2021 was a year dominated by the pandemic: fear (the third lockdown), hope (freedom and falling cases) and frustration (it’s back…) But how was this past year been as a writer? What have I been up to? Quite a lot, as it turns out.
I started the year enrolling in an Introduction to Script Writing online course run by the National Writing Centre. Over 12 weeks, we covered writing for film, TV, radio and theatre, handing in numerous assignments and receiving feedback from our excellent tutor Femi Kayode. My gold trilogy has often been described as very visual/cinematic, so it’s perhaps not surprising to learn that I love script writing! I formed an idea for a film and a TV series during the course – more on these below.
I also learned that the publishers behind my gold trilogy finished trading during that third lockdown, which was sad for me, but even sadder for the founder, Matthew Smith, who had poured his heart and soul into that project over the years. Fortunately, and with Matthew’s help, I was offered re-publication by Bloodhound Books, with the trilogy being re-released in the autumn with shiny new covers. Every cloud…
I also continued to work on and submit a whacky adventure aimed at young middle-grade readers. After a brief flurry of interest, that faded into nothing. But I did receive some wonderful news about a story I had submitted back in the summer of 2020. I can’t say more about it at this stage but look forward to sharing next year.
During this summer I turned my idea for a film into a full script. It was fun to learn how to use the formatting software, to figure out how to portray emotions on the page without use of inner dialogue and how to keep the plot zipping forward. I entered it into a competition and paid for feedback. I got some lovely comments about the concept and characters but also about some major flaws in the plot and formatting. I hope to return to that script next year.
Some online highlights of the year came from a 1-2-1 with a literary agent courtesy of the lovely people at IAmInPrint, which also led to a new group of writing friends, the Winchester Writer’s Online Conference (though the real-life version is much more fun) and participating in the inaugural Book Jive Live reading event alongside headline author Emma Carroll. I submitted a short video of myself reading from the opening of another new MG story I’ve been working on and was delighted to learn I’d been picked. These events take place every couple of months – do sign up to listen or have a go at submitting yourself.
As the summer drew to a close and autumn approached I started plotting out the sequel to that book I’d received good news about earlier in the year. Soon, I had run out of excuses and it was time to write a first draft. In 2020, I tried NaNoWriMo but found the pressure of banging 1600 words out every single day took all the joy out of the process. So this year, I began writing in October and by the end of November, I had a finished first draft and much lower blood pressure. 🙂
Once that was done, I finished the year by working on a TV series idea, writing the script for the first episode so I could enter into the BBC’s Writers Room Open Call. It was great fun trying to squeeze as much action, characterisation and world-building into that opening 40 minutes of screen time. I know the chances of me being chosen are slim and the chances of my idea being commissioned even slimmer, but where would we be without hope?
I end the year, keeping everything crossed that our local panto gets to go ahead in January. My wife and daughter both have starring roles and, heaven help us, I’ve been cast as the dame. We’ve been working really hard, rehearsing three times a week for nearly 3 months now. Enjoying the process without ever knowing if there’ll be success at the end of it all. A bit like writing, really…
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a healthy, hopeful New Year.