“You’re pretty good, have you ever thought of being a writer?”

Well I did actually, and I even pursued my dreamy aspiration to be a scriptwriter for stage and screen. I never fancied being a novelist as my mind wanders after three pages of prose and I just lack the focus and attention to detailed descriptions of the everyday – for me the chair is just in the room waiting for someone to sit on it, it isn’t positioned at an eerie angle, casting an inky, black, shadow that looks like anything, it’s just a fucking chair in a room.

For a short while I thought I was actually developing what could be called a ‘career’ as a writer. I had my own UTR number from the taxman so that I could pronounce myself ‘Self Employed’ and Self Assess myself each year and declare my lack of income. I got a few commissions for work, including one from the BBC to write a radio play. I also wrote… sorry, I also ‘developed’ a few stage plays and received handouts from the Arts Council via projects via organisations via funding pots via a fair and unbiased commissioning process, to ‘develop’ work. I hobnobbed with arty, theatre people and learnt to smoke rollies and talk about people’s ‘work’ or ‘piece’ (real theatre people don’t make ‘plays’, that’s too narrow a definition) and use the words ‘conceptual’, ‘exploration’ and ‘aesthetic’ quite a lot in serious conversations with people who dressed exclusively in ironic references. There were some theatre people I spoke to who looked like they just didn’t really bother making an effort dressing at all, probably because they didn’t want to be simply defined by their clothes, and because dressing is a submission to Westernised doctrines of status and is inherently politically incorrect because all clothes are made by slave children in Third World countries that are oppressed by corporations; whereas rolling tobacco by Golden Virginia, expensive coffee by Starbucks, overpriced cheap wine and designer beer by whoever got the stock in at the venue’s bar, isn’t. There was one theatre person I recall who refused to even be defined by a gender, but I’m not going to talk about that person because I really don’t know which pronouns to use. She/He/It was boring anyway – and quite angry as I remember.

This is theatre Darling, this is how we roll.

During this period whilst I thought I was developing a career as a writer I wrote lots of spec scripts and was really motivated because I thought that one day soon all this hard work I was doing every evening out of creative compulsion was soon going to be rewarded by production. But whilst I watched lots of shit on stage and TV, I couldn’t get my own work beyond ‘development’. Whilst I was telling myself and other people that I was a Writer, I was actually just a person on ‘the arts scene’ who earned the occasional wage doing workshops for short projects, usually involving kids or Black people. You see this period when I pretended to myself that I was a Writer coincided with a period when England had a hip and trendy Labour government who liked culture and arts. Young people and ethnic diversity (dark skinned ethnicity only) were the most popular beneficiaries of their political charity, so it was a purple patch for Black writers and those of other non-white ethnic persuasion, as well as anyone doing anything creative to get kids off the street. So whilst I thought I was developing a career, I was really just spending public money to develop work that was unlikely to be ever made but would somehow add to some politically useful statistics. Even my one proper commission from the BBC doesn’t feel like that much of an achievement anymore because it was part of an initiative to get more Black, Asian and Disabled writers making radio. As for writing for film and television; aside from the occasional no-budget community short made with non-actors, the closest I got to a real commission ended in failure. It was a pilot episode I wrote for a new series that was being pitched to Bravo. Unfortunately Bravo didn’t pick it up so my 27 minutes of inspired genius and three weeks of enthusiastic, optimism, sadly ended in disappointment.

Positive mental attitude

When England won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics the Government had to find £8billion to add to the £3billion that they told everyone it was going to cost. This meant raiding the coffers of every non-essential public money pot, so in one fell swoop the Arts Council of England lost 50% of it’s funding. Then the coalition [Tory] government got into power and that signalled the end of the arts funding money train and the beginning of the end of my illusory career as a Writer. I wasn’t stupid, I knew that I couldn’t buy shopping, pay rent or bills with pieces of paper that said ‘My writing is really good, everyone says so’. I tried to do it once and if it wasn’t for the fact that the security guard couldn’t catch me, I would have surely got arrested. I think that he may have been fitted with one of those special devices they put in shopping trolleys that make the wheels lock when you try to push them beyond the parameters of the supermarket car park, because he suddenly gave up the chase after about 20 yards. It was either that or the combination of carrying his weight whilst running against the pendulous rhythm of his large stomach and the lack of motivation when only getting paid a minimum wage that stopped him. It didn’t stop the spritely, middle-aged, woman from the customer services counter, she required a firm punch in the face – jobsworth.

After the supermarket incident and breaking my electric meter by trying to push pieces of paper with the words ‘My writing is really good, everyone says so’ written on them into the card slot, I knew the dream had ended. I didn’t want to become bitter and cynical and homeless, so I decided to get a job and just write for fun. So I satisfy my creative urges by writing this blog. Here I can vent my spleen and unleash my creative beast, unedited and without the empty promise of a fee if a producer picks it up at next years Edinburgh Fringe. I don’t have to pretend I like the work of my contemporaries, or drink vinegar flavoured red wine to the point of wanting to shag the lesbian stage manager with the green and fuchsia hair and multi-pierced face, in order to enjoy press night gatherings for new show’s that aren’t very good. I just write whatever the fuck I like and just give it away for free. I’m actually considering applying for charitable status and putting in a bid for some funding. I just need to find a connection with the Olympic legacy and I think I could be onto a winner.

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14 thoughts on ““You’re pretty good, have you ever thought of being a writer?”

  1. Now I feel pressured to write a comment that’s as droll / wit-laden as this post. You’re not making it easy for us commenters you know.

  2. I actually earned my living writing. I even wrote a book. Now, I get to do what i wanted to do all along: say whatever I want and a few people actually read it. If only I could get PAID for doing it. That’s the trick. We want to get paid for doing what we love. Some people succeed. Mostly not, but doing it for free ain’t too shabby 🙂 Beats out the proverbial poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Thanks for the reblog!

    • Thanks for the appreciation, and congratulations on writing a book. I attempted it once and got about a two thirds of the way through, then for some reason my life started to improve and started to feel happy again and all my inspiration left me! Strange how misery inspires creativity. Now that I don’t have to rely on writing to earn a living, I won’t have to print of your positive comment and try to pay my gas bill with it 😉

  3. MR. Beasley, you are one very, very funny guy!! If laughter translated into money, you’d be very rich. Then, again, I think you are gifted in some ways money can’t buy. But it wouldn’t hurt to have some greenbacks, right??

    • I’m always happy to share a smile, feel free to pass it on – and hey, if you happen to know a good agent, I’m pretty sure I could figure out that laughter-to-money translation 😉

  4. Pingback: “You’re pretty good, have you ever thought of being a writer?” | Books, Writing, and Reviews | Scoop.it

  5. Pingback: “You’re pretty good, have you ever thought of being a writer?” « Serendipity

  6. This actually had me rolling in the floor. I’m still there straining to reach the laptop keyboard. Your description of all the luvvies and darlings in the theatre world was so spot on. I won’t even go into the supermarket fracas that you wrote so amusingly about. I just want to know where I can post my, “You write really good,” note to so you might buy some groceries. Great Post and one that I simply have to reblog. Cheers mate!

    • Mike, creativity hurts my friend, it hurts. Share my pain by all means… I’ve tried to copy and paste your comment into my Paypal account but alas it didn’t work! Ah well, real-job-payday on the 15th so I’ll by my beer with that stuff with the Queens head on instead 😉

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