Search This Blog

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Best Script Meeting Sketch Ever


If anyone has ever seen Ed, Edd and Eddie on Cartoon Network, you'll remember that one of the characters is surrounded by a miasma of fleas and general humming nasties. I was reminded of this when The Boy announced that two of his friends were coming for a sleepover. Delightful boys, all of them, but all with the same relaxed approach to personal hygeine. Having suggested they leave the bedroom window open so as not to corrode their lungs, I left them to killing zombies on the X-Box. The next day when they went home, The Boy's bedroom smelled as though it had been occupied by an army of giant, sweaty hamsters.

And now Boy has just marched into my bedroom and announced that one of the kittens has fleas. This is surprising given that I've just doused all three of them in Frontline, the number one catty flea killer on the market. "I keep seeing black things jumping off my legs" said The Boy in tones of utter outrage. There are three possible reasons for this:

1. The kitten does have fleas (unlikely since I 'frontlined' them three days ago.
2. The Boy is taking whatever drugs that cause visions of black spots.
3. The Boy has fleas.

Oh dear.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Pushing On

The last few weeks have been really rough. Having work rejected sucks. And it's no good telling yourself over and over: "It's not you that's being rejected." It's your work, your ideas, your presentation of the ideas that's being rejected. And yet it's not you being rejected? Erm . . .yes it is.

And it keeps on happening no matter how high you climb the ladder. After Russell T. Davies had written 'Queer as Folk' he'd have been forgiven for a tiny assumption that his next project would be received with open arms. Instead, it was rejected. And after being assured that her series 'Hetty Wainthrope Investigates' would run for a fifth series, Patricia Routledge was understandably angry when it was dropped without anyone bothering to tell her.

Rejection is crushing. So what can you do to lessen the blow? This is what I've painfully learned:

1. Never put all your writing/acting eggs in one basket. Rely on nothing until you get a contract or a cheque. Keep looking for other work.

2. Diversify. A good friend of mine said she was sacked without reason from a journalism job and went into tv instead. Then she headed towards books. Get as many strings to your bow as you can.

3. You should have at least three projects on the go at any one time, particularly in the early stages of your career. Of course there will be times when you have to concentrate on doing one thing, but try to make sure there isn't a great black hole when that particular project ends.

4. Feel it. Acknowledge how shit you feel but don't punish yourself. Be kind. Take a bit of time off and lean on friends.

5. Try not to get too pissed.

6. Don't write an angry email to the bastard tosspots who turned down your brilliant idea. Particularly if you've ignored point no 5. I know someone who did this and while she was justified and the actual email wasn't particularly vituperative, the recipient didn't change his mind and now she's the person who sent the angry email.

7. Also if you get really abusive in your angry email you could end up looking like a bit of a tit like Giles Coren.

8. Keep going. All writers, all freelancers are rejected. You are not alone. It just feels like you are.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


The Daily Mail is postively quivering with outrage over Sienna Miller's alleged affair with Balthazar Getty, and predictably, the comments on Ms Miller's hussiness have been vintage Daily Mail. But the one that made me laugh and jerked me temporarily out of my gloom was something along the lines of: "Why couldn't she leave a married man alone . . .blah blah . . won't be seeing any more of HER films . . .huff huff . . I've got ONE WORD to sum her up. Home Wrecker".

That's told you Sienna. The Mail has Spoken.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Eating a Discreet Doughnut

Probably the best Smack the Pony sketch ever about how to eat discreetly while at work. I wrote it of course.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Brick Wall

I haven't posted for a little while because I've been feeling like shit. The three ideas I offered to the BBC have all been rejected. But it's not just a quick 'no' - it's been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and 'possiblies' and now 'NO'. I offered something on the back of a series I wrote last year. I've been working on it for a long time and did that thing of twisting myself inside out to give them what I thought they wanted. And it has been rejected on what feels like a whim. Along with two other things that they wanted, then they didn't want. I know it's not the end of the world. But right now I really feel like it is.

It would be great if my hide had grown a little tougher. But it hasn't. It's like the past few months have been a total waste of time.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Writing on the Wall

Yesterday The Girl was standing pinkly in her bedroom, post bath, one sock on, one sock off. She looked mighty pleased, faintly guilty and was holding a red marker pen in one hand. Didn't bode well. "I've writ my name!" she said. Hmmm. Writ large as I saw she'd written her own name on the wallpaper. I stomped off to the bathroom, grabbed a handful of wet wipes, hoped that the marks would come off, marched back to the Girl, opened my mouth to Admonish when it struck me. She was four years old and she'd written her own name. I should have been more pleased. Instead, I just sighed at the thought of something else to wipe up/clean off/scrub.

Or maybe I was jealous. Because she's being more productive than me. Going through a real writing slump at the moment. You know those jars of peanut butter where you have to turn it upside down and use a knife to scrape out the last vestige of peanutty gunk? That's my head that is.

Bad Hair Day

The Boy came home from school yesterday wearing a hat and looking furtive. “You know me and my mates were discussing how to raise money for charity?” he muttered. "Well . . ." and he took off his hat to reveal a NUMBER ONE SKINHEAD. I couldn't help it. I screamed like a girl for two seconds.

I hate to see the Boy distressed. But it's the only time that he's likely to listen to me without rolling his eyes and/or leaving the room. I have to say something reassuring, wise and kind.

His head is like a cue ball. He looks vulnerable, his eyes large and dark, his eyebrows defiantly bushy. A hint of the bald Mysteron in Captain Scarlett, and a touch of Jake Gyllenhall in Jarhead. My little boy, all grown up and shaving his head for charity. I have to say something. He's looking at me.

"It'll grow back" is all I can muster.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008


I used to work at Random House Children's Books where part of my job was to read the Unsoliciteds, a massive, heaving, living, breathing pile of desperation and hope. Very occasionally a story would leap out and smack me in the face, like good writing does. And equally occasionally, I would get The Card. This was when a hopeful author, rather than just sending the bloody manuscript, would try to stand out, by sending an announcement of the impending arrival of the manuscript. Watch out for Stunty the Organic Apple and his trials and tribulations as he tries to find acceptance among the genetically modified apples! Or Caspar Carrot and his Carroty Friends. (We went through a phase of receiving stories about vegetables in existential crisis). Alas, far from warming the cockles of my heart, I would usually swear loudly and make a mental note to puree Stunty the Apple when he arrived on my desk. Oh and you know how comedy writers are always told never to try and make their covering letter funny? It's the same with children's books. When you write a covering letter, don't put teddies in the margin, or pictures of your cat. And do try not to enclose pictures of yourself stark naked along with your heart warming tale of a lonely woodlouse.

The Card would be followed the next day by a leather bound manuscript, (yes, I mean leather bound) beautifully presented, perfectly typed and always always absolutely 100% terrible. Always. These were the children's books with titles like Jesus Bear, Two Boys and a Ferret and Hell and Damnation (Illustrated). It seemed so cruel to reward all this effort with a rejection slip but given that we received 20 - 50 manuscripts per day, it got easier.

My point is that it's terribly easy to get caught up in presentation. I was talking about writing books but it's the same with scripts. There's a really great post here from Jobbing Scriptwriter about the proliferation of EXPERTS who can tell you the 'secrets' of scriptwriting. That you should always use a particular style or font which naturally only THEY can tell you. And when you Google this supposed expert, you can never work out what films they actually wrote, and what their real hands on experience actually is. You do Google them don't you? You don't just accept their word that they are a 'world famous scriptwriter'?

Of course a script needs to be presentable and professional but a great story isn't going to get rejected because the font is wrong. All that matters are the words.