6 Years and I’m still here:
100 Not Out!
I’m going to forego the usual greeting and just get to it. This is the 100th Written Mirror post. It’s funny that it would fall in the month that signifies 6 years of Written Mirror (Website went live July 4th 2012). 6 years is a long time!
I also would like to admit, I found this out by accident. Minding my own business and tidying up my website, I realised it said 99 posts. Figuring it might have stopped counting, I checked to make sure other pages weren’t included. Imagine the embarrassment if I found out it was counting the project, contact, about me and other pages as posts.
One tiny bit of house keeping, I mention my new favourite brand AKA UNDONE at the bottom of this article and I have included a discount code + a affiliate link. It is my duty to let you know that. Okay good!
6 years and 100 posts. A lot of time and a decent amount of content. There were of course a few sabbaticals in between to focus on my book and screenwriting. Quite a bit of life experience has been gained through Written Mirror and also a lot of writing practice. My voice is more authoritative, relaxed and where necessary it shows the right amount of urgency. I will say what needs to be said and I will do what needs to done. This is largely down to Written Mirror’s influence on my journey and vice versa. It’s not often I do the ‘me me me’ posts but I would like to share with you what life has been like these past 6 years.
Written Mirror as I have often stated is my sandpit and playground. It was a place for me to try new things and work on my voice. Honing my skills being just as important as turning up to try new things. I was playing life poker with my brain, ego and ambition. My mindset was simple; ego wouldn’t allow me to have a site lacking in content, my brain wouldn’t let me forget that I have this shiny new toy to play with and my ambition wouldn’t tolerate laziness.
This would come to pass as I regularly stepped out of my comfort zone by sharing the poetry ramblings I often reserved for myself and those closest to me. It was in the open for the first time and people were free to love or loathe it. The result didn’t matter as much as being brave enough to put my neck on the line. Poetry as far as I was concerned being the weakest of my multitude of writing skills. My achilles heel being on show for those brave enough or insightful enough to try and target. During this time I was working at the London 2012 Olympic Games. I got the website going knowing full well I wouldn’t really have time to check comments and such. In my mind if you hated it I wouldn’t come into contact with it until much later anyway.
The reactions I got were overwhelmingly positive! That helped me realise something. The biggest battles we often face on the journey to our goals are the ones of our own making. I released the handbrake! Now ALL my writing must show confidence and purpose! No matter what it is, I will NEVER go into it feeling defeated.
Having had lecturers in University go out of their way to try and destroy my ambitions, I could’ve meekly allowed it to be. Instead I doubled down! I filmed my final year project and made a few BOLD predictions. This was going to serve as fuel and I needed to start by removing myself from the ‘extreme close up’ view I had on life. I was all passion and no proven track record. The people who doubted me had experience on their side. I needed some distance, see you in 6 weeks London!
First I travelled to NYC, shout out to the entire Allen family! My heart and so much of my courage comes from you! It was almost fate that I would be there when my beloved Grandparents were in town.
I had gone years without seeing their faces and being reminded daily that I can achieve ANYTHING I set my mind to. Let me just break this down for a second; my Grandmother especially, would give you the belief you can manifest anything you can dream of. She has that power. My Grandfather will kill you with ‘old school smooth’. What is old school smooth? It’s the type of patter if you will, that you think you know but I don’t think you know. Oh and of course he says it in the smoothest voice you’ve ever heard, sometimes with his white rum in hand (Cinematic AF). His memory was a lot better then, his recall was sharp as anything and his comic timing absolutely impeccable.
A couple weeks of that, was all it took for my draft of a screenplay to become a MONSTER. Still I had never written a pilot script properly before that without feeling unsure or having someone looking over my shoulders. Still I was armed with healthy doses of positive affirmation and old school smooth; I handled my business.
I had promised my relatives in Florida I would check in and see how they were living. I hadn’t set foot in Florida for a great many years. So I took a much needed break from my monster of a screenplay to relax and enjoy life. That excursion was such a welcome lift. We toured, we scored and I learnt I was a precision marksmen in a previous life. I literally picked up a gun for the first time and was more accurate than a wide open Steph Curry. I celebrated the anniversary in style! Miami 2013 was life! Shout out to J-Will and Shan, South Beach was to steal a phrase ‘A whole movie!’ Florida is always good to me and it’s always on my list of places I’d go back to given half an excuse and the funds of course (London life is a financial myth!).
