Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Searching for a sense of career perspective

It can be hard to see the wood for the trees when you're in the middle of a writing plateau [or in the grip of a mixed metaphor, come to that]. Right now, I'm between projects. I don't have any pressing deadlines, so it's up to me to motivate myself forwards. As is my habit when I get stuck, I tend to look back and see how I got here.

Six years ago I was starting my screenwriting MA at Screen Academy Scotland, and set up this blog to chart my progress on the course. I had no broadcast credits, no agent and a limited grasp of screenwriting. I'd written a dozen audio dramas and had many novels published, but I really wanted to write TV drama - hence the course.

Five years ago I was halfway through my MA. My first radio play had been broadcast by the BBC. I did my first try-out for the Scottish continuing drama series River City. I was being mentored in screenwriting by Adrian Mead, thanks to the Scottish Book Trust's excellent scheme. Felt like I was making some progress.

Four years ago I graduated from the course as a Master of Arts in screenwriting, with distinction. My script Danny's Toys won a prize at the Page International Screenwriting Awards in Los Angeles. Got my first rejection letter from River City. Decided to focus my efforts on the BBC continuing drama series Doctors instead.

Three years ago I was struggling to get much forward momentum. I'd done a successful trial script for Doctors, and been invited on its mini-academy, but couldn't get a story of the day pitch accepted. Had a lot of other plates spinning, but wasn't making much progress turning opportunities into commissions. A bit frustrating, it was.

Two years ago I was down to Birmingham to see my first ep of Doctors being filmed. I had joined the faculty at Edinburgh Napier University as a part-time lecturer on the innovative new MA Creative Writing course, and we'd just welcomed our first cohort. Things were on the up after the disappointments of 2008. Progress at last.

One year ago I was writing my third ep of Doctors for broadcast. I'd also had another radio play on the BBC, was finding some interesting work writing for games, and had been taken on by an agent, Katie Williams at the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency. There was even the possibility of delving into children's TV writing.

So, where am I now? Definitely made some breakthroughs in the past year. Wrote five eps of Nina and the Neurons for CBeebies. Got a story pitch banked at Doctors which should turn into my fourth ep at some point, but also had a load rejected. Got a foot in the door at River City, although my celebrations proved a wee bit premature.

It feels strange, not being on a deadline after weeks, months, even years of near constant work. I've got lots of projects I want to write - new pitches for Doctors, two features I'm eager to develop, two TV drama pilots that need a thorough rewrite, even an idea for an original series of novels. The challenge is which to prioritise.

I'm bouncing between all of them in my head, not making much progress with any of them. The luxury of choice is not something I cope well with, just as I'm shit at taking compliments. But it's time to make a choice. If each of us is the hero of our own life story, there's nothing worse than being a passive protagonist. Onwards!


Anonymous said...

HI David. I'm a bit like that as well. If I don't set myself deadlines for stuff, it doesn't get done cos I'm too busy dithering (and reading other people's blogs!) to get on with it. I think you've done brilliantly with your career so far and am looking forward to seeing more of your stuff in the future!! (I say this as someone who watches Nina and not Doctors...well I do have two kids, one of six and one of three!). I also find a cup of tea and a cake also helps! Good luck.
Dawn x

Anonymous said...

PS just looked at your previous blog...the one with Darth Vadar in it! It really made me laugh. Have you seen the film Going the Distance? There's a bit in it with pandas that was just as funny.

Anonymous said...

PS just looked at your previous blog...the one with Darth Vadar in it! It really made me laugh. Have you seen the film Going the Distance? There's a bit in it with pandas that was just as funny.