Warning: long, rambly, self reflective, self indulgent blogwank ahead.
I've been in a funny mood lately, feeling a bit down, a bit directionless. This year, I've mostly been working on in-development stuff. It's all commissioned (i.e. paid) work for brand new TV shows, some at outline stage, some at script stage, but as with all in-development stuff, execs could say no at any point if they don't like it, or it's too expensive, or difficult, or not the right time, or some other channel has something similar, etc etc. I'm loving all of the work, but there's the constant nagging worry that none of it will end up on a TV screen. I really want these things to get made, because I'm really proud of them, and think they'll be great. One is solely created by me, some I'm co-creating, and two are single episodes of someone else's show. But everywhere is cutting back these days, and new shows face even more of a struggle to get made.
Whereas last year, and the year before, everything I worked on was actually in production. Getting hired to do an episode for a show that's already filming, means that the thing you're typing right now will be filmed in just a few months. There's more pressure, less time, but it WILL be filmed and broadcast. Usually you'll even have a rough idea of when it'll be on TV. Nothing focuses the mind quite like a transmission date...
So for the first time in my TV adventure, everything I'm working on might only ever be seen by me, the production companies, the execs, and nobody else. It's worrying, and makes me feel really uncertain about what lies ahead. I might spend the whole year writing these things, only to have it all fall apart. Yeah yeah, how terrible your life is, woe is you, pity the poor TV writer whose dreams have come true, welcome to the real world, that's what many writers face all the time, you could be unemployed or dead, etc etc. Look, I know how fortunate I've been - but I made that luck happen by working my arse off, and I continue to work my arse off to sustain it. And just because "it could be worse", it doesn't mean I'm not allowed to be frustrated by it. My point is, what can any of us do in these uncertain times? What if all of these projects never see the light of day? What happens next?
Well, I need to take stock, and plan out the next move in my career, decide what I want to do. Whether these projects take off or not, I need to have the next thing all ready to go. Never stop moving, plotting, always have a backup plan, always think three moves ahead. I'm already trying to get my own shows off the ground, which are 4 of the above projects. That's currently the stage I want to get to, much as I love doing episodes for other people's shows, I still have to play by their rules, put the toys back in one piece when I'm finished. I want to be heading up my own show, making the overall decisions on characters, story arcs, making my own rules, deciding who lives, who dies, smashing the toys and making all new ones. I have big stories I want to tell, which will only be possible during the run of a whole series that I oversee. It will happen, hopefully sooner rather than later. And I'm always trying to come up with new stuff, just in case the current stuff doesn't happen.
I'm also dipping a toe back into the movie world. After getting utterly shafted on a script back in 2007, I've kept far away from the evil, soulless vampires that seem to circle around many movie projects. But now that I don't actually *need* to sell a movie script, I'll be in a stronger position to negotiate. I want to collaborate with smart, cool people, and I want to be treated like a human being, given that I made the story up out of my head from nothing. With that in mind, I have two new specs, one of which is almost ready to go out. And I've recently been hired to write two movies for other people. One is a new horror comedy for some lovely, smart, cool people I've worked with before - the pitch outline is currently out there, seeking funding. If all goes well, then I'll be writing it this year, hopefully shooting in winter. The other is a rewrite job, for another horror comedy - again, it's with smart, cool people who I've wanted to work with for a while. That's the most important thing to me - choose who you work with, very carefully, and you'll have a much better time of it.
I'm also hoping to venture into another arena at some point this year - comics. As a long-time comic reader, I've always wanted to write for them, but have been worried that I might not have the right toolkit. I know that it's nothing like normal scriptwriting, and I'll need to learn a new set of skills. But I really want to go for it. So I'm currently doing my research and preparation, figuring out the format, coming up with pitches for my own stuff and for established characters, making contacts and working out who to approach. It's scary, different, and out of my comfort zone, which is why I really want to try it. If you're not trying new things, scaring yourself, and making mistakes, then you're not learning anything.
There are a few other side projects too, one of which will mean trying something completely different and terrifying. All of which means lots of planning, researching, brainstorming, contacting people, and working out ideas and pitches for all kinds of things. It sometimes feels like I haven't achieved anything solid by the end of the day, because none of it involves scripting or outlining. But it's all crucial, and needs to be done if I want to move forward.
So it's been a strange year. A great year, really creative and exciting - but unsettling, because it feels like I'm on uncertain ground, and am not sure where things are going. But whatever happens next, I need to *make* it happen. And I will. Because ultimately, we're all in control of our own lives, and nobody else can get you where you want to be.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and conquer the world. WITH THE TERRIBLE POWER OF MY MIND. FEAR ME.