Sunday, 21 October 2007

"Not waving but freelancing" OR "Blood, blood everywhere, but not a drop to drink..."

There are many truly wonderful aspects to being a writer, to being self-employed.

A regular income stream is not one of them.

If you want an easy, secure life devoid of last second borrowing, gnashing, wailing, acid indigestion, and sweaty-browed internet banking jazz hands, then move along, friend. This show is not for you.

It's why this is a frustrating day as I'm not quite sure I've managed to get all my ducks in a row on rent day. I'm relying on the great glowing tubes of bank fund transfer not to get clogged, or hold up the cash that is mine, and will cover everything... but only if it gets piped into my account today. Should do - the precedents are hopeful - but otherwise Mr Barclays will pocket thirty of my English pounds. Bah.

The goal as a jobbing writer, naturally, is to reach a point where commissions flow freely into your life, but, as writers are generally self-employed, this is never going to be guaranteed. And when you're down in the trenches at the start of your career, among the mud, tears and artillery shell detonations of yet more "encouraging rejections", this is even more the case.

And the biggest thing that every freelancer knows, of course, is that no one ever pays you on time. I do keep wondering if it's my next contract that will have a clause that reads "payment due on the very NEXT day after you absolutely, totally, utterly need it."

A bit like war, you wait and wait and wait. And wait.

And then everything happens all at once, at tremendous, sickening speed (often accompanied by hysterical screams)

For instance, I've got a job that I hopefully should be starting soon - all I can really say is that it's a script about vampires, and I'm really excited - but the contract negotiation has gotten veeeery complicated, for all sorts of boring reasons, and is taking far longer to sort out than anyone anticipated. Plus, real life intrudes: my agent just got married, and has jetted off on her honeymoon to the Maldives. Which is really, really fab, and I couldn't be happier for her as she's dead nice n that and a truly great agent... but does put another spanner in already creaking negotiational clockwork.

It's not even as if there's anyone to blame or get passively aggressively furious at (I don't do confrontation-- it's undignified. Oh, and it scares me. What if people shout and slam doors sarcastically. erk). The job is with good friends and the delays are due to perfectly understandable hold ups, as well as the sluggish nervous systems of large organisations.

The problem is with me, really, and what always underlines this stage of the commissioning process, the constant, niggling worry which most writers suffer, I'm sure... that until the ink is dry on the page the whole deal could fall apart somehow, at any moment, and again you'll be left with nothing... and having to start your endless, painful crawl back up Mount Doom in search of the next commission (always juggle eight potential jobs in the air at any one time in the hope that one will come good and make the trick all worth it)

But you just have to put that out of your mind, and get on with the NEXT thing while you wait.

Which is why I may talk in the next few days about... The Creative Process.

Or, at least, My Creative Process, and being stuck as I try to "break" (er, flesh out) my ideas for Channel 4's new talent PILOT drama scheme (if you're interested, it's here)

Think I've been hit by a doozy of a concept. But life is never just that simple, is it? (see above)

Also, I'm so excited I've now learned how to put in hyperlinks that I may go coloured writing densely linkable crazy!

Come back soon to see if the whole blog has become one big Link of Doom!

PS- tea tonight, home made cream of mushroom soup. I only mention it as a) I home made it myself, and I'm pathetically proud of things like that. Plus, b) Jane Espenson (writer of many great eps of many mighty U.S. genre shows such as "Buffy" and "Battlestar Galactica) always says what she's had for lunch on her blog, Jane in Progress, which is full of tremendously useful writing tips and worth checking out for anyone with even a passing interest in writing for TV (on either side of the pond, though it is quite U.S.-centric).


Lucy said...

Ok, where the hell is the next post?!?


What do you mean you have scripts to write???

Gavin Williams said...

Well, no, but yeah, but, uhm, I *did* post another one, but then, uh, yeah, but somehow it only got published on the internets, in, uhm, er, Norway - you prolly didn't see that - and then, then the Norway internets crashed and, uh, uh, ate it. so, I done another one... but the cat ate that one. And an eagle stole the third right out of my window it did, wouldn't believed it myself if it hadn't happened to me. And, er, that was yesterday n that...

(soon, truly, really- I have a title and eveything; things have been INSANE! eek)

Paul M said...

Hello Gavin,

I'm wondering whether you are Welsh boy'o? Just the name.

Thanks for the words on my blog. I think I have the persistence gene required and am glad to report that I have indeed risen out of the depths.

Gavin Williams said...

Hey Paul!

Great to have you drop by my - currently snoozing - little e-place.

Really glad you've veered up out of your slump. Sounds like you've got the persistence thing down. More power to your elbow, mate!

Welsh by blood not residence. My dad is from Port Talbot, and that's where many of my relatives are (and where I spent many fun - if wet - holidays are a child).

I'm hoping that if I ever get a chance at writing for Dr Who it's this which will tip the balance for me!