Thursday, September 29, 2011

Careering Out Of Control

My trouble is I think I should be on television. Or, failing that, in television.

Script writing. Joke writing. Satirical gameshow panellist (obviously after downing a few stiff drinks to combat the nerves). Just something. My own office at the BBC. Next door to Steven Moffat. Eating in the Beeb canteen sat opposite Justin Fletcher. Anything.

This conviction has been growing on me for years.

When I watch a TV drama or watch people involved with them being interviewed I think to myself: that should be me, that should; I should be doing that. I’m bloody well made for it I am. It’s the kind of life I want.

But I don’t have it because it’s only come to me in the last few years that this is what I should be doing.

If it had hit me when I was 18 I would have stood more of a chance. I could have done voluntary work at the BBC. Made tea for Biddy Baxter. Polished Terry Wogan’s microphone. Demeaned myself for ten years before getting that first all-valuable foot onto the ladder...

“Oh yes, I’ve written the odd script myself, don’t you know... Care to take a look? Yes, it is rather good, isn’t it...? Just something I’ve had knocking around for the last 15 years...”

But now it’s going to be a hard slog. Upwards all the way. I’m the wrong side of 40. I’m still looking for an agent. Untried and untested despite my obvious *cough cough* talents. Even though I have actually been writing since I was 9. I have The Beatles’ Paperback Writer going round and round in my head. My (paid) work experience up to this point revolves around facilities management and maintenance contracts. It doesn’t exactly say the next Alan Bennett, does it?

I’m being tripped up by all the wrong career turnings I’ve ever taken; all the poor ‘done-for-the-convenience-of-the-moment’ decisions.

I’m still being held back by my youthful naivety – when all I wanted to do was write and so that is all I have been doing. For the last 30 odd years.

What I should have been doing was applying. Writing and trying to apply it. There’s a difference, you see?

Well, I’m not giving up.

Not yet.

I’ll make tea if I have to but, trust me BBC, I’m much better at writing it...



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45 comments:

Rol said...

I can picture you shovelling up elephant plop in the Blue Peter studio. You've certainly got the experience!

Steve said...

Rol: get down, Shep!

joebloggs said...

If you REALLY want to then .....http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00kvs8r

Go On I dare You!

Steve said...

Joe: ooh - I never even knew this existed. Ta!

Nota Bene said...

mmm wrong career turnings. Good point. We have two friends who were at school together. Both equally bright. Both equally engaging. One took a wrong career turn and now works in a warehouse, whilst the other is now a multi-millionaire. For every Moffat, there's ten thousand who never get their script read...

Marginalia said...

Steve, there's no wrong side of 40.

John Gray said...

there is NOTHING wrong in being a LATE STARTER!!

Steve said...

Nota Bene: now I feel a lot better. Thanks. I'd better get me a forklift truck driving license right away.

Marginalia: 6ft under is the wrong side of everything.

John: how strange. That's exactly what my wife always says.

Suzanne said...

It's weird isn't it? I always think that I should be working for the BBC, doing what - who knows? I can see myself back stage with headphones and a clip board, bustling about...and now the BBC has gone and moved 30 mins down the road. It's a sign! I say to myself, but I am also the other side of forty.Sigh.
I will carry on with my art, and you my man, must carry on with your writing. Where it written that you won't be a famous script writer - no where!!! Carpe Diem.

the fly in the web said...

And you haven't tried the casting couch route?

(I think to get through or under the door you have to make up a CV detailing your ruined life on drugs, your ventures into eating roadkill behind Tesco and your faith that some bloated middle class ponce working in the media would be taken in by all this in order to reinforce their own feeling of self worth).

Dicky said...

Definitely don’t give up – keep on trying, although I’m the worst in the world for giving up.

Not sure if age might be a barrier for Blue Peter (no offence meant). How about something like Antiques Roadshow?

Great post Steve, really enjoyed it and very glad that I blundered across your blog a few weeks ago.

