Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New deadlines

I'm settling into my life here in Reading, Berks. Heading towards the end of my third week it's all ticking along pleasantly. Apart from the fact I slept badly last night because I had things to do.

Things to do.

So, on one of my script writing mailing lists, up pops a fascinating little project: it already has funding, has two major actors attached and no script. They want a character piece. And they're taking submissions (a treatment and sample scene) by the end of May. I shall call it the Bohemian Project henceforth.

As we all know I have a fondness for deadlines. Really. It's all those years I spent generating newsstand magazines every 4 weeks. And I really do mean every 4 weeks, we did 13 issues per year.

Can I write a character piece? I have no idea. However I did not know whether I could write a contemporary rom-com a month ago, and apparently I can. (It may not be brilliant, but I can do it.) We shall see.

But there's still the Blockbuster treatment for the Hollywood director to do and my TV script dialogue.

Tight deadlines. Even more fun.

I spent this evening mapping out a new version of the Blockbuster treatment. My professional readers really hadn't liked it much so I went back to square one and thought it through. I worked up some action plot lines for the four main groups of people. Then mapped them out on my Storylines software, I find it useful for getting things in order.

One of the problems with my treatment had been that it was all action and very little in the way of character. There is a problem with the source material for this adaptation in that there isn't a lot of character anyway. However I've already taken liberties with the plot so there's no reason for not taking liberties with the characters as well. (To a point.)

Screenwriting books will tell you lots of interesting things about External Conflict, Internal Conflict and Fatal Flaws. I'm not going to repeat it in detail here but while I didn't need this particular tool for "Une Nuit a Paris" (because the characters flowed well), it was definitely a tool for this treatment.

I wrote out those three things for each of the eight main characters (including the antagonists) and then thought what would be key scenes to go with these traits. Very interesting. I came up with some quite juicy ones and it turned one of the main bad guys into a potentially fascinating, and even tragic, character even though he gets very few scenes in this film. (He gets more in the sequel.)

Having done that I went back to my Storylines software and inserted the key scenes in the appropriate places so now I have both action and emotion. I can now re-write the Blockbuster treatment and hopefully make something better out of it.

I also realised that some of the interesting stuff with my bad guy would transfer very nicely to one of the principle characters in the Bohemian Project. Nice.

What's on the turntable? "Where Opposites Meet" by Sky from "Sky"

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Scriptfrenzy complete!

I did it, at last.

This is partly the reason I haven't blogged in the past few days. Writing hard.

So I did 10 pages on Wednesday, same on Thursday and as I was travelling back to family on Friday afternoon I found myself an unreserved table seat, plugged in the laptop and wrote like a madman -- 20 pages including the all-action climax. Page rate over 6 per hour.

Deadlines are handy things as I mention in this blog. And I used this one to get the job done in advance. Having no TV in my flat is a definite advantage.

As I have mentioned previously the screenwriter I most admire is Joss Whedon, one of his trademarks is heading directly into a cliche and then taking an unexpected left. A classic example of this in Buffy when she and Giles are talking in a crypt. They leave. Ethan Rayne emerges from the shadows where he's been listening and says something out loud, gloating over having overhead the plan.

This is classic cliche. What does Whedon do? Giles comes back into the crypt saying "I thought I heard someone". And the plot shoots off in another direction completely.

I have tried to do emulate him where it's sensible (and funny). For example, after escaping their chains the hero and girlfriend peek out the door to see what the bad guys are doing. In most films they would then either creep out and escape, or shut the door and formulate a plan of escape. That's cliched and predictable. I do something different but I'm not saying what (hey, this might get made one day, I'm not going to spoil it).

So there we have it, 100 pages of script in a month which is what ScriptFrenzy is all about. It gives you a reason and deadline. You can do it too.

What's on the turntable? "Do the Strand" by Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music from the compilation album "Street Life".

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Just dropping back to say that I've just done another 10 pages, in an hour and a half. So we're up to about 61 now which brings me back to a stage I was at two weeks ago of needing about 5.5 pages per day to finish on time.

