Monday, December 24, 2012

Report card for 2012: did I do any writing?

For a lot of this year it felt like I wasn't doing a lot of writing. Certainly, not a lot of my writing got published or broadcast this year - or so it seemed. But does reality bear that out? As a freelance writer, what follows is essentially my self-appraisal for 2012. Feel free to roll your eyes and move on.

Let's start with the goals and ambitions I set for myself back in December 2011:

1. Write a feature screenplay.

2. Submit at least six new story pitches to Doctors.

3. Develop a new TV drama calling card script.

4. Pursue opportunities in children's TV.

5. Pitch two radio drama projects.

So, how many of those did I achieve in the past twelve months?

1. Write a feature screenplay. I'd been threatening to tackle a feature-length spec screenplay for ages, right back to the major project of my Screenwriting MA five years ago. This year I enrolled in a feature writing night class to force myself into action - and it worked. I completed a polished first draft of my supernatural period chiller Akumu in August. It needs a thorough rewrite to be anywhere near market-ready, but that's a job for 2013. This was officially mission accomplished.

2. Submit at least six new story pitches to Doctors. As 2012 I was writing my fourth episode of Doctors, and it was broadcast in May this year. But I found my enthusiasm for continuing drama hit something of an all-time low this year. Much as I love Doctors and its ultra-flexible format, I want to make the leap from half hour to 60-minute TV drama. That means concentrating on new ideas and new specs. Never say never but Doctors is not my major priority right now. Goal = failed.

3. Develop a new TV drama calling card script. I polished last year's TV drama calling card, The Specials, and that's been getting me some meetings. Rather than devote months to developing a whole new pilot script, I've been focusing on generating new TV drama series pitches. It's less heartbreaking to have a one-page idea dismissed out of hand than to see 6-8 months of hard work binned. Doesn't mean I'm giving up on scripts, but pitch docs are more viable. Which means, goal = failed.

4. Pursue opportunities in children's TV. Last year I got my first children's TV credits, writing five eps of Nina and the Neurons: Brilliant Bodies for CBeebies. The channel made another series of the science show for pre-shcoolers this year, and I was lucky enough to write another five eps. [They're due on air from mid-January, if you're interested.] I'd like to do more Nina - and other shows - but that requires concerted effort on my part in the future. In the meantime, mission accomplished.

5. Pitch two radio drama projects. I had a meeting with a BBC radio drama producer this year and did indeed pitch them several different projects. One of these I was quite passionate about developing further but never seemed to find the time. Then the BBC Writers Award gave me the requisite kick up the arse to write a first draft. I've no expectations of winning, but as a motivational tool the contest was just what I needed. I hope to make more of this project in 2013. Mission accomplished.

Final score: three out of five, which isn't bad at all. What else did I do? Wrote my first issue of Fantomen comic for two years, that'll be out sometime in 2013. Continued teaching MA Creative Writing part-time at Edinburgh Napier University. Started a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, a proper teaching qualification. Complete that and I will be able to say I've a piece of paper to back up my four years experience of teaching in universities.

No doubt I did a lot of other things, but those are most of my professional accomplishments for 2012. Come back in a few days and I'll reveal my goals for 2013. Spoiler alert: they may involve writing.

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