Monday, October 17, 2016

real life for writers, and a question

I've not told you anything about my writing life lately, have I?

Last autumn I was intensively pitching my TV comedy drama based on my novel  BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU to TV production companies. I had interest and very nice comments from one company, but then they said it didn't fit with their ouevre because it was pre-watershed i.e. family-friendly. 

It was a huge achievement to get them to even consider it, because most film and TV companies refuse to look at unsolicited scripts from writers. They only want material submitted via agents. You know that old conundrum that you can't get a job until you have some experience in it to put on your CV, and you can't get that experience because you can't get a job?  Getting an agent as a screenwriter is rather like that. You have to have a body of work - screened work - to show them, before an agent will take you on. And you can't have original work of your own even considered, never mind screened, unless you have an agent.  

This, above,  is the background to what follows.

While I was away in Colorado in September, I received this email from a production company to whom I had written last November:

Dear Sue,

I understand that you contacted my colleague xxxx xxxx with the pitch for your comedy drama But I Told You Last Year That I Loved You. Apologies for the delay in responding to you, but xxxx has gone away on maternity leave and your pitch has been passed onto me to respond.

Whilst I thank you for considering us to help develop your idea, I’m afraid we don’t accept unsolicited ideas and would encourage you engage an agent to represent your interests going forward.
Whilst the premise for your comedy drama does sound very promising, I’m afraid it is not something that I would be able to develop further as two quite similar comedy drama ideas in development.

Sorry to not have more positive news, but do be encouraged that there does seem to be something very distinctive and heart-warming about your idea and I wish you ever success in adapting it for TV.

With very best wishes,


What is remarkable about this is that someone even bothered to respond - so yyyy deserves full marks for that. But 10 months later? Since I wrote to these guys I have adapted the same material into a situation comedy.

This is real life for writers. You sweat over your writing, redraft it, rewrite it, get feedback from trusted readers, rewrite it, tweak it, then sit down to submit it to publishers, agents, film companies, whoever. Then you wait for weeks months for some kind of response.

Then you get a blank rejection, or hear that something similar is in production. 

You squawk in frustration, kick the door post, go out on your bike, dig the garden, watch junk TV, go to bed, wake up and consider whether you have the emotional energy to launch another marketing campaign, and decide you would rather crawl on your hands and knees to Bakewell and back. You do all the jobs on your to-do list, including the dreaded one labelled 'tax return' - as if you ever earned enough to pay tax - and go out on your bike again. "I'll start next Monday morning." you think.

So here I am. It's Monday morning and the sun is shining with rain forecast for later. I have gardening to do and I'm getting twitchy because I've not been out on my bike for four days. My dearest friend died last year. Others close are ill or have died. Life is short, and there are plenty of other writers out there with great work to offer. Is it worth continuing to spend my time on pitching mine? 

Answers in the comments box below, but please don't wait ten months because I could be dead.


lyn said...

Keep trying Sue! You've had some interest although sadly not enough interest to get to the next stage but at least you've had positive feedback. I'd go for a ride though if you're feeling twitchy. Exercise always helps me think through problems or just cheers me up & makes me feel that I've accomplished something for the day. Good luck!

marmee said...

Hello sue! I think the obvious , which is that only you can know if it is worth your while and effort...I have watched with some bemusement and then great pride as my dear sister in law of 72 started her masters degree. She has her reasons: she wants to, the degree will help with funding for her community work but it hs certainly been an uphill struggle as few people understand why she would want an extra degree at her time of life...but someone once said one will still be a year older a year from now whether we do whatever it is or not! I certainly have been inspired by her and indeed by you. Even so I am wary of simply urging you on, sometimes things have run their course. Having said that I find it hard to think of you stopping with this...

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you, Lyn and Marmee, for responding.
I went out on my bike and after that, and sharing my feelings on the blog, I felt strangely empowered to start pitching again. It's raining this morning, so on with the show.
I'm not a fair weather writer, but a foul weather pitcher.

ana said...

So much work and love has gone into your script. It sounds as though the universe has already given you feedback, via fresh air and invigorating cycling. Good for you! Strangely empowered is a thrilling description of the place you've reached.

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you, Ana. An interesting perspective. and very helpful as I am at this very moment, flagging.

Skilbey said...

Oh, my. You've devoted so much to it, and you were invited to the table!! The clues are there- you just cannot stop. Exciting, unsettling, somber post- I feel a little drained. Can't imagine what you're feeling. Thanks for posting!

Sue Hepworth said...

Tuesday morning update: did two hours work on pitching and now I am doing what I was made to do - writing. It's so much fun.

ana said...

Thanks Sue for the update. So uplifting to read. You are a true writer, that's clear! And you should follow the love.