Saturday, 5 March 2011
Today was the second week of the "Writing for Profit" course and I got there feeling buoyant after a good week. The class was smaller today, having lost our green living aficianado and the well groomed lady. Ms Brazilian was looking glamourous, the beautiful Indian lady was still beautiful and Mr Crumpet wasn't quite a grey haired as I remembered. We started with an exercise where we had to pair up and after being told that he couldn't stay with his (life) partner he chose me. The exercise involved interviewing each other about our hopes, goals, challenges and achievements and I made use of the opportunity to try finding out whether the biography I had imagined for him came anywhere near the mark. I was right and the joy I derive from winning guessing games with myself put a smile on my face. Not only that but Mr Crumpet complimented me on my insightful comments. Next up was an exercise in putting a new twist to a well known story. Not knowing anything about The Lord of the Rings or Twilight and next to nothing about Harry Potter left me feeling like not only the least read person in the western world but unable to contribute to the group. In a surprising twist, my co-writers seemed unable to settle on a plotline so impatient to get something, anything, on paper I eventually railroaded proceedings and the person with the least to contribute became the powerhouse. I got a very silly paragraph onto paper just in the nick of time! We spent some time talking about contracts and tax requirements, record keeping and submission guidelines. The teacher showed us the manuscript she had written for a children's reference book and as it became clear that the writing process was a minor part of the work involved in that book I started to imagine the tedious task of finding then collating and referencing all sorts of dry facts. I never had a romantic view of writing but it was becoming less attractive by the minute. The teacher chose that moment to tell us that royalties are usually ten per cent of recommended retail and as I tallied the financial insecurity, the isolation, the boredom factor and potential for ego shattering rejection I wondered why anybody would willingly take on such a life. It's not really a choice, though, is it?