Application for BBC Writers Room [Messed Up Dads Club] (29/12/21)
I don’t think there is ever a right time to take part in one of the programmes, and in all honesty, given the current progress of my current career, and the fairly recent birth of my two young daughters, this is probably one of the worst times I could be seeking to take part. However, if life has taught me one thing it is that you have to seize the moment and hope and pray that you’re in the right place at the right time. Another thing it has taught me is that you should never, ever give up, and if I’m still filling in one of these applications as an octogenarian on my death bed then so be it. The main thing I hope to gain is some sort of recognition that I am on the right lines with my writing. If I’m not quite there, but I’m heading in the right direction, then great, but if I’m way off and ploughing a metaphorical furrow that’s never going to produce fertile crops then I’m happy to be told to have a re-think and, most importantly, why I need to have it. I think everyone has the potential to achieve something wonderful, but I personally went straight into industry and never took the time to indulge in writer development courses and programmes when I perhaps should have, and indeed, had much more opportunities to do so. Then again, I’m a writer, I’m neurotic, I don’t do things in the way they’re supposed to be done!
Q. 2 Are there any particular subjects or topics you would like the programme to cover?
Often when we submit scripts to competitions, the feedback can be unhelpful, focusing in on minor details relating to characters, microscopic analysis of certain things they say, etc. Those are all important, but they are also the easiest things to tweak when required – if the actual concept or idea is a potential winner or a total non-starter, then tell us so! As writers it’s often the fundamentals behind the idea that we want to know about. If you don’t like the colour of your car you can always get it re-sprayed, but if it doesn’t have a chassis then you’ve got a collection of seemingly random automobile parts, not a vehicle (and my apologies for the awful analogy!)
Q. 3 Which TV drama or comedy drama series have you most enjoyed over the last 2 years and why?
The Witcher, because it actually had the courage to fill the gigantic gap left by Game of Thrones and do it in such a way that hardcore GoT fans such as myself forgot all about Westeros and the white walkers and found ourselves transported to a new land of fantasy and escapism. I am waiting for a similar project to do the same to Harry Potter (I have a scrip that I wish would do just that, but that’s another story).
Q. 4 Are there any areas in the UK/Republic of Ireland, other than where you currently reside, that you have a connection to? If so, please explain.
Due to both love and the state of the housing market, I currently reside on a South Manchester council estate, which provides inspiration if nothing else. Though I’m originally from the south of England, I spent 20 years of my life living in the north west seaside town of Southport. Over those 20 years I have seen it decline from a proud and happening resort that people flocked to for posh shopping and ecstatic partying, to a shadow of its former self. The script I have submitted today is my love letter to Southport over those last 20 years.
50 words about me for Paines Plough (17/05/21)
Unstable extrovert, still in 20 year stopgap job, circumnavigated planet Earth, semi-retired bohemian, navigating agony and ecstasy of fatherhood, likes anything ancient and British, camps wild, collects King Crimson CDs, spiritual and idealistic outlook tethered by common sense and realism, so far unable to stop writing, love to you.
100 word bio for Bush Theatre (03/01/21)
A little like Batman – mild mannered NHS admin worker by day, writer by night battling the criminally insane (i.e. my own creative ego). I’ve had novels published, I’ve had a play shortlisted, but I’m seeking that first great opportunity that we all dream of. I now only drink and write when I’m planning a play, not when I’m writing it (definitely a move in the right direction). I hope Bush Theatre will become my beautiful bat symbol up in the sky…
Bio for Funny Dot Comp (24/11/20):
Although I’d be pushing it to describe myself as a ‘first time writer’, it’s fair to say I’m still looking for my break into the world of scriptwriting. I’ve spent many years writing all kinds of weird and wonderful things, some of which I’m still quite proud of, some of which should never ever see the light of day.
In a previous life I’ve been published, I’ve worked through the publishing process and I’ve dealt with people who publish. Like most scriptwriters seeking a break, having to hold down a day job can get in the way of squeezing the creative juices, but it can also compliment it. For example, applying the same discipline that is necessary inside the office (meeting deadlines, juggling priorities, smiling when you don’t want to) to other work outside of that office has been very useful for me.
