- A Day In The Life Of George Jobbing Writer
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Pushing my son’s toy lawn mower up the garden at a run this morning, in pajamas and wellies I realised three things; 1/ It was only 7am and I was already in the garden playing dragons and dinasours, 2/ I shouldn’t be doing this without wearing a bra, 3/It was warm. Summer is finally here. Not my favourite season; I was born in a snow storm on Christmas Eve so it won’t come as a surprise to know I dislike being hot, would rather wrap up than disrobe and am never seen outside in the Summer between 9am and 4pm without my sun factor 50. But the garden loves it and with the bees buzzing and the poppies nodding, I feel the urge to get creative and push on with my own script writing, as well of course, reading and script editing your work!
Which started me thinking about something I am forced to do on a daily basis. This is something is not necessarily an easy thing to achieve, but it is absolutely necessary and something that I do almost unconsciously in order to keep those plates spinning – I prioritise, organise and multi-task. This does not make me Super Woman. It just makes me, and every one out there who knows what I’m talking about, Able To Cope. It’s as if without any obvious surgery, I now have more arms than a Hindu Godess. It is almost Pavlovian; I log on to my Inbox and while my messages download, I put a washing machine load on cycle D. I am stuck on a dialogue sequence in my script, I ponder the problem whilst I give the bath a good going over. I set the microwave to defrost and finish reading the last scene in a script from a writer client whilst my son’s tea-time chop slowly rotates.
I juggle not only the physical activities in our life: script reading, housework, script writing, cooking, Script Advice admin, household bills but words too; my husband and I are usually having a 2 tiered conversation, the top tier between ourselves underscored by the lower tier nearer to the ground, coming from our son Michael.
It seems to me that from when the rabbit ears on our son’s alarm clock click upwards and the rabbit opens his plastic eyes at 6.30am, and Michael is finally allowed to get up and stop hitting the adjoining wall between our rooms repeatedly with his toy hammer, my feet don’t touch the ground until 9pm when the rabbit and Michael are asleep again and my husband Mike and I are literally pasted across the sofa, trying to talk without drooling from fatigue.
In between those hours I run Script Advice and write myself, attempt to run a household and look after the two Michaels in my life, my husband and my son. It would be great if there were more hours in the day, or less things to do, or more money so I could pay someone to do some of this stuff for me, but if I could afford it, would I ever be able to delegate? No I would not. Because all this comes from someone who gets an inordinate amount of pleasure from knowing that her washing line boasts a full load flapping in the breeze, that she has written a couple of engaging, slick pages of her script, that she managed to disguise a healthy portion of spinach in a meal for her son who will never know it’s there and that according to the feedback I get from my script reading and script editing work, I seem to be giving writers the help they need – so Script Advice goes from strength to strength. I am a multi-tasker, who is not complaining. Just. Catching. My. Breath…..
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF GEORGE JOBBING WRITER
10.00am – SE London – My Bedroom – Under the Duvet
I think I am depressed. I might just be lacking in a vital vitamin, or need to do a cardio workout or have 8 solid hours of sleep. Or, it might be hormonal; if I had the energy I’d look up what the definition of depression actually is. It probably says something about not having the energy to do stuff, it might even mention the need to make lists of things you might be suffering from, it might say something like ‘’a sure sign of depression is indicated when the sufferer does not know what afflicts them and puts it down to hormones’ – God knows – I just wish I hadn’t agreed to go out with Westenders star Phlox Lane ‘for a few drinks’ last night.
10.15am – SE London – My Bedroom – Sticking My Head Out of The Window
Now that feels a little better – perhaps depression is alleviated by fresh air, pity about the pigeons though. I was so chuffed she had asked me (well, Phlox didn’t actually, she’d Blackberried Hope, Westenders Nice Script Editor and Hope asked me because we were slogging away on my episode 3,957 at the time and she probably thought it churlish not to include me). I was very excited and positive that it would be a fabulous, glammy sort of evening where us girls tripped across town, linking arms and giggling as the street lights lit our charmed way along Regent Street and into the trendy bars of Soho…but it wasn’t quite like that. I am too optimistic. It’s a hard and sad fact but I think optimism makes you depressed.
10.30am – SE London – My Bathroom – Under Water My Head in The Sink
Good. This feels even better than the window, SE London pigeons are very protective of their window ledge and I was getting dive-bombed. Total immersion of head in cold water is good for
surprisingly sharp stabbing pains that have begun in earnest in what I think scientists call the frontal lobe. Depression is a seriously painful condition. Right, time to breath or I think I’ll faint.
10.31am – SE London – My Bathroom – Curled On the Floor
So, Hope and I think we’ve pretty much sorted the problem we were having on episode 3,957. Basically, between episode 3,956 and 3,959 there is a tricky hiatus in the A story which explores the awful marriage of Connie Blaine and her brutish husband Sid. In episode 3, 956 Sid locks Connie in the cupboard under the stairs and episode 3,957 was supposed to be a tight, highly dramatic two-hander, focusing entirely on the characters of Connie and Sid which will explore, as Scary Producer commanded, ‘every nuance of their emotional landscape’. I was terrified but optimistic (see, there I go again) that I would do a fabulous job and get massive brownie points and tons more commissions from Westenders as a result.
