Thursday, February 28, 2008

Letting writers be who they are

Playwright Dennis Kelly complains in today's Guardian about the way that writers must be pigeonholed, expected to write the same thing over and over and assumed to be unable to move from one genre to another. People can't come to terms, he says, with the fact that he writes both serious theatre and comedy for TV.

I know exactly what he means. At the playwrights' Christmas get-together, where all the old Theatre Writers' Union members but me were now or had been Emmerdale writers, I was asked why I had never written for TV. Good question. Once a very well known TV playwright, who is known also for generously helping other writers, put my name forward to a TV drama executive. Well, you can't imagine a better leg-up than that, can you? But guess what, it got me nowhere: my track record of prizewinning radio plays and literary prose fiction (about which the drama exec was very complimentary) were just not the right qualifications for an aspiring TV playwright - quite the opposite, I suspect.

Kelly's comments also apply to the system of 'writer development' in most of our new-writing theatres, which I've written about before, and of course, while Kelly is writing about playwrights, the same applies for writers of books.
''s time we let new writers be who they want to be, without forcing them to make artificial decisions about who they are and what they should write.'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here, here. Anyway, I think
most of us writers pretty much
write what we want to anyway.

Terry Finley