After essentially hibernating for the past nine months, I return on the back of the announcement of my debut play Paper Dolls to talk about what I’ve been up to, where I’m going from here, and exactly why it’s taken me nine months to finally get going on the career path I teased last Autumn.
If there is one thing that I’ve come to learn and appreciate over the past year, it’s that some things take time for them to be great. Since I left school almost a year ago, I have had a turbulent and life-changing year: I’ve moved into a different house with a different parent, I’ve made the transition from going to school every day to balancing a totally freelance working life, and I’ve learned more about myself than I ever anticipated I would. Ultimately, I feel like my “new” life suits me now, but I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, I haven’t felt this way for very long at all. I didn’t realise at first that it would take so long to settle into a new lifestyle and it was jarring to say the least.
I call this piece “growing a baby” because, for the past nine months, I really feel like I have been. Despite the fact that I left school in July, I don’t feel like my new life really began until late August. It was only then, after I finished making Pickle – my summer project of last year – that I started to test these new waters.
Working towards professionalism in writing, acting, directing and producing not only takes time and experience, but it also requires an individual to be two steps ahead of themselves at all times. I believe so, anyway. So when it got to late August and I realised that I had left school and I wasn’t really ahead of myself at all, I immediately knew that I needed to step back for a while to rectify that. It was then that I stopped writing on Shaun’s Musical Musings, as I knew where I was going and how much time it was going to need.
While some things that I have been working on aren’t going to be seeing the light of day just yet (that is the point of being two steps ahead of myself after all), I have got a few tricks up my sleeve that I’m excited to finally be talking about. Most notably, I’ve spent the past five months working on my debut play Paper Dolls which premieres at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August. I actually started my year by working on rewriting the one-man play that eventually became Pickle, but when I finished it and sent it off, I turned my back on it. It was only in January, when I started to formulate a production plan for Edinburgh, that the idea behind Paper Dolls really began.
But to let you think that Paper Dolls is all I’ve spent my time doing would be a disservice to myself. If anything, it’s quite the opposite. Not only have I been working on two other works that my Summer will have to focus around (both of which are being announced in June), but I’ve also been chewing away at an additional 10+ projects that will see the light of day any time between the next six months and the next three years. And that excludes articles I’ve written for publications, or the entire season of Our Noughties Diary that I made and released… so I’ve been pretty busy!
As I said at the start of this, I have come to appreciate recently how some things take time to be brilliant. There are several projects that I am working on right now that will take as long as they will because they need that time to grow; to give them the best opportunity to succeed, I also need to work on climbing a few steps further up the ladder.
A good example of this is Pickle: the web series is a small step on the ladder in my mission to make my first actual television show. As you will know if you’ve seen Pickle, I have a few steps to go before I get there and I’m working on all of that too. I don’t feel like I’m exposing my secrets here by saying that I am working on a further three steps to making that dream a reality, as well as polishing up my pilot and series pitch for the actual television show. When making a 10-part web series on your own back with a budget of £0 becomes a rung on the ladder, it makes it hard to run up it at a great speed.
It takes time and mostly, no one apart from the people immediately around me will be made aware of any of this, primarily because they don’t need to be. I’ve really come to appreciate the value of keeping things to yourself until they’re ready to be shared, especially because I don’t want to do myself a disservice.
To turn the famous phrase on its head, it takes a million mole hills to make a mountain.
While the figurative “baby” may appear to be just Paper Dolls, it really is so much more than that. If anything, it’s an entire world full of projects that I will continue to grow and birth for a long time to come (maybe this metaphor has gone too far now). And in addition to all of that, I’m now dedicating a couple of days and a lot of time to my new job at Hannah Elsy Productions, helping to make work there as well.
The ladders I’m on are being rested in all different directions; I’m certainly not going to stop climbing any time soon.