Regarding Psychic Builder, I’ve had an interest in all things metaphysical from an early age but it was only when I was recently dragged to a psychic fayre where they charged us a hefty entrance fee for the odd stall of trinkets and to be barked at about getting our reiki healing done (for an even heftier fee) that I realised that money might be the true healer. This took place around the time I got an extension done on the back of my council-built semi. The builder estimated 6 – 8 weeks to complete the job and he was still on site nearly a year later. They say that nothing is more inspiring than real life!
I’m young enough to want it, but old enough to know better. I have both the humdrum, real world experience of an overly-long stopgap job, mixed with all the inspiration I got when circumnavigating the globe as a sightly-older-then-usual backpacker. To me, becoming a successful writer is not a pipedream, it’s a dream in the pipeline (© James A. Gray)
Originally at the start of the post ‘The meaning of this website’.
I’m 42. Yeah, you read that right. So why am I pushing my scripts with extra impetus at 42? Because in Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (note: pre-millenial / gen Z reference) 42 is the answer to the meaning of life. And that’s as good a reason as any.
Short bio as sent for Nick Darke Awards:
James Gray was born in Middlesex and moved to the seaside town of Southport at the highly impressionable age of 13. He’s remained in the north ever since, bar six months circumnavigating the globe in his mid 30s. James is currently locked in a 16 year stopgap career, having performed various roles in NHS Administration. He wrote his first play at six form college in 1995 and 22 years later he came up with LUCK OF THE DRAW, his only other serious effort for the theatre. In that time he has written in a wide variety of mediums, such as poems, novels and screenplays, but has so far not managed to push hard enough to turn professional, live the dream and end the seemingly perpetual stopgap career. Despite the subject matter of LUCK OF THE DRAW, James is not a gambling man and only puts money on his favourite football team losing so that he at least gets a consolation payment if they play poorly (as they invariably do at the moment). He likes wild camping, ancient British history and production companies that accept query letters.
Some good stuff about my writing:
I try not reference fads, e.g. currently popular TV shows that may not be around or known in years to come.
I’ve been in the desert too long to be up myself!
I am a 39 year old Service Delivery Manager in the NHS. In my mid 20s I had a septology of young adult novels based on the seven deadly sins published by an American firm. In my early 30s I had a trilogy of humorous erotic novels published by a Canadian firm. I recently finished editing a biannual Masonic publication based in North West England. Since then I have juggled writing screenplays with doing the day job, doing up the house and adjusting to wedded bliss. My writing is eclectic, which I feel is a creative and healthy approach, and I endeavour to make each screenplay different to (and, of course, even better than) its predecessor. I consider myself very much a product of the UK, but with a strong global outlook that came from six months travelling the world in my mid 30s.
In a bit more detail…
Who are you?
James A. Gray, 39 years old, 6 foot 3, blonde, hungry.
What have you written?
Graduated from short stories to novels and in the last few years to screenplays.
Have you been published before?
Yes, in my mid 20s I wrote a septology of young adult-based novels on the seven deadly sins for a now-defunct American publisher, earning the princely sum of ten dollars for four years of my life. I was young, I was naive, but I learnt many valuable lessons worth much, much more than ten bucks could ever buy.
Anything after that?
I diversified into contemporary erotica with a humorous edge and wrote a trilogy that was picked up by a Canadian publisher.
How did that go?
Better, but as much as I enjoyed writing the trilogy, it was very much a one off project….well, a three off project
I recently edited a biannual Masonic publication called The Sandgrounder, which is read by the largest group in arguably the largest province in the Masonic world. Before that I filled in the gaps with several original murder mysteries for family and friends, an office-based pantomime and a modern take on A Christmas Carol for two separate sets of work colleagues (both of which came in useful to reference at interviews), and various other literary titbits that I ignored soon after completing them (as I already had a new idea for something even better!)
Why should an agent take you on when you’ve only had the above ten works published?
I would have spent my spare time attending writing workshops and submitting articles to magazines to get the credits up, but after getting home from a 9 to 5 job as a Service Delivery Manager in the NHS there’s not much time left in the evenings except to actually write the next screenplay that is bursting to be released from inside one’s head.
Tell us about yourself – what do you like?
Hard work, drunken brainstorming, wild camping, ancient British history, King Crimson CDs, screenwriting agents.
What don’t you like?
Sloth, the British climate, King Crimson boxed sets I can’t afford, screenwriting agents who won’t eat the home made casseroles I send with my scripts.