Pretty pleased with what I've done today too, it's got a bit of pathos and a really nice bit of humour, plus lots of other emotions floating around. The protagonist hit his barrier and broke through now he's about to make the decision that's going to drive him towards the climax, but there's still the point of no return to come.

I wonder if I can put in the ticking clock as well. I probably can, after all this is Une Nuit in Paris and dawn is going to come at some point. Considering the lack of planning (although I have always had an overall plan in my head) this is going surprisingly well.

What's on the turntable? "I Spy" by Pulp from "Different Class"

I don't do "kvickies"

Spot the quote?

This is going to be a quickie because it's already 9 o'clock and I haven't done any writing this evening.

Last night I got through 11 pages of my script (yay!) and today I've managed to get my laptop in an even more comfortable position so I might get even more done.

Does that make sense? Well, of course it does. I don't have a proper writing desk or chair in this flat, the only chairs are stools that are too low for the table. And I have a sofa. Also the lighting is poor-ish as three of the five spots are dead.

I've been carefully evolving the best position for me and computer so that I can write for long periods without becoming too uncomfortable. What I've achieved is using my bed pillow to allow me to sit forward on the sofa and still have lumbar support while the laptop sits on one of the stools propped up by a jumper to angle the keyboard. And I'm near enough to one of the lights that the keyboard is sufficiently well illuminated, though it could be better.

It works.

The title of this blog comes from the 70s movie "Love at First Bite" starring George Hamilton IV. I love that film, it's incredibly dated but has some great lines and brilliant characters. (Hm, it seems they might be trying "Love at Second Bite", oh well.)

Writing tip: Nothing dates faster than contemporary references.

Who now recognises references to "Roots" in the film except someone as old as me? To quote the film again: "Renfield, you idiot, this book is as dated as ... I am."

Until the morrow, adieu.

What's on the turntable? "Lover Boy" by Queen from "A Day at the Races"

Monday, April 21, 2008

After the weekend

Ah, the ignorance of it!

BBC radio 4 on a weekday evening has a review programme that can be very interesting though I dislike the main presenter, Mark Lawson. One of the reasons I dislike him is his contempt for Science Fiction in any form, so whenever there is a review or feature which has an SF element you can guarantee there'll be some snide comments floating about. And ignorance.

On a little filler feature this evening the most recent episode of Dr Who was mentioned, with its title "Planet of the Ood". A very good episode as it happens, but I digress. Mr Lawson demonstrated his ignorance by saying that it had introduced a new monster; which it didn't, since the Ood appeared in an earlier episode. But there was no reason to even mention it since the feature was about episode titles, and not the subject matter, he was trying to be clever and put it down with "monster" and demonstrated his ignorance instead.

So. Here I am back in Reading having been home for the weekend.

I had such plans for my Scriptfrenzy writing. It's a straight through train from Reading to Manchester during the week and I wanted to take a seat and work on my script for three hours. Unfortunately something got in my way: well, I got in my way. Well, my stomach to be precise. The train seats were too close together and my laptop isn't a little one. I was annoyed at myself, and then doubly annoyed because I hadn't brought a notepad with me. Tsk.

I have a family and it seems a bit wrong to hide in a room writing when they haven't seen me all week, so I didn't write while I was there. But the journey back was better, somewhat. I missed one connection (a train had failed at the platform we were supposed to arrive on) so I ended up on the wrong trains. But one part of the journey I managed to get a seat where the gap was bigger and had a good hour and a half of writing, and knocked out another 8-9 pages which was pretty good going.

As I have mentioned my script is inspired by the 10CC album "The Original Soundtrack" mainly the track "One Night in Paris", but other tracks where I can fit them in. One of which is called "Blackmail" and the protagonist has met the blackmailer. In fact this part of the plot is going to work very similarly to the way it does in the song (click for lyrics).

I've still got a way to go on the script, I'm on 38 pages, so 62 to go. That might seem like a lot but quantity isn't really an issue, it's just another deadline. I have 4 nights this week, 3 next week and 2 train journeys, that's 9 writing sessions so a minimum of 7 per day. But if I aim for 10 per session I'll wrap it up by the end of the weekend, and even if the train journeys turn into nothing I should still be able to complete it by the deadline.

Well that's enough the sums I suppose, I better actually do some writing.

