Thursday, August 17, 2006

Are you a mentor? Or a mentee?

Yesterday was induction day for the Scottish Book Trust's words@work mentoring project. It's the third year the scheme has been run, offering writers are various stages in their careers the chance to be mentored for a nine-month period while they work on a specific project. Among the new intake are a poet and short story writer working on a novel, a writer and illustrator of books for children looking to move her target audience up an age band, a poet wanting to focus on radio drama, a novelist seeking help with a new book, another novelist wanting to finish her first novel and a trio would-be TV drama screenwriters. No prizes for guessing where I fit in there.

I can't talk too much about where I'm going with my project, as confidentiality agreements and boundaries have to be fixed, but am excited by opportunity to be mentored by a working screenwriter. Much as I value all that I'm learning and experiencing on my MA Screenwriting course, the size of the class and its juxtaposition of full-timers with part-timers often precludes the chance of more focused tutoring. But by lunchtime yesterday I realised I would have to make some sacrifices to get the best out of the mentoring experience.

For a start, I suspect my income's going to take another hit. The MA is already a double-drain on finances, partly through the costs associated with the degree but mostly through the loss of time to do revenue-earning work. Participating in the mentoring project will also eat into earning time, but it's a sacrifice worth making. This is just nine months - I've got the rest of my working life in which to make money. [I suspect they'll be prising the keyboard from my dead fingers when the time comes, assuming we're not able to download stories directly from the cerebral cortex by that point.]

I suspect some of my spare time activities will also have to go for the next nine months. I enjoy amateur dramatics, but it swallows a huge amount of my spare time. Two rehearsals a week of several hours each, plus learning lines - and that's when I'm just acting. I certainly won't be directing any more shows until this time next year. If acting swallows spare time, directing is akin to having a black hole hovering beside your waking hours. So, no more directing for a while and probably no more acting once my current committments are met.

Time to get serious and focus on making my dreams of being a screenwriter into a viable career. Speaking of focus, I need to get back to I'm supposed to producing 6000 words a day and the last two days only added 3000 words in total. I've got some catching up to do!

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