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AngusA
Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 07:17 am:   

Since Michael said he wanted his board to be mostly about writing, I thought I'd start this strand, since I can't really find another place to ask this question of everyone out there. I am curious to know how many of us support ourselves as full time writers and if not what other jobs we do. If we do other jobs, how do they affect what we write, if at all ? Did you, Michael, do other jobs before you became a full time writer ?
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mjm
Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 07:25 am:   

I left school at fifteen. If you don't count my newspaper round and the usual kids' jobs, I did
a year or two in ordinary jobs. My first job was working for a shipping company in the City of London. It took me out of the office a lot since I had to deliver and pick up such things as bills of lading, so I would go out to the West End of London one day, to a couple of embassies, say, and then find myself on the docks the next day.
It meant that I travelled all over the city, as
far afield as the big docks which in those days were still full of ships. Air transport wiped out shipping almost overnight. One day there were vast numbers of ships in the docks, the next there were hardly any, and then there were nothing but miles of abandoned docks. I then worked for a management consultants, which again took me to various kinds of firms, including the main Post Office in St Mary le Bow and so on, where the firm was doing studies. Then I got my job on Tarzan Adventures and from then on I earned my main living as an editor/writer. But both those first jobs were of enormous use to me in my later work, especially when I started writing stories specifically about London (as in
Mother London). It also helped to have done editing more or less from the bottom up, since it meant that publishers found it hard to lie to me when they told me something 'couldn't be done'!
Thanks for your question, Angus. Good idea.
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AngusA
Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 07:33 am:   

I started as a junior on our local paper and I agree that it is great training. My dad wanted me to 'learn a trade' before I went on to higher education.He was already circulation manager for the group so you could say there was a spot of nepotism going on there, but I certainly never regretted it. It also made me appreciate university more than a lot of the people I was there with, I think. I have had two radio plays produced and most of my other broadcast work has mostly been for radio, though it's very hard to get anyone to go for anything but the most obvious fantasy or sf ideas. Have you ever thought of writing for radio or TV. Actually, you've done so much, you've probably had a whole career with the BBC I don't know about! Sorry if this is a naive question.
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mjm
Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 11:17 am:   

Beyond the odd short story I've written very little for radio. I admire those skills but, like film scripting, I don't think I'm very good at them myself. I think my one regret was turning down the chance to write Hawksmoor, a planned Channel 4 movie of the Peter Ackroyd novel. As it happens, it seems the movie was never made. I sometimes wonder if I'd taken the job the movie would have been made. Even with the current Elric movie, however, I've been glad to have others write the script. I have friends who make most of their money in films and TV and I really envy them their talent. I'm okay at
comic strips, but that's about it. Do you prefer script-writing to writing prose fiction ? Does
anyone else have any preferences ?
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Angus A
Posted on Tuesday, June 17, 2003 - 08:39 pm:   

Any thoughts about 'the New Weird' ?
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Stu
Posted on Friday, June 27, 2003 - 11:31 am:   

Oops, only just noticed this thread.

I'm not a professional writer, I work full time in a mental health community home and just fit my writing in around my shifts.

As for prose vs. script I find there's times when I'm writing prose when there's a very visual scene and I wish the story was a comic so I could just get the artist to draw it. And there's times when
I'm writing descriptions for comics when I get a little disappointed 'cos there'll be some nice little descriptive passage that no one'll ever read apart from me, the artist, and the editor.

From a practical viewpoint I sometimes find comic scripts difficult when I need to describe something specific. With prose I can fudge it a bit, so long as the words evoke the general kind of mood I'm after I can just let the reader use their own imagination to fill in the gaps. But with a comic there are times when I need to tell the artist exactly what composition I want in a clear succint manner that won't sound like I'm bossing him about.
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mm
Posted on Saturday, June 28, 2003 - 11:18 am:   

I inherited New Worlds. We did the odd New Writers issue to try to showcase writers we thought would be worth reading (the first one in November 1968 featured M.John Harrison, Rob Holdstock, Graham Charnock and Brian Vickers among others). Otherwise 'New' arouses in me the reaction most of us get when we're told that some washing powder is 'New'. I thought 'New Wave' was daft enough, frankly. Not my choice. I suppose it's something to do in the pub between ordering pints. Sorry, Angus, but no thoughts.
It's great, Stu, when you have an artist doing all your work for you. That's why I make it my business to work only with really good artists!
But I know it is indeed sometimes hard to get the picture across to the artist. Sometimes Walter Simonson will take one of my descriptions and use it in the text, if he thinks it will work. Before I decided just to work with him I had quite a lot of trouble with some artists, even when I WAS specific. I think you have to let things happen, not worry too much about control. If you can find a regular artist partner that's probably the best solution to the problem!
And you can always pinch those descriptions from the comic when you need it for a story! That's the way I deal with it, anyway.
Waste not want not.
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Stu
Posted on Saturday, June 28, 2003 - 06:01 pm:   

"And you can always pinch those descriptions from the comic when you need it for a story!"

