Word Count 30: Writing progress, Discoveries 2023, The Pat Llewellyn Bursary, hidden medieval name revealed & Netflix frustrations

by Suw on January 10, 2023

Hi there {$name},

Happy New Year!

I hope that you had a lovely festive season and are feeling refreshed and renewed, and ready to tackle 2023 head on*!

I have three goals for this year:

  1. Secure a stable income, which means finalising the writing commission that’s in the works and, hopefully, finding a way to save Ada Lovelace Day.
  2. Continue my speculative writing, both TV scripts and novels, and keep submitting to agents and competitions.
  3. Read all the writing advice books that are on my shelf! Some I have read more than once, some I’ve had for years and never opened. It’s going to be a fun journey, and one I’ll keep you up-to-date with via regular reviews.

The first if obviously a biggie, so please keep your fingers crossed for me!

* Or at least feeling not too knackered.

Suw’s News: Huge progress on Tag

I’m delighted to say that I’vA blank grid drawn on a whiteboarde made a lot of progress on Tag, my six part urban fantasy TV series. Ancient artefacts play an important part in the story, but when I was writing the first draft, I glossed over exactly how they looked. And it turns out that when you say to yourself, “Oh, I’ll fix that later”, ‘later’ does in fact one day arrive.

Between Christmas and New Year, I did some reading around Celtic and Hindu symbology and came up with my artefact designs. That then helped clarify a plot point and gave me a couple of extra scenes to add in. And it really got me excited about this story again.

Then I spent quite a lot of time with a large chart stuck to the wall, with a row for every main character and a column for each episode. Using three colours for the A, B and C stories, I wrote out the plot as it currently stands. It was mostly A story – one of the most important things I learnt from the script editing for TV course that I did last year was how to think about the structure of a series and the importance of having distinct storylines. So I’ve been applying that to Tag.

At the end of the week, I started my rewrite. I had been worrying that the Jan 31 deadline I had set myself to get this rewrite done was unattainable, but if I’m disciplined about writing every evening, then I absolutely can finish in time!

Deadlines: Discoveries 2023 and The Pat Llewellyn Bursary

The deadline for the Women’s Prize Trust Discoveries writing development program is coming up on 15 January. The scheme, which is run in partnership with Audible, Curtis Brown literary agency and Curtis Brown Creative, is searching for “the most talented and original new female writing voices in the UK and Ireland”. All you need to do is submit the first 10,000 words of your novel, which doesn’t even need to be finished, and a synopsis.

The deadline for the The Pat Llewellyn Bursary is coming up on 16 January. This Women in Film & TV (UK) program is searching for the next compelling “talent led documentary” maker along the lines of Stacey Dooley, Yinka Bokinni or Louis Theroux. The winning 250 word pitch will get £10,000 and a mentor to help you make your idea happen.

Read this: Name hidden in medieval manuscript read for first time

Eadburg's name highlighted in the top left corner of a medieval manuscript page1,200 years ago, a woman named Eadburg marked her name in a Latin version of the New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles in such a way that it couldn’t be seen by the casual observer. Eadburg used a technique called drypoint, which is rather like engraving, to inscribe her name several times in the pages of her manuscript.

The discovery was made by Jessica Hodgkinson, a PhD student at the University of Leicester, working with John Barratt at the Bodleian Library and using new imaging technology to make the marks visible.

Eadburg would have been a very educated and high-status woman to own a religious text, let alone score her name in it several times.

Netflix cutting its own nose off, again

Netflix has been axing shows after just one season again and lots of people are cross about it. Twitter user Casey Explosion points out that it’s really damaging Netflix’s brand, and a lot of people in the replies say that they don’t bother watching new Netflix shows now because they don’t want to invest emotionally if it’s going to get cut off with an unresolved end-of-season cliffhanger.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Netflix have done irreparable damage to their brand by constantly cancelling things, they have effectively trained their own audience never to get invested in any of their shows. It’s short term cost-cutting, long-term harm.

As to why Netflix does this, Peter Clines theorises that it’s a way for them to reduce the cost of ‘residuals’, which are payments made to cast and crew from the airing of the shows they worked on. Those payments don’t kick in immediately, instead, there’s a period where the streamer gets to show a series for free.

The window? Twenty-four days for new shows, seventeen for established shows.

Networks can stream a brand new show for three and a half weeks and pocket every single cent of revenue they earn from it.

Does this timeframe sound a bit familiar?

This is why it makes cost-cutting sense for Netflix to cull shows – the smaller their back catalogue, the lower their residuals bill. But it’s also why they will release entire seasons at once and then put it about that you have to binge-watch to prove that there’s enough love for the show for it to get renewed. Read his whole thread.

One has to wonder if this is a good long term strategy.

A couple of things I read over the holidays

Andy Miller, author, book editor and podcaster, wrote in 2019 about how keeping track of his reading stats in public made people angry. I honestly can’t fathom why people would become cross about someone else reading lots, and it says a lot more about them than him.

The Japanese call the owning of more books than you can read ‘tsundoku’, and it might be good for you. Its certainly good for your children. Do we need any more of an excuse than that to buy more books?

Obligatory cat picture

Copurrnicus standing proudly next to a mouse that he caught.Having been predominantly an indoors cat, Copurrnicus hasn’t had much mousing experience. Back in Shaker Heights, the summer before we moved was a bumper year for mice. The whole neighbourhood had them in their basements, so Grabbity and Copurrnicus spent a lot of time keeping watch near the mice’s favourite nooks and crannies.

We ended up seeing four mice – two brought to us dead and two more released alive in front of us.

Cats do that with their kittens as part of teaching them to hunt: They first bring dead prey, then prey that’s been incapacitated, and then fit healthy prey. Cats do this to humans too, because they assume that we also need to hunt for our dinner.

It was fairly clear in Shaker Heights that Grabbity was the one doing all the hunting, as Copurrnicus didn’t seem to know what he was doing when she released a mouse in front of him.

That all changed last week, when Copurrnicus, who’s allowed in the garden on his own now, brought back a mouse. He was very proud of himself for a nanosecond, then lost interest.

We put the mouse on top of our garage roof, in case one of the local red kites fancied a snack. Turned out, they did, and it wasn’t up there long! Red kites are a protected species, so Copurrnicus has done his bit to help ensure their survival!

Right, that’s it for this week!

All the best,


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