my creativity on that project.
So always listen to your intuition. Act on it.
I’m glad I did.