Who uses it: Writers, other creative types, entrepreneurs
What it means: Doing a job with no promise that anyone will pay you for it.
How you can use it: When you're taking a risk.
This week, among many other projects, I'm reading three spec scripts for a production company I do coverage for. Breaking into Hollywood is not as difficult as you might think... in the same way that getting your first novel published isn't that hard, either. All it takes is writing something excellent.
Hundreds of people like me read thousands of scripts every week, and speaking only for myself, three-quarters of them are absolute trash. Another fifteen percent of them have strengths but need work, or are movies that just aren't my cup of tea. About 10% of them are movies that I'd actually want to watch.
Of the scripts I'm reading this week, one is abysmal but will probably get made, because it's a marketer's dream. One is for an audience I will never be part of, and might already be too late to catch the pop culture wave it's trying to ride. One is excellent, and would make a great vehicle for any of several 30-something actresses, but will need luck and a strong advocate to make it to the screen.
This week's issue of the Onion A.V. Club is missing my favorite recurring feature, where they ask some random celebrity to name and explain the first five things that come up on their iPod's random shuffle. To remedy this absence, the first five songs that came up on mine this morning were "The Broad Majestic Shannon," by the Pogues; "Funny How Time Slips Away," by Al Green; Nina Simone, “My Baby Just Cares for Me;” Francine Reed, “I Want You to Love Me;" and Bruce Springsteen, “Spare Parts.” Contrary to what this list might suggest, I have bought new music since the turn of the century...