Sunday, September 30, 2007


T'is the last day of September, in a mo it's going to be t'is the last hour of September, and I've just emailed my last pitch of September.

Thanks for your help. After my struggle finding things to pitch and people to pitch to earlier, the end of the month went smoothly thanks to your suggestions.

Last time I did this pitch-a-day I told you at the end how it had gone but that's harder now: September was a quieter month for fast reactions. So the majority of the pitches still have "waiting" listed next to them, but a fair few have "lead" and two have "rejection". They were depressing rejections, but there you go.

The trick now is to have enough of these things out there and pending through October - because there were due to be three Very Big Things in October, three things that I've worked for and am Pinning All Hopes On(TM). I don't mean my hopes are spread equally among the three, I mean each one has the entirety of my hopes and hope-capability exclusively focused on it. We're writers, we can cope with contradictions.

But of course what you do, what you have to do when you've pinned hopes anywhere is to find out when the result will come and make absolutely damn certain that by then you have found something else. Pitching is touch, but when all your pitches fail simultaneously and you have nothing out there at all, it's even harder to pick yourself up and pitch. It's like trying to write when you're unemployed, the pressure for this script to be the one that turns your life around is unbearable. There's a thirtysomething episode about exactly this, Michael Writes a Story (by Joseph Doughtery, 1989) and while, like all episodes of that show, it's really about so many different things, I find it unbearable. But since I strive to write unbearable things, I'm conflicted. More4 occasionally shows thirtysomething so you may catch it if you haven't already. And Dougherty writes about it in "thirtysomething Stories" (which always sounds to me like a very tall building), the published collection of scripts. (It was published in 1991, I just looked and Amazon has five copies in its marketplace.)

So will my outstanding September pitches suffice or do you think I need to find some things that are even more outstandng?

If it helps, the three things I was pinning all my hopes on in October did include a sneaky one that decided to go belly up a week early just to throw me. And it was crushing, but hey, I've got these two things in October that I'm pinning all my hopes on.

Who'd be a writer, eh? Why do we do this?

Thanks again for your help,

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Okay, so

I typed your name in to Google and you came out top.

Show off.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fickle finger of fate

A friend rang me up today to tell me two things, the first of which is that if you type "William Gallagher" into Google then I am something like four of the first ten results you get back.

This is suspiciously remarkable: I'm certain you've never stopped to count William Gallaghers in your life but I have and I've directly known or at least known-through-work, known-through-friends, six of us.

Some years ago I had a fair explosion of spam and in tracking down why I had that when everyone around me had nothing, I found my name and unfortunately email address on a Doctor Who user group. Some fella with absolutely no sense of humour was urging Who fans to flood my inbox with complaints over a crack I'd made. The fella's fellow Who fans seemingly are humour-aware so not one single one of them ever did email me. Actually, he never emailed me either, which you'd think might be a first step.

But since finding myself like that, I'm going to admit to you that I've kept an eye out. Plainly not so obsessively that I'd noticed my Google ranking, but enough that over the years I've read about a dozen more William Gallaghers ranging from firemen and congressmen to photographers and somebody who appears to have been extraordinarily cruel to either his ex-girlfriends or his pet cats. That was not the clearest website I've ever read. But I've informed the authorities just in case.

So really while the odds of anyone finding themselves on the first page of results from Google is reasonably small, I'd have bet money on mine being significantly less.

I am, therefore, preening. I accept it doesn't mean anything, I accept it's an accident of Google's search algorithms, but old friends have found me this way so it's a good and practical thing and, anyway, come on, I have a blog so you know I have an ego.

Oh, and the other thing my friend phoned to say was that it didn't matter where I appeared on Google, the link to my blog is completely empty.

Somehow I feel my faith in the general right order of things is restored.

Tomorrow, I'm going to type your name in and see what happens.


Monday, September 17, 2007

September is the hardest month

I'm secretly doing another pitch-per-day for September.


It's not so secret now.

But I have been secretly doing another pitch-per-day wherein, I think you can work this out but still, I pitch to someone or some thing every day in the month. What you might not twig is that I do mean every day, weekends and all. What I might not be clear about is the word pitch: it does include sitting in front of someone talking up an idea, but it's also an email approach to a producer, a script submitted, a lead followed, a competition entered and so on. The secondary purpose is to keep working at getting my material out; the primary purpose is to keep getting material so that I have something to pitch.