What's on the turntable? "The Caves of Altamira" by Steely Dan from "The Royal Scam"

Thursday, April 17, 2008

White hot keyboard

So I tried really really hard to get some writing in tonight, and I succeeded. Being way behind on my Scriptfrenzy script I really needed to make some progress.

10 pages in two hours. Now that's cooking with gas. Not that it's all brilliant stuff. After all this is just 1st draft, and according to Scriptfrenzy principles you should not edit, you just keep writing.

Well I did edit a bit. I realised that the Brothel Madame had a different name from when I first mentioned her. And the audience needed to know that the main character's credit card was maxed-out -- and he didn't -- so I did a quick jump back to the beginning.

My hero, Brian, has now been to the brothel and tried to rescue Veronique, but she really didn't want to be rescued and he got kicked out.

I also created a lovely character, the bouncer (son of the Madame) Christophe Le Grande, who is full of philosophy, but carries out his appointed task (throwing out Brian) with skill and pain.

Anyway, I'm very pleased with myself and I just need to keep up an average of 5.5 pages per day but if I do a couple more good evenings it'll get easier. This is what I was saying in my last blog about the benefits of deadlines and a professional attitude.

So, it's Thursday and tomorrow I shall be travelling home in the afternoon I have a seat reserved on the through train from Reading to Manchester so I could easily get another chunk of script completed.

We shall see.

What's on the turntable? "Carey" by Joni Mitchell, from the "Hits" compilation

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stir crazy

(Before I start I better put something on the turntable, for when I get to the end...)

So I've done three days in the new job -- and how much work have I done?


This is silly. Actually no, it's not silly, it's government. (A government contract no less, but it's okay, I don't have to shoot you now that I've told you.) I'm a team leader but they haven't employed my team yet. They might turn up sometime next week.

Meanwhile Lars and I are going stir crazy. We're both used to commercial environments demanding results yesterday! I know, some people might be grateful for this level of work, but I'm just not one of those people.

Oooh, exciting. I bought myself a mobile modem. Tonight is the experiment before I decide whether to return it or not. I was a bit annoyed at it last night because it was just not working at all well. But I think I've got the measure of it now, and discovered a different lead which plugs into two USB ports and gives it a bit of extra ooomph. I watched a YouTube video (this one on Lucy's blog, it's brilliant) with no drop-out. I might try some BBC7 later (that's radio) and even give a go to come video, but I'm only allowed 3 Gig per month and a half hour TV show is 500Mb. The downloads are a bit slow but it's not bad.

I wrote about 6 pages of "Une Nuit a Paris" last night, and did some more research about Parisian brothels and prostitution. Interesting subject and there's some little snippets of history I can include in the script so that I can pretend to be clever.

And then I did some work on the dialogue of Monsters. Wonderful reader Lucy (blog as linked above) commented, last time she read the script, that my dialogue was fine but a bit soap, and I'd rather it was more Joss Whedon (I should be so lucky).

Anyway I'd best sign off and get on with some real work.

What's on the turntable? "My Immortal" by Evanescence, from "Fallen"

Monday, April 14, 2008

I've been induced

I suppose I should have two, or even three, separate blogs. But I just can't be bothered.

First day in the new job. As I'm working for a big company it has all the things that big companies have, like an "induction course" which is for all new guys and gals. This is very commendable and I thoroughly approve. Unfortunately like most big companies there are problems, like the guy, Moses, who was on the induction course. He's part of our team but he's been there two months and this was his induction...

So there we were, Moses, Lars, David and Me. Sent across to a nearby building for the course. All in jeans except David, but David isn't a programmer so he had to wear a suit.

We sat in the reception of the new building and were issued visitor passes that would take us through the security doors and let us use the lift. So we asked the receptionist where we were to go and she said: "3rd floor, through the main doors, first door on your right". Well you wouldn't think this would cause much of a problem. It did.

But eventually we found ourselves in the stated room, at about 10.ooam, just as the induction course was supposed to start. And we waited, and waited, and waited. Yours truly, acting like the leader he's been employed to be (ahem) zoomed back to reception to ask where our induction chap was. But I didn't wait for the answer, I zoomed back just in case he'd turned up while I'd been gone.

