Thursday, 12 January 2017

Start that log book now

A few years ago, some wise person pointed out that writers and creatives remember the negative comments about their work and forget the good feedback. Maybe it's a survival instinct or our own self-doubt, but it's true. I can more vividly remember the put down's and critical comments than the good feedback - despite the fact that it made me glow and bounce on my toes at the time.

The suggestion was that you cut and paste positive feedback into a separate document so you don't forget it. I did it for a year or two and I could see that, really, overall, even if productions didn't result, producers, directors, actors, other writers, readers loved my writing. That felt good. It can be enough to encourage you to keep going on a gloomy winter morning.

The other suggestion was to keep a log book of everything you've done - meetings, invitations to work, when you've sent material off or entered a competition, when you've finished a draft or spoken to someone about an aspect of research or your writing... This I have been doing for years now and it's great to look back over. Even to see how many people you reached out to or met; creative collaborations or deadlines you met, even if they were personal ones.

For me, it has meant that I went from thinking I had done very little in 2016 to realising it was a pretty productive year overall. I put on a new play with the wonderful Julie Lockey, my second in two years and packed the space out. I also directed another (from 2015, starring Karen Connell) in its first tour and co-production out West and got a third into the Irish Playography. We got great audiences, great responses and reviews everywhere. Meanwhile, I finished a new, complex one woman play and had readings of it.

Then I was appointed Screenwriter in residence at Maynooth Uni and Kildare Co. Council Library and Arts Service. Lots of whooping and excitement. I was also invited to do an animation masterclass in Limerick School of Art & Design and to run the Screenwriting module in DCU's MA in Film & TV, which starts later this month. I'm chuffed and excited!

I taught three courses in Filmbase and adapted two plays for radio - both turned down, but still; I submitted to the IFB once more - and was turned down; sent four plays out to five different theatres and have only had one refusal - but interesting feedback - so far. And on the plus side, I completed an independent commission to write a feature and that was a wonderful and stimulating experience. I joined a screenwriting group even though I've only managed to attend three meetings so far.

I got one of my novels to the verge of publication - DAD'S RED DRESS, watch this space! - and another (CANDLEMIST) is being bullied and cajoled into shape. I even read from both books at an event in Maynooth Uni - for the first time - and they went down well!

That's not including all the plans to develop material with people that didn't quite happen. I wrote the second episode of my tv series Worms in the Wall but then had to put it aside, as I did a lot of screenwriting projects that I didn't see going forward at the moment. Then, just at the tip-end of the year, a US production company contacted a colleague of mine because they are VERY interested in developing an animation series I developed two years ago....

Never give up hope!

Start that log book for 2017 (and your page of commendations/ positive feedback) for the year ahead. It will be worth it.

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