Compare and contrast, would you? Earlier this year I worked at a media careers fair where certain schools had pulled out and refused to allow their students to attend. It wasn’t any complaint against the fair, it was something to do with the cost of getting them there and the staff time it was going to take up. Whatever. The key thing is that a handful of those students came anyway.
I don’t know if they lied to their teachers, I don’t know if they pulled a sickie, I just know that effectively they said screw the school, we need this. And they did something about what they needed.
No question: you know they’ll go far and you would hire them on the spot.
Then last night I was talking with some university writing students and they were great: I mean, they were funny and cheery and they’d come some distance to attend a Royal Television Society event. But they also told me about a problem they’d had which is that they’d been assigned to write substantial projects in groups and some of the other writers didn’t always show up.
Now, they were adamant that some of those writers had really good reasons to be absent but these were their friends they were talking about and they were nice about them.
You don’t show up, you don’t matter.
I’ve always believed that the show comes first. All that’s changed as I’ve got older is that I’m more careful which show I pick. Once you’ve agreed to do it, though, you’re doing it. That seems so obvious to me when in my case I’m being paid but these absent students have spent a lot of money to study at university so if money were the only factor, you’d expect them to be making the most of their investment.
Apparently the university knows as well as you do that some writers are going to let their colleagues down and actually that’s part of the teachable moment. And as one of the two I talked with described what she’d had to do, I did realise that she’d just learned a little about becoming a producer.
That’s great for her but it happened because she showed up.
I have no idea whether her writing is any good or not. But you do know that it’s better than the writing these absent writers failed to do.