Steve said...

Suzanne: you are so right. Sieze the fish! The battle ain't over yet. Not till they buy a teasmaid anyway.

The fly in the web: I think it might be easier just to let Steven Moffat seduce me on his plush leather sofa with his supersonic screwdriver.

Dicky: thanks, you've cheered me up where others have failed. I've always fancied a stint on Blue Peter... though preferably not working with animals, kids or tightrope walkers. I'm sure there must be a niche somewhere...

Gorilla Bananas said...

Make sure you write a part for yourself in your sitcom scripts. I'm sure they'll audition you for the role, assuming Ricky Gervais isn't interested in playing another bearded twat.

Nana Go-Go said...

One of my favourite authors, E.Annie Proux, was 57 when she was published for the first time (think I`ve told you that before, apologies if so). Stop carping and get on with it.

Also, a bit of tecchie advice...I`m able to comment here but on other folks` blogs I`m getting a message that my cookies are null for reformation???They were fine last time I looked. Only asking here because no-one else can 'hear' me!

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: you're just a chilled aggravator.

Nana Go-Go: "stop carping" and "carpe diem" on the same comments page? I'm as confused as your cookies. Are your reformed cookies a bit like reformed chicken?

Suburbia said...

Not giving up is good :-)

Steve said...

Suburbia: not giving up is the only option.

The Sagittarian said...

Polishing Terry Wogan's (ahem) microphone?? ;-)

Steve said...

Amanda: it tends to get a bit crusty.

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

Come on Steve - you write great art reviews, hilarious porn (hope that brings in some hits for you), cutting satire, sensitive humane reflections...

Hey, you know, there's a sitcom waiting to be writ about a network of Bloggers: you've already got the name for it Bloggertropolis. Just think of all the little scenarios, with locations around the world, real mundane lives struggling with tech issues and sparkling to life as blogger of the moment crafts their latest post. I'm sure you could fit all your favourite topics in and there could be romance and deception and espionage and... fulfilment even.

When you get this dream career off the ground I still won't see any of it with the state of NZ television the way it is :-(

Steve said...

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: do you know what? That's a bloody good premise for a show, that is. If it gets off the ground I'll make sure it's available on iPlayer.

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

Heck I don't even know what an iPlayer is! My daughter's boyfriend came in with a thing he called a Tablet last night. I thought a tablet was made of clay, wot you scratch with a stylus...

PS the Blogger story is certainly niggling "Novel material" in the back of my mind!

A note here for Nana Go Go ( I can't Comment on her gorgeous blog either) to try this:
Go to Settings on her Dashboard, then Comments, then Comment Form Placement, then select Full Page option. This worked for me.

(Settings > Comments > Comment Form Placement > Full Page)

Steve said...

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: bless you! Type iPlayer into Google and it'll take you there. Palm pilots are funny too... I thought they might be like Inch High Private Eye... but no. Blogger is playing up a bit tonight - I've been able to comment on some blogs and not others.

TimeWarden said...

Apply to write an episode for the next series of Upstairs Downstairs, then you'll be working with Keeley Hawes and Alex Kingston and just about all your dreams will come true at the same time!

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

iPlayer: it sounds just what I need to get beyond the reality-show blues! You got through to me loud and clear, er wrong jargon for blogging I guess, but nice to have you drop in :-)

Steve said...

TimeWarden: hmm. Will the Beeb go for a nude lesbian scene between Keeley and Alex, do you think? Maybe if I change my name to Andrew Davies...?

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: always a pleasure to interface and assimilate.

Keith said...

Right, you know what you want. Now go get it. There is no such word as 'try', you either are or you aren't.

More pointers.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/ a great place to start, has lots of writing opportunities, notably regional ones, which you would qualify for. Have a crack at a Doctors script, or Eastenders, they are the shows the Beeb will read unsolicited scripts for. They used to run a shadow scheme on Doctors, and that's your way. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mh9v

And radio, lots of opportunities in radio. as joebloggs pointed. Radio is insatiable, and always looking for the next good play. Do you listen to any of the dozen or so radio plays there are a week.

