Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Winging It

Luckily, it turns out you can’t tell how a day’s going to go by virtue of the fact that you lose your iPhone first thing. I’m on my way home from the BECTU Freelancer’s Fair in London, and it was fantastic.

I am the sort of person who would fall over their feet if there was nothing else to trip me, and disaster is generally my watchword. Add to this an unhealthy dose of getting up at 3:45am (I was not previously aware that this time of day existed, except, perhaps, as a time to think about going to bed on a Saturday night in my early 20s), a spell of additional security around Belfast International Airport for the arrival of G8 dignitaries, and a brain that reacts to news that an early night is required by suddenly refusing to sleep, and a certain amount of slapstick was practically inevitable. The phone was an early casualty, accidentally abandoned in a coffee shop in Luton Airport, but it turns out that the human race is as admirable as I keep insisting we are to my colleague, and some kind soul had handed it in. That set the tone for the day, though I didn’t realise it until later. 

In retrospect, two very public tumbles off two separate steps and repeatedly crashing a self-service checkout in Tescos probably counts as getting off lightly, although I ought to remember that, as I’m writing this, I’m not home yet.

It was 11am by the time I arrived at the Savoy Place venue, acutely aware that my shoes cost less than £20 and I was likely to fall over again at any minute, but I was in time to catch the end of a fascinating session about marketing oneself to prospective industry employers. This is something I know I ought to know more about, in this age where a CV no longer cuts it, and it turns out I have work to do. But I was delighted to find, within 5 minutes of sitting down, that I’d been disabused of the idea that I was the only person in the world who had no experience of the film industry in the past ten years, when a brave soul who put up her hand to ask a question and admitted that she’d literally just done what I was about to do. Also, she was a member of BECTU. I’d acquired the notion, somewhere along the line, that I couldn’t join the union without at least one recent credit to my name, and there were a number of their services that I’d had my eye on, so this was the news that promptly parted me from another chunk of cash, but - as with the rest of today’s expenses - it was completely worth it. As a union, from my (albeit limited) experience, I’m seriously impressed, and, quite apart from that, it was a big moment for me psychologically. 

I’m a member of BECTU. I’m a member of BECTU. I feel like I’m really doing this now.
Then there was the session on maintaining an online presence, and, yes, okay, I really need to get sorted out on LinkedIn. I realise this. I also have to work out how to bloody well make Twitter work for me, and it might be an idea to be on Tumblr, about.me, and (possibly? I think?) wordpress too. My head is spinning a bit, but in a good way. The copyright talk made me glad I’d signed up with the union, and doubly glad I’m not pitching TV ideas. Of course, at that point, I went ahead pitched a TV idea.

I freaking pitched it. To the commissioning editor of a major international television network. And, okay, she didn’t want it, and, okay, I’d basically worked out that she wouldn’t want it in the seminar that preceded the pitching session, but we talked, I pitched, and now I have a much better idea of (a) what editors might be looking for, (b) how to present what they might be looking for in a format that they might like, and (c) how these things go. And this is the important thing: I haven’t got the slightest, tiniest, most infinitessimal clue how to make the career I want; I don’t know what to do, who to approach, how to sell myself, how to make an impression, how to do what I’m already doing except for cash; it’s all a complete and total mystery, but…

But. The thing is, this morning, I was a complete and total outsider. This evening… I’ve seen how these things go. 

And I’m terrified - mostly because there isn’t actually a word quite hyperbolic enough to describe just exactly how scared I am - but it turns out that they don’t actually give out special secret-squirrel roadmaps to a career in writing books and screenplays and I’m the only person who didn’t get one. Everyone else in that room was once me: frightened, clueless, head spinning, and 100% out of their depth. But that wasn’t a good enough reason for them not to try. 

And it’s not a good enough reason for me, either.

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