My last post about Collaborative Writing was over 14 weeks ago, and I’m happy to report that I’m still part of the writing team for a new radio continuing drama series for a Manchester community radio station.
We started out five months ago as a team of fourteen writers, of all writing ability and over the weeks have now dwindled down to a regular writing team of six.
We have a full cast of characters with their back stories, storylines, real life actors have now been cast to start recording the series in two weeks time and we the writers are all frantically scribbling at an amazing speed to ensure that the scripts are ahead of each recording.
There is finally a name for the radio soap too although not sure if that is being officially launched in the upcoming weeks. Maybe not the best of ideas to publicise it on here in case there is going to be a big PR campaign planned for it in a few weeks time.
It’s great to be part of a writing team. I experienced it as part of my Masters degree in Scriptwriting for the Radio Drama module, but nothing is better than experiencing it in real life.
The best thing about the weekly writers meeting is that we all have our own ideas about how a character should react to a situation etc. However, the collaborative process means that we get to bounce ideas off each other and just having those discussions (sometimes heated) means that what could start off as a good idea can be bounced around and with a few heads getting together can come out as a great idea.
It’s certainly made me think about my future writing and the possibility of trying to find a writing partner to collaborate with.
I’m going to London Screenwriters Festival later in the month so maybe I should be on the look out for a collaborator.
Although I received my official MA results back in June, last week was the graduation ceremony to officially celebrate my achievement.
The ceremony was held at The Lowry, Salford Quays on a glorious, hot Thursday afternoon.
I was thrilled to arrive in the robing queue at the same time as members of my graduating cohort so the lengthy queue went by without incident as we caught up with each other from the previous summer.
What made this day extra special for me was the attendance of my loved ones. Sons, husband, parents and father-in-law all braved the blistering heat to watch me walk across the red carpet at The Lowry.
The ceremony began with a band and a singer all associated with the School of Arts and Media at the University.
Speeches were made and thankfully I wasn’t waiting long before we were gathered to begin our queuing to the stage. I’d forgot that they award the highest to lowest educational attainment.
Those receiving their PhD’s were first up, followed by my group of Postgraduates.
I recall being extremely nervous when receiving my undergraduate degree in 2009, but this time I had my family on the front row and I could only see my youngest son’s huge smile when I walked up to the stage steps. How could I be nervous when that beautiful smile was beaming proudly at me?
The ceremony lasted an hour and it was superb from start to finish. I savoured every minute of it, being with my classmates and family under one roof.
Once the ceremony closed I marched my family upstairs to more queues. I wanted a professional portrait with all of them before we finished the day with a lovely meal.
It was the perfect day to mark the end of one of the biggest journeys of my life so far.
From that very first lesson back in September 2011 when I nearly didn’t go back to class after the break because I thought I was in way over my head. The course not only educated me in terms of learning the craft of scriptwriting, it has sparked a real passion in radio drama which I didn’t know was there and has given me the confidence to rise to any challenges that come my way in future.
Thank you University of Salford. Here’s to the next journey.
As expected the group of extremely keen writers in week one had dwindled slightly in week two.
Perhaps it wasn’t what they thought it would be, or maybe they didn’t realise it would be a weekly writers meeting. Anyway our large group of writers in week one was reduced by a third in week two.
Not only was it nicer to work in a smaller, more intimate group setting but it also meant that I managed to take a larger share of the Jaffa cakes during the three hour meeting.
The aim of the meeting was to recap what we had covered in week one, come up with more characters for our project and start looking at potential conflicts and stories between the characters.
In week one it was apparent when we shared our characters that our project wasn’t culturally representative of Manchester.
This gave me all the ammunition I needed to create my next character who is of black origin and is the local councillor for the area.
In the next exercise which involved us writing with a partner myself and another writer who had created an MP decided to lock horns and have a bit of fun with our characters and their dialogue.
I really enjoyed this exercise as the gentleman that I was partnered with was very quiet within the session, but once we began writing together he produced some great one-liners and comedic moments.
We really bounced off each other, and it has made me think of finding a writing partner in the future. Having another set of ideas is refreshing and means that the partner may suggest something that leads to me coming up with a different angle on a story. I wouldn’t excuse it in the future.
The lesson of this week for me is never judge a book by it’s cover.
Get out of your comfort zone and do something that terrifies you. That’s a healthy motto – right?
One of the aspects of my MA which challenged me the most was the collaborative group project in semester two.
An eight part radio drama where I worked with seven other writers and devised a radio serial with a forty-five minute episode written by each member of the team.
It was a challenge to say the least. Not only a divide in age and gender, but also in sense of humour. We spent most of the semester arguing about the serial storyline and at the last meeting still hadn’t nailed it down fully.
Firstly it’ll be great to get my writing on the radio again, secondly it will be good for the CV if I can show that I’ve worked as part of a writing team in a professional context, and thirdly if I don’t have someone giving me strict deadlines I fear that my writing will only occur when meeting competition deadlines.
