Tuesday, November 17, 2009

You don't have to be crazy.....

to work here, but it helps.

Yep a cliche that a writer would never use. But cliches become so because they tend to be true. And I do actually believe that in order to actively seek and then survive the life of a professional writer you need a certain degree of insanity. Except you don't think you're insane, it's only everyone else who thinks you are.

And who can blame them? You have no job security or career structure. Your entire livelihood is based on the subjective decision of others. And unlike the work of a self-employed carpenter for example, your work is up for scrutiny by millions of people who have access to the internet and aren't slow about voicing there opinions.

I 've noticed that James Moran has stopped blogging and for a nano second Stephen Fry stopped twittering. A writer is open to abuse in ways never before anticipated. And for a writer that is tough, especially for the sensitive variety and especially for a TV/film writer. We have our names on the credits but the viewing public as a rule have no idea of the battles fought and lost so any sense of injustice over criticism leveled is magnified because the writer in general is overuled by the producers et al and can count themselves lucky if 70% of what was envisaged ends up on screen.

It's why I'm trying to move out of that arena with the novel. I want more control over what appears. If I get slated then fair enough. I'll know it was mostly down to me. If it works then it might give me more leverage if I go back into TV. Though to be honest I think it's doubtful if I will go back. I wouldn't trust any of the current regimes on any of the terrestial channels to know good drama if it fucked them soundly and left a return airfair to Rio on the sideboard as a tip.

So yes, a degree of insanity is a pre-requisite to being a professional writer. But not too much. As Swiss Tony from The Fast Show would say - being a writer is like making love to a beautiful woman; Nutters don't get to do it. But someone a little off the wall just might.

57 comments:

Nathaniel Tapley said...

Hi Dave,

I've found the lack of job security, and control over things I've written dispiriting at times, especially when combined with a few knock-backs. However, it has also persuaded me to get up and make things on my own.

One idea was loved by all the television companies I pitched it to. But all agreed that it was too expensive to be made in the current climate.

So I fiddled with the format, and have started making it myself.

On October 30th, the first episode of In The Gloaming came out. A monthly horror-comedy show featuring some of Britain's best young comics (they've also got time on their hands at the moment), and even ex-Eastenders, we're very proud of the first episode, and are having a lot of fun working on the second.

The first episode, Dead Skinny, can be found here: http://bit.ly/1uP2Xq

There is more information at our website: http://inthegloamingpodcasts.wordpress.com

And, although it's a lot of work, and although I'm having to keep a family afloat on the dregs of money from things I wrote six months ago, it feels great to be doing something, and to be in control of it.

If anyone's feeling dispirited, disheartened, or just angry at the business, I'd suggest they go make something. Find an old pet project you can do as a short, an audio play, rework something to be a mockumentary, just find some way of doing something, of making something.

It makes writing the other stuff a lot easier, and gives you some (perhaps illusory, but does that matter?) sense of control over your life.

Write it, make it, then go around and desperately whore it on people's blogs...

John Soanes said...

Being a writer is, indeed, like making love to a beautiful woman; you set the mood, get the dialogue right, try to make sure everything happens in the right order, and then bring it to a climax. And if you're lucky, a short time later, you'll get your hard back.
J

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No Domestic Goddess said...

Hi,
I know you posted this particular post along time ago but it hit a spot with me. For years I've wanted to become a writer (I'm still only 23 so we're not talking decades!) However, what with settling down early to have children and not having any formal literary education, I've always put the idea down as 'crazy'! People in my life don't seem to help this view either as everytime I sit writing my partner says "what the hell are you doing, isn't there some housework you could be doing?" - nice, huh?! However, I think that if I was just given a bit more encouragement I could make a life in this career. I have that hint of insanity you mentioned and love storytelling, seeing the reactions on the faces of someone reading my work, even if it's grimacing!
Recently, I sent a couple of childrens books of mine off to some agents, although haven't yet had many responses, except ones like "we're sorry but we have too many clients already and so are not taking on any new ones at the minute".
I love writing all kinds of different things, from childrens books, to poetry, currently I'm working on an anthology about the different forms of love, and I've got so many half started novels in my filing cabinet I could keep me and my family warm all winter infront of a roaring fire! The problem with writing novels is that I never seem to have the time to put into them...whether this is actually the case or whether it derrives from a sense I have about my own inability, I just don't know.
Reading your posts today though has spured me on to not give up on the long, old process of getting my work published. So thank you for that. Also, I found myself genuinely laughing out loud when I read some parts (the plane ticket), would love to read a published novel of yours one day so I hope you post it when the day arrives. Good luck,
Jessica Paul

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Anonymous said...

So the Mayans say we're all going to die this year, but for tradition sake I decided to write up goals just in case the Mayans were wrong.

So I present my goals for 2012:

1) Read. A lot.
I was able to get 57 read this year and I hope to come close to that again in '12. I don't think I'm going to try and top 57 though. If I do, fine, but I'm not going to kill myself (see goal #8). I just want to try and read some every day.

2) Finish edits for Beneath a Broken Sky.

This one is actually very achievable, because I'm almost done. I just wasn't able to get it done in December. This makes a nice easy thing for my list too :-) I like easy.

3) Edit Dagen's story and get it out to beta readers

I really need to come up with a title for this story. The first draft of it is done. Hopefully in the revisions I can find the perfect title.

4) Finish writing 1 1/2 - 2 more novels

I've already got an idea for a sequel to Dagen's story and I possibly have another I can finish. I don't want to commit to getting 2 novel length stories done because I always seem to run into NaNoWriMo and it breaks my stride.

5) Survive NaNoWriMo

And speaking of NaNoWriMo, unless thing's change, 2012 will be my last NaNoWriMo. Both as an ML and as a participant. I love NaNo. I think it's a wonderful idea and it attracts lovely people, but to tell you the truth I think I've out grown it. I've written a couple novels outside of November, I know I have the discipline to write everyday on my own. I don't need the pressure of NaNo to get me to the finish.
I also like my pattern of writing/editing. I write book B while book A is sitting cooling. Then when book B is done, I go back and edit book A. Then I write a new book and the cycle starts all over again. In the last two years NaNo has fallen out of step with my cycle. I really don't like writing two books back to back. I find it draining. I like going back and forth between editing and writing. To do that I need to be on my own schedule, and November just doesn't fit.

6) Stop fussing over the &@^! blog
I like this blog, but it's driving me a little crazy. Sometimes I just can't come up with two or three posts a week to put up here. And I refuse to put up "filler" stuff. I'm sick of fretting over that. It's just not with the time I spend fussing over it (see goal #8). Especially when I could be spending that creative energy working on my next story.
So I'll be putting up posts when I feel like it. My tentative goal is two or three times a month. I might do more. I might do less.

7) Clean the house more then once every three months
Actually my house isn't quite that bad (mostly). This is more of a balance related goal. I tend to get so focused on one thing that I totally forget everything else. So this year I want to try and keep my life more balanced. I've already started doing this, but I want to continue it through the next year.

8) No Stress (This should really be #1)
This is my over all goal. If a certain activity/person stresses me out, I really need to evaluate if it/they are worth my time and mental energy. The answer will probably be no. Life is just too short to put up with people and things that stress me out and drain my energy.

And I think that's about it. I'm sure I'll come up with something else later, but this is enough for now.

Happy New Years everyone!

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