Wotcha

Monday, 7 September, 2009

Net-less as my new abode is, this place has taken a seat so far in the back it’s in the boot with the spare tire. No, it’s playing cards with the ushers. No, its arse is in the holy water. (Can I stop yet?) If something isn’t staring me in the face it might as well not be in the world. Or at least it won’t get used. (Bear witness, expensive John Lewis juicer: your eons of collecting airborne toast crumbs under the sink will come.)

Work, life, work, life, etc, etc.

– – –

PLINTH
Video diary is coming. Before J plants his feet up there, I swear it.
Proper plinth updates are coming. I would very much like to briefly wave back at Matt and his wicked response before I start collating and reflecting and generally following up on stuff.

– – –

WRITING

Much compulsive journalling, many odd-lines-that-don’t-fit-anywhere-really, the usual life/world/people observations. There are some startings of things but no middles or endings. Lots of notes for other things. No big project. I need a big project. (Happily acknowledging my status without actually taking steps to rectify. Until today. Kind of. Maybe. Gragh.)

Less concentrated time due to work has frustrated the hell out of me and in general prompted me to become more alert to opportunities to use the hours I do have usefully. When it comes to scribbling this isn’t so easy. (I biro notes at the desk on scraps of paper used to transit items to other libraries having been unable to cultivate the habit of carrying a tiny Moleskine in my bra.) And allow me to be obvious: inspiration strikes with irritating regularity at wholly inconvenient times and it’s fucking maddening. Especially given my lack of anything approaching memory. Whispering prompts to myself, making up mnemonics, until I can sit down with a pen and… evaporation. Yes. Thank you. Welcome to trying to be a writer. What’s the main course?

One thing I’m slowly learning is how better to use library work. I’ve been snatching and hoarding anything of interest, committing to nothing, growling at time and effort and print. Comparison is the agent of unhappiness. (That’s not mine.) Time is an achievement. Effort is worth itself. Print is a bonus. I love eclecticism and bitesize distractions, my attention span demands them, but eighteen books on loan is too many books. (But one can never have too many books.) Oh… sigh :)

Organisation is at a level of absolute zero. The Should-be-useful-but-is-just-unsurprisingly-stressful Database of My Adult Life’s Work is under the sink with the juicer. Vaguely looking back at previous years’ meanderings. Conflicting instincts as to what to do with interesting things have me paralysed and procrastinating, which is pretty much my natural state.

But! Many fun things are happening in lives of writerly friends of mine including gorgeous prose, poetry printing, filmmaking, play submissions, travel writing, blogging… All lovely and encouraging and not-at-all intimidating. Really, it’s inspiring. That’s the response I choose to own. (Begone, demons of self-flagellation and envy!) The little group I love swirls in a wider orbit and will no doubt converge on November for Nanowrimo. On this point I’m pretty sure I won’t be taking part as per the brand-new-project but I quite want to commit to the word count, or at least some structure. I don’t need the certificate but could use the camaraderie.

– – –

And that’s enough for now.
And how are you?

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Postcards from the Plinth!

Thursday, 2 July, 2009

On Thursday 9th July 4-5am I’ll be writing/drawing twelve postcards on Trafalgar’s fourth plinth – live on the web, covered by Sky Arts! – and sending them afterwards.
The cards will document my hour, either overtly or not, depending on what I come up with when I’m doing them, as well as echoing the themes of communication etc. There’s more on my sketchy rationale on my earlier entry.

Help me choose who gets the cards!

I’ll be drawing the names out of something – some sort of bag, probably – live from the plinth. Suggest as many or as few names as you like. Friends, relatives, public figures, organisations, alive or not, anyone you think could use the communication, anyone at all for any reason, anywhere in the world.

Comment here, text me, phone me, tweet me (@thespyglass) or comment on my earlier blog entry
I’ll cite you as the person who suggested the name unless you’d rather be anonymous 😉

Thanks, everyone!

Poking Prose

Tuesday, 12 May, 2009

Posting about: Script Frenzy, editing prose/database, writing group.

With Script Frenzy over and done and won, thank fuck, I’m back to prose. Sick of script-writing. Sick of all my ideas for scripts. Sick of being jealous of ‘Mad Men’. Sick of wondering whether I got anything out of April on the writing front, which of course I did, but wonder wonder anyway.

