Friday, May 22, 2009

I've picked up a hobby

TV writing.

I'm sure there are TV writers and would-be TV writers all over the world who would cringe to hear someone call their craft a hobby. It's not, and I don't really think it is. There are a lot of aspects I admire about TV writing, but really it was something that I considered out of my range until recently.

I was going on and on about one of my favourite shows recently, and friend A. - who wants to be a TV writer - turned to me and said, "Why don't you spec it?"

"Oh no," I replied. "I don't know how to write for TV."

But that thought + needing a writing change + summer deadlines for a few TV writing contests I'll never win anytime soon + the career wisdom of having decent TV specs + unending empty hours here at home during which I watch way more TV than typical = me teaching myself TV writing.

I haven't actually done any of the writing part of TV writing yet, so maybe this post is a little premature. But I'm doing the groundwork (this could be one of the few times I've ever gone out of my way to learn something not required for me academically!). I'm reading Alex Epstein's Crafty TV Writing, breaking down episodes while I watch them, searching out TV scripts to read, doing preliminary research for my spec, and watching lots and lots of TV. I'm not expecting miracles, of course. I'm not going to turn out to be a brilliant TV writing genius. But it's fun learning.

Even so, my golden years of TV were my childhood years. Wishbone, Bill Nye, Square One, Fraggle Rock, the Gummi Bears, and that gnome one. (Kids' TV has gone waaaay down since the 90s.) It might seem weird that I'm not this huge TV person who has her shows she watches every night of the week. It's not really TV I love, and some people in these creative careers might find that as a reason why I shouldn't pursue TV writing - sometimes people can get incredibly defensive about their fields. To which I would reply, it's not TV I love, but storytelling. I like to think that, as a writer, my craft is not the craft of television or fiction or even cinema. Instead I would prefer to learn the trade of storytelling. After all, every time we crack a novel or purchase our movie ticket or flip on the TV, aren't we all just pursuing a good story?

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