10.45am – SE London – Breakfast Niche/Office – Head on the Kitchen Counter
However, non of us, not even Scary Producer, had reckoned on the fragile ego and raging insecurities of Gordon Bland, the actor playing Sid. When the rehearsal scripts were distributed to the cast, Gordon apparently blazed a trail to the Producers Office and in a spooky parody of his storyline, shut himself in her beech wood armoire and refused to come out. Apparently it took half a bottle of Bacardi to get him to even open the door, and The Production Office had to taxi his partner to the Scary Producer’s office from Gatwick Airport Terminal 2 where he was about to Trolley Dolly a flight to The Balearics before Gordon finally calmed down.
11.00am – SE London – Eating Toast at the Breakfast Niche
Gordon Bland basically didn’t have it in him. A lot of soap actors will tell you, if you are more than 5 minutes in their company, that they love their character, but isn’t it about time they had a really meaty storyline to get their teeth into? And why couldn’t we writers come up with something especially for them that would showcase their talents? Gordon was no different in this respect. Unfortunately for him, the Script team had delivered and he quickly realised what he thought he wanted was not what he really wanted after all. Nightmare all round. So now me and my long-suffering script editor Hope have a storyline with Connie locked in the cupboard under the stairs by her nasty husband Sid who is now, not available to play out the rest of the storyline. Fortunately, as often happens in Soapland, when a door closes, a window opens somewhere else and this time, the window was in the shape of Joan Brown, the actress who plays Janice, uber confident mother of Connie. Joan had been let go from the production schedule because of an in-growing toenail operation but apparently, her toes were twinkling again and she was keen ‘to get back in the saddle’. So, we plunge into the unknown and give Sid a massive heart attack, just at the point in the script where he turns the key in the lock and shuts his wife in darkness. Janice, played by Joan Brown, then gets her turn in the spotlight and plays a storming two-hander episode with her on screen daughter Connie. Gordon Bland never really lives down the shame.
11.30am – SE London – My Bedroom – Under the Duvet
I think it was because I was so relieved to be free of rewrite horror, that I got a bit over excited about drinks with Phlox. Hope and I dived into the wardrobe department and the assistant turned a blind eye while Hope kicked off the trainers and took a pair of Louboutins off the shelf and I half inched a nude coloured bespangled number from Phlox’s rail to wear for the night. Phlox takes us to The Ocean Bar. Very SATC. Phlox is wearing an absolutely tiny Victoria Beckham dress and with me in beige sparkle and Hope in sky scraper shoes, I think we are in for a really good night. 3 bottles of wine and several Tequilla slammers later, Phlox is looking less like a pretty young actress on the brink of her career and more like a 40 year old Amy Winehouse after a session with 60 year old Pete Dougherty. I regret cramming my size 12 bod into this 10 dress because it made me make a stupid decision earlier on in the evening, when Hope suggested food and I said no. Now the mirrored floor is confusing me and I don’t know whether I am looking at myself upside down, or if I am in actual fact on my back looking up at myself on the mirrored ceiling. It’s all too much and I know for a fact that I literally go green, before I manage to run outside and manage to stop being sick just long enough to get my head over the edge of a convenient skip. Not very Sex, more Sick And The City.
12 Noon – SE London – My Bed – About to Go Asleep
I am optimistic by nature, so it stands to reason I will often be depressed – unless of course predicting depression like this, makes me a pessimistic person, in which case, I am feeling happier already. Perhaps I just have a hangover?
Think I’ll have forty winks and live to write another day…..
BBC Writers Room
It’s a tough one if you haven’t got representation and you are struggling to get your writer’s voice heard out there in media land. The BBC’s dedicated team of readers are poised to read your work and give you feedback. Their website is pretty informative too and well worth book marking on your toolbar…
Follow the link below, on the BBC Writers Room website to Writing For Continuing Drama, and you will find plenty of juicy insights into this world from the King Of Soap John Yorke and other notable drama series writers like Jimmy McGovern. I particularly like John’s comment below regarding writing for long running series; truer few lines have rarely been said in my opinion….
‘It’s like being in an Emergency Department. You come across every possible problem and you learn how to fix it. And those tricks will stay with you for the rest of your career.’
There is not long to the deadline on this one, but worth a go at if you are ’well on’ with a script that you are proud of – the guys at Red Planet are a discerning lot and this is a great competition to get involved in.
This year’s competition is for an original 60 minute television script, either a single play or a pilot for a new series. You are initially required to submit the first ten pages along with a short synopsis. The full script should be available on request, you may be required to submit this within a month of the final closing date. As before, the winner will receive £5000, a script commission and the option of representation if required. Red Planet and Kudos will also mentor finalists for the Prize. The competition is open to anyone within the UK. The RED PLANET PRIZE will close to new entrants at midnight on 31st July.
Workshop From Script Advice – At The National Film and Television Studio
I have been chatting with those lovely people at the NFTS and in November I will be running a 4 day workshop covering 2 disciplines related to writing that you may be interested in. HOW TO WRITE A TELEVISION DRAMA TREATMENT and HOW TO STORYLINE FOR LONG RUNNING DRAMA. Just to whet your whistles, check out their website and see what’s occurring www.nfts.co.ukhttp
I hope I can help you with your writing; be it television script, short (or full length) film, treatment, outline or full work, radio play or novel manuscript – I read and script edit them all and can definitely help you improve yours. Drop me an email @ Yvonne.firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get working!
BYE FOR NOW AND HAPPY WRITING.
Copyright Yvonne Grace Script Advice June 2010