Saturday, September 19, 2009

One, two and three years onwards

Yesterday completed the first week of actual teaching on the new creative writing MA at Edinburgh Napier University. [Wekk One was all about induction, matriculation and creating some esprit de corps among our first cohort.] Feels like something fried my brain with a little butter and some herbs, plenty a little crushed garlic as well. But now that's done, it's time to get back to my own writing.

This blog is fast approaching its fourth birthday [my, how time flies]. I started it as a way of tracking the progress of my quest to become a screenwriter. The first two years were sometimes dominated by the screenwriting MA I was studying part-time at Napier. This week I've been advising my creative writing students to consider starting their own blogs, as a reality check on their progress and aspirations.

So, what I was doing this time last year? I sent off my entry for the Red Planet Prize, the first ten pages of a WWII home front soap I'd originally developed during my MA. That had a happy outcome, as Families At War was eventually selected as one of the runners-up for the RPP. I was also awaiting notes for a second draft of my Doctor Who audio, Enemy of the Daleks - and that turned out pretty good.

Two years ago? September 2007 saw me finish my screenwriting MA [with Distinction, I later discovered]. A short film script I'd developed on the course won a first prize in that year's Page International Screenwriting Awards. I was racing deadlines to finish my script for the TAPS continuing drama workshop. Plus I was convinced getting an agent was an essential step to progressing my career objectives.

Well, the TAPS script came to nothing. I didn't make the next round, though everyone else I knew at the workshop weekend did [eight of them!]. In truth, I knew my script would never make the cut. It required stunt work, two fights, a stabbing, copious amounts of blood - all things that the filming format for chosen projects precludes. I still like my script, and plan to rewrite it for radio one day.

Didn't get anywhere seeking an agent in 2007 - and it hasn't obviously hurt my career. No doubt there are doors which haven't been open to me, but I'm not sure I was ready for those opportunities anyway. Push is coming to shove on a particular project of mine and I may soon need the sort of advice only an agent can offer. So my quest from 2007 could be revisited before the end of this year.

Two years on from winning a first prize at the Page Awards, DANNY'S TOYS isn't any closer to being made. An Edinburgh animation producer got interested in the project for a while, but development funding wasn't forthcoming so that fell by the wayside. In the meantime I've got another short film script in the finals of this year's Page Awards - winners due to be announced on October 1st.

Three years ago I was eagerly waiting for news from River City about a script sample I'd written for them at the start of September 2006. [Dozens of writers were part of this initiative.] We'd all written our samples over the space of a weekend, and were told feedback would be with us inside a week. It took another year before everyone got rejected. Boy, did that leave a sour taste in the mouth.

I was a year into my screenwriting MA, and starting a madcap year of juggling the degree course, half a dozen different workshops and nine months of being mentored by Adrian Mead. Looking back, I took on waaaaaaaaaaaay too much and some of my work suffered as a consequence. But fast-tracking the learning process has paid off since then, so I guess it was worth the sleepless nights and poverty.

What else was I doing in September 2006? Finishing my first fantasy novel, a police procedural set in Games Workshop's Warhammer universe. I later wrote a second novel wih the same characters, but slight sales mean I'll probably never get to finish the loosely linked trilogy of tales I had planned. Such is life. You don't always have the satisfaction of finishing every story you start writing.

1 comment:

Simon Fraser said...

There are 2 kinds of Agents: The Nurturers and the Sharks. Nurturers will help you, encourage you and give you the handholding you need. The Sharks bite both ways. Hopefully away from you.