Monday, December 29, 2008

Well, that was kind of an odd year

By comparison to my achievements during 2007 [got my screenwriting MA with distinction plus the Napier University Medal, won a first prize in Los Angeles for my short film script DANNY'S TOYS], the last twelve months have been decidedly low key. Felt like I made a lot of progress during 2008, but there's not much evidence to support that on my hard drive. Financially it was my worst annum since the early 90s, but the past year wasn't about making money.

I devoted much of my time to speculative writing. Most of those projects didn't turn into commissions, but they got me meetings, got me other opportunities, some even got me noticed. In January I wrote a trial script for Doctors that got me invited in submit story of the day ideas to the BBC medical drama series. In February I was guest speaker on the screenwriting MA course at Napier University, a taste of teaching in an academic environment.

Much of March was spent in New Zealand, my first trip home in five years, but even on holiday I saw a painting that inspired a feature screenplay I'm itching to write. In April I was rewriting WWII domestic drama FAMILIES AT WAR as my creative sample for the BBC Writers' Academy. May saw the broadcast of my appearance on TV quiz show The Weakest Link, filmed three months before, and I performed in a local production of the musical Me and My Girl.

June was devoted to Sharps, a drama script competition run by the BBC. Didn't make the final cut, but the contest did prompt me to write THE WOMAN WHO SCREAMED BUTTERFLIES, a quirky script that's gotten some interest and several meetings. In July I was one of eight writers invited to the Doctors mini-academy [a brilliant experience, highly recommended]. During August I was writing the first draft of my Doctor Who audio drama, ENEMY OF THE DALEKS.

In September I submitted FAMILIES AT WAR to the Red Planet Prize. During October I was one of six writers starting the teamwriting TV drama course run by the Lighthouse arts centre in Brighton. In November I was stunned to learn my Red Planet entry was through to the second round. December brought publication of my 19th novel, A MASSACRE IN MARIENBURG, and I was offered the post of part-time lecturer in creative writing at Napier University.

2008 also brought plenty of disappointments. Got a second rejection letter from the BBC Scotland soap River City [happily, just a week after good news from Doctors]. Had a hugely positive meeting with a Manchester games company that looked likely to bring a small fortune in exciting work - but nothing ever came of it. Devoted weeks to a novel proposal at the request of an editor, but the proposal has sat unread on a desk for six months.

But that's the nature of freelance writing. You'll get rejected far more often than you'll be commissioned. If three months go by and you're still not getting any feedback from the person you submitted to, it's time to move on. That project may still come back to life, but it's not worth devoting any more of your hopes. Better to learn from your mistakes than keep repeating them - you'll only get your heart broken again and again.

God, what a load of rambling. You can tell I haven't written anything for a few days, can't you? In tomorrow's blog, I'll attempt a more succinct review of specific areas, assess my progress against the six goals I set myself back in May 2007 and maybe even contemplate setting some new goals for the next two years.


Jason Arnopp said...

I love the fact that this was your idea of a low-key year. Sir, you really are a caution. Happy New 2009!

Dean said...

Would now be a bad time to ask will there ever be any hope of a new Dante novel?

David Bishop said...

I'd dearly love to scribble another NIKOLAI DANTE novel, those three books are among my favourites of all the tomes [and possibly much of everything else] I've ever written.

Alas, they didn't sell enough to justify Black Flame continuing with the series. To the best of my knowledge, the rights to publish 2000 AD novels are [slowly] reverting to Rebellion, so there's the possibility of further tomes - but Dante seems a longshot.

Ironically, my three Dante novels are much borrowed from libraries and seem to have found a small but devoted audience.

Dean said...

Thats a shame, guess we can always hope!

Well whatever about the poor sales thats no reflection on the novels themselves. I've always loved Dante from 2000ad and the novels portrayed him very well not to mention the interesting plots.

I was a fan for many years of the comic and only found out about the novels about a year and a half ago, so I'd blame the advertising.

A devoted audience? Thats what the evil dead got back in the day, you could be after manufacturing a cult classic! Anyway love your work thanks for the reply!