I've been writing for Newsrevue and the Treason Show for a while and along with the edit sheets they email out, asking for sketches based on news stories that have tweaked their interest, you get the inevitable invite to 'writers meetings', usually near the end of the year. Newsrevue is based at the Canal Café in London, and Treason hails from Brighton.
I live in the country, Norfolk to be precise. Now if you're not familiar with it then, to put it in the now universal layman's terms of Star Wars analogies, it's Tatooine. The bright centre, with its theatres and television studios are but a dim orb, duller than a night out with Gary Barlow. That's not strictly true, Norwich actually has a vibrant cultural life and even it's share of comedy events - I'll do a blog about it soon. But for me, when it comes to these writers meetings, I smile wryly when I read the email before sending a reluctant 'sorry I can't make it'. And it's got me thinking; are these things essential to a writer's success? Am I or anyone else hampering their, for want of a better word, career by not travelling to the capital? I threw the question out to Twitter.
Writer, Anton Russell (aka @antonsays): "I couldn't recommend them enough. I don't live in London either so usually travel over an hour to make them." Anton has recently attended the London Screenwriters Festival and for him, it seems to be paying off. He continued, "(I'm) about to work on four projects with people I met from these events. Already worked on three or more as a result too. I did have other projects before I did this but it helps if you regularly see people as they remember you and get on."
This was depressing. Much as I'd love to go, I've got two kids at home to look after - I've recently left my job to take care of them. I can't afford it really either, the time or the expense. I know, I know: barriers. The barriers we set in our way that say, "I can't, I can't, I can't..." Or is it I won't? So I tweeted Andrea Mann (aka @jazzchantoozie), comedy writer and now running this very blog site for Huffington Post.
ME: I'm writing a blog on the issues of being a writer, 'in the sticks' like me. Is not making these meetings an obstacle?
ANDREA: Def beneficial I'd say, good to meet people in person.
I think they're helpful - but not important, no. Just work away & send your stuff in. If there's something they're after in particular they'll often (send) a shout-out anyway.
Absolutely not a career obstacle. Personally, I like meeting other comedy writers in terms of support & friendships, really.
Also, I think the interweb has changed everything. Now you can find support & likeminded writers 1000s of miles away!
This made me feel better. Perhaps I wasn't shooting myself in the foot by not travelling to meet other writers. After all, I've had things on Newsjack and Newsrevue without having to leave the house. But it's nice to meet other people, whether it's for collaboration or not. I've made a short film with friends and it was good to bounce ideas off of other people. I used to play in bands and part of me yearns for that camaraderie. The idea of being part of a creative collective like the Pythons or the League of Gentlemen is really appealing right now, in fact I've been laying awake at night thinking, "wouldn't it be good if I tried to organise something similar to Newsrevue in Norwich?" Now I'm thinking of names like Newsbeet, a play on one of the counties big exports. Hmm... the cogs are turning. Anyway, I tweeted my thoughts on collaboration out into the Twittersphere and asked: is writing a lonely profession?
Writer, Karen Jeynes (@karenjeynes) responded:
'I think it's great if you have rapport,' she tweeted. 'And the space to give honest criticism. It's crippling if you feel you can't criticise, or have vastly different opinions/creative processes. I had a ghastly experience, nearly ruined a friendship. Sometimes there's power in writing alone, and being able to stick to your own vision.
Learn more about the London Comedy Writers Festival 2012 here.
Follow Marc Paterson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/marcpaterson