If you ask an unproduced writer what opportunities he or she should seize, the answer will probably be, "All of them." For the most part, this is true. With nothing to lose, everything is a gain. Yet, there are two things that we emerging/new/unproduced (or whatever other word you want to use) have to be on guard against: shady "opportunities" and not being ready.
One of the things I most worry about in terms of my writing career is not being able to deliver. If there's a deadline, I have to meet it. If there's a page count someone's requested (no more than this or no less than that), then it goes without saying that I hit that mark. And if I pitch an idea (as I did to my manager on the post-Apocalyptic spec on Friday), then I had better be able to follow it up with the physical pages.
Not long ago, as you know, I optioned a script. In addition to getting a producer to back that project, it also landed me a manager, at least as far as this once script is concerned. On Friday, Kevin (the manager) and I spoke about what our relationship is exactly, both in relation to the post-Apocalyptic spec that he's repping me on and in the future. Unlike many managers - and in a testament to his seriousness about finding quality material and writers - Kevin said that he does not immediately sign up any writer who might come along. Though we're working together on one script, he wants to familiarize himself with my writing style and ability to work with notes before we agree to work together more long term. That time also allows me to gauge how well I can work with him and whether we're on the same page about my projects. All of that is actually pretty great to hear - I haven't had the best working relationship with managers in the past, so I am happy for the trial period.
However, at one point in the conversation, Kevin asked what else I had. I pitched him two ideas, one of them the Roman army spec that I have a first draft of, the other a smaller character study that I have just a few pages of. Of course, he jumped on the character study. I regretted having to admit that the project was still very much in the development stage, as his enthusiasm about it was encouraging. As for the Roman army idea, he agreed to read it, despite knowing that there were going to be some major changes made to it. I tweaked a few small things in that draft and sent it off to him, yet still wished I'd been able to deliver on the other. Granted, in other situations, writers frequently pitch ideas that are just that - ideas. (I've even heard of people querying ideas just to see what kind of response they get.)
Nonetheless, I feel that, especially for writers who are just starting out, it's best to be able to back up anything you pitch. Onyx, 'Backer, and I have all talked about making the move to LA, but we all acknowledge that it's not necessarily worth doing until we have a solid body of work to back up our pitches and carry us through meetings. Luckily, Kevin understood that I have ideas and multiple projects in the works, but the call with him was more proof that if you're going to pitch or try to break in, have the scripts to back the talk up.