Sunday, April 05, 2009

On the run

The 60th wedding anniversary party went off smoothly. I was required to make a speech as eldest child present. I was going to prepare but was shoved in front of 30 assorted relatives (20% of whom I had never met) before I got a chance to think about it.

So I improvised. According to the daughter people laughed in all the right places. Phew.

Families are funny things, aren't they? I always found the TV sitcom the Royle Family to be unwatchable - I thought it was really funny, but I couldn't watch it. Because it's far too close to the reality of my relations for comfort - even though it's set in Manchester not London.

Here's the thing: I'm a Londoner even though I've lived North of Watford for over 30 years. I've never lost my accent - kinda. Technically I'm a cockney. I lived in the centre of London (and I mean Westminster) for the first 5 years of my life: in two rooms in a family of 5, toilet down the hall, only cold running water (also down the hall), gas lighting - well, maybe not that bit.

Slums, but good quality slums.

Then we moved up and out. Straight to the suburbs. Detached house with 9 rooms. It would have been culture shock but I was only 5. My accent softened and when I went to university it went "posh". And still is. Unfortunately my poor northern kids have "posh" accents. Their school friends assume they must be rich. Stereotypes.

Anyway I have an enormous London family on my mother's side. It's a matriarchy, the women are strong - the men are - well - less so. They do as they're told. Of course it can go to extremes. I have a cousin (naming no names) she has four brilliant kids. No husband. Never had one and, as far as I can tell, she never wanted one. I'm not entirely sure how many fathers are involved but it's 3 or 4.

I had an uncle, rough London working-class bloke, loved opera - the real stuff.

So we had a relatively small gathering of the clan, my sister couldn't come over from Australia because she's just had an operation, my mother's brother is in the Far East on business. Only one of my father's sisters could make it, others being ill. Well, they are getting on.

I saw my wife and kids - first time in three weeks! Oh yes! Then four hours later had to say good bye again. Well, I'll be seeing them on Friday and for the next few days after that. Until I find the next contract.

The daughter is having her second audition for drama college tomorrow, in Oxford. It'll be good practice for her RADA audition in a couple of weeks.

So, I was at work again today, the website goes live tomorrow evening. Still a ton of stuff to do but my brain was seizing up by the evening. I felt a bit guilty about leaving when others were still working, but I had been there a good couple of hours before them. And work at least an hour a day longer than anyone else. Hmm, justifications not working, still feel guilty.

You might think with the pressure that I don't have time for writing - actually it's mostly the blogging that gets in the way :-)

If I get to be a professional writer I'm going to have to get a First Class season ticket to, say, York and back and write on the train. It's a lot easier. This evening, on the train, I got out my trusty notebook and decided I needed to figure out what's wrong with Running. So I did.

I'd been thinking about it and realised that, although I have a beginning and I have an idea of an end I really haven't got it straight in my head. So I chose a tool from my writer's toolbox: Writing backwards.

This is one of the excellent tools from "Writing a Great Movie" by Jeff Kitchen, and involves starting with the end and working backwards stating exactly what caused the step before - it helps you create a joined-up plot. Of course as I was doing it for the plot as a whole I only had about 8 steps in it but even then it clarified the sequence and made me think about some new ideas.

I also want to analyse it in terms of the 36 Dramatic Situations to see if there's anything interesting I can plumb into the story to generate more emotion. (I've already got lots of sacrifice - scacrificing self for an ideal, sacrificing loved ones, yummy stuff, but sacrifice is easy, what about Conflict with a God?)

I'll be getting my professional feedback notes on Unit X Wednesday or Thursday which is just fine as I'll be a bit tied up tomorrow with the website launch.

Anyway peeps, be careful out there, and keep on writing.

What's on the turntable? "China girl" by Bowie from ... "Let's Dance"? Brilliant song, drippping with irony.

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