Recap of Friday’s sessions of the Emerging Writers Festival, and the take home message from hours spent hanging off the every word of a panel of editors…
What is important, if you want to write...
- Commercial – as an example, think 'big tv profile + cook book'
- Fiction – of 100% importance is the writer's voice AND being able to tell a really good story.
- Nonfiction – you need to have authority, and be able to write in an engaging way.
You have to be worth the investment…and what helps publishers make that decision includes:
Have you already published?
Can an editor see a potential relationship, based on 1-2 books over the next 5 years?
Have you proved you are reliable, have drive and really, really, really want it.
The audience breathed, ‘Yes, yes, YES!’
Then we heard about slush piles….and we heard the apology ‘if your work is currently in a slush pile’.
— Siv Parker (@SivParker) May 30, 2014
And then some Q & A around how to tell people they are not very good…
We got to compare ourselves to the wishlists of editors, who are looking for writers that are – new, young, unique, contemporary, who can produce words that are clean, on count and on time … and that are creatively brilliant.
I was reminded of Martin Amis’s observation that a writer only has something like 4 score and ten years in them, their best work is most probably in their 20s and some people hang on much longer than the life in their words.
I happily squandered some of my bottled energy, and hugged Linda McBride-Yuke (editor) hello and goodbye, before catching the tram down to Federation Square for the Screenwriting Masterclass.
- the site worker with his potted plants on a trolley, who gave precise directions;
- the Dutchman (with an German mother), English man and the aussie bloke behind the bar slash café who toasted my smoked salmon and creamed cheese bagel, stirred the sugar first before topping up my grande latte, and sent me on my way with a cluster of tender sighs and encouragement nods;
- the young Malay guy who ate leftover mum food from a huge lunchbox and told me about his dream to make experimental documentaries;
- the guy who did an art school degree and discovered he was the only one who hadn’t made a single friend of a future collaborator so hates to see any old college mates who have gone from strength to strength;
- and the panel member who’s best advice on how to approach screenwriting projects – rise & masturbate, get it out of the way because there will be so many other things to distract you in your day.
From the look of the participants, it’s an older demographic with an interest in turning words into cutting edge products using new technologies, and having that determination to stick to a project, for the years it takes to get interest, funding, and a pool of talent to make something wonderful.
- Write a lot – find the joy in it -
Don’t be afraid to be creative. In fact, don’t be afraid.
Be a resource for others and you never know what will come your way.
Engage people with humour – serious projects can be fun to make.
And be open to finding new ways to work.
Like for instance…dum, dum-dum dahhhhm WEB SERIES.
These are taking off in a big way. And think BIG - always try and make the production values as good as you can afford)
.@EmergingWriters screen writing panel: @beatrixcoles @katemclennan1 and @MelbWebFest director @SEllingsen pic.twitter.com/K60xK2SVXO
— Sim Flanagan (@FlanaganSim) May 30, 2014
And I heard one of the best synopsis for a series ever :
‘it’s about reaching your 30s and finding life has shit on your face’. - Kate McLennan.
Then it was off to the bar, and lining up with a writer mate, a bloke beside me on a bar stool asked – ‘what do you do’.
I looked at him for a page longer than a person normally does at a complete stranger at your elbow on a bar stool.
(I waited all my life – well not all, because I am not dead yet and I am pretty confident I have at last half a dozen books in me - and I wouldn't bother if I hadn't spent the years to sharpen and ease - and I’ve about had it to here – actually further – with people telling me how to write because I am black and they have a romanticized view of what that entails, and if what everyone of good advice says is true, the only thing that matters is that I write my stories in my voice – not because some one encouraged me, or let me, or tried to stop me – but because writing is what I really, really, really want to do.)
‘I write, mate.’
And I continue to fiddle with my blog…