Playwright Nick Wood on the advice he gives to aspiring writers
Whenever there’s a Q and A at a writers’ group I'm talking to, the same questions come up. What’s your routine? Where do the ideas come from? How do I get my work noticed? You try to be realistic, but you remember that once it was you sitting down there, asking the same questions, so you try to be encouraging too. Recently a letter came into the Writers' Guild from a Candidate Member asking for advice on how the Guild might help them get their work noticed and it was my job to reply. Here is what I wrote – which is what I also say at writers' groups.
Dear Candidate Member,
There's no simple answer to your question, at least not the kind of simple answer I wish I could give you and that you would like to hear.
There's nothing I can do, and there's nothing the Guild can do, because that isn’t the Guild’s job, because that isn't how it works, because there aren't any shortcuts. But, there's plenty you can do.
However, it will take persistence and patience and a willingness to accept the knocks and the criticism that will come your way. Be prepared for the disappointment, but if you believe in your work get over it and don't give up.
7-9pm, Derby Theatre Studio, Saturday 23 Nov 2013
An evening of insight & discussion, for anyone interested in new writing or pursuing a career as a writer, with wine and refreshments.
Meet our three distinguished Midlands guests who have all, in their way, been strongly influenced by their background and formative experience.
Amanda Whittington - highly successful local playwright, describes how she has to empathise with her characters, however notorious or extraordinary they may be. Her play about Judy Garland opens at Nottingham Playhouse in the New Year.
David Belbin - novelist and creative writing lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, tells how he keeps in continual contact with his community, especially the youth culture he works closely with, for his highly acclaimed young adult fiction.
Naylah Ahmed - award winning playwright, TV dramatist, BBC Radio producer, poet & short story writer, will talk about how her particular cultural background and Birmingham roots have inspired her work.
This event is a joint promotion of The Writers’ Guild with Derby Theatre Arts. Tickets £9. Concessions £6. Box Office 01332 593939 or www.derbytheatre.co.uk
FREE to Writers' Guild Members. Ring box office on 01332 593939 to book and bring membership card to collect your ticket.
Sue McCormick tells the story behind her new play
The basic storyline for No Fat Juliets had its beginnings on an Arvon course at Lumb Bank over 10 years ago but was never realised as other projects kept me too busy to develop it. The commissions I’ve been lucky enough to get since then have been for plays with a specific historical setting so when I decided that it was time to write a contemporary play, I went back to the idea I had for No Fat Juliets - a madcap comedy set in a failing Lakeland hotel, with a love story, a ghost, original songs and a good-humoured sideswipe at the pressure on women to conform to a physical ideal. There are broken hearts, broken limbs, songs, storms and seductions before we are finally served the obligatory happy ending!
As an actor I created the role of Jan in Ladies Day and Ladies Down Under by Amanda Whittington and I wanted NFJ to have the same warm-hearted accessibility that audiences had loved in those plays, with something to think about overlaid with bags of fun and frolics! As always I wanted to write strong roles for women and for the first time, as the lead was drawn in many ways from personal experience, I decided to pitch the project as writer/actor and double my workload!
The Writers' Guild Awards will be presented in London on Wednesday 13 November 2013. The shortlists in 13 categories are published below.
TV Drama Series
Silk (Peter Moffat), The Village (Peter Moffat), Broadchurch (Chris Chibnall)
Holby City, Casualty, Waterloo Road, Coronation Street, EastEnders, Hollyoaks, Emmerdale, Doctors
Getting On (Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine, Joanna Scanlan), Fresh Meat (Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain), Him and Her (Stefan Golaszewski)
TV Drama Short Form
The Girl (Gwyneth Hughes), Room at the Top (Amanda Coe), Murder : Joint Enterprise (Robert Jones)
The Dumping Ground - What Would Gus Want? (Elly Brewer), What’s the Big Idea - What is Art? (Alan Gilbey), The Dumping Ground - The Truth is Out There (Emma Reeves)
Tennyson and Edison (David Pownall), The Go-Between (adapted by Frances Byrnes from the novel by LP Hartley), Once Upon a Time There Was a Beatrix (Lavinia Murray)
Susan Calman is Convicted (Susan Calman), Fags, Mags & Bags (Sanjeev Kohli and Donald McLeary), Meet David Sedaris (David Sedaris)
The Universe versus Alex Woods (Gavin Extence), Big Brother (Lionel Shriver), The Card (Graham Rawle)
Tomb Raider (Rhianna Pratchett), Thomas Was Alone (Mike Bithell), Lego City Undercover (Graham Goring)
Sightseers (Alice Lowe, Steve Oram), Good Vibrations (Colin Carberry, Glen Patterson), Grabbers (Kevin Lehane), What Richard Did (Malcolm Campbell)
My Brother the Devil (Sally El Hosaini), Byzantium (Moira Buffini), Skyfall (Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan)
Quietly (Owen McCafferty), Brilliant Adventures (Alistair MacDowall), The Thrill of Love (Amanda Whittington)
Theatre Play for Young People
Whole (Phillip Osment), I, Cinna (Tim Crouch), Mr Holgado (Christopher William Hill)
WGGB supporting the WGA: (left to right) former WGGB Chair Robert Taylor, Anne Hogben and Roger Willams
Remembering Marie Banks and Robert Leeson who both died at the end of September
Marie Banks, former Assistant General Secretary who worked for the Writers' Guild for 28 years, died on 28 September.
Marie's contributions to the Guild were many, not least her phenomenal memory, which allowed her to place the names – and usually the faces – of hundreds of members. Much of her time was spent dealing with the finances of the Guild, working closely with several treasurers.
She started work for the Guild in the basement of No. 7 Harley Street on 15 March 1962 as an office temp, and 25 years later she was fêted at a celebration at the Café Royal. President Maureen Duffy presented Marie with a glass rose bowl and the Chair, Robert Leeson (who has also just died -- see below) announced that grateful members had subscribed no less than £6,500 towards her pension as a testimonial of gratitude.
Marie died of cancer at University College Hospital, London.
Robert Leeson, chair of the Writers’ Guild in 1985-86, died on 29 September aged 85.
He was a prolific writer of novels for children, publishing more than 70 titles, including Maroon Boy, Never Kiss Frogs, Tom’s Private War and several Grange Hill spin-offs. As chair of the Guild’s Books Committee in the early 1980s he played a vital part in negotiating minimum terms agreements with the leading UK publishers of the time. A full obituary will appear on the Guild’s website shortly.
The funeral will take place in Harlow, Essex on Wednesday 16 October. Any former colleague of Robert wishing to attend should contact the Guild office for full details
Nick Yapp adds:
I suppose everyone who's ever sat on any sort of committee has their idea of an ideal committee member. Mine would be Bob Leeson - modest, an extremely good listener, constructive, and always contributing the mot juste, the helpful suggestion, the faultless gathering together of every contribution as the discussion nears its end. Bob was way ahead of me. He'd had years of experience before I joined the Books Committee back in the late 1980s. I sat at the bottom end of the table in the Meeting Room upstairs at the Guild's Office in Edgware Road, listening carefully to what Bob said in the hope that one day I would have the skill and wisdom to follow in a master's footsteps. I never could, but that wasn't Bob's fault.
He was most active in the Guild during difficult times (come to think of it, aren't they all). The Books Committee was struggling to persuade all the major publishing houses in the UK to agree to a standardised Minimum Terms Contract for writers. The struggle was long, intense, and largely successful, and Bob played his part.
In short, Bob was one of those remarkable colleagues who make the rest of us proud to be part of the same Guild as them.