Turns out you really should be careful what you write on Twitter, if for no other reason that after whingeing about the perilous financial implications of being a self-employed scriptwriter, I've now been asked to write a short piece for Broadcast Magazine, which just goes to show.
Here's the thing though, after moving back home to Cornwall after a brief excursion to Canterbury and then Shepherd's Bush via the estate of @Patroclus, my portfolio seems to have drifted from multiple, small commissions in the arena of comedy and kids' telly, to larger, but fewer development commissions along more drama-ish lines. So the former = writing lots of little scripts for already-established shows that have a good chance of making it onto the telly, while the latter = fewer but longer scripts that may never see the light of day, but are at least about characters and settings I devised myself.
Now on paper, the latter move should be making me slightly more money, which is to say about two and a half grand per year more than I was making behind the counter at a bookshop, with about the same proportion of staring into the distance and sighing.
But it's not working out that way, mainly because of the huge lag between handing a finished script in, and it being accepted/greenlit for production (for the non-scriptwriters, script payments are broadly broken down into two stages: first half when you accept the job, second half when the final draft of the script is accepted by the person who commissioned it). And the lag is getting longer and longer, which leads to situations like my being owed approximately eleven grand for a script I handed over in March, but with no sign of any cash on the horizon. And although I have plenty of other projects on the go, most are spending a lot of time stalled at similar stages. Sadly, and I've checked this, there are no charities specifically set up to pay writers' overdraft charges while they wait for cheques to come in, so although I might be owed enough money to cover three months, say, of writing outlines, concepts and even entire scripts on spec, I actually seem to be losing money, which is almost entirely the opposite of my business plan.
Traditionally, writers like to blame EVIL PRODUCERS for this sort of thing, or LAZY AGENTS, but I don't think this is the case. It seems more like a case of broadcasters being very careful with their budgets, with a lot of production companies chasing fewer and fewer slots. So.... dunno, any other writers having the same problems? Or producers or agents who'd like to give a bit more context? All comments gratefully received, and may help me write a better short article without looking like a tit.
Right, I'm taking the chiddlers out for a walk now. I expect your answers ON MY DESK.