He hadn't.

He didn't.

We were in the wrong room. So 25 minutes late we sheepishly entered the right room with other inductees and the inductor. I made sure that everyone knew it wasn't our fault. I suspect they didn't believe me. But in my defence, David actually arrived after us and got the same instructions.

Oh and Lars is my friend. Oh yes. He didn't believe I was 50 (well, 49 and a half). He is my friend forever. Mind you, I had a phone conversation once where the person at the other end claimed that I didn't sound like someone who was 18 stone in weight.

How can you tell?

(Blog title courtesy of my wife -- who's also a professional writer.)

What's on the turntable? "Dies Irae" by Sky, from the album "Sky"

Professionalism in writing

Over on Lucy's blog she's started discussing genres, horror isn't my thing but I'm always interested in what she has to say. Before getting into the horror thing she discussed writing genre in detail. Now I have my own views on the concept of "genre" but there are two problems with that: I'm not discussing them here and the writing establishment won't change for little me.

This is what Lucy wrote:
Whilst I would never advocate writing the genre film that simply recycles what has gone before it, I WOULD argue that taking note of trends does help your writing and thus your own saleability. 'Cos let's face it: none of us are doing this *just* for fun.
Let me be clear: I agree with this statement. I just wanted to expand on it a bit from a personal viewpoint.

The question of saleability comes down ultimately to professionalism. A professional isn't someone who gets paid and a professional isn't a "hack". A professional writer is someone who can write something that people want.

My personal writing history is such that although I did write a couple of novels and lots of poetry before I got my first job; it wasn't until I worked at a magazine publisher, as a writer and editor, that I became a professional writer. Even then it probably took a year.

A professional writer delivers the goods: to style, to length and to deadline.

That's an easy concept to grasp in a magazine or newspaper environment. You get the right number of words down, in the house style, before they're needed. And I learned to do that through 13 years in the job.

It's not much of a stretch when it comes to understanding this for a professional screenwriter, he gets commissioned to write a script, there's a length, there's a deadline, there's a style.

But does it apply to beginning screenwriters, unrepresented, hanging around the edges of the media scene and trying to get in?

You betcha. But it's so much harder. You are your own commissioning editor. It doesn't matter that no one else has asked you for it - you've demanded it of yourself. The content is what you personally want to produce, the style is yours, you know whether it's a 30-minute comedy or a two hour feature. But the place we fall down, mostly, is the deadline. We don't give ourselves a deadline or, if we do, we're don't believe that the deadline is real, because, after all, it doesn't really matter, does it?

Which is why something like ScriptFrenzy, and competition deadlines are so useful and should be used whenever possible. They give you something completely unforgiving outside yourself, and if you miss the deadline then it's gone.

So the question is: How professional are you?

What's on the turntable? "Nous Somme du Soleil" by Yes, from "Tales from Topographic Oceans"

Hie Ho------

Just thought I'd stop in and say: Off to work in a few minutes. Nervous as hell, but that's fairly normal. As I say to my kids, even adults get nervous when they go to a place they don't know.

I shall report back this evening.

I didn't write anything yesterday either. Tidied around, organised my stuff in the flat (realised how much I needed to buy to make this place work), listened to the Goon Show and an adaptation of the first Falco book on BBC7, and cooked the meal that I'll be eating most of this week. That was an adventure -- cooking on electric is a pain in the posterior when you're used to gas.

See you later.

What's on the turntable? Nuffink, all is quiet.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Carrying my computer backpack and reading my Drupal book, I travelled from Manchester to Reading, it wasn't a direct journey: Car. Then trains Manchester-Birmingham, Birmingham-Cheltenham, Cheltenham-Reading. Taxi.

Nothing strenuous, considering how bad my trip to Dundee was on occasions. On one particular occasion a distance which should have taken 10 minutes took 3 hours, on top of the standard 6 hours for the journey.

This was a doddle. Another weird thing, in Dundee (Scotland for anyone who doesn't know) I always felt like a foreigner, wrong accent. But Reading is south, and I came from this sort of place originally. I fit right in. (30 years in Manchester and I never lost my accent.)

