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

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Positive Thinking

Well, the deadline for the Red Planet Prize has come and now gone… and despite nearly giving up on several occasions in the past few weeks I did finally get something in the post- though it was a very close run thing. It has prompted me to offer the following advice- try not to completely change projects 4 weeks before the deadline! (Annoyingly this didn’t leave enough time to farm it out to herds of people for criticism.)

To some people writing comes naturally and they can probably carry off this sort of thing. Unfortunately I’m not one of them: I find this writing lark pure hard graft- emotionally draining and physically exhausting. And frustratingly I don’t have the first idea whether I’m actually any good at this writing thing in the first place- so for all I know I might just be wasting time that I could instead be spending on my plan for ‘total world domination in the next five years’. So, I’ve had to maintain radio silence for the last few weeks to keep up the work rate- that and it gives away position to the U-Boats! Now, as a contingency for the (highly unlikely) event that I receive the call for the full episode, I now have 4 weeks to write the remaining 45 pages. What fun.

However, to all those who got something in and will spend the next few weeks anxiously waiting for results, cleaning, tidying and generally buffing up their pilots; and all those that couldn’t get anything ready for this year and are already thinking of something for next year, I dedicate the following from The Magnificent Two…

…and by a staggering coincidence this, for the time being, is a rather nice response to the recent meme (“a song that sums up what you think it means to be a writer and post the lyrics and why you've chosen it”) which various people have left as 'open tags' (and especially Elinor). I suggest it’s less about the being a writer and more about the continuing as a writer. I’m sure I have another song that is a better answer for the task but for the moment…

“When you feel down, try positive thinking,
That’s what I told them and said,
Don’t wear a frown, try positive thinking,
Laugh at your troubles instead.

You’ve got to look on the bright side,
On hope so much depends,
With your confidence sinking, positive thinking,
Helps you on the way my friend.

When things look black, try positive thinking,
Treat every season as spring,
No glancing back, try positive thinking,
Trust what tomorrow may bring.

This crazy world what we live in,
Will keep on spinning round,
But with good, strong, positive thinking,
We’ll get together and life won’t let us down.”

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

When You Don’t See Me

Thought it might not be too bad an idea to bore you rigid with an update on the writing situation… and gives me an excuse to waste time with which I could be doing something, er, useful. Like writing.

The great thing about a lack of internet connexion is that it liberates a lot of time- this is because the internet is in fact a seductively evil time-stealing monster- enjoyable but evil… the bad thing about the lack of internet is that if what you are attempting to write is going hideously and unbelievably wrong there is nothing to take your mind off it. And little by little, hour by hour and day by day, you start to steadily go insane…

Way back in July I had a nifty little idea for my entry to the Red Planet Prize. ‘Hoorah’, quoth I. ‘That’s nifty!’, I did reiterate. Then I wrote down the bits that I knew and realised that it was only 5 episodes and didn’t have a ‘cracking opening episode’. Alright, that’s not a huge problem, I can come up with an opening episode. Could I ‘eck as like! Truth be told, while I watch a vast amount of TV I’ve never really been able to comprehend how to work it- it’s that having to roughly return things to the status quo at the end of each episode so that things can start again at the beginning of the following one that partially flummoxes me. I’m not that hot at film-writing either but at least I have a vague understanding of it. While at University I had to have a stab at writing an episode of a returning series, in this case Doctors… suffice to say it went disastrously wrong… it featured religious fanatics and an exorcism and the first draft clocked in at over an hour and a half. This was bad. Finally, I got it down to forty minutes… it was still bad.

Having a ‘nifty idea’ was rather encouraging, not having the first episode… less so. So there then followed a considerable period of procrastination… and now that period is over what have I to show for it? I have a decent outline for a feature film, a new short film script and I’ve redrafted two previous short scripts. What don’t I have? A first episode. Oops! So, with the Red Planet Blog Clock Vorderman-esquely pointing at the 28 days left on the clock I am now wondering what to do... Oh and the other big problem with the ‘nifty idea’ is that it’s really a serial. Not a series. And I’m not even sure if there’s enough material to make it a whole hour long per episode. Or is there too much? I just don’t know. I really don’t understand writing for television.

So, where do I go from here? The words are coming out all weird. Ha!. Well, I’m still going to try to think of a world-beating first episode for the possibly very boring, very parochial and very tedious serial. However, I’m also trying to think of something more series-esque. All I can come up with is something rather derivative and a bit similar to something that used to be on the telebox (whether the other thing is coming back or not, I don’t actually know). The trick will be to make it less similar and more brilliant. But is that really possible? Really?

Who knows? Or even dares to care?

Oh well, 600 hours of writing time left until the last posting date… assuming I ignore sleeping and eating… but they’re pretty over-rated.