This project is at the very beginning of becoming a radio soap opera, and with a team of twelve writers we won’t all get commissioned to write an episode. Which mirrors real life on a television soap opera too.
Last night was the first get together of this new writing team, and I thought I would blog about the journey from inception to writing that first episode.
The writing team is a diverse group of local people from Manchester who are a mix of volunteers at the radio station, writers and others who just want to get involved in this thrilling project.
We began the session by reading aloud a couple of short radio scripts. When asked for volunteers there was an uncomfortable silence so I put my hand up. Reading scripts out loud doesn’t phase me anymore as I’ve had two and a half years of doing this week in week out.
We were then given a large selection of photographs of people which had been cut out from newspapers and magazines. A range of ages, gender and ethnicity were covered and each of us chose one picture. Mine was a woman in her mid-twenties in a yoga pose. I thought I could have a lot of fun in creating her character as she looked quite chilled and peaceful.
My aim is to make my character the least stereotype for that particular image which is what I did when writing her character biography.
Other groups worked together on each of the characters, but the group that I was put in we worked solo and then shared our ideas. I found this approach better as the least conflict at the early stages the better.
Briefly we then came up with a long list of places that would be featured in our make shift soap opera world. Pub, café, library, bridge, park and pound shop were just a few of the suggested places that would feature in our community.
We also need to name our community in the upcoming weeks.
It’s certainly exciting to be part of something new creatively, and of course getting to know new people in this context is something that I find beneficial. Who knows, today community radio – tomorrow the writing team on House of Cards!
Before I begin today’s blog entry, I’d just like to thank everybody who has visited my blog in April, and especially those who have written comments to me. It means a lot that so many people have been in touch to say that they are enjoying these posts either people who have been to New York City, and those who are going in the future.
I’m currently recovering from surgery which I had at the beginning of the month which is part of the reason I signed up to do this.
I knew I would feel slightly down about recovering from surgery as I am such an active person. But, every day has given me enjoyment as I can recoil to my fond memories of August 2013.
Writing is the one thing I truly enjoy doing, my number one hobby and it makes it even more worthwhile when I know that somebody has read something of mine and decides to spent their time in sending me feedback.
There are so many different ways to consume media these days whether it be through the television, billboards, social media, the internet, newspapers and magazines.
You’d think with the vastness of these mediums that radio would be a thing of the past.
You couldn’t be further from the truth.
Radio is thriving, which is brilliant news to the likes of myself who consumes many hours of radio every day of the week. From Radio 4 dramas to drivetime shows, the thing I love about radio is that you can be doing other things while absorbing it.
Because I’ve been bitten by the radio broadcasting bug.
It’s true what they say about embracing every opportunity that comes along because you never know where it may take you.
Five months ago I went along to a session with Wythenshawe FM in a small community centre in Baguley. I’d seen an advertisement on the noticeboard for my local supermarket asking if anybody was interested in attending training for either writing radio scripts, presenting, editing and features.
So I went along thinking I could help them with the script writing. After all, I was in my final year of a masters degree in TV and Radio Scriptwriting so broadcasting credits are something that I’m looking for. It became apparent early on, that the other aspects that they were looking for were equally as important.
I felt the colour drain from my face when the words “live broadcasting” were mentioned.
It would be rude to get up and walk out at that point so I stayed for the entire session. But, at that point I had no intention of every broadcasting live – were they mad? I could barely talk to groups of people in work without fluffing my words, let alone a radio audience.
Over the next few days I thought about it more and more. If something scares me I tend to do it anyway as I really enjoy the adrenalin of achieving something that terrifies me, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.
So, why not give it a go. The worst that can happen is that I freeze on air, and they can always fill in the space with a song.
So I did it. On the 9 December 2013, I co-presented a show with another volunteer at Wythenshawe FM and I must admit the adrenaline from being on air live is something else. Once the initial “feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack” as my heart was pounding through my chest as I waited for my half an hour slot to begin, it was fine.
After the live show in December, I carried on training with the radio station. We covered interview techniques, operating a Marantz, features, jingles, editing and then we had a number of sessions in the studio operating the desk.
The studio sessions really baffled me, as it was one thing having to talk on air, but to also operate the desk and ensure that adverts were played, songs were queued and not to leave the microphone on. The other volunteers and myself all took it in turns to broadcast live for twenty or so minutes each week. This was probably the best way to learn, as we had an experienced member of staff with us all the way to make sure that we kept the station on air.
At this point I was approached to see if I was interested in hosting my own radio show. I had to think about this one. It’s one thing to go on air with other people, but on my own and for an hour? What the hell have I possibly got to say for myself that would interest anybody in listening to me?
