Monday, December 20, 2010

And I'm back in the room

and I have so much to say that I just don't know where to start - the end result is that this is probably going to be quite disjointed.

Currently I'm having fan-girl squees all over TV writer Howard Overman - which sounds as disgusting as something he might write for Nathan in Misfits; now in its second season and as brilliant as ever (he created and writes the series - it's not for the easily offended). Plus he wrote the new Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency adaptation - on BBC4 no less, not known for its fictional drama.

Since the London Screenwriters' Festival I have been waiting on the results of certain activities. I foolishly failed to take my own advice and had high hopes of the Channel 4 mentoring scheme. My usual advice to anyone is "enter and forget", I didn't do this and was seriously disappointed when I failed to get in. Very silly me.

On the other hand the Shine Pictures competition I did indeed enter and forget- just as well.

There is one more thing I entered which I was expecting the results of before Christmas but I suspect I won't hear anything until afterwards now. Which is fine.

(Note to self: reprogram computer keyboard driver so that when I type ';' with a 't' immediately after it it changes the ';' to an apostrophe - because that is the most common typo I make and it's really annoying.)

(Note about note to self: learn how to reprogram computer keyboard driver.)

The site I was working relaunched pretty successfully - and rather better than the US version of the site which had problems every time they did a relaunch of each of its eight sections (which they did by stages). We received a personal congratulatory email from the person at the top. Very nice.

As previously mentioned I do my "I am a rock" impression during these difficult periods (though not with the bad connotations of the Simon and Garfunkel song of the same name). And today one of the staff referred to me as a "saint" - I think she was going for a Saint Peter comparison but didn't quite make it. Being a rock is all very well but, you know, sometimes even rocks need to cry. (See what I did there? No? Check the lyrics, man!)

It's Christmas. And we have rail network problems. This does not bother me. I ignore them. And travel long distances by train and arrive as required. It's been said that if someone comes back with the instant quip, he's a comedian. But if he comes back half an hour later with the quip, he's a writer.

Well, I was standing on a busy station with 500 commuters who were waiting for a train that was going to be packed, and two people decided to take out their frustration on a network rail employee. I will not stand for that sort of thing so I told them to leave him alone, in my extreme writerly cleverness I said "Why don't you leave him alone?" so then they tried to take it out on me, I gave them my best condescending smile and just turned away as in "I am not listening to your nonsense."

Of course, half an hour later, after replaying the episode many many times I realised that a much better line - played loudly to the entire audience - would have been "Do you understand the meaning of the word bully?" which would have left them speechless. Then I could have turned away without the condescending smile to thunderous applause.

Might have got a punch in the mouth though. But it would have been in the cause of art, and there is no better cause than that.

Speaking of writing (brilliant segway) I am in the middle of a rewrite of the feature script Running. Thing is this: I had two chunks of feedback from the Blue Cat competition this year and both readers liked aspects of it but there were things to work on.

I began by completely re-working the opening - not the first few scenes because they are cool - but after that. And then I got stuck. Took me a whole 24 hours to realise that I was making a huge blunder: the readers liked the story, and here I was changing the story. Major ooops.

So I threw those changes away and put back what I had before.

However I do have a slight problem: the original version of the script was set in a generic US city, so cops with guns is perfectly normal. The new setting is Edinburgh (because I have someone who wants to read it and it needs to be set in Scotland - and Edinburgh is perfect for the premise). So guns suddenly cease to be common. Bit awkward, still, I'll manage.

And then I realised the first few scenes, though very exciting and jolly good action, don't actually make much sense if you examine the logic. Ooops again. Now this is the second time this has happened to me in the last three months (I had also realised the premise of Winter made no sense either - yes, Jez, you did say that. What can I say? I can be thick as a brick.)

So, as I crunched through snow this evening I figured out how to make it make sense, which then allowed me to have the original scenes and the new scenes. Script writing can be very satisfying.

Which brings me to my last point, for now.

Writers often say that they must write. It's a curious thing to me, as if it's some obsession, because I look at myself and I think "I'm not like that". I have no compulsion to write, I enjoy it but I don't mind stopping. Failing to write does not hurt.

But my recent failure in the Channel 4 mentoring scheme made me wonder whether I should bother writing at all. I fell to imagining not writing - thing is, I couldn't. I am incapable of imagining myself not writing. So while I have less compulsion - the creativity is there and it just isn't going away any time soon whether my work gets picked up by a film or TV company or not.

Funny that.

What's on the turntable? "All I want" by Joni Mitchell from "Blue"


Yehudah Jez Freedman said...

ah but you emailed me not long after that saying you had come to the same conclusion. it's often ignored, but without a doubt true, that writers who can appraise their own work honestly, who know how to process feedback and are able to make the right choices to improve a story, will write infinitely better scripts than those who can't or won't.

Air and Monsters are two of the best spec pilots I've read. You can fluke one but not two. So keep going!

Adaddinsane said...

The cheque's in the post.

Yehudah Jez Freedman said...

must be the christmas post