Do you read Danny Stack's blog ?
http://dannystack.blogspot.com/
always full of great information and advice.

Oh and Triggerstreet, are you on Triggerstreet ?

And if you ever need a reader, I give good feedback.

Now go write something and get it out the door. Rejection letters were like campaign badges, you need a chest full before you are armoured enough. Be proud of them.

And forget agents, and all that crap. For the time being.

Apologies if you know all this...

Keith said...

Oh, and when I first saw this post I thought it said CATERING our of control.

Keith said...

Oh and watch TV. Watch it till your eyes bleed. Watch the good, and the bad and the crap, and the unspeakable. No matter what it is. Watch it critically, if you didn't like something, work out why, and how you would have done it differently. Watch it until you know each scene backwards, then watch it again.

Steve said...

Keith: you're a star - cheers for the pointers and tip-offs. You may regret offering to be a reader - my second novel should be completed before Christmas and I will be looking for willing volunteers to give it a damned good reading. I shall bear you in mind. Oh and I watch as much telly as possible - well as much as a full-time job, wife & kids and my writing will allow... and I still have stuff recorded from last year which I have yet to catch up on! My eyes might not be bleeding but I have to draw a line somewhere!

libby said...

Keep believing...keep going....it will happen.

Steve said...

Libby: all I need to do is build a baseball pitch on my back lawn...! ;-)

Löst Jimmy said...

It's never too late, never. Get an agent!

I always wanted to work in Antarctica, an obssesion since childhood. If I ever did appear on TV it would have to be in some South Pole shennanigans, preferrably with Michelle Rodriguez to hold my hand.

Oh, I've almost gone completely off topic...bugger

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: no need to ask how you plan to keep warm at night, then...?!

Selina Kingston said...

I so understand what you are saying. I often deal with TV crews when they turn up at our events and often feel I could have done well on that side of the camera. Actually, I still imagine that I could have my own Saturday night show like they had in the old days, like Lulu and Cilla did. I'd have been in my element singing and doing comedy sketches. The public would have loved me .....

Steve said...

Selina: I'd much rather watch you than Cilla Black!

Trish @ Mum's Gone To ... said...

I'm up for reading your next book!

I hope you look into all these suggestions people have given for script-writing opportunities. If you need help with the 'Doctor' one, I have a medical book...oh and a medical man too I can ask.

I do hope you succeed as it would be a travesty if your talent wasn't more widely appreciated x

Steve said...

Trish: hope you're serious about reading the book. Should be finished within a month or two... I'll email you again closer to the time. :-)

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

Steve,can I be one of your readers? This is the best reason yet to drop in on you in December.

Steve said...

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: with the very greatest of pleasure. It may be ready a little sooner than December but I'll keep everyone posted. Thank you.

Being Me said...

This reads like a cautionary tale indeed. At the risk of you applying some of that satirical writer persona into what I'm about to say... you need to start thinking bigger. Think big. Don't think small on this! Who says you can't be noticed now? BEGIN!

Steve said...

Being Me: see, I need you as my PA. Or personal trainer. Or boot camp sergeant. Just something where you can whip me into line.

Hmm. Think I'd better leave that line of thought right there...

Jenny Woolf said...

Why not visit BBC Writers Room and go for it. YOu've just missed the big CBeebies opportunity of the century, for instance. I am not kidding.

Jenny Woolf said...

By the way do you have a followers button?

Steve said...

Jenny: damn! You mean there was an opportunity to write another star vehicle for Justin Fletcher and I missed it? ;-)

Only joking. Thanks for the tip off.

As for a Followers button... afraid not. But I think if you go to the bottom of your Blogger dashboard (the reading list) there should be a button to "add" a blog - just copy and paste my blog address into there and welcome aboard. Very nice to have you here.