Matt Cameron is a playwright and screenwriter whose plays (including Ruby Moon, Poor Boy and Mr Melancholy) have been produced both nationally and internationally. For the screen he has written numerous TV comedies and dramas, including most recently ABC TV’s acclaimed Jack Irish (pictured above) series starring Guy Pearce. We asked him the 5 best and worst things about being a writer.
THE 5 BEST
Working from home. Nobody interrupts you at your desk with an oversized card in which you must write a heartfelt farewell message to Carol from Accounts, whom you barely know, who’s leaving today and – while you’re at it – could you pop $20 in the kitty for her gift.
The hours. There are no office hours. Nobody gives an admonishing tap of their watch as you arrive late at your desk or power down your PC early for the evening. You are your own boss. You work to your own clock. You are self-motivated. You also get to slip off to movies in the middle of the day.
Inhabiting imaginary worlds. Your job is to daydream, constructing alternate universes to which you can escape – and, even better, rewrite – your grim reality; fashioning heroically uplifting outcomes instead.
Actors. When an actor commits heart and soul to your creation, plumbing deep and dark places beyond your wildest hopes and dreams, they inspire a love quite unlike any other. If they needed a kidney you would gladly donate.
The romance. When you tell people what you do for a living, they don’t hurl invective as if you were, say, a parking inspector. Rather, they imbue it with a certain romance, imagining the best of your calling, not the worst – at least until you answer their inevitable follow-up: “And what have you written?”
THE 5 WORST
Working from home. Being a writer is an isolated existence and days can pass before it dawns on you that you haven’t left the house, you haven’t spoken to anyone other than an Indian telemarketer and that you’ve been wearing the same clothes for considerably longer than is socially acceptable.
The hours. Because there are no office hours, on some level, you are working every waking moment of the day – even the non-waking ones. If only you had a boss to forbid slipping off to movies in the middle of the day – then you wouldn’t be pulling another panic-stricken all-nighter to meet a deadline.
Inhabiting imaginary worlds. You become so absorbed in your fictional universe that you forget to be present in your real one. This tends to result in you losing your real girlfriend and being left with an imaginary one.
Actors. Tantrums, egomania, walk-outs – these are people possessed of an unnatural propensity for crying and given to declarations like, “My character wouldn’t say this”, despite the fact you created the character and spent months poring over every single word. If they needed a kidney you’d stab them in the other one.
The Romance. You are plankton; gazing up the food chain at directors, actors and producers who often don’t want you in the rehearsal room, on the set or anywhere near the catering. Face it, you are a monkey at a typewriter and someone else is in control of the bananas.
This article originally published By Daily Review February 10, 2014