This year I made the courageous (if successful), stupid (if unsuccessful) decision to take my writing more seriously.
I’ve had many passions in my lifetime, but none more seductive than that of writing.
During school many things interested me; human biology, photography, cooking…the duck-billed platypus (seriously, those things are ridiculous) but I’d never struck upon the thing I wanted to dedicate my life to, my effort and time and ambition to…at least I didn’t realise it.
I have memories of being found in the study room during free periods writing…not just writing, but writing scripts. People would give me questioning looks as if to say…Scott…doing extra work…willingly…something can’t be right here.
“What are you doing?” They’d ask.
“Writing a script.” I’d say as if it were perfectly natural.
“Why?” They’d look at me questioningly, baffled.
I didn’t really know why…all I knew was I’d watched Paul Abbot’s Shameless the night before and thought “Wow, what interesting characters and dialogue.” My self-hatred, paranoia and fear hadn’t kicked in yet and I assumed I could do that. What I didn’t consider however was the possibility that this could be a potential career option, I was just doing it for fun. I was far too blinkered into thinking a creative career path was never going to be a viable option. I remember not being allowed to take Media Studies as an A-level; I was told “smart” people should be doing a more academic subject.
It was too late though, this need to create the stories of my imagination was a slowly burning fire in the back of my mind, constantly being fed as I absorbed more and more stories, characters, themes and dialogue from the likes of Neil Simon, Aaron Sorkin, Richard Linklater, Paul Abbot, David Simon etc…
Life however got in the way, the practicalities of existence; university, having to get a job, money…I went through the motions of what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I’d studied Advertising and Brand Management at university and there were many aspects of it I enjoyed – the creative side, the digital aspects, how we interact with the world as people and perceive things but as I gained experience in advertising agencies I quickly learned that world was not the world for me.
I reached a point where I realised I’d turned left somewhere along the path instead of right and the further I walked, the harder it would be to go back again and change direction.
I spent a long time talking about ideas I’d had, stories, characters, TV series ideas…these ideas were still forming and flexible but one thing that remained is a comedic through line. I never understood “drama” in isolation. Life is funny and dramatic, there’s an element of humour to be found in everything and I couldn’t help injecting comedy into anything I wanted to create. I began delving into the world of comedy and stand up and its been a fascination for me ever since. The mechanics of comedy, the nuances, the intelligence needed to be able to make something funny was intoxicating and I wanted to work it out.
For years I’d had no outlet and no confidence to create something and put it out there for fear of judgement. There’s also the question of why…Why should I write anything? Why would anyone be interested? Why should I bother? Why do I think I have the ability? Slowly I began showing small pieces to people and I gained a smidgen of confidence in at least some bits I’d written…there was a whisper of maybe in my mind.
I reached a tipping point and thought I have nothing to lose…then I saw the London Screenwriters Festival and thought…this is a chance to prove myself. A chance to meet other writers, see if these are my kind of people, pitch ideas and see if they had any merit, go to talks from those in the know and see if I could hack it, try to discern a clearer path to making a career of doing something I thought I could potentially be good at.
The festival is three days solid of talks, networking, inspiration and fear inducing pitching.
Highlights (for me):
Pilar Alessandra provided amazingly useful tools for writing dialogue and creating character driven plots.
Her site: http://www.onthepage.tv/
Olivia Williams gave a fascinating insight from the other side of the camera.
Tony Jordon explained the nuts and bolts of TV writing
Managing to pitch…twice (yes I wangled my way into another pitching slot) and get a request from five out of six pitchees.
Meeting fellow writers, seeing their ambition and starting to build the foundations of future friendships.
When asked what I hoped to get out of the festival I said:
“An enriching learning experience, new contacts outside of my current circle, inspiration, people I can share my writing with and get feedback, a writing mentor, a chance to pitch my ideas and if all that’s a little too ambitious, maybe a free pen.”
I can say I managed to get all of those…except the free pen.
I did however acquire a fuck-tonne of business cards to make up for it though.
We were also asked to make a commitment for the next year…I made several.
- Create the comedy web series I’ve been working on, as well as several sketch ideas.
- Write a one act comedy drama for the Brighton Festival 2014.
- Complete two spec scripts one for TV, one for a feature.
- Polish up the two short scripts I have written.
- Enter every writing competition I can find.
So there it is, my journey from…I think I might want to possibly write things to the London Screenwriters Festival…where next, we’ll have to see.