WHY YOU DON'T SAY NO - Complications Ensue
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Sunday, May 15, 2005

A week ago or so, I had four feature rewrites I was up for. And I was sort of scared -- what if they all say yes? Because it was looking like they were all going to say yes. So I was thinking maybe I should say no to some of these, and pass them along to friends.

And they all did say "yes," but then "yes" in a few cases turned into "no." One of them -- my favorite, really -- didn't get the funding they were counting on, and another one tried to pull some shenanigans in the negotiations, and now we're down to two.

That's why you almost never say "no." Until you have an actual contract, you never know what's really going to be a paid gig. A few days ago I was celebrating because one of the gigs said yes, and then it turned out it was "yes but we want to pay you half of WGC scale." Which, if you are a self-respecting, moral person, not to mention busy, means "no."

So that leaves two "yeses," both of which are really, "Yes, we want to submit your name to for Canadian government financing so we can pay you if they say yes." Which is fine. I would enjoy writing both projects, now that I've fixed, in my head at least, what I thought were their flaws. God bless Canada for supporting the arts.

Of course these are only the commissions. I sent my series pitch Exposure out to network, and we're going to organize producer pitch meetings on Unseen, and another script is out to a few producers too, and another script proposal is out to Telefilm for the Screenwriting Assistance Program. Lots of irons in the fire.

And I just brought on a Toronto agent to represent me outside of Quebec.

And I'm almost done with a rough draft of my book.

That's the key to sanity as a self-employed writer. You keep working at putting more irons in the fire until you have enough real solid writing gigs that you have no time to put more irons in the fire. You need a lot of redundancy. Keep things in the pipeline. Keep writing. Keep writing proposals for more writing.

Remember, if you find yourself with too much work, you can always raise prices! Your price never goes up with projects you love. Your price goes up when you don't really want to do something.

3 Comments:

Great advice, you should include that in your book as an intro...

By Blogger Jason Sanders, at 11:59 PM  

I've had the same problem recently...new job for TV, publishing my novel, writing a film script someone's hired me to write. Compared to the not-so-distant past when I had no work, being possibly overworked is great!

By Blogger Jeff, at 1:44 AM  

I'm finding the same thing - the more people I meet the more sensitive my "BS Meter" becomes. People drop off the face of the earth, and you just move along.

LA is filled with Craigslist babies who want to make their films and want everyone to work for free (even though they say, "there is pay")

I write other material as well - PR, marketing copy, short stories and live events. It all exercises the brain while I send out more emails and calls for meetings. I'm also generating more work for myself by producing with a partner.

By Blogger Bill Cunningham, at 2:40 PM  

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