Rewriting daily grind

INSPIRED: Versatile writers Elena Terol Sabino  and Tristram Baumber   have forged writing careers.  Picture: Ryan Osland
INSPIRED: Versatile writers Elena Terol Sabino and Tristram Baumber have forged writing careers. Picture: Ryan Osland

"WE'LL write for a year and at the end of the year, if we haven't made it as professional writers, we'll go back to London, get full-time jobs, have a kid and not write any more," local comedy writer Tristram Baumber, 36, says. He's explaining his and his wife's strategic plan in 2009 to become professional writers by dedicating a year to writing while living in a tiny town in the south of Spain.

The couple can now be found in a house in Islington, where they both work part-time, write daily and raise their two-year-old child, Santiago. They have sacrificed much to pursue what they love.

Tristram's wife, Elena Terol Sabino, 38, is a regular contributor to the Daily Review and The Hoopla, and is in the process of editing her Spanish-language novel. She also writes a blog called The Other Side of the Sun, in which she regularly compares and contrasts Spain with Australia.

In October last year a pilot episode of Tristram's comedy, Timothy, aired on ABC TV. The pilot starred Stephen Curry, Denise Scott and Peter Rowsthorn.

"If we're lucky ABC will commission the full series," Tristram says.

Tristram has also just wrapped up directing and producing the second season of his short-form series The Cleanists, which stars Novocastrian talent, from actors to crew. The show can be seen on YouTube and on UK television.

When he's not working on his own projects, he's working for Tantrum Youth Arts, as well as writing and editing scripts.

Originally from Wollongong, Tristram moved to London at the age of 25.

Elena is from Spain and had been living in England when they started their relationship.

The two met when Elena was passing through London after backpacking through Latin America. After their initial rendezvous, Tristram came to visit her regularly in Spain for the next nine months.

He says Elena opened his mind to different ways of living.

"She told me she'd worked out that if you just saved up £5000 you could write and live in Argentina for a year," Tristram says.

"At first we both worked in London. We wanted to write, but full-time work makes that really hard."

They married in 2009 and decided to take a year off and write for their honeymoon.

Visa restrictions made Argentina difficult, but they realised they could do the same thing in the south of Spain, where the weather was good. "It was the fact that Elena came from Spain and that I loved Spain," Tristram says.

In the town of Carboneras, they rented a flat with a roof terrace, five minutes from the beach. It was €300 a month.

"We lived on €10 a day. We had lots of little arguments about money," Tristram says.

But it was not in vain. "It created the habit of writing every day, and we had no excuse or distraction. You get used to the feeling of sitting in front of a computer and not having anything to say; you just have to do it anyway. I wrote my full-length play in that time," Elena says.

"I had to write every day, because we'd forced ourselves into this situation. I would have felt so incredibly guilty and stupid for going there and not writing. I set myself a rule, I have to write eight pages of script minimum a day. Six days a week we wrote; we generally took Sundays off," Tristram says.

Once their year in Spain finished, even though they were not officially professional writers, they decided not to return to their life in London.

"We said life's good in Australia, there's employment, we can write, we can have a child. And we wanted a little Santi. We realised we could do it all if we balanced it," Tristram says.

They moved to Newcastle in April 2011, and in October 2012 Santi was born.

"Once Santi's asleep, we work," Tristram says.

They both have advice for aspiring writers.

"Quantity over quality; write every day regardless of whether you think it will be good or not," Tristram says. "I also think it's good to commit to finishing every draft you start, so you don't end up with drawers full of half-written ideas."

"When you have an idea, try to sit down and write a few pages based on it as soon as possible. It will help you get a clear idea of what your concept is and whether it's good enough to develop it further," Elena said.