This aspect is working well.

But September is proving to be much, much harder than anticipated. For instance, I've only the vaguest idea who I'll approach today, no idea at all for tomorrow. And looking at the list so far I can see I've earned three leads out of 16 pitches and no rejections at all so far.

Only, I haven't entered any competitions whatsoever. Haven't found any. When I did this for the first time back in March I had entered four by this stage. I'd also approached five agents. (I have a literary agent but not a script one.)

Know any good competitions?

But I truly recommend trying this month-long kind of thing. Just probably not in September.

Yet when the clock's ticking toward midnight and you haven't pitched yet, you do get amazingly creative and find people to email that you might not have done in other situations. I've often heard that you should annoy people by pitching a lot, but I'm terribly British so there are many people I've assumed I've burnt my bridges with. One fella I rate highly never replies but I passed him once in Television Centre when he was drunk and saying I couldn't be as squeaky-clean as I appeared, so there. I pitched an email to him last night.

But what about today? I need - hang on, it's the 17th; one, two, I need 14 more places/contests/people to hit. Any ideas?


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This just in: how to write a thriller

ITV's just emailed out a press release about The South Bank Show: the edition on Sunday 30 September will be about thriller novelist Ken Follett.

I've not read his books but I'm interested in this both because I am a novelist but also from a production point of view: how will they make typing look visually compelling for an hour?

The text of the release is below. As for about 10 seconds was my to-do list for this morning which I have of course deleted now. Because I haven't done any of it and we're ticking on to noon.


Ken Follett...The Making of a Bestseller is a South Bank Show that has filmed the internationally acclaimed thriller writer Ken Follett for over three years as he worked on his latest title: gaining a unique insight into what it takes to write and sell a bestseller.

The film joins Ken Follett as he goes about researching his sequel to his most successful book ever, Pillars of the Earth, which was about the building of a cathedral in Britain in the Middle Ages. The new book World Without End looks at life in the same town two centuries later when cracks appear in the cathedral and the Black Death arrives to decimate the population.

The South Bank Show follows Ken Follett to York Minster, to the medieval bridge in Exeter, to the monastery of Mont St. Michel, and the site of the battle of Crecy in northern France where the English won a great and unexpected victory over the French.

Over the three years, Ken Follett was filmed as he travels to New York to discuss his work and various drafts, in detail with his agent and adviser Al Zuckerman. He talks to experts in the various fields for his research including York Minster’s historian John David, Black Death Postponed author Samuel Cohn and Battle of Crecy expert Marian Livingstone.

The film reveals inside the world of high stakes publishing, with internal meetings discussing World Without End with Ken Follett’s English and US book editors; and the publicity, marketing and art design teams.

The making of an international bestseller.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007


The other week I delivered a short piece to Radio Times about a 1956 production of David Copperfield. It was for my regular On This Day bits and there was no question in my mind that this was a worthy entry because according to the RT of the day, this 13-part serial was the first time the BBC had devoted so much time to one story.

Or something, I can't remember if that was qualified, whether it was the first 13-part classic serial. But it was something, and it was written by Vincent Tilsley, whose name leaps out at me because he wrote for The Prisoner.

Only... tonight a fine, fine woman who is really smart at spotting problems a thousand miles off at Radio Times did some of that there spotting. David Copperfield, by Vincent Tilsley, was not broadcast in September 1956, it was in January 1966.

I am not above making colossal mistakes, of course, and I was pale-faced aware of how calamitously late this spot was, how impossible it would be to fix before that page had to go to press.

I'm the laziest man you'll ever meet but I blurred tonight. And the reason I'm able to talk to you now is solely that I own a copy of the Kaleidoscope Television Drama Research Guides. And it showed me the truth: Vincent Tilsley wrote two David Copperfield serials, one in 1956 and one in 1966.

Both were for BBC, both were 13-parts long (though the former was 13x30minutes, the latter 13x25) and there was no other connection between the two. So do you think he just got to dust off his 1956 scripts, crop five pages out and hand it over?

Either way, he wrote considerably more than I did on the topic: my On This Day was about ninety words. Nonetheless, I expect his work then required whisky as much as mine did today.