I began writing in 2018. Like everything else in my career, I didn't plan this.
I grasped interesting opportunities when they came along, trusting that everything would work out. I’ve choreographed and performed in contemporary dance productions, I’ve designed and built games on PlayStation, Xbox and mobile phones, I’ve created installations in museums and art galleries, and I’ve led a tech project at the United Nations. It’s been a fun ride.
It began with two degrees, the first in mathematics and the second in contemporary dance, after which I spent eleven years as a moderately successful choreographer followed by seventeen years as a very successful video games developer, with occasional side-steps to explore other interesting possibilities.
Then, in 2018, I had some time on my hands between video game projects and I decided to write a film script. The script was based on my one big story idea. You know, the idea that’s been rattling around in your head for years. It was time to write it down. I wrote it as a film script because it involved dancing and I didn’t know how to make that work in a novel.
I did short courses and read books on screenwriting, covered my wall in post-it notes, joined a screenwriters’ group, and wrote my first draft. After another video-games contract and two more drafts, I shared the script with my screenwriting group. It was far from great but it achieved two important steps — I got that story out of my head and I discovered that I enjoy writing.
At the end of 2018, aged 52 and with savings in the bank, I quit my video-games career and threw myself into screenwriting. What followed was more courses, more reading, and more drafts of more stories. I learned many different right ways to structure a film, plan a character, and write a screenplay before realising I had to figure out what works for me.
In mid-2021, with multiple drafts of three film scripts and one TV pilot in my arsenal, screenwriter Richard Kurti recommended I read James Wood’s book How Fiction Works. I discovered that all those lectures and books on screenwriting had taught me nothing about how to use words to tell a story.
I wrote a short story and I wallowed in the freedom to express myself on the page and to take complete control of how the story is told. Words are difficult, but also fun and engaging. I enjoy looking for the right combination to place a thought inside a reader’s head. The rules around screenwriting were a corset restricting my breathing and by throwing them off I can dance once more.
I studied novel writing in earnest, through books and the Masterclass website, and wrote another short story before diving into my first novel. But writing can be a lonely pursuit. Isolated by Covid rules and longing to spend time with other writers, I applied to Faber Academy for their renowned Writing A Novel course and was accepted in early 2022. The course was brilliant and guided by the wonderful Shelley Weiner our gang of fifteen writers grew into a supportive writing group.
We completed the course in July 2022 and I am now deep into writing my novel, Dancing On Sand.