Last week, after Cannes, I was exhausted. And not much happened. The week kind of just trailed by with post-Cannes follow ups and titbits of writing but with no real focus or promise of cash, which is what was/is really needed. Before Cannes, I was busy on numerous projects, mostly spec work but a couple of small commissions thrown in for good measure, and I was also preparing for the right kind of walk and talk along the Croissette.
Since my return, it occurred to me that I need to hit the ‘reset’ button and start working on new projects, try to generate new ideas, scripts, pitches, proposals. It was a frustrating thought because my mind is still very much attached to the recent work I’ve just completed, and am eager to hear people’s responses to my material. But it’s out of my hands. It’s all reliant on a second or third party now. And I’ve got to wait. We all know waiting is bad though so we have to remain proactive. Keep busy. Keep writing.
Easier said than done. But that’s all we have in our power as writers. We write. And if we’re good, we write commercial and interesting scripts that people want to purchase. The BBC Films/Pathé announcement might seem vague, generic and frustrating even if you have only a passing knowledge of the industry, and how writers are generally treated, but the one true action we can solely control and influence is our capacity to write the stories we want to tell.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how writers are treated, and how the industry regards us, and how it could be/should be so much better. One of the main problems is that the industry holds so much power over us because we’re dependent on their approval and finance. As a result, they can dictate their own terms, and make sure they look after themselves with minimum risk while the writer makes the biggest risk of all by living on the seat of his/her pants, taking the time and effort to write a script, and not getting any return while they hope for their work to pay off.
It would take enormous effort and organisation to gather writers everywhere to generate the singular voice required that expresses the way we should to be treated, and the basic rights/courtesies that should be extended to the lowly writer. The snag is that the writers-in-waiting, can say ‘fine, no problem, we’ll do it then, we’ll write for free or whatever’, and a wave of replacement is easily filled. The Writers' Guild of Great Britain is working hard to build their clout to protect and represent the writer. They're great people and we need their voice, but by their own admission, they haven't had a good year.
There’s a certain practicality, professionalism and awareness that writers need to embrace about the industry (occasionally, a free option might be acceptable given the producer’s standing and/or reliance on third parties himself) but that doesn’t mean we need to bend over at every request.
However, that’s not really the point of the post. The point is that we keep writing. It’s okay to get frustrated, it’s okay to let off steam, it’s okay to rant. But it’s not okay to stop writing, or continue to complain, or become that writer grouch in the corner that no-one wants to work with. And even when you get exhausted from the amount of effort and projects you’ve been working on, and feel you’ve hit a wall with your creativity, then by all means take a break. Have a beer, a long weekend. But do come back; stronger, eager and as passionate as ever.
Hit ‘reset’ and start again. Writers write. No excuses.