I have spent what seems like every waking moment for a week turning each single aspect of this offer and every decision possibility over in my head.
And I’ve been talking about the concept with many people. And have sent 18 (responded-to) emails to the people in the US. And had four telephone calls to the east- and west-coast. And researched the strike. And had four email conversations with the WGA (west) and one with WGA (east).
It’s now 03.30 and my brain won’t let my body sleep until I tell the studio and Jay Leno’s people my decision (because this offer has plainly been on my mind even while I’ve been sleeping – random dreams about sitting in a pool with a typewriter while my deceased grandmother, she lived in north Hollywood, paddled in the shallow end with Julia Roberts just aren’t my normal nocturnal fayre!).
So I’ve let them know and it was hard to decline – especially after the flattering things they’ve said over the week about my humour – but ‘no’ is my decision.
Because I want to play the long game, not the short one.
External labour that breaks a strike in the US finds, generally speaking, that it becomes almost impossible to get employment in that line of work once the strike is over and the dust has settled. This, folks, is a fact of life. There are many tales of people in this position having to move from west to east coast (or vice versa), having to change their media and having to write under an assumed name to make a living.
I know this wouldn’t necessarily be the way forward for me, but I don’t want my writing career in the US to begin and end as a one-hit wonder working as an uncredited writer on a team of ten.
I have more ambition than just being a stop-gap one-off writer for a TV show in the US market, it’s that simple. One of my SciFi shorts has been widely published over there, I know it’s a different medium and a different genre but the publisher’s feedback tells me it was very well received.
In this instance the US production company (and apparently Leno himself) has raved about my ‘zany intellectual English (yeah, really!) humour’ and one production exec in particular (Hi Greg!) said the most trouser-hardening things about my readability and how easily it could translate to visual media.
So it’s been a tough temptation to mull over, but my ambitions for the long game have beaten the (potentially) short game offer in to second place.
Even now I’m sitting here wondering if I’ve done the right thing.
Actually I’m not sure that I have done the right thing – to turn one firm offer down in favour of another offer not even on the table? Bonkers. But what can I say apart from ‘I have ambitions’.
Well obviously I have (writing) ambitions, otherwise I wouldn’t have started down this road in the first place, got a bunch of shorts published around the world, got other shorts in pre-production, got the first novel out and wouldn’t now be working on my second!
So it’s thanks. But no thanks.
I want more.
I have an idea – actually, I have a couple of ideas – that with some time, planning, help from some willing volunteers (that could be you!) and a little effort – I’m going to roll out.
I hope the first will get my ‘product’ (I really hate that word in this context, but it’s as accurate as any other) out to a wider, new media audience. I’ve given this project a significant amount of brain-time, I’ve drafted a loose set of presentational rules and I’ve begun working on content.
The second will naturally follow behind the first, if the first takes off.
The bottom line is…
I’m going to concentrate on my writing, begin acting on a plan to roll out the new project and invest what time and effort I can in improving certain levels of my writing and getting it out to a wider audience.
I may well spend the rest of my life regretting the Leno decision but I can’t substantiate the probable short-term effect as being an acceptable risk to my possible writing future.
So there you are, it’s official. I am an arse.
But I’m an ambitious one.