So here I am in my little flat, getting to grips with everything, trying to get things into their proper places. I forget to bring the extension lead which means I can't move the fridge and freezer to where I want them.

My lack of a kettle didn't stop me from making some tea -- green tea. This is probably the place to say that I'm planning on losing weight. If I don't buy bread, I can't snack on it, and so on. We shall have to see how this plan goes.

And in case you hadn't noticed, I have temporary Internet, and I'm not stealing it. Turns out I'm on the edge of a BT OpenZone hotspot, so I've bought enough time to last me the week while I sort out a little plug-in thingy.

So. No TV. I can't re-tune the terrestrial channels because the remote control needs batteries, and there's no aerial (as mentioned). And I've got one (count it: One) CD with me.

There's clearly only one option. I shall have to do some writing. But on what?

What's on the turntable? "Drink Down the Moon" by Steeleye Span


Three days without writing and the prospect of a life without TV or Internet.

I'm torn. (See this brilliant video.)

There's nothing better than no distractions to prevent the prevarication inherent in writing. Every writer prevaricates, that's why the professionals give themselves a schedule. Like going to work, because that's exactly what it is. Just because we might enjoy writing doesn't mean it isn't work.

Of course writing isn't just writing. It's thinking about character and events, it's planning, and you can do that sort of thing while driving a car or watching TV. (Well, maybe not the latter -- but for a TV writer watching TV is research. How cool is that?)

But it hasn't really been prevarication that's prevented me from writing over the last few days, it's been this trip to Reading. On Friday I spent the day preparing, going shopping for stuff I'm going to need (I remembered the can opener at the last moment, but forgot a kettle.)

I found the best way to think about packing in terms of rooms (divide and conquer): Kitchen, Bedroom, Lounge, Bathroom and work. So it's a case of "what do I need for the kitchen?" and so on.

Saturday was a little tiring, I drove to Reading with all my stuff, 4 hours, and managed to get miss my turn twice. Which is odd for me. I paid a very large amount of cash to the Letting Agent (nice people, which was one reason I chose them) and got the keys. Drove to the flat and saw it for the first time. (And then drove back in 3.5 hours.) Met the landlord, signed things.

The flat's not too bad. Everything's in reasonably good nick. The washing machine/tumble drier is new (apparently) but I'll need to take an extension lead so I can put the fridge where I want it and get access to all the kitchen units. But there's no telephone (there is an unconnected socket) so getting the Internet is an issue. And there's what I think is a Sky cable but nothing else. So there's no TV either.

But these things are such distractions. Think how much I could write if I wasn't distracted. But I need my research!

I do have a TV and a DVD player. Perhaps I can get the basic terrestrial channels for starters, then a Freeview box for £30 and a better internal aerial. Then get a mobile plug-in thingy on contract, hm, maybe I can do something with Orange since I already have a contract with them.

There might be an unprotected WiFi in the area as a stopgap.

So, this afternoon I pack up my computer and a few other things, give my car to a friend who's helping with the "moving children around" while I'm away and off to the station. For the trip down.

What's on the turntable? Nothing. My wife is working at the other desk and she's listening to an Agatha Christie Poirot story on BBC7.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Professional creatives

Well, I was a good boy yesterday and wrote a whole 5 pages on the Une Nuit a Paris script, which made me feel much better, and then I started working on the dialogue of my Monsters script.

So good all round really. And it looks like all the contracts and paperwork are through for my flat and the job. General reduction of stress. So, today I'm off shopping for some new clothes, dress code is relaxed, as it usually is in programming environments, so a couple more pairs of jeans, some big T-shirts (XXXL, oooh-er), and smalls.

What most people don't realise is that programmers are creatives. Sure, there are rules -- what art doesn't have rules? -- but it's a highly creative process. Writing code is about having a goal, knowing the technology (rules) of how to get there and then applying the creative process to build the product.

Of course, usually no one appreciates the art of programming except another programmer. And the fact that it has a highly commercial end product means that programmers get whipped into little cubicles and told to create, to a deadline.

Well, real pros can create to a deadline, but it's still creativity.

