Cecilia wrote a screenplay that’s better than anything I’ve done. Not that what I’ve done is any good. Some people don’t read what I write and have the tactlessness to start a conversation about why and when and where they didn’t read it—though for some reason even this banality is colored by positive assumptions and great excitement about what remains to be read in some anticipated future. How I’ve made such a favorable impression of talent without the opportunity for engagement remains mysterious.
When her peers, for lack of a more damning term, want to talk to Cecilia about her work, the same glowing potentialities do not apply. There is, as appalling baseline, the question of whether it’s “something for women, or something that anyone can relate to,” as if a funny woman would naturally wish to purge men from her audience. There is, once the subject matter comes out, the question of whether it’s “stupid, or doing something smart with something stupid,” as if women would and should resort to hackery right out of the gate. Finally, when assured that the screenplay is dark, multilayered and satirical, a crypto-misogynist, even while mentally burnishing his feminist bona fides, will ask: “Oh, so you take after your man?”
Her man being the author of a novel that, even before it has been opened, is so transparently important, impressive and worthwhile.
You may never see Cecilia’s first name in the credits of a movie she’s written. That’s because having a woman’s name on a script, and read by strangers, is to invite a prejudice that need not be overt to influence the odds of her success. It’ll be better, she says, to use her initials and sidestep gender entirely. There is a long tradition of this sort of thing.