Saturday 4 April 2020

Green Shoots - Ciaran Murtagh

I don't know if you've noticed, but there's a lot of doom and gloom about the place at the moment. You all know what's wrong with the world and probably have a list of people to blame alongside  a heap of specific personal daily crises to deal with before even considering knuckling down to write.

I have become teacher to a six year old, professional make up model to a three year old, financial emergency service to a twenty four year old and tee total at quite the wrong time.

But rather than rehearse the problems I thought it might be good to accentuate the positive, so here goes.

We know this feeling

As self employed creatives we've always been in a precarious position when it comes to employment and finance, it's odd to find the rest of the world joining us. However, we know what this feels like, we are used to this uncertainty. It's easy to get caught up in the hysteria of those experiencing this for the first time through no fault of their own and certainly not through choice. And yes, everything else that is going on adds to the stress of the situation more than usual, but take a deep breath, you of all people have got this.

What do you normally do when work dries up? You dig it out. You self start. You get your stall in order so that when everything is open for business you are ready to go.  What did you do the first time? You knew nobody, you had no contacts, you just had yourself and you got started. It's exhausting but you need to do it again.

Write something you love. 

I just wrote a sketch for Crackerjack. Is it going to pay me a fortune? No. Is it going to get my kid through maths? No. Is it the best use of my time? Probably not. But then again - in a time like this, what is? It's very easy to think that what we do, in the scheme of things, isn't really contributing much. I'm not on the front line, I'm not saving lives, I'm not looking for a cure, I'm not fixing the problem, I'm writing fart jokes and covering grown men in custard. Here's one I made earlier...

But - and this is crucial - it's what I do. It's what I'm good at. Not everybody is equipped to fix the global problem we face. The best thing anyone can do in this situation is what they do best and trust it will be enough. If everyone does their best, we'll get through this. Right now a fart gag might not be helping, but give it six months and we'll all be in need of a laugh.

Do what you can today to make tomorrow better.

There is still work out there. 

It's hard to find and even harder to get but it is out there. In particular the animation industry is responding to this crisis very well indeed. If you have ever written for animation then dust off the contact list and start emailing, if you haven't then spend some time investigating how you might. One thing this virus has taught us is how quickly things can dry up. Learn what you can from it.

Most live action scripting is being shelved, but animation is going great guns, try and skill up so that the next time this happens you've got places to turn. If you don't fancy scripting start thinking about an original idea. Or even try and turn that book idea that may be hard to get off the ground right now into an animation idea and start pitching -  people will want content, you can give it to them.

On the book front, educational publishers still seem to be generating work. Anecdotally I know this isn't true for every publisher, but I have been approached by a couple in recent weeks to consider pitching new ideas. Again, if you've ever done any educational work dust off those contacts, email those commissioning editors and see what you can dig out. As with everything, it's tough and it's competitive but you never know.

Good luck, stay safe and lets hope May brings sunshine and beer gardens and pubs that are open.


Sue Purkiss said...

Thanks for the suggestions, Ciaran and may I see hairbands and and sunglasses - totally your look.

Susan Price said...

I agree with Sue about the look, Ciaran -- but I want to say thanks for giving me a needed kick up the bum. I have been hesitating about pushing a certain idea in a certain direction but damn it, you're right! -- I will get on it.

Ciaran Murtagh said...

Thanks Sue. It took some work but we finally both reached a look we were happy with.

Ciaran Murtagh said...

Thanks Susan. Glad it helped!

Nan Sheppard said...

Thank you for this positive spin! I haven’t done any proper freelance work in ages as I’ve been in academia for a few years and I needed this.

Ciaran Murtagh said...

Glad it helped!