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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Dream Job - Writer

Who do you work for? What is your job? Where do you work?

I work for anyone who will pay me is the flippant answer. In reality I teach Creative Writing for Richmond Adult College in Richmond 2 or 3 days a week, depending on which courses I'm teaching. I teach private students at my flat. I have also recently been Visiting Lecturer at Solent Southampton Uni. I'm currently working on a PhD for Creative Writing and working on a couple of film projects

What do you do on an average day?
It is probably easier if I take you through a week (I won't say average, because there is no such thing).
Monday is spent preparing lesson plans for the week, this week I'm starting up a new 'Movie in a Month' course and 'Novel in a Month' starts up again on Saturday - so I'll check my notes for that. Then I go through any marking left over from the weekend. I tend to do any reading/marking scripts over the weekend - either with my partner in a cafe or on Sunday night with the promise of a glass of wine when I'm done.
Tuesday I see private student in the morning - discuss with her any problems she's having. I take her through some warm up exercises that should help break a block and she sketches out a couple of scenes there and then - Result!
I check emails when she's gone and make an appointment to see an Agent who is also a friend - I am going to need someone to look at contracts for the film project soon. We agree coffee Wednesday morning.
Tuesday evening I teach 'Developing Your Novel' class. One of the students who has brought work in to workshop blows us all away with a piece. The discussion goes on in the pub afterwards and it is pretty late when I get back home.
Wednesday I go for a run first thing - my work is so sedentary, I need to do something - I also need waking up. Head over to Agent for coffee, contacts and gossip. It is good to see her, she asks when my novel will be finished (she's had nothing but the first three chapters since Christmas) I promise it for end of August and cross my fingers.
Wednesday (I have a private student alternate Wednesday evenings) I'm free so I meet friends for dinner and then go to a Horror film night - I'm teaching Horror Writing next semester in Southampton and need to keep up to date.
Thursday another private student in the morning and I try to organise a meeting with the producer of the film I've been commissioned to write the treatment for, we need to discuss money. He agrees to Friday. I finish working on changes for another script and email it to the Director who calls and promises to read and reply asap, she has just come in from Africa where she is filming a documentary. We talk over the changes and a couple of scenes that the producer wanted included. Then there is just enough time to grab a sandwich and go to Richmond to teach Movie in a Month.
Friday morning, meet with producer and get money. Go home and start working on the treatment. Friday night I have off. The work to be marked is beginning to pile up in my email. I also have an academic paper to write for a conference later this month - I look through the diary and work out that I can do it on the train going up there - some things will need to be juggled!

What’s the best part of the job?
On the plus side, I love what I do, there are great moments when you write something someone loves or fix something that wasn't working. I get to work in bed, in my PJ's a lot of the time or if it is sunny I can sit outside in the park or a cafe. I can organise my time according to my own schedule and being an insomniac helps.
When a student tells you, you've changed their life or a director sits laughing and crying over the final scene you wrote on the back of an envelope - well, that's pretty good. It makes up for the 'sorry your book isn't right for our lists right now', 'your course has been cancelled' 'the money dropped out' 'we found someone else to do it.'

And the worst?
I don't have a pension and I do worry about my financial future sometimes. But I wouldn't change what I do for anything else

What can you not do your job without - Qualifications, licences, insurance, comfy shoes, eye for detail, sense of humour?

You need patience, a sense of humour and the ability to bounce back in my job. Rejections are frequent and always horrible. Even when you have been commissioned for a job, you may or may not get the money, the job can suddenly disappear, never get made, given to someone else. That's why I teach as well - my students keep me sane and allow me to eat.

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