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Guest Blog – Being Charlie Brooker

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My blog is about the transition from being a news reporter to a fiction writer, really a script writer in this instance, while deftly avoiding the cliché of describing it as a “journey”. I want to spur people on. The tired, creative individuals in Nottingham, who have lost themselves, but are not beyond redemption.

I never felt comfortable working as a journalist; reeling off news stories to formulaic order and banging in a load of attention grabbing words in the first paragraph or two. I only ever came to life when I had to write a feature, which is closer to story-telling. It comes far more naturally because my imagination is constantly whirring.

I left the profession, on the verge of self-loathing –  the result of the loss of my compassion – strongly believing that the majority of news reporters are frustrated authors, struggling to make the leap from the factual to the made-up.

I miss-spent, probably, the next six years doing absolutely nothing. At least it felt that way. Filling my time drinking whole bottles of red wine while repeatedly watching the “Bourne Identity”, stewing in my self-imagined genius, like the human version of a slow-cooker. I did squeeze in a visit to the National Film School for a research course with a brilliant lady producer called Edi Smokum. Then I had a mad stint peppering independent production companies with documentary ideas until I snagged one in the shape of Diverse North. They presented it to Channel Four for an early evening slot. It was rejected.

It has taken a long time and enough emotional internalising to fill thousands of Agony Aunt pages to arrive at this point. It isn’t enough doing what you think that you are naturally good at. It is really the realisation that you have to commit a huge effort while constantly combating self-doubt and the excuses of a sluggish mind and body.

The first step was to get hyped up about it. The second, was trying to avoid being Charlie Brooker, Guardian newspaper contributor and media analyst. I hate maxims like, “write what you know.” It is so often repeated that it loses its point, like lift music. More accurately, it is better to, “rant what you know” to be able to experience the cathartic rebirth of your brain while emptying it of all the bile. Charlie Brooker is a master of this by virtue of a blend of invective and the comic and surreal. I love him… professionally. When I started my first opus, “A-BOMB” – A Blueprint of Modern Business”, it was such an outpouring of hate that my vision became blurred, completely pointless, but it felt great.

It depends how much anger you have, but mine subsided after about four pages of dense text. I then waited, like a cat watching a ball of string, to react to some indignant CBI missive about the scourge of illiterate school-leavers in our society. I realised that my life was becoming Atari Tennis, which has its limitations.

I moved myself on, realising that I wanted to simply write a story, a film-script in this case.