A Writer is….Paid?
March 14, 2011 in writing
I sold a play!
In August last year I received an email that purported to be from a producer at Radio Slovenia asking if I would be interested in selling my radio play “Bumper to Bumper”. To be perfectly honest I nearly binned it as a more sophisticated spam hoax, but it intrigued me enough to reply asking for more information. I have a PDF of “Bumper to Bumper” on this site in my portfolio, so I could see how it possible that it might be for real.
Six months later – profit!
Today, after emails, form-filling and international negotiations the money plonked into my bank account. I’m now a paid playwright! Although I have been paid for writing in the past, this feels different. This is the first major fiction piece I have sold, and it feels…great. When we moved to Canada and I started writing again I spent a huge amount of time on writer’s websites, looking for inspiration, advice and validation. If I spent hours thinking about writing, was I a writer?
Make that several years later – profit?
Although it has taken months for the money to arrive, I actually wrote “Bumper to Bumper” several years ago when I was working in England. I attended a writer’s workshop at the BBC in Manchester and afterwards determined that I was going to break into professional writing. I scoped out new pieces and started to write every day. Before long I had a decent portfolio of ideas and half-written stories. And that’s when it started to get difficult. Ideas are not the problem. Most writers have a billion plot lines, quirky characters and interesting settings up their sleeves. They probably have a number of scribbled openings, shaky climaxes and lots of random notes, too.
Keep on keeping on – writing is a long game
When we moved to Canada and I started writing again I spent a huge amount of time on writer’s websites, looking for inspiration, advice and validation. If I spent hours thinking about writing, was I a writer? If I wrote blog posts, was I a writer? If I completed a novel, was I a writer? If I described myself as a writer, was I a writer? There are hundreds of articles and opinions on what actually constitutes a writer. I don’t think you have to have sold anything to call yourself a writer. But you do need to have completed something, preferably a few somethings. Don’t let anyone else put you off. As Larry in “Throw Momma from a Train” remind us: “A writer writes. Always.”
Finish the damned thing…
While I was ‘researching’ I found a hugely pertinent quote from a writer that I think will some day make his mark.
“1. FINISH IT
Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure….”
That advice, from Joss Whedon on Danny Stack’s blog, is his #1 tip – and I have to agree. Finishing “Bumper to Bumper”, editing it and sending it off to the BBC all those years ago was proof to myself that I could do it. The fact that it came back because it wasn’t the length they were looking for was secondary. I had completed a play!
Next step – production
“Bumper to Bumper” is slated to start production very soon. Since we are in production of our new webseries “Mind My Brains, Darling!“, I understand only too well how hard it is to schedule things with certainty! Radio Slovenia has decades of experience so I’m looking forward to hearing the play, even though it will be in Slovenian. Will they use the same music? What will the actors sound like? Do the jokes translate??
The novel approaches
This also gives more fuel to a fire that is growing. Since co-writing “Mind My Brains, Darling!” with hubby and seeing that come to life on set, we have mapped out two more webseries. But my first novel, “Turning Left at Albuquerque” is sitting on my hard drive and it keeps calling to me. Writing that was a labour of love but although it is written, it is not finished. No. I am not done with it yet. We started podcasting chapters but something happened while we were doing it. A stark realisation. Although I love the book, that was the problem. It needs editing, and editing hard. I’m going to have to kill some darlings. I’m sure Joss would approve.
Oh – and Happy Pi Day!