Current project – only project – is to assess what I have in the way of prose, hack it up, mash it together, squish it into shape and glare at it. In stages.
1) Type up everything ever, or at least everything from the last two-and-a-half years.
2) Put everything into Scrivener or similar projects for easy access/editing.
3) Assess common themes and repetitions and conceptions of bigger, valuable projects.
4) Put things in some kind of order and hierarchy, based on theme and medium (i.e. long prose, short prose, prose poem, poem, random dialogue).
5) Edit things so they is good.
6) Glare at it.

Stage 6 is really just a place-holder. What I probably mean is either “cry/panic because all of it is shit”, “panic/cry because some of it could be good but will be loads of work” or “panicry because my brain has sploded”.

Times like this it’s great to have friends who know how nuts this stuff is.
With the end of Script Frenzy – and my vow never to ML any OLL events ever again ever, no matter how many Oscars and poems I get – comes the dawn of a new era for our writing group, newly dubbed Scribblepool. I bloody love these people. All the friends I made off the back of Nano last year, plus all the friends made in the fug and haze of Screnzy, all up for supporting each other and feedbacking and hanging out and discussing The Process. I’m so grateful for you, little guide rope on the cliff face.

Script Slog

Tuesday, 14 April, 2009

Back on-topic for the blog and I’m at a cross-roads in the middle of Procrastination Hell during this my third Script Frenzy. In 2007 I was writing for cinema (‘Embassy’) but barely scraped 8,000 words; in 2008 I adapted a ‘failed’ Nanowrimo idea (‘Paragon’) for TV and got the 100 pages but didn’t get a complete draft; this year it’s back to the big screen again with ‘The Centre’ and although I’m at the halfway point and ahead of schedule… what’s a hyperbolic synonym for “slog”?

It’s not that I don’t like the idea or the characters, rather I like them too much, or at least I like the idea of the idea too much. I’m too wed to my ideas about the characters. Also, it’s not plot-driven. There are things that need to happen, sure, but there isn’t the unstoppable force there was behind last year’s action-sci-fi, nor the scope for writing speculative dialogue that directors/actors/viewers can then ascribe meaning to, leave things open for the rest of the season. It’s got to be self-contained. This thing I’m trying to do is about a people and a place and I’m having to be more economical than is my wont.

And finally, the 100 pages goal does exceedingly well at providing my shrieking inner editor with more ammunition. (“It’s only 100 pages, it should at least not suck!” Or: “Good god, woman, it took you two weeks to write fifty pages? They better be bloody Brecht!” And my personal favourite: “Just what is the point of even doing this if it isn’t going to be good enough for anything?” GAH.)

So here, now, at the halfway, on the hump, at the top of the hill, is my pep talk to myself.

1) What was your aim going into this Script Frenzy? It was to get a complete draft. Not a great draft, not a special draft, not even a decent draft, but a complete draft. You have never completed a screenplay. Never. This will be the first time ever that you come out of either Nanowrimo or Script Frenzy with a complete, self-contained piece of original work. Writing something from beginning to end, that’s what you’re proving. Put the inner editor back in the crypt of St Peter’s. She was happy there in November.

2) John is real. Being him isn’t difficult. The place he lives, it’s down the road. His family, friends, colleagues, enemies… they did all this stuff already. You’re only telling what’s already happened.

3) John is not real. You don’t owe him anything. If you need to twist him to get to the end, twist him. If you need someone to be someone else, damn it, just do it. The end is boss. We’re not going on some journey of character-discovery, not in the first draft. We’re only going to the end. (See, it’s only over there!)

4) Self-sabotage is not a good look for spring. You want to screw something up, wait for winter, at least you can wear blankets everywhere.

5) STOP BLOGGING, TWEETING, WATCHING, EATING… JUST BLOODY TYPE! TYPE, WOMAN!

Protected: Wrimo Challenge 1: Mills & Boon

Wednesday, 18 February, 2009

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Reporting Live

Monday, 22 December, 2008

Posting about: Current reading and writing / Blog idea / Randomness

Reading Negotiating With the Dead, finally. Working in a library is dangerous. My bedside table ‘To Read’ book pile is already twice the height it was before I started work.

Knocked out a bit of a short story while sat in Morrison’s cafe the other day, got me thinking about all kinds of other things I could write in similar style and on similar themes. Added ‘write 101 pieces of short fiction’ to my list soon afterwards because really, why wasn’t it already on there?

– – –

Went to see Twilight the other day for some reason and spent the trailers bullet-pointing notes for a blog post on the theme of watching the