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The writing business

Updated: Feb 3, 2020

I’ve been quiet on here for a while. For the best of reasons. I’m concentrating on my novel which is taking up more and more of my time and focus.

I need to understand the writing business because I love writing novels, short stories and screenplays and I want to continue writing them. To be a writer is the only job I’ve ever really wanted but I haven’t had the courage or means to pursue it. Until now. Now I have something I want to sell. It’s time to find some buyers.

Unlike A A Milne, I don’t think fame is a prerequisite but I do need to make enough money from writing to make it my life. To do that I need to sell my work and that means I need to get buyers interested in what I have to say.

Who are my buyers?

Like every other business I’ve worked in, the Writing and Film Industries have their own hierarchies of buyers. As a new writer, I know from online forums and industry journals that I will have to go through a multitude of layers and hurdles before my writing can ever reach the potential producers of my screenplays or publishers of my novels, the actual ‘buyers’ of my work. They might not even read the full script or novel as more often than not it will have been passed up to them by a creative director, script developer, editor, reader…

Who influences my buyers?

Producers and publishers will be influenced by their own interests and aspirations, by what they believe to be current and commercial and therefore profitable, as well as by readers and audiences, critics, agents, editors, directors and development executives.

How do I get my writing in front of the people who can help get it produced or published?

This isn’t as simple a question as it might appear. For a start, as a new writer it can be difficult to work out whose advice to follow. Online forums and writing communities offer a plethora of advice, much of it conflicting.

Finding my way

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of agents, script consultants and advisors, competitions, schools and courses, all vying for my attention as a writer. They have successfully targeted me as their potential buyer. The more I research and learn, the more I begin to trust my inner voice and allowing it the freedom to express itself has been the most valuable lesson of them all. There is a fear that lurks in the depths of most writers’ souls, the fear of not being heard. Well, to state the blindingly obvious, if you don’t get your words out there, they can’t be read or heard.

About one and a half years ago I’d finally saved enough to give up my job to write full time. My goal being to earn my living from writing by the end of 2019. I’d always written but struggled to stir my creativity after a long day at work, taking care of my two children, and the many other demands life made of me.

Am I a risk worth taking?

My children question my blind faith that all will work out. ‘Why should anyone be interested in an unknown writer?’ they challenge. Every writer is unknown until they are known. Am I worth knowing? I believe so. I am highly productive and have a huge reservoir of stories to tell. My stories are all ones I’ve either lived through or observed and I’ve been lucky enough to lead an adventurous and eventful life.

I’ve survived five head injuries, been held at gunpoint twice, been in love eleven times, travelled to more than fifty countries, lived in six countries, had more than twenty different jobs, been strangled once, attacked by thugs once, married once, miscarried twice, mothered two children, been widowed once, I was the first woman to do something twice (first female ski tech in the UK and first female to take part in a mountain rescue in the Tatras) and that’s just a fraction of my experience. Every one a story in itself. So far I have written:

  • Three screenplays

  • Several short stories

  • Six short film scripts (and produced three)

  • One novel

  • Some poetry

  • One TV pilot with series outline

  • Numerous blog posts

I’m currently working on two novels:

  • Five Years which explores the relationship between life and death through the inner and outer worlds of its two protagonists, one of whom is dead.

  • Maya’s Patisserie, in which I trace my daughter’s journey to forge her own identity. Each phase in her life is represented by a cake or dessert and the story behind it. It’s a departure for me in that it is less a work of fiction and more a biography.

I have led the life I set out to lead and in the process conquered my biggest fear of all. A fear which was buried so deep within me that I didn’t even realise it was that very fear which had been driving me all the time. The fear of being bored and worse still, being boring. The fear of getting stuck in a life I hadn’t chosen. As soon as I could talk and dream, I decided my life would be exciting and full of travel and adventure. The very idea of simply treading a well worn path of socially agreed expectations filled me with dread and repulsion.

It may not all have been smooth sailing, and I’ve certainly had my fair share of heartache and pain. But I’ve also had the most incredible highs and have been lucky enough to have found love many times over in all its different guises. I’m not finished yet. In fact, in many ways I’m just starting. Starting the rest of my life and I’ve never felt more excited.

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