…On Writing

As usual, I draw my eyes to an empty page contemplating my next big hit. Wondering where to start is always the problem for me as the pile of scrunched up paper in the bin will testify. I’ll take that out later (which reminds me slightly of my writing of late).

Writing is only difficult when you don’t do it. Therefore, it’s important to write no matter how banal or how bad you think it is. Hopefully other writers will confirm this. The bin I just pointed to contains two unpublished books and a screenplay. Even though I finished them, I wasn’t happy with them so I parked them in my own slush pile.

Does it matter? It does, but have to tell myself it doesn’t. Writing them was what mattered. Even though they’re binned I made the effort, I tell myself. All is not lost. I may come back to them someday – may.

A lack of confidence keeps you away from pen and paper, but confidence can only be gained by picking pen and paper up to write. Once I finish a section, I pat myself on the back. I have to. Writers like me are notoriously insecure.

Right now, I need to get back to that empty page.

Writing with the Company of Beckett

‘A voice comes to one in the dark. Imagine.’

Company – Samuel Beckett (1979)

A great start to a novella, and to me it is a good source of inspiration. Company may not always be deconstructed as a source of writing stimulation, but it is a good exercise. The novella continues:

‘To one on his back in the dark.’

This I would encourage – ‘lie on your back in the dark, let the voice come to you, imagine.’ Now start writing!

Decrease in Independent TV Production in Ireland

RTÉ’s €68 million shortfall may represent bad news also for independent productions as TV bosses cut budgets. RTÉ however suggest that business is still open, but the 2007 spend of €79.5 million is unlikely to be repeated.

Ben Frow of TV3 admits he can’t afford independent TV unless it wins funding from the Broadcasting Commission Sound and Vision Fund, of which 3 of 26 got funding. A one-hour drama costs the station €150,000, but could get 40 hours of in-house production for the same amount. Consequently, Frow stated he was not going to back new ideas in the next round in July although projects will be re-submitted.

Michael O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, stated that funds were limited but hoped that ‘the pot would be bigger next year, but we’re still going to be turning a lot of people down’.

There were as many as 200 independent production companies three years ago, but estimates that there are as many as 170, The Irish Independent (11th June 2009) reports. These figures seem to be taken directly from the Screen Producers of Ireland website (SPI), the lobbyists for Independent Production companies in Ireland. This figure does not account for the many which are not fee paying members of the SPI. Although Sean Stokes, head of the SPI, confirmed that recession reticence is typical as ‘bigger businesses have let go of 50% of staff’ and that some are ‘pooling resources’.

Sideline’s Billy McGrath of The Model Agent fame is however upbeat as a ‘second revenue stream are online DVD sales outlet’, confirming that one revenue stream could lead independent producers to trouble.

Screentime ShinAwiL’s Larry Bass lost You’re a Star before the recession, but has concentrated his efforts on Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice. His company did not get funding from the Broadcasting Commission, but has attracted corporate sponsorship for Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice. Wider use of sponsorship is inevitable and independent producers have to find ways to give ‘better value’ to broadcasters.

At the end of the chain are screenwriters who will need to be more inventive, take these considerations on board to try to keep independent production companies interested but there is the danger that screenwriters may be forced abroad.