Monday, December 14, 2009

2009: my year in review [part 3]

Recovering from stinking cold, slowly. Christmas looms up ahead like a great big looming thing and I've work that needs doing before then, so it's time to press on [no matter how crap I feel]. My breakthrough moment of 2009 has to be securing a first TV drama commission [read the lengthy tale of my journey to writing an episode of Doctors here].

I've no idea what my episode will be like. I believe there's some strong scenes, a few delicious lines. But my script is just one part of the finished episode, on which dozens of people have worked. The results should be on BBC1 mid-afternoon Wednesday, February 10th 2010. I'll be ready to pop open some champagne when my name appears on screen. It's the culmination of several year's work.

Back in 2005 I set off on a quest to become a TV writer. I'd had chances before, but blown them for various reasons - mostly lack of relevant craft and ignorance of the business. So I decided to retrain, undertaking a screenwriting MA at Screen Academy Scotland and various other courses. I emerged in September 2007 with a degree, better craft skills and more industry knowledge.

One thing I knew for certain: no writer is owed a living - you have to earn it. Two years on, I'm making a little money from TV writing. Got paid for storylining an animation project that's in development at a production company. I'm building relationships with script editors and executives at several prodcos. Being a Red Planet Prize finalist also got my name known in a few interesting places.

The Doctors script commission takes me to a whole new level. But it's only the start, the first of many commissions. Getting the job was no fluke, but I don't want to be a one-script wonder either. Now I need to secure another commission, prove I can deliver again and again and again. Only then I can call myself a professional, a working TV writer. There's a long way to go before that happens.

Getting the Doctors commission was a massive boost, but the lonely truth is that writers have to validate their own work. Take responsibility for your writing. Know when you've done good, and recognise when you haven't. Give your writing status, but always strive to make it better. So, here's to the hard road ahead. Onwards!

1 comment:

Beki said...

Congratulations! I would to work my way to the position I could write for Doctors (I am a secret Doctors fan!)

And very wise words about the hard work of writing. I have found that out over the last couple of years since finding my way onto the first rung of the comedy writing ladder.

These last few months my gears have firmly cranked up a notch and I'm like a sponge taking in any knowledge those who've 'been there and done that' are gracious enough to share.

I look forward to Feb 10th!

PS The word verification for me to leave this comment is hessiona - a great name if Heston were to take up with a new woman called Iona.