Yesterday I sent out an invoice for some paid work. Nothing remarkable in that, I'm a freelance writer, part of the job. But it was the invoice I'd raised in 37 days. That means it's more than five weeks since I've done any paying work. It's not that I haven't been busy, just not on the usual bread and butter jobs that keep my bank manager happy and fund my iTunes habit. So what have I been doing?
There's my script for Sharps, that consumed a lot more time than I was expecting. But I'm pleased with the results, and believe it's a good addition to my portfolio of original material. I've developed a plethora of characters and written a detailed synopsis for what may become my 20th novel. That's now with an editor, awaiting their response. All going well, that should pay dividends later this year.
Wrote and pitched new ideas for The Phantom, a long-running comics character published by Egmont Sweden for which I write five issues a year. Again, they should lead to paying work over the next month or two. Wrote two quick pitches for one set of audio dramas, and developed a full-length plot synopsis for another - time will tell whether they win me work. Pitched ideas for a TV gig.
Massively revised the final project I wrote for my screening MA and submitted it as a sample script with my BBC Writers' Academy application. Watched many, many hours of Doctors, EastEnders, Holby City and Casualty as research for same. Applied for another scheme tied into the Guardian's television festival in Edinburgh. Nudged along projects sat in various inboxes. In short, I pimped my writing.
My financial reward for all of that effort? Thus far, zero. Less than zero, in fact, because bills still need paying even when money isn't coming in. But those five weeks are an investment in my future. As a freelance writer you've got to believe in yourself, but you've also got to keep challenging yourself. You've got to make sacrifices to achieve success, it won't be handed to you on a plate.
A kindly soul sent me a piece about breaking through, the moment when someone goes from knocking on doors to having those doors opened for them. There was no single factor, no magic formula, no one key that unlocked opportunity. The only common factor was tenacity - keeping going when the going gets tough. Keeping going when others would have given up, when a steady income and creature comforts beckon.
Sometimes, just sometimes, you get a nice surprise that makes all the effort, sacrifice and scraping by seem worthwhile. I got an email this week inviting me to take part in something that could help open doors for me. [Don't ask, because I can't say.] I didn't know this opportunity existed, hadn't applied for it. But the invitation came, and it repaid every moment of those five weeks.
Right, I'm off visiting, and still have plenty of work to do before heading for the airport. Have a great weekend and good luck to all those awaiting a response on their Sharps entry. Onwards!