Here's a related story. Back in the stone age, when I was a teenager, I studied Maths and Science at school but I wrote stories and poetry at home. And I went to evening classes to study painting, I hated watercolour but I had a bit of a knack with oils.

Our teacher had originally had a job as a paint mixer. Someone would come in with a sample and say "match this" so that's what he'd do: a splash of this, a splash of that. Done. Then he had some sort of accident and had to stop work. So he took up painting.

He was an excellent painter and very fast. He showed us three identical monochrome watercolours he'd thrown together in an hour, identical except one was red, one was blue and one was green. They were individually beautiful.

He was planning to sell them as a set, an hour's work and they'd probably fetch £100 for the lot. And this was when £100 was a lot of money. The guy was a total professional.

Art isn't about suffering, it's about being creative to a solid result, with a deadline (even if it's your own). (That's what I think, anyway.)

What's on the turntable? "The Whale" by the Electric Light Orchestra

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Paying your way

So, the job paperwork is complete, and so is the flat rental paperwork hopefully.

The flat rental form (Tenancy Application) is an interesting document, it's essentially an insurance form for the landlord. It's purpose is to determine whether I, as the tenant, am who I claim to be and whether I can actually pay.

This is actually the problem: I run all my business through a limited company, and the accounts are completed only up to 2006. At this time income was very low. Although my accountant did have the opportunity to say "your profit has doubled" between 2005 and 2006. This is not, however, saying a lot. But, by my estimates, my profit at least doubled again 2006-2007 and then they'll be doubling again for 2008.

But there's no documentary proof. However I can prove that my income for the next six months will be out the roof. Which will hopefully be enough.

It is my intention to catch up on my accounts, using the income from the new job, and get all my accounts properly in order. I suspect I'll get slammed with tax bills, but I'd rather be honest now than pay even more later when the Revenue men catch up with me and are less friendly.

Of course it was a double shock and a half when I found out how much I had to pay for this flat. I didn't really think it through: one month in advance, and one and a half months as deposit. Ouch. 2.5 x the monthly rent up-front. We can just about scrape this together.

Meanwhile other bills mount up, my membership of the WGGB is up and I have to pay them the annual fee. You pay a tithe on your income from writing but there's a minimum below which you cannot go. I made no money from writing last year. So they get the minimum.

No ScriptFrenzy writing yesterday, but my calculations were off. Even if I'd written nothing so far I'd only need to do 4.5 pages per day to win. So I'm probably on about 4 pages/day.

But I'm in a tizzy about what to work on:

Monsters: TV series which I intend to send to the BBC Writers Room , it's pretty much ready but I want to spice up the dialogue which could take a few days.

Movie Treatment: As described yesterday, needs a lot of re-working to get the plot into something that's actually working properly. But while there's no strict deadline on this, the longer I take the less likely it's going to be accepted.

ScriptFrenzy: 4-5 pages per day

Sometimes you need to sit down and evaluate these things. Particularly when there's so much other stress going on, and moving house is considered to be one of the most stressful things you can ever do. Even though it's only me moving temporarily.

So I suppose I need to write some ScriptFrenzy pages and then work on Monsters before someone comes up with the same idea and gets it made.

Onwards and upwards.

What's on the turntable? "The Great Beyond" by REM

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Opinions and coverage

So I'm waiting for agents to ring me back...

Meanwhile I received coverage from the lovely Elisabeth Pinto on a treatment for an adaptation that I've been working on. This goes along with the feedback from the inestimable Lucy at Bang2Write, by coincidence she's been talking about adaptations recently.

Whether you're writing novels or scripts (and probably any other creative work) never bother asking friends or family for their opinions on your work. Unfortunately it will most likely be useless since they either don't want to upset you, or think you're wonderful whatever you do, or even worse, they don't want you to be doing it and will try to kill your enthusiasm.

Who does that leave? People who have no vested interest in you as a person. There are online and offline writing groups (Google is your friend). These will not be professionals (usually) so everything they say must be taken with a pinch of salt. The more opinions you get, the better, and see what comments are common. (Anyone writing SF, Horror or Fantasy should go to Critters which is the biggest and the best online critiquing group, and it's free.)

And then there are the actual professional readers who you have to pay (like Lucy and Elisabeth).

