Welcome Writers & Readers to Rod Serling Books' Blog
My father was a story teller. As his close friend, Dick Berg, wrote in his eulogy: “Where Rod’s peers may have anguished over the creative process, Rod woke up each day saying, ‘Let me tell you a story.’ This was his badge, his thrust, his passkey into our lives. He was eternally the new boy on the block trying to join our games. And he penetrated the circle by regaling us with those many fragments of his Jewish imagination . . . intellectual stories, fantastic stories, hilarious stories, stories of social content, even one-liners about man’s lunacy. However they were always seen through his prism, becoming never less than his stories. And because he came to us with love . . . seeking our love . . . we invariably let him tell us a story. And how much richer we are for it.”
Writing was what my father believed in, what he was passionate about, what he thought had a chance to save society. In 1968, when the country was in the midst of the divisiveness and turmoil of the civil rights and anti-war movements that were tearing it apart, my dad ended a speech at the Library of Congress in Washington by saying, “so long as men and women write what they want, then all of the other freedoms—all of them—will remain intact. And it is then that writing becomes an act of conscience, a weapon of truth, an article of faith.”
My father felt that radio, television and film ought to be “vehicles of social criticism” and that writers “should menace the public’s conscience.” He said, “I think that it’s criminal that we are not permitted to make dramatic note of social evils that exist, of controversial themes as they are inherent in our society.”
In his final interview my dad was asked about his very first sale. “It’s an incredible event” my father responded. “The most important thing about the first sale is for the very first time in your life something written has value and proven value because somebody has given you money for the words that you've written, and that's terribly important, it's a tremendous boon to the ego, to your sense of self-reliance, to your feeling about your own talent. I remember the first sale I made was a hundred and fifty dollars for a radio script, and, as poor as I was, I didn't cash the check for three months. I kept showing it to people.”
My dad was then asked: “In the past when you were starting a writing career, how did you deal with rejection? Has it gotten any easier?” And my dad replied, “It's gotten easier because now it's only a blow to ego. In the old days, you were rejected, and not only was a piece of your flesh cut to pieces, your pocketbook was destroyed.”
My father had forty rejections before he made his first sale and, in fact, was told, “You ought to change professions because you’ll never be a writer. When asked what encouragement he would offer for writers who accumulate a lot of their own rejection slips my dad said: “Only that somehow, some way, incredibly enough, good writing ultimately gets recognized. I don't know how that happens, but it does. If you're really a good writer and deserve that honored position, then by God, you'll write, and you'll be read, and you'll be produced somehow… If you have a spark in you, a cut above the average, I think ultimately you make it.”
We hope you are encouraged by my father’s words and experience. If you feel that hunger and that passion and want to speak out about justice and the well-being of humanity, please join us. Feel free to comment on posts and/or submit work of your own for consideration.