So, I thought about it for thirty seconds and said yes, why not. I’m sure I could think of things to talk about without anybody saying anything back to me. I live with three males – I’m used to talking to myself.
On 23 February 2014 The Sunday Matinee Show was first aired.
So, thank you Wythenshawe FM for giving me the opportunity to do something so out of my comfort zone that I would never have dreamed six months ago that I would be hosting my own show.
‘The Sunday Matinee Show’ is not only an entertainment show, but I also want to showcase up and coming local Manchester talent, whether it be writers, theatre companies, actors or musicians etc.
Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night crippled in terror that there are just not enough hours in the day, or days in the week?
I’ve been feeling like this for a few weeks now. Just wishing there were more hours in the day, and also wishing the things that I’m doing now in my life which are really giving me a lot of fulfillment – well I wish I had done them ten years ago when I was younger, in better health and had more energy,
This feeling co-incides with deadlines that are looming. And I mean really important deadlines to me.
I’m interested to know how other writers who also hold down full-time jobs manage their time.
Any hints of tips would be gratefully received, because I have to tell you that I don’t like the feeling of being overwhelmed all the time.
It manifests itself with the knowledge that I have deadlines looming. If I have a particularly stressful day in the day job and I come home feeling exhausted, then I end up doing nothing except feeling guilty.
If I decide to sit on the sofa and unwind, or listen to a radio show then I then have a feeling of guilt that I should be writing.
I’ll be functioning normally for a couple of weeks but will then start to feel so exhausted mentally that by the time I get home in the evening I can barely string two sentences together, never mind write a script.
How do other writers manage their time between working, writing and general life. Please tell me!
The last time this happened was three weeks ago. I’d been feeling increasingly annoyed at myself that my evening writing had become practically none existent due to feeling tired every night. This then sent me on a downer as the realisation that I’d wasted four nights of valuable writing time hit home.
My current writing schedule is that I have two 45 minute episodes to write to second draft by the end of March (approx. 15,000 words). These pieces are for my final major project for my Masters degree. They are passed to my supervisor for notes at the end of the month and the clock is indeed ticking.
On top of that though I am conscious that I really want to try and write for the blog at least once a week, even if its utter nonsense from my head like this post is.
I’m still reviewing theatre shows and did I mention that I have my own weekly radio show now which I am trying to get off the ground?
This is what I seem to do. I take on way too much than I should, and then have a hissy-fit when I run myself down to the last drop of energy.
I’m sure there is some psychological reason why I constantly push myself with challenges. Who knows? Mid-life crisis or just pure self-destruction?
Last night when I got home from work, I sat and had my dinner with my family. We talked, we laughed and then we watched some television together. Perfect. It actually was perfect, I can’t remember the last time I led on the sofa cuddling my son.
I was really enjoying the evening, until the demon in my head told me that I was wasting valuable hours enjoying myself when I should have been on the laptop editing draft two because that deadline is creeping towards me.
I woke up this morning to the usual packed timeline on Facebook and Twitter of enthusiastic parents proudly displaying their works of art.
The works of art being their children dressed up as characters from a story to celebrate the 2014 World Book Day.
As I rolled over in bed looking at these images on my phone I felt a tiny sense of sadness that my children are both too old for this, but that was immediately overtaken by a sense of relief.
I am now excused from the pressure exerted on us parents from the schools in what became known to me as shaming those parents who couldn’t spend weeks preparing a hand-made costume.
Oh yes indeed, I used to despise the pressure that was World Book Day in my kids primary school.
It wasn’t cute, it wasn’t a celebration of books, characters and authors – no it was a competition amongst the nightmare playground mothers who thrived on little Cayden or little Sophie winning the coveted prize awarded by the school for the best costume.
Being a full-time working mother I used to feel intense pressure the moment that letter from the school had made its way home to announce that
National Who’s a Bad Parent? World Book Day was coming.
I all but booted my kids out of the car every day as I had to battle the traffic to get to work each day.
Where would I find time to go to the crafts shop, make the costume and more importantly make a good job of it so that child was not picked on by those kids dressed by Gok and Tony Hart. The ones where the mothers had spent the past two weeks in between Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women to cut, stitch and design those costumes.
One year I made Mr Bump during my lunch break at work as soon as I’d realised that tomorrow was the show off day. I’ve been up to 1am gluing pipe cleaners to a swimming cap to make a “Wild Thing” until finally the last year I had to endure this mockery of books, I gave in and bought a Where’s Wally costume which I accessorised.
World Book Day 2011, as my child rocked up dressed as Where’s Wally, he was pushed aside by Cayden who had to get the double doors open so that he could walk into school with flipping Hogwarts attached to him.
Deep breathe – it was fine. I would never have to endure this test to how to make a working mother feel like a failure again.
I wouldn’t have minded but for most of these competitive parents experience of reading probably went as far as Fifty Shades of Grey, never mind read on a regular basis and passing on their love of books to their kids.