Wednesday 23 September 2009

Mea Culpa

I swore I wouldn't do this, and even while I AM quite clearly doing it, I'm going to do it as evenly and politely as I can, but if I don't do it here, RIGHT NOW, I'll direct this spleen to the person in question and that wouldn't be fair.

As a caveat, I should point out that this person isn't part of my facebook network or on my bloglist, so they won't ever get to read this and I will do everything I can not to reference directly any of the things that are galling me to the point of apoplexy.

Because, what do you know, it's about a new 'writer'. This writer is a company director, who was personally advertising for collaboration on their 'nearly finished' script - they put themselves out there. I sent them my rate card, which anyone will tell you is the cheapest in the business - I sent them my CV, which is quite clearly very comprehensive in terms of experience. They replied, very professionally, that an editor wasn't what they were after right now, they needed a collaborator, a writer.

I casually replied that I'd done a fair bit of the old writing thing myself and pointed him again to my CV; (At this point I should mention that in the last few months of putting myself out there as a consultant, I actually enjoy any new stuff coming in from other people - its been a long time and, good or bad, there's always an energy and a buzz in any writing, and with it only being a few months, I'd forgotten the unforgettable - that there's an inverse ratio between arrogance and talent with unsold writers).

They sent me the script, with an attached note that having read my CV they doubted that I'd be suitable to judge it appropriately, but they'd let me have a look anyway. I should have known at that point; the snooty attitude to mainstream drama with a huge audience, the twisted prejudice that a serial dramatist just bangs the stuff out on the day... I've heard it before.

Maybe it was bloody-mindedness on my part, maybe, as I said, I'm still freshly back and loving other people's work, maybe its the months I've spent in my own very dense writing, missing the weekly collaborative meeting and the pints afterwards, but I read it...

And do you know what? It was BLOODY BRILLIANT. Sharply observed characters, an astonishingly original idea, dialogue that damn near set fire to your eyes as you hurtled from one rattling revelatory page to the next, poignant heart-breaking relationships that simultaneously described the nature of the individual AND the human condition as a whole. Breath taking.

But it wasn't, was it? What I did in that last paragraph was the most basic stupid trick in the book and this person couldn't even muster anything even that obvious. It was poorly typed, misspelt nonsense with such bad characterisation that you couldn't even say it was stereotyped. The single dramatic incident happened off screen and was an accident, the relationships between characters were paper thin, laid out in the first five pages and didn't change throughout. The sole nod to drama was the idea that someone in peril and pain was a bad thing, which it is, but its not drama, especially if its an accident. It bore no relation to reality, everyone spoke like puppets and not a single issue was resolved.

Anyway, there is a writing lesson here. which is vent your spleen in a neutral space, throw up all the crap and THEN write the real stuff. Because I will have to reply to this person at some point and if I'd done it in the last half hour, he'd have got this, and I'd have been ashamed of my poor writing.

Sadly, I think that's something this person wouldn't understand

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