My short but sweet trip to Florida came and went and I was back in NYC. Now I thought that would be that and I’d see out my trip and return home. I was wrong! A really good friend whom I met at the London 2012 Olympics told me about a Writers workshop in LA. Wait where? Los Angeles he said (shout out to P.A.) can you make it? Me? Are you sure they’d take me? Dude give it a shot you’re already closer than you would be if you were home. True! I applied and I was chosen. Universal Studios Backlot here I come.
THE LONG CON
Three years of university and there were only 3 lecturers who were ever interesting, polite and encouraging. I am still in contact with two of them. The others outside of this, whilst they may be qualified to teach on paper, they aren’t in terms of guiding and encouraging CREATIVES. So much time spent on telling you you’re not good enough when you’re actually still learning, evolving and growing as a WRITER, DIRECTOR, ACTOR, PRESENTER, DANCER etc.
It was a horrible experience and one where; someone in the streets offering to take 30K+ off you over three years, teach you nothing and discourage from achieving the very thing you are paying them to attain, would instantly result in a vehement refusal. You’d tell them to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine! We all would! Well that was my university experience. It was a colossal pile of shaving cream (Jamaican’s know what I’m saying)…
In one week in LA, I learnt more about the business I wanted to work in than I did in 3 years of ‘Higher Education’. Add that to the fact that the business has a real need for my skills. I was panicking about showing what I was working on to the group because this was LA these writers would have to be miles better than me. Instead jaws were on the floor and eyes were fixated on the man from London. People came up to me and asked my name and said they’ll look out for me in a few years. Why I said? You’re going places! In my head I was looking for the hidden camera and Ashton Kutcher to jump out then I remembered I wasn’t famous so no way was I getting Punk’d…
That week taught me there was skill (I’ll admit mostly unpolished) to go with my will.
When I came back home it was like when Goku arrived on Namek (Real ones know…). Time to see if all that training at 100X gravity paid off.
I became obsessed with writing, my script was so much more confident and the tone was exactly what I had pictured in my head. That summer I learnt so much about myself.
In year 1 it was 80% Written Mirror content and 20% Screenplays and novels. Year 2 was about 75:25. Year 3? That is when I disappeared for a while. I was completely devoted to being the best Black British Screenwriter of all time. I’m going to be the one who brings some real authenticity to the game. Written Mirror could wait it was Jay Mullings’ time. Sure I would show up here and there but mostly I was about getting my screenplays and books ready to go.
The BBC Academy came calling and I attended their workshop in Birmingham.This was more in line with my University experience. People obsessed with their own achievements patting themselves on the back and showing no regard for the ambitions of the people they are supposedly there to inspire/influence positively. I looked at it as a positive step, because this time, I was armed with so much more belief. I was no longer taking ‘shaving cream’ from anyone! Also, this was the first time I would be meeting Producers on a personal level. Not emails or through an intermediary.
The Bright Side
In year one if you told me I would be invited to both Universal Studios and the BBC Academy, meet working professionals and now producers; I would not only be confused as to how, but I’d say you were crazy. So I took this event as another step in the right direction. Even though, the producers and other talent were incredibly arrogant, narcissistic and fake. I won’t name the shows they represent or anything like that, but I did note their behaviour was unbecoming. A lot of promises to read my work and that there were opportunities for my type of voice to be represented. A lot of coded language and assumptions on my level education were made too, needless to say I was close to just leaving it.
No matter how much I study, no matter how hard I try, these people (ALL WHITE) were always throwing some form of unnecessary shade my way. Maybe England isn’t ready for a writer like me…
Within two weeks of the most awful, disrespectful and ignorant feedback ever; guess what happens next? I am nominated for my first screenwriting award. Yeah I forgot to mention I had been entering my first baby, ’Tree House’ into screenwriting competitions and film festivals across the globe. To me it was a sign as my first award was indeed London based. What? They recognise the skill yeah? In my head this was what was going on, “Reuben wha wi ago duh dem? SLEW DEMMMMMMMMM!” For those of you not fluent in patios or regular listeners of dancehall music, translation; I was very happy in a ‘you can’t touch this’ kind of way. Yeah that’s a fair comparator…
I immediately dropped the woe is me routine and got back up…
The awards night was in the beginning of this year. I had gotten myself into great shape physically and mentally I was ticking over at a nice rate. My day one friend and my family (I include my Godfather when I say family) were in attendance. We were sat right at the front. I have a thing about maintaining a line of sight with my exit and avoiding windows. Lots of categories later it’s my turn.
