"Art is not a mirror with which to reflect the world; it is a hammer with which to shape it"

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Forever Delayed

Tomorrow, I am officially one year older and one year closer to the grave… that sounds right miserable! It’s true though. If you haven’t worked it out- that would make it my birthday. Unfortunately, I’ve tended to have to go to funerals in this week in previous years and it’s possibly for this reason that tend to find myself looking back as much as forward…

It’s been a strange year, this last one, there’s no doubting that. I have a few more lines around the eyes, white hairs have started to streak the beard and, seemingly overnight, long white hairs have appeared down the full length of my hair. There’s been the SWF 2007 followed, nipping at its heels, by torrential rain, terrible flooding, being marooned and a complete loss of water for several weeks; the Red Planet Prize (or rather lack thereof for me!) at one point done by candlelight due to the flooding; Digital Shorts, for which I was upbraided for not giving my characters back-story… there was Jason and Dan’s premiere (which was fun) and annoying painful dislocations (which was less fun) then there was pestilential near-death experiences (which was about as far from fun as anybody’s currently found). And the writing has suffered badly. All the stoppages have disrupted the thought-flow, the worries have overwhelmed and there’s been a general loss of momentum. But, I’m reckoning that I’ve now pretty much covered the whole gamut: disease, death, flood, pestilence… let’s be done with it- bring on the rain of frogs and swarms of ravenous locusts! I’m ready and I’m waiting!!!

It’s after years like this that a sane person might begin to wonder whether making plans is actually a sensible thing at all… but I’ve tried sanity and, in the main, it’s over-rated.

I’m thinking this year to try and keep things a little more simple: maybe give competitions and prizes a bit of a miss (I just end up hurrying and getting slapdash). Of course, it will depend on the competition and the prize! I’m figuring that now’s the time to just get on and write. I’m looking towards the UKFC scheme (if, by the time I’m ready, it still exists); I’m looking to get a third spec written- then I can start stalking agents; and I’m churning around three stories at the moment which seem half-way reasonable and can’t think of any reason to stop now.

Yet, at the back of my mind, I find myself taunted by the thought- ‘am I any good?’ Not with putting words down, anybody can do that; not with structure, that can be taught; not with formatting, that can be taught or Lucy can tell you why writing in crayon isn’t the best way forward. No, I’m thinking about that unteachable intangible- the ideas themselves- do I have any? Are they any good? Am I just wasting time? In part this comes from noticing that so many people I was at University with were dealing with fantasy and the snippets of ideas I’ve heard on the Scribosphere all tend to be fantastical- there seems so much about new worlds that need saving, standing-stone gateways, flying death-fish, mythical creatures, time travel, horror, space battles- and I find myself continually wondering am I being too prosaic, too boring, too hung up on the real world. By not doing the fantasy thing it almost makes me wonder if I wasn’t listening in on the right conversation…

But as the painter Hopper said, “maybe I am not very human- what I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.” There aren’t the fantasy elements in anything I write now- they’re just about people who are trying to cope with the modern world as best as they can… maybe that’s my painting the sunlight on the side of a house… oh well, all got a little more introspective than I intended!

Anyway, this next week there is a Screenwriters Festival- no wait- the Screenwriters Festival, where hopefully this year I won’t be hamstrung by the desire to hide under a table when anybody turns to talk to me. And as I’m knowing that a bunch of Scribonauts are away to it, I presume and hope I’ll be seeing some of you lovely people in the flesh… so to speak!*

*Please, for the love of God, please keep your clothes on!!!

8 comments:

Stevyn Colgan said...

Happy Birthday Jon. I'm a newbie to the blog having found my way here via the inimitable Mr John Soanes' blog but I'm glad I did. Some dashed good reading here.

Elinor said...

Happy birthday Jon. I'd have said that you had plenty to inspire you there. I know it's been a grim year but it will work its way into your writing once time has passed and dust has settled a little. What's to stop you giving it a fantasy twist if that's the way you want to go?

Looking forward to your blogs about SWF, particularly the scribomeet so have fun, but not too much...

potdoll said...

Happy Birthday for tomorrow Jon!

And people trying to cope is my main theme I reckon.

Hope this year is good to you.

Rach said...

Happy Birthday Jon! It isn't a year closer to death. It is another layer of experience giving you greater depth and insight.

I hope the next year is not so terrible for you or your family.

Helen Smith said...

Happy birthday. My advice is to shave off the beard - this will eradicate the white hairs in a trice xx

Jon Peacey said...

Hi and thank you to all...

Stevyn, thank you kindly on both counts... may John never stop pointing out the more lunatic parts of life! Always good to have someone new come along.

Elinor, I'm not sure anybody would cope with more grimness in my work! I'm not after putting fantasy in- but I'm finding it strange that at the moment so many people are after doing fantasy-oriented projects- while not wanting to appear sexist but probably succeeding anyway- on my Uni course it was possibly because all but one student was male (and hooked on The Matrix or Star Wars). Mind you the sole woman was also doing fantasy- so bang goes that theory! :)

You want blogs about SWF? Eep! They'll either read: got scared and hid under the table or got drunk and slid there!

PD, my people always seem to be trying to cope with modern life and what constitutes goodness. Glad I'm not the only one who has recurring themes and recognizes them.

Rach, I should mention that last year I extrapolated from current average UK mortality figures that, barring accident, I will live to 137. I have a fair few years left! Hoorah!

BTW, love the cat picture on your profile, reminds me of my Cat #3, Big Ginger... so called to distinguish him from Cat #2, Little Ginger...

With imagination like that you can tell why I've chosen to write fiction!

Helen, the beard disguises my bizarre chin... and apparently freaks out small children. Seriously. If I keep it short the the white is able to hide.

Thank you all for your kind comments.

Rach said...

Enjoy SWF. Jealous I won't be there. Oh and Henry (aka Aslan or Bagpuss) is glad you like his picture. He'd done a mass slaughter out the back and was trying to look innocent to throw me off the scent.

Chip Smith said...

Happy birthday old chap - glad to see you back - it's been too long...