The Writing Journal #11

Somehow, we have crashed head-long into December and 2018 is nearly in the history books! Every year I seem to get more surprised by the relentless march of time but, as they say, time flies when you’re having fun so that must mean I’m only getting more fun as I get older, right? RIGHT?!…

December also brings us the season of advent, meaning that my Screenwriters’ Advent Calendar opened its first door on Saturday and will continue to provide daily offers and discounts on my script reading services throughout December on the Script & Polish Twitter feed (@ScriptPolish). If you do have a script that you’re working on, or indeed one that has sat on a virtual shelf/hard drive for a few months, now is the ideal time to get it over to me for a fresh perspective, ready to be released into the world with that wave of energy that comes from the New Year resolutions. It’s also a good time to get a report from me as my work diary is about to get a little less chocka, thanks to another exciting development this past week at Stevenson Towers*…

*still not the name of my house. One day.

 

Target Number 1: Complete the first draft of my novel (!)

Status – ACHIEVED 😊

Last week, I decided to go for broke and set myself the ambitious target of finishing the first draft of my novel. I am beyond delighted to say I DID IT! It ended up being more than two chapters as I initially thought it would be, but nonetheless I managed to reach the natural narrative conclusion of my novel with probably as many cuts and bruises as my battle-weary protagonists, even if my wounds were more emotional than their entirely fictitious ones!

This is entirely new territory for me. I’ve written countless short stories, mostly at school but also in the wider world, and started a couple of novels that were ill-planned and petered out long before completion, but this is the first time I have had a novel-length story that plays from beginning to end. Interestingly, I’ve found it to be a totally different feeling to completing a screenplay. There’s obviously joy and relief for reaching the end of the marathon, but there’s also an odd, anxious feeling of doubt in the story that I’m yet to experience with a screenplay. Not necessarily doubt in the quality of the story (I’m really pleased in that regard!) but in what comes next. I’ve been working with scripts for that much longer that I know what comes next with them and how to go about doing that. With a novel manuscript, those editing steps I would usually go through for a script seem that much more daunting, if indeed they are the correct type of steps to be taking in the first place! Being in new territory is challenging but also exciting, and it certainly feels like a real accomplishment to say I have finished the first draft of a novel. I’m going to try and enjoy that feeling for a little longer before allowing the fear of “what next” to creep back in and start tackling it again!

 

Target Number 2: Finalise the pitch for my rom-com for VPF.

Status – ACHIEVED 😊

This target ran away from me faster than a speeding Polar Express! Not only did I finalise the pitch but I also sent said pitch to five companies and got responses from each and every one of them! It wasn’t all good news – as I will elaborate on below – but it does go to highlight my point from the previous post about the incredible speed and efficiency that VPF offers to the pitching process and for getting your work out to producers.

Four out of the five companies I pitched to politely declined the project. Three of those said little more than that, and all of the three said that within a day of receiving the initial pitch. I must admit it did suck the wind out of my sails to get three such responses in rapid succession! The other company who declined the pitch gave a more personal response (even if they called me “Dan” rather than “Dave”…) which was really useful in its own way; not only for highlighting why they weren’t interested but also for showing other avenues I could explore with the project to make it more appealing to more producers. Again, a really useful perspective to have when trying to sell your work.

Then came the fifth company. A large, American production company with some really impressive feature credits in their history responded to my pitch with a request to read my script! This is by no means a reason to start picking out my suit for the film’s world premiere, and there are still hundreds of obstacles between now and the rolling of the end credits, but it is a hugely exciting boost just to know that a producer has responded to the concept enough to take their interest further. A core building block of this industry is chance, and that’s exactly what this is now; a chance with a company that would have otherwise taken months, if not years, to naturally come up on my radar (given that most of my previous thinking has been to seek out companies here in the UK, rather than search abroad). We’ll see how it goes from here, and by no means will I get my hopes too high just yet, but you have to celebrate the small victories when they come as a writer, which is certainly what I’m telling myself this week!

 

There we have it then! When I started the Writing Journal back in September, I had two writing goals that I wanted to achieve by the end of the year and now, 28 days out from 2019, I can say –

Status: ACHIEVED!!! 😊 😊 😊

I’m over the moon to be in this position, as there was a time when I didn’t necessarily think I would be able to say both projects would reach this stage before the year’s end. I strongly believe that the targets set in this blog were a key part of pulling me through, especially in weeks where the inevitable doubts about quality crept in, and in that respect, I am equally pleased that the blog itself has been a success too! It does bring me to a crossroads though, with some big decisions needed as to which direction I should take for these two projects and for my writing career as a whole. Editing will come high on that list, as this is only the first step on the journey to getting these projects out into the big, wide world, but promotion of other projects and opportunities will also need to be addressed too. While I ponder this decision, I won’t be setting any specific targets this week. I will, however, continue checking in via The Writing Journal every Monday until further notice, as it’s still part of the process and, I’ve found, a good way to get my thoughts in order and make a start to the week.

As one chapter comes to a close, so another is about to begin…

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