The Writing Journal #25

March has been a funny old month. As winter faded and opportunities blossomed, it started with a renewed sense of optimism and excitement for the Spring and Summer months to come. I had the immense joy in the middle of celebrating my birthday with the family and friends who are very dear to me, and I’ve finished the month with that same sense of optimism and confidence, which if anything has grown! And yet, as the glorious Welsh sunshine welcomes me into April, I’m still about to write a blog detailing how I’ve failed most of March’s writing targets…

Target Number 1: Write two more short stories.

Status – FAILED ☹

I tried to ensure I didn’t go out with a whimper on this one, and with a concerted push I was able to write one of the stories in a dedicated day last week which even surprised me. The second story though was, unfortunately, a yarn too far. Throughout March my head continued to be turned by the novel, as it was in February, and I did find that whenever I set aside time to write I found myself gravitating towards the edit like a starship caught in a tractor beam. In the grander scheme of things, the short story project has not been hampered too much – added to last month’s efforts, I now have four, solid first drafts to work with – and the novel has benefited as a result of its bonus attention, which is just as exciting too. For the purposes of this blog, however, we do have to call a spade a spade and say that, because of that elusive second story, this target was a failure.

Target Number 2: Find 5 industry sources to pitch my sitcom project to.

Status: ACHIEVED 😊

This was achieved a couple of weeks ago, and I’m now very relieved that it was! In fact, I completed it so long ago that I have since started contacting the sources from the list and even got my first reply to boot.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to break the exciting news that the show has been commissioned for six seasons and a movie, but instead of a short and simple “no thank you” as many rejections can be, this contact took the time to offer me some really detailed feedback as to why they weren’t taking the sitcom forward at this time, including a break down of what they are specifically looking to produce at this time. Hearing such information directly was far more useful than anything I’d found online, and whilst it doesn’t help move this sitcom on right now, it does give me something more definite to evaluate my other projects against in the future. Given how hopeful I was for this particular contact, it certainly felt I had been given some pretty hefty lemons with this rejection, but with a big bag of sugar graciously included in the package as well, I’m much more confident about turning them into lemonade in the not too distant future.

Target Number 3: Complete a visual mood board for my feature script.

Status – FAILED ☹

Unlike the short stories, there was no valiant attempt at a last hurrah here. In fact, Windows Explorer handily informs me that the last time I made any direct additions to this document was the 8th March 2019 at 17:29; and whilst I can feebly argue that I did open that document afterwards and think about it some more since then, it’s safe to say that this goal was a complete and utter disaster this month! It’s disappointing, and perhaps having a completed document now would help some of the work I am currently doing with my producer to push this project forward. However, this mood board was an experiment to begin with, and whilst I do still believe there is some merit in having a document like this to make the project stand out from the crowd, there are other avenues to pursue right now – both with this project and new ones – that might, ultimately, prove more beneficial to the film’s chances of success anyway.

With so much failure this month, why then am I still so optimistic and confident heading into April? Well, partly because I’m an eternal optimist, even though the nights are dark and full of terrors (only two weeks left to wait!!!); but mostly because of a six-hour meeting with my producer last week, which has opened up some very exciting doors that will shape all of April’s writing targets…

Target Number 1: Write a treatment for a drama feature.

When I met up with my producer on my most recent trip to London, it was ostensibly to have a laidback catch up over a coffee and discuss the two feature projects we were already working on together. Six hours and a stack of bacon-topped waffles later, I’ve ended up with three additional projects to work on, taking the tally to five projects in total that we now want to work on together.

One of these new projects is a drama feature with a lot of potential. It would be an adaptation of a fantastic short film that has enjoyed a lot of recent success on the festival circuit, and has generated a lot of interest in seeing whether it can now work as a full-length feature as well. It’s a short I loved from the first time I saw it, and I can see it making a very powerful feature down the track. Whilst there are no guarantees that I’ll be the one to write the feature script yet, the offer has been made to present a treatment for the further consideration of both my producer and the director; a chance that I am very excited to have. Speed and quality are both essential to any chances I have of being give this opportunity, however, which is why it shoots right to the top of the priority list for the next few weeks.

Target Number 2: Write a treatment for a horror feature.

The second project was another feature, again brought by another talented director looking to make the transition from shorts and music videos to feature filmmaking. It’s a sinister, creepy horror premise, and whilst horror is a genre I don’t overly enjoy watching for pleasure (there’s nothing fun about a sudden, induced heart attack), it is one that I find fascinating professionally for the engagement it has with its audience. The early draft of the script that I’ve seen contains some very intriguing themes and characters that could make for a great horror story, but the lack of experience in feature writing has led to some challenging structural issues, which is why my producer has asked me to take a look at it and put together an idea of how those issues could be addressed. Again, the future of my involvement on this project is not guaranteed at this stage, and is dependent on factors beyond my control, but I am keen to work on this initial proposal and see where it leads, largely because of the potential it holds.

Target Number 3: Research 5 Welsh production companies for potential collaborations.

As many of you will be aware by now, I have a proud connection with Wales, seeing as it has been my home for the best part of my life. It is a place, and a people, I have a great affection for, which I have tried to reflect in one of the features I have written that is very close to my heart. Whilst my producer and I have been looking into ways to produce this particular script for a few months now, we have both come to the conclusion that it makes sense to work with one of the growing number of Welsh production companies to give it the right authenticity and to share in their knowledge and expertise of production in Wales. There are a few names I know of already, but some more dedicated research will allow both of us to make an informed decision about the best route to explore in this regard.

I guess, ultimately, this past month has been a demonstration of how changeable the life of a writer can be. At the beginning of March, I set three targets because, at that moment in time, they were the goals I felt I needed to meet in order to keep my career moving forward. Fast forward to the end of March, and I think I am, in many ways, better placed to push my career forward despite having achieved only one of those goals designed to get me here! Part of that is due to other distractions beyond work (you only turn 29 once…), but it is mostly down to these great opportunities that came from out of nowhere and have now taken priority. It feels like there could be exciting things on the horizon in April, but a whole ton of work now needs to be put in if I’m going to get there.

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