The First Day Of School

Just arrived back from a trip to the North of England to see locations and meet the director and crew for my children’s TV show.

Since any details are commercially sensitive, I’m going to have to be careful how much I give away here.  If I say the wrong thing, the BBC may tie me to a chair and make me watch infinite repeats of Bonekickers.  But I will keep you as updated as I can.

What I did want to remark on today is the peculiar process of passing on your work to the people who are actually going to make it happen.  You spend so long – a couple of years in this case –  labouring away at your idea, turning it from a spark to an idea to an outline to individual episodes.  The notes come in, the jokes fly at meetings, the ideas you really wish you’d had come from other people and are woven into the world.  But you feel you have the whole thing under control.  Mapped out in your head.  It’s yours.

And then one day, the world you’ve created takes its first steps outside your control.  Things start to happen – wonderful things, things that are absolutely right for the characters and the show – without direct reference to you.  Another writer decides that Jane’s favourite chocolate bar is a KitKat, a location is found that looks different to what you saw in your head.  Suddenly there are thirteen episodes by half a dozen different writers, and your universe is now so big that you can’t remember crucial details without referring to your notes.

Your project is all grown up, and taking its first faltering steps into the real world.  Like a parent seeing your child off on their first day at school, you’re no longer the only influence on your precious baby’s development.  It will always be utterly yours, but it has a life of its own now.  Like that parent at the school gate, you feel disorientated, full of pride, and profoundly grateful that your precious baby has made it this far.

And it’s a really great feeling.

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