The winner is Hov! Sorry that’s a song… Best Coming of Age TV Pilot Script (That’s a mouthful and a half right!) goes to; JAY MULLINGS. Wait that’s me! For real? Rubbing my hands like Birdman, I quickly recognise something. My big sister is not at the table. I tried my best to stall, but we were right next to the stage. I go on stage accept my award and try to speak slowly, I end up waffling and eventually mentioned that I would thank my sister but she’s not here! Ha-ha! No tears no campaigning for anything I said my thanks and got off the stage. Was that a mistake? I don’t know! No clue I would win beforehand and therefore didn’t bother with a speech. I winged that ’shaving cream’.
One award soon became 10 and I was on my way. This is clearly what I am supposed to be doing. Surely I can get an agent to rep me now? Nope, still the same ‘shaving cream’ feedback and assumptions. Only now it’s about what audiences will like too. Clearly Black people and stories on screen will never be a thing, cough cough (Black Panther was a dream y’all)…
My journey and my belief in self lead to The Thought Book vol. 1 being released. Maybe I am not the only one being told not to try and aim for the stars. If so maybe this book can help them the way these thoughts helped keep me steady when people were trying to rock the boat. This is what Written Mirror Ltd will do. We will help people by sharing experiences and producing interesting/inspirational and positive content. Written Mirror will be the change we wish to see. How will it make money? Shaving cream…
A few physical setbacks, personal setbacks and financial setbacks. I literally scored a hat trick of bad luck! Ha-ha, I can laugh now but shaving cream wasn’t funny then! My website was behind schedule and I’m having to make a lot of sacrifices for things that should just work and be straight forward. I’m being pulled in a lot of directions. Year 4 it was 10:90. All my time and energy when I had any was going into my screenplays and the follow up to the first book.
Things are tight but if I close the factory it may never start back up.
STAY THE COURSE
So many external factors slowing me down and piling on the frustration. However, my second major project and the third, namely: ‘Feminunity’ and ‘The Boys Are Back’ are tearing shaving cream up! I’m well over 25+ awards now. Can I get an agent to get with it now? Course not! Still the same assumptions and presumptions as before. Only now I am getting into rooms and having actual conversations with top tier actors. How is that happening?
Fair enough, again I know I’m in the right place and doing what I am supposed to do. However, there is still more I can do. I got the balance pretty good with Written Mirror, I get back to 45:55 and it’s lead to a real connection with more genuine people across the globe.
Imagine I have actual followers in Asia! I thought they don’t like? Yeah? You thought wrong, shaving cream! A lot of great people with very positive causes globally take time out of their day to communicate with me. Social media has become an ally not just a chore…
I put the agent search on hold and reduced the amount of places I put my original work. Some instances of plagiarism have been noted, but for now I will take the L for being so scattergun in the first place. Things are still tight but I won’t let anything stop me. I plan as if I am already in the place I am trying to get to…
I receive my first major nomination for blogging. This was meant to be free therapy and a place to let off steam. You guys actually like that? Awesome!
Brands started showing love. Actually let me rephrase that; some brands started showing genuine love.
The rest of them are looking for someone to take for a ride, shaving cream!
The Written Mirror shop got started and the merchandise was finally made available to all who had been asking for it. Yes I know the ladies merchandise wasn’t there, but in my defence it was mostly Unisex clothing.
I bet you want to see what comes next? Ha-ha I’ll give you a little sneak peak…
The Thought Book 2 is here and it’s better than before. Everything I learnt over this time about getting to your goals is inside. It also examines your friendships, insecurities and decision making processes.
What else? Shortly more projects are headed your way. I hate speaking about unfinished work. I’d rather come out with it done and dusted. Excitement wanes when there is nothing to disperse that energy onto. You still want to know that badly? Keep an eye on the projects section of the website. Upgrades are coming to the Written Mirror shop; more choice and things specifically for Male and Females. Hopefully the support continues to grow as I definitely need it if I’m to keep going for another 4 years and 100 posts…
That was a bit heavy I apologise. I just have to let you know that I care about what I put into the world and the things I have produced to share need support. The blog, the books, the screenplays, the merchandise and the ha-ha I nearly said what it was…
Toast To The 100
If you’re of drinking age then please wherever you are raise a glass to Written Mirror! I hope to be writing another post like this in 4 years about how far we’ve come and possibly having brought out another 100-150 posts. Always have to think big!
Thank you once again! I appreciate every like, comment, share and purchase!