Good idea!
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mm
Posted on Wednesday, July 02, 2003 - 12:17 pm:   

When I did comics I habitually used the same story for a text story and a comic story. Johnny
Lonesome Comes To Town appeared in The Searchlight Book for Boys, but it was also a Kit Carson story in Cowboy Picture Library. I'm currently considering rewriting a story for an anthology of pulp-type stories. The original was in a Dogfight Dixon RFC, Thriller Picture Library,
the text story will be Dogfight Donovan's Day Off.
I have friends who have adapted film scripts to novels and so on. There ARE different techniques, but the story is the story...
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AngusA
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 09:15 am:   

I'm still curious to know how experience of other jobs effects writing fiction. I suppose the reason I'm asking is that I know I can't make a living writing and that statistically only a very few people ever do get to write full-time. Rather than work for an advertising agency or a newspaper I think I'd rather do something entirely different. Become a HGV driver, say,
where you get plenty of time with your own thoughts. Sorry if my question about New Weird seemed out of place. I fully sympathise with your response, Mr M. I think it confused me,
because I couldn't work out what was being talked about exactly. Maybe I should be asking where my writer's ego should be taken out for an airing ?
On the M6, maybe ? I would guess, Stu, that working in the mental health sphere might exhaust you on one level but stimulate you on another.
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Stu
Posted on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 02:20 am:   

Mike -- I adapted a couple of comic strips to prose for an eBook a few months back. The main difference I noticed was with POV. In one of the stories the villain is getting voyeuristic kicks by watching the hero dallying with the heroine so in the comic strip I showed this by having the visuals cutting away to show the villain sitting in his hiding place with the speech balloons from the hero and heroine laid over the top. With the prose version I resorted to the hero having an uncomfortable feeling of being watched throughout the story and never actually showed the villain until the fight at the end of the story. I think this lost a lot of the sense of the voyeurism (maybe it shows on a second reading but itís kind of arrogant to assume people are going to read the story more than once). I suppose I couldíve inserted short scenes written from the villainís POV but it felt like it would interrupt the flow of the story.

Angus -- Fortunately the home where I work is fairly quiet so itís not that physically draining. I usually find time to write story notes at some point in my shifts. But I rarely do any Ďrealí writing on duty just in case something does go wrong. One of my friends, Paul Pinn, works with clients who come nearer the challenging behaviour end of the spectrum and yet heís still found time to write 2 novels and 2 short story collections in his days off. http://www.btinternet.com/~paulpinn/index.htm/
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wmfkaf
Posted on Monday, July 07, 2003 - 06:57 am:   

Mike, to Stu's reference to POV. Will you ever (or have you ever) written a story from multiple POV's to test the effectiveness (or not) of each? Or, as a more general question, will you write more than one version of a story to test "options", to see what works? Or are you pretty set with what you will do (and how you will do it) before pen hits paper?

Thanks!
Bill
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Stephen Gallagher
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 12:23 pm:   

>>I think my one regret was turning down the chance to write Hawksmoor, a planned Channel 4 movie of the Peter Ackroyd novel. As it happens, it seems the movie was never made.<<

Looks like Hawksmoor is one of those properties that everyone wants to see made but nobody can ever quite get to make... in my time I've had a swing at it for 2 different producers, neither of them hooked up with Channel 4.

Christopher Wicking had a go at it for a Fineline/Marc Samuelson production that was supposed to coincide with the millennium, but that never happened either.

Maybe we can form a little club...
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Colin Brush
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 01:55 am:   

Here at Penguin we have a TV-tie in of Hawksmoor scheduled which consistently moves further into the future.

At the moment it's in the pending slot of July 2004 with all the other books we publish that people have taken out film/TV options on over the years but for which there is as yet no screening date. Films/TV productions of The Plague, Don Quixote, Prisoner of Zenda, The Double, On the Road, Tristram Shandy, The Chrysalids, What a Carve Up! and many others all supposedly imminent, but stuck in limbo . . .
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MJM
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 02:15 am:   

At least you've planned for it, Colin. I remember how Granada tied The Final Programme into the movie. They published it six months after the movie release with SOON TO BE A MAJOR FEATURE FILM plastered over it... The film deservedly bombed and was probably a lot harder to find than the book ever was.
Steve: It's always seemed that Iain Sinclair should have a crack at the script since, after all, Peter pinched most of it from him (see Lud Heat) with due acknowledgement. Maybe Sinclair could finesse it back into something of his own. I like the idea of that club, though.
Maybe we should all write the movie. Collaborations work best on film, after all. Which sort of brings us back to Angus's thread...
Anyone done any collaborations -- any thoughts on what's different about them?
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Jimmy Thompson
Posted on Thursday, October 30, 2003 - 12:36 pm:   

Hi,

Talking about writing technique- I wanted to ask you what you think about the advice that was drummed into me at Infant School level

"ALL STORIES MUST HAVE A BEGINING, A MIDDLE AND AN END- ANYTHING ELSE IS BAD."

Now it seems fairly obvious that the Jerry Cornelius books (in particular) didn't exactly stick rigidly to that little number- what are your thoughts on this?

Cheers

Jim.

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