Even then I recommend at least two opinions. Why? Because art is always subjective, and it's important to see what commonalities there are between the reports you get. Those are definitely the areas that will need work.

But always, in the end, trust yourself. It's your work, your creations. There are certain things like format that should be adhered to, but everything else is open. Even structure.

Many moons ago I worked as an editor for a computer magazine in a medium-sized technology magazine publisher. Every article that appeared got edited and changed by 4 people -- the editor, the sub-editor, editor-in-chief, and the publisher. (Sometimes more.)

The result was that every article had all its individuality edited out of it, all the sharp edges were smoothed down, and any creative spark thoroughly doused. The result was an homogenous pap. Every article was readable, but had no life.

You don't have to make any change that any reader of your work might suggest. It's yours, make sure it stays that way.

What's on the turntable? "A Whisper" by Coldplay

Oh no.

According to the bastion of knowledge* Wikipedia, the location of my flat in Reading is two streets from the Reading red-light district.

Wonderful. Perhaps I'm in for some unintentional research.

*NOT. Wikipedia is okay for non-contentious subjects, as long as the content is treated as potentially suspect. For anything where disagreement exists it's reliability drops to nil.

What's on the turntable? "Nu Flow" by Big Brovaz

Tart inspires utopia

I wanted to get all the paperwork for the Reading trip sorted yesterday. I didn't. I didn't get any of it done. The Job Agency say there's no problem but he needs to talk to the expert on the filling in of what jobs I've done, she's in today.

The nice lady at the Letting Agency was out so I couldn't talk to her about this Tenancy Application form which also wants information that, frankly, I just don't have.

Today maybe. Time running out. I can just see the countdown timer on the bomb.

Despite the stress I managed to get up to 12 pages on my ScriptFrenzy script (Une Nuit a Paris), so if I can keep this up I'll catch up eventually. Hm, actually 5 x (30-14) = 80, plus the 12 I've done = 92. I need to do at least 6 pages per day, and it'd be better if I did some major catching up.

My script revolves around a stag party trip to Paris, where the bridegroom-to-be falls for a prostitute. It's a rom-com, in theory. Except I've never really written any comedy before so I don't even know if I can be funny.

And I've never been on a stag night. (Never even invited.)

I have been to Paris.

But never met a Parisian prostitute. (Though I have seen them at the Bois de Boulogne driving through during the evening. That would be me driving, not the prostitutes.)

Not sure the wife would be happy if I chose to research the subject in any depth.

(Wondering what the title of this blog is about? It's an anagram of Parisian Prostitute.)

(Irony? The word 'blog' is not in the blogger spelling checker dictionary.)

(No more parentheticals.)


What's on the turntable? "I Remember You" by the Eurythmics

Monday, April 07, 2008

Down in the dumps

It's okay to feel down in the dumps for a little while, as long as it doesn't go on too long.

The Saturday trip to Liverpool went off without a hitch: Daughter got her Jujitsu Black Belt 11th Tab (roughly equivalent to "First Dan and a bit" for a junior), and the Boy is now a Black Belt.

We were so close to Aintree that we could hear the announcements and race commentary. However we arrived and left early enough that we weren't affected by the traffic. Still, sitting (or even "sitting still") in a car for 6 hours is not very exciting.

My relocation to Reading is turning into a bit of a nightmare. The agency just informed me that they have to account for my employment for the entire previous year. What? I've had two contract jobs but the rest of the time I've been writing and editing stuff for other people, usually taking only a few days each.

I had nothing like this on the previous jobs, they didn't even ask.

And what's really sweet, the agency guy says "oh, it's alright if you don't remember the names of the people you worked for ... " as in line/project managers " ... I'll just call the HR departments and ask."

Oh you will? You'll phone individuals living at home who had me edit their book and ask for their HR department? Real world, living, not.

And, you know, I'm not a stupid person, but the forms that I'm required to fill in for the job and also the flat rental. I'd like to scream.

So while sitting in the car in Liverpool I chose a flat to live in in Reading and paid over a deposit, sight unseen. Not that I had Internet access in the car, that was just from a note I made. Not the best way but choice? None of.

