Apparently, so they tell me, there are only two ways to get work as a writer on American TV.
The first is to get an Agent in America and the second, reliant on the first, is to move to L.A., get a job working as a floor runner, get your name known by the crews and slowly over a number of years get to a point where someone you already know by now is willing to read your work.
Over here in the UK things aren't much better - the BBC recently reviewed its policies on accepting spec scripts and they now only accept them 3-4 times a year instead of continuously and even then there are some fairly tight restrictions on what you can and can't submit for series - IE not a lot if the series is already showing.
So much for my game-changing ideas for Doctor Who, Big Bang Theory, Eastenders (surely its time a vampire or a werewolf stalked the Queen Victoria pub? They're everywhere else on TV right now)
I once wrote a spec script for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This was back in the day when it was actually possible to submit such a thing and have it read. It was, in retrospect, totally awful - but in fairness, so was Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (or as we called it in our house Star Trek: Deep Space yaaaawn Isn't There Anything Else On?). The basic premise was to try and fuse the Federation as seen in Star Trek (cute, fluffy and intolerably so far up its own arse it can presumably see its stomach contents) with the Federation as seen in Blake's 7 (an evil conglomerate of power hungry dictators, more than happy to show you the contents of your own stomach as they fall out onto the floor)
Still: as a frustrated writer watching my favourite shows and thinking "I could write better than that" I can understand why so many people out there turn to Fan Fiction....but then again, having seen some of it - no, I really, really can't.
Fan Fiction websites have been in existence for some years now - basically they are forums much like blog posts where fans of a particular series of programmes, books, films etc effectively take certain aspects of plot or character and pose the question "so what happens next"
All very well so far. Let's face it Series Four of Blake's 7 could do with some serious re-writing, the whole aliens-from-the-future thing was best avoided in Star Trek: Enterprise and the less said about the Twilight series the better (if ever anyone invents a machine that allows you to step into a book and meet the characters please give me a call - i will be first in the line to slap Bella Swan)
So fan fiction is a forum for people to take shows off in their own direction - only from the limited exposure I have had to such sites (in researching this post I managed nearly a full five seconds before losing my will to live and having to spend two hours in recuperation with the cats) it seems that what they mostly are is sexual fantasies.
The web, it seems, is full of stories where Kirk and Spock cement their friendship in ways that Gene Roddenberry never envisaged, where Penny from Big Bang Theory falls hopelessly in love with Sheldon Cooper - and so on. Presumably this also happens with other programmes, but to be frank I didn't have the will to continue looking.
The site I visited when looking into this post was for The Big Bang Theory - in my humble view the funniest situation comedy on TV for some years - but from the tearful goodbye and lost love missives that seemed to dominate the site you'd be hard pushed to believe the site had anything to do with a comedy.
Which is, if you ask me, all rather sad - suggesting perhaps that the people involved have a) little originality and b) something rather missing from their own lives. Whilst I can understand the interest in the programmes (I have my own Geek Membership Card mounted on the wall) and even a desire to carry on the stories I can't really understand this aspect of it.
Don't get me wrong - I'd love to submit a script to any of the above shows and have my name appear on the TV beneath it as the writer, but I think there is a long corridor to walk between that and endlessly pairing up the characters in this limp and rather soulless way.
Still, it has worked for some - currently the best selling book in the UK started its life on a fan fiction website. True the book has been described by some as the death of the written word and is unlikely to ever win the Booker prize (unless they release a gratuitous sex category)
As for me - I think i'm going to save my creative energies for the National Novel Writing Month in November - this year will be the third year I have sat down and attempted to write 50,000 words of a totally original novel in 30 days.
Quite frankly - i can hardly wait