Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Although later I did stamp on some wasps for them.

I am currently out in a farmhouse in kent with a group of young writers who have been head-hunted by the BBC as being 'young' and 'promising' and sent out to do a week-long residential development course. From the first half of the email the BBC sent me, I thought I was being asked along as being 'young' and 'promising' as well, but in fact they wanted a 'working' and 'more experienced' writer to act in a 'mentoring capacity'.

Last year I was invited on exactly the same course on the 'young' and 'promising' ticket. Clearly in the space of twelve months I have become a grey-bearded and grizzly authority figure.

The groups on this course divide thusly: writers and BBC people. The writers' ages range from nineteen to twenty-four, which means that the oldest one is ten years younger than me.

Still, as a tribe, we shall stand shoulder to shoulder as writers, creative forces ranged against the uncaring and creatively stifling forces of the BBC, against whom I intent to arm my fellow writers with the tricks and ruses picked up on the battlefield of pitching rooms and meetings with uninterested Department Heads. In fact, I see myself in a modest sort of way as a leader: a bit like a young King Arthur. A few years after pulling the sword out of the stone, but before bezzie mate Lance started hanging out with Gwynnie just a little bit too much.

On the first afternoon, I wander out to the large tree under which the young promising writers are huddled, smoking in a young, promising way.

'All right?' I say, in a (to be honest) slightly Athurian timbre. Not too much, I don't want to over-awe them.

They all shrug. At the bottom of the garden appears a figure we haven't seen yet - a BBC executive, in her (at most) early forties.

'Who's that then?' I ask.

'One of Your Lot', a young, promising writer says.

I leave, quietly.

Later, I start hanging out with the BBC executives instead and we discuss property prices. I am much happier.

20 comments:

Annie Rhiannon said...

Lollerskates.

And I'd say becoming a grey-bearded and grizzly authority figure in the space of twelve months is something to celebrate.

Albert said...

Shouldn't you be viewing these whippersnappers as potential competition? I reckon you should suss out which ones are any good and then casually inform the BBC execs that you overheard those writers criticising their lifestyle choices. Either that or take them on an inspirational but ultimately tragic trip to the white cliffs of Dover.

Valerie said...

What's that disease where you have rapidly accelerated aging? Progeria, that's it. Ya know, like J.F. Sebastian has in Blade Runner. That must be it.

It's all downhill from here, buddy... though you may yet live to be a medical curiosity. That could be an interesting life -- kind of a like being in the circus, perhaps.

Salvadore Vincent said...

Would this farm be BP? Or perhaps there been an EU directive that has turned most of Kent's farms into writers' workshops and you are somewhere different?

Sylvia said...

Is the food any good?
Have these young writers got any crap ideas that you could share with us for a laugh?
Have they got any good ideas that you could steal?

Ignore me, I'm just bitter and twisted....

james henry said...

It is indeed in the top secret location known as 'BP'. And they're not so much potential competitors as actual competitors, yet I feel compelled to do my best for them anyway, curse my big big heart.

The food is excellent. Discretion prevents me discussing other peoples' ideas, other than to say they're mostly very good, despite my constant and annoying interference.

llewtrah said...

But did any of them call you "grandad"?

patroclus said...

A top secret location known as BP, eh? Have you seen anyone scuttling sideways like a crab?

Also, is Salvadore Vincent intimating that he is in the room with you?

james henry said...

Eek!

hotzappa11 said...

BP? Hmm, it's probably an actual petrol garage on the edge of the Kent marshland, where wild foxes roam free and monsters hide from sunlight, until they come out at night ready to eat experienced screenwriters.

Anonymous said...

By the way, James. How long does it take to get a normal e-mail reply from your agents?

P.S.It has nothing to do with you, or complaints about you, ha. It's just an enquiry on what are the guidelines to submitting material.

james henry said...

Ah, I'm afraid there are some complications there as m'agent has just jumped ship to a new agency, although I haven't updated the contact details yet, so that email may have been lost in the ether.

Will update soon, but I suspect you could just ring up...

hotzappa11 said...

You've jumped or the people at steinplays have jumped?

Sorry for the confusion. It's late, i've been watching doctor who and eating smarties, i'm also tired so trying to understand simple terms is hard.

james henry said...

No problem - Agent Matt has moved to a new agency, I have gone with him, and the contact details will be going up on the website soon.

Because I hadn't got round to updating the site, any emails sent to Agent Matt's current email adress at steinplays.com have probably vanished, however I suspect you could just phone them (number is still valid) and they could tell you the policy.

The old agency and I are all still huggy friends by the way, and the move was relatively undramatic, hence the lack of any HILARIOUS blog posts. Also I thought I ought to try and be a bit professional for a while.

It won't last, obviously.


IN OTHER NEWS: the young people are drinking too much coffee and running round with their hoods up. I ate too much apple crumble and now feel a bit sick.

hotzappa11 said...

Gracias (sp?)

I only tried the normal e-mail (info@steinplays.com) on the site anyway.

james henry said...

Oh. In which case, the answer to your original question is 'They're a bit understaffed at the moment, so, erm, it could take a while'.

I suspect that even on full operating capacity, they will get round to looking at unsolicited material, but it might take at least three months...

Tim Footman said...

I sympathise with your identity crisis, James. Friends who have made the transition from student to lecturer report the same thing. Apparently, the only way to get down wiv ver kids is to shag them.

Well, it's more fun than property prices. Or apple crumble.

james henry said...

I don't know, this was a very good apple crumble.

Piers said...

The agent-moving news explains why my beautifully crafted query letter going: ooh, you're great, your clients are fab, I'm practically in love with you already never got a response.

Cos it certainly wasn't at all stalkerish. Oh no.

kaiki said...

'although later I did stamp on some wasps for them'
you stamped on wasps ?
king arthur would never have done that, surely ?