A train made out of bubbles

Hey guys and girls,

Tonight marks the first of fifteen episodes I’ve written (in a writers’ room context) for the longest-running Belgian soap, Familie. You can check them out on vtm or on their website. Eight of them run up to next Wednesday, the remaining seven start sometime in March.

If you think soap writing is a dumb job for bad writers, think again: I’ve seen fellow writers invent better stories faster than I could type shitty ones down. There’s an insane amount of speed and efficiency involved in working for a soap, and you need to have the willingness to relinquish all control over the things you have written. You’re not the creative artist, but a piece of the crazy machine that keeps the unstoppable soap train hurtling down the tracks. There’s no room for egoes or selfishness, and all my wonderful and brilliant colleagues reflected this.

When I went in last February, I was scared out of my mind because I thought I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. As it turned out, however, I had a lot of fun writing these episodes and I can wholeheartedly recommend anyone who wants to be a writer to try and get a soap job. I was lucky enough to be tossed into the deep end of the pool, with 320 pages of dialogue to write in a limited timespan and the watchful eye of a mentor I knew would have to write everything I wouldn’t be able to. Failing was not an option. I couldn’t do that to him – he has kids!

Soap writing is without a doubt the most intense job I have ever done in my life, and a great change of pace with my normal routine. Sure, I love meticulously crafting the most intense, most gripping storylines at my own pace – all things considered, I’m still an artist at heart. But my creativity recharges when I can work in a team. And sometimes, you just want to put the pedal to the metal. You want to write a lot of different stuff – from romance to comedy and suspense. It’s the change of scenery that makes the job so awesome and keeps the writing fresh.

Right. Now it’s back to staring at an artful three-page exposé for the next three hours while sipping from a seemingly endless supply of coffee. Less like a runaway train, more like a snowball in March.

I’ll be back in January with a special surprise of the literary kind. Think the very opposite of soap. If you’re thinking all-age fantasy, you’re absolutely right. Look forward to it!