Still busy… But still got other people expelling wisdom on this blog’s behalf! (“My people” will write this blog for me in fact, arf).
So here is an interesting response from the marvellous Dublin Dave to Adrian Mead’s post yesterday in which he posed the analogy of hiring two architects:
None of what Adrian’s saying is incorrect. Every writer finds their own path, but let’s be really clear about one thing: what matters is the work.
Since 1999, I’ve been making a living as a TV writer. That career began with a feature length script, my fifth. I didn’t go to conferences, I didn’t blog, I sat down and wrote – for years! That script got me an agent. Within two months I was on a show where I stayed for three and a half years and wrote just under thirty episodes. I got the agent by researching five or six agents, writing to them and then sending my script in. No gaming the market. No thank you notes. I finally wrote a script that worked.
Recently, I decided to take my career in a different direction by writing a novel. I have at least one major contact in the business, a NY and LA Times bestselling writer. Here’s when I called on him for a favour – AFTER I’d written it and had three agents who wanted to represent it. He helped advise me who I should go with.
Again, I sat down and wrote the book (twice! – as I threw out an entire 80,000 word first draft). Then I emailed a handful of agents and asked if they wanted to read the opening chapters and a synopsis. They all said yes. Four requested the full book. Three wanted to rep it. THEN I called in my favour. But first of all I put in over a year of very, very hard graft; getting up many mornings at five o’clock to get in a good three hours before the school run.
Writers are brilliant at finding displacement activities. I’ve seen many writer friends of mine who go chasing this opportunity or going on that workshop. It drives me fucking BATSHIT! They could be using that time to develop their craft. They should be using that time to write. It’s what economists call an opportunity cost.
Yes, there are writers out there who are master schmoozers and yes some of them build a career on the back of that. If you’re a social animal it’s a definite advantage. And it’s also not necessarily an either/or strategy you have to adopt. But fundamentally, new writers break in because they WRITE something that really excites people. And, believe it or not, the market is in many ways easier for the new writer than it is for most established writers.
Obviously there should be a healthy balance between developing your craft AND self promotion – I don’t think anyone is mental enough to suggest either fella here is barking up the wrong tree.
However, we all have our strong points – and our sickly, starved weak points that are kept hidden in the cellar. Mine? I think my craft is pretty strong, but perhaps I spend too long justifying WHY I can’t do various things, like that novel I’m SUPPOSED to be working on. Money still needs to be earned, the house and garden needs to be sorted, the kids need to be beaten (did I just type that “out loud”?? Whoops).
What about you, then?