Saturday, June 16, 2007

Back to work, and suchlike

After spending the last few months concentrating on my many endeavours to build a career in screenwriting for TV, I'm getting back to some paying work. Bills don't pay themselves and the taxman will be expecting a cheque from me at the end of next month, so I've been pitching my services as a journalist with some success. Got a 1200 word article to write for Monday, another for next Friday and a multi-part interview feature in the works as well. Talking to two publishers about potential novel projects, and prepping the pitch for a new non-fiction tome. Hopefully some of these will also bear fruit. Planning a trip home to New Zealand next March and that ain't cheap.

Doing my accounts has underlined how much time and money I've invested in my quest to become a TV drama writer and/or script editor. My gross earnings are down ten thousand pounds from where I was two years, a not inconsiderable percentage of my income. But my expenses have risen in that time. I've had to self-fund my MA Screenwriting course [more than £3000 in fees, plus books and travel costs] because I'm officially Foreign Scum and not eligible for any bursaries. [I lucky my longterm residency in the UK means I'm considered a Home student, otherwise I'd be paying £15,000 in fees.]

Skillset kindly paid half my travel and subsistence costs to attend the TAPS script editing course, but trips south for the Script Factory's TV Forum event and Storylining for Soaps workshop were both self-funded. Speculate to accumulate, that's what I keep telling myself. If by some miracle I get through to the next stage of the BBC Writers' Academy selection process, that's another round trip to London, two days off paying work and accommodation to fund - money going out, not much coming in.

But you know what? It's my choice. Student debt is a reality of life these days, and acquiring the skills I need to succeed is not cheap, but I believe it's a price worth paying. I've read enough screenwriting books to know every quest requires sacrifices and pain and reversals. The difference between mythic quests in storytelling and the quest to become a TV drama writer is most mythic quests end in success. There's thousands of people across Britain taking workshops and MA Screenwriting course, hoping to become professional writers. I wonder how many of them succeed?

I have few illusions. The world does not owe me a living. All of this time and money and effort I've expended so far could be for nothing. I might not have the talent. I might not have the Voice, that distinctive characteristic a writer needs to stand out from the crowd. I might not have the little slice of luck that can transmute years of hard slog into a golden opportunity. But I ain't giving up. Not by a long chalk. I've been plugging away at this for about two years. I figure it'll take at least that long again before I get my first on-screen credit. Bring it on.

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