Get in the arena

Dear reader, in the past week besides rewriting my rewrites, I also managed to squeeze in a meeting with fab friend and colleague, Tammy Lewis-Houghting. Tammy optioned my second novel Things Unseen back in 2018. It was supposed to be turned into a limited drama series but alas the company she was with at the time decided to go for another show and my poor book did not make it to the small screen.

We then decided to try producing it ourselves, Tam’s mom stumped up the cash for us to film a teaser, I wrote a quick script, we made family and work colleagues act in it, we got it to the various channels… but tragically…once again…nothing came of it.

We have tried to think of ways to get it made over the years but have had no luck, but now post-covid we decided to have another bash at it mainly because we still need to pay her mom back for the teaser, and also because I think we would have an awesome amount of fun making it.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I think it’s enormously relevant to younger people (and older people too) that we have to keep on keeping on. You’ve got to be in it to win it, fake it till you make it, nothing ventured nothing gained and all that other irritating stuff parents and teachers say.

Get in the arena - Things Unseen

And yes, it does get pretty bloody hard when you keep getting rejections and being told ‘no’ but it’s that persistence, that grit that will lead you to success. Also, focus on the process, not the destination. The destination is often a disappointment because once you climb one hill, you’ll find there’s another really big one in front of you.

That leads me to my next point: having the right stuff. We are inundated with people who want to write for TV. A large percentage of these people will have no talent for writing (and should focus on another area if they feel sufficiently passionate), some will not be able to put their egos in their pockets and apply the notes they’re given, the third lot will be full of excuses and will be congenitally unable to hand in a script on time and a teeny, tiny percentage will be reliable AND talented.

If you want to work in the script department, make sure you fit into that last teeny, tiny group.

Reliability is a huge issue in film and television where time literally is money, and I am constantly gobsmacked by writers who view deadlines as a suggestion.

Me: the script was due five days ago.

Writer: yes, but I didn’t realise you would actually edit it then…

Me *to myself*: why yes, we just put those deadlines on there for fun. Who cares if production doesn’t have any scripts to shoot? Who cares if I have to edit over the weekend because you didn’t bloody well hand your script in on time??? Grrrr.

I have heard every excuse under the sun, including:

  • the cat peed on my computer.
  • there was a fire on the mountain so I couldn’t submit. (Understandable if you’re Cape Town based. If you’re in Joburg, not so much.)
  • My granny died.

This particular granny has so far died six times. I call her Granny Lazarus.

Not being an a$$hole also gets a big tick in my book. You get to a certain age, and you just don’t want to work with a$$holes anymore.

Unless of course you are a proctologist in which case it is your job.

Luckily, it is not my job and I do not want to work with a$$holes. There are different categories of these:

  • Mean a$$holes who feel that we should all want to work for them for free
  • A$$holes with low self-esteem who put other people down
  • Backstabbing a$$holes
  • Misogynistic, racist, homophobic a$$holes
  • A$$holes who take credit for other people’s work
  • Self-important a$$holes who are very busy being important and therefore cannot do their work but would really like it if you could do it for them
  • Sexual predator a$$holes (soooooooo many of them in our industry *sigh*).

I think not-being-an-a$$hole is a skill that is greatly underestimated. As the tagline of my fave coffeeshop Croft & Co says, just #belekker.

Get in the arena Croft and Co 2

Film/TV recommendations:

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. We finally got around to watching this, and although I didn’t think it was as good as the first one, it’s still a great locked room thriller full of humour, slick and with utterly fabulous cameos from peeps like the late great Angela Lansbury, Serena Williams and Hugh Grant.

Films 24 Feb

I also rewatched A Time To Kill on Netflix. The movie is 27 years old but that speech by Samuel L. Jackson’s character about what it means to be black in America is still as relevant today as it was then. Plus Matthew McConaughey is DELICIOUS and it’s worth watching it just to swoon over him. The movie is based on John Grisham’s debut novel which is also worth reading.

Book recommendations:

Exiles by Jane Harper. I am a huge, huge, HUGE Jane Harper fan. I adore her Aaron Falk psych thrillers.

They are beautifully written, the dialogue is top-notch (dialogue really matters to this TV writer), her psychopaths are oh-so-normal which makes them even more chilling and the plotting in all her books is excellent.

You’re in for a treat if you’ve never read her.


In bookish news, if you’re a young person aged between 6 and 18, don’t forget to enter the Kingsmead Book Fair Young Writers Competition. Click here for more details:  Entries must be based on the theme of courage so it feels appropriate to end off with this quote from the book Daring Greatly by Brené Brown:

Get in the arena - Young Writers Competition

“It’s worse to spend your life on the outside looking in, wondering what if, than it is to try and dare greatly and risk the chance of failure. 

Dare greatly; get in the arena and try.”

Listen to Brené and get in the arena. Have a great weekend, y’all and happy reading! xxx