Saturday, 30 August 2008

Taking the plunge

Well, that's that, then: having left my job and – hopefully – negotiated my leaving drinks without making too much of a tit of myself, it's time to start looking forward.

Jason Arnopp recently made a very interesting post (which attracted some stimulating comments) about how writers perceive and describe themselves – particularly at the early stages of their career. I felt a bit of this tension last night; when people were asking me about what I was going on to do, I found myself focussing more on the freelance journalism bit rather than the screenwriting. Why is that? While Jason's call for action and self-respect was rousing, I was concerned that I would sound like a self-regarding prat by going on about a glittering career that isn't there yet. Yes, I've got a bit of faith in my talent, which has been validated by others, and I worked bloody hard to get a decent MA, but I didn't want to sound like some Nathan Barley-type prattling on about castles in the air.

I think I successfully fudged it by not describing myself as anything, but saying that I'm working on some exciting projects...

1. Care and Control - a drama series pilot for the Red Planet Prize (and beyond). This is a 'precinct' drama set among a social work team in a South London borough, that I'm working on with a writing partner – someone who's been a social worker specialising in child protection for years. She has come up with a mouthwatering array of characters and situations, which I'm trying to weave together into a coherent series arc. We've been kicking the idea around for a couple of years, so the RPP has given us the kick up the arras we needed to get on with it.

2. Foot Soldiers - a feature-length drama about a bloke who gets too caught up in the shadowy world of underground militant pedestrian activity. This is still very much at the outlining stage, but it's all falling into place and I'm quite excited about it.

3. The Last of the Reality Police – the feature-length script that was my major MA project. I haven't really looked at this since I submitted it in May, so I'll probably give it a quick polish before testing the ground and sending it out (it got good feedback from my tutor, who said it was a 'very credible calling card').

So watch this space for progress reports.

In other news, I'm going to see REM today – which is great, but I can't help feeling it's about twenty years too late. For, when I was a passionate young shaver, around the time of Life's Rich Pageant, Document and Green, they were absolutely my favourite band. But something imperceptible happened after that to weaken our relationship; I bought Out of Time and Automatic for the People, and while I realised they were excellent I just never fell in love with them the way I did with the previous albums. So going to the gig today feels a bit like a divorcee going to a school reunion, hoping to connect again with that spotty bloke/girl from the back of the Vauxhall Viva.

A final question: why is it that you can only remember all the words to It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) when you're drunk?

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