One property agent I spoke to refused to allow me to pay for a flat without seeing it. I'm not really critical of this, it's their company policy based on bad experiences with tenants who kicked up a fuss when what they got wasn't what they thought they'd get. Fair enough. But no use to me, at all.

Anyway the agency I'm using seemed quite nice people, I even spoke to the guy who owns the company. They offered me a bedsit that they own themselves, which would have been good from one point of view but I prefer to have a lounge/kitchen with separate bedroom so I can keep bits of my life separate. Call me an old fogey, I don't mind.

In the midst of all this there is ScriptFrenzy which I'm supposed to be doing this year. Not doing well, I'm days behind. The idea is to write 100 script pages in April (30 days) which is about 3.3 pages per day. I'm on 7 when I should be on 25 today. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up once I get the job and property sorted out. (I am a professional writer, after all, should be a doddle.)

I did ScriptFrenzy last year on my Monsters TV series project, and the year before I wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo both of those were well prepared. This time I have barely more than an idea -- I'm writing a story inspired by the 10CC album called "The Original Soundtrack".

Confused? You will be.

This 10CC album was not the original soundtrack of anything, it was just the name of the album. It's the album that has the wonderful "I'm not in love" song, a full gorgeous 8 minutes of it. It also has a narrative track called "One Night In Paris" and I'm writing "Une Nuit a Paris".

Anyway, I'm feeling a bit better now. Thanks for listening. Same time tomorrow? If I'm not busy? Fine.

What's on the turntable? Enrique Inglesias singing Hero in Spanish.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!

Apart from the fact I'm moving to Reading next week, which is stressful in itself since I have to organise everything, including somewhere to live, tomorrow is going to be both stressful and boring.

It all started nearly 12 years ago when my daughter, at the grand old age of 5, was sent to Jujitsu classes. This was because we never wanted her to be a victim of physical violence. Nowadays I have no fear of her being out, she knows half a dozen ways to kill a person and many more ways to simply maim. (She is really the sweetest girl you could meet.)

However she is now black belt and doing what's called "11th Tab" which is for juniors and is part of the way to 2nd Dan.

Tomorrow she has to be in Liverpool to take her grading, at 12 noon.

My son is taking his black belt grading (he's 6 years younger) and so he has to be in Liverpool as well. He has to be there at 8:45 am.

Inconvenient but not a serious problem.

However, tomorrow is the Grand National horse race taking place at Aintree. In Liverpool. About 1 mile from the Jujitsu Dojo HQ in Fazakerley. (Really, that's what the area is called.)

So it's going to be really really busy. We're getting there early and I'm not moving for anything.

We'll see what happens.

Oh dear, I've got a job

Here's a pretty kettle of fish.

This time last year I became familiar with a thing called Drupal ... it's for building websites, it's very clever and it's free.

As a result I've had two contract programming jobs so far, one in Leeds and one in Dundee, and I've been making rather more money that I had been previously. (Editing books and writing web content for websites.)

This is good.

I've just been offered a 6 month contract in Reading (about 20 miles west of London) in a very large organisation, running a major project which will influence the lives of millions. (Actually true.) And I'm prevaricating. (That's why I'm writing this blog instead of doing what I should be doing.)

I've already accepted it but it means that, for at least 6 months, I'm going to be living away from home (home at weekends) and not doing all the thing I should be doing for my kids and wife.

The Dundee job was similar (Dundee being well into Scotland) but was only for a month.

But, frankly, we need the money. And it's a seriously good job.

And I'll be able to write in the evenings.

No choice.


In fact this is my second blog but I lost the other one under a pile of papers.

Q: Why is it called "I didn't mean to jog him so hard"?

A: It isn't, it's called "Adaddinsane", which is not a typo, it's "A Dad Insane". The original title was that because my favourite film is The Princess Bride.

Q: Are you really David Bowie or Homer Simpson ... or both?

A: No.

Q: OK. So do you look like David Bowie or Homer Simpson?

A: Unfortunately I have to admit to the latter. But I'd prefer to look like the former.

Q: Why are you calling yourself Adaddinsane?

A: Because it's mildly funny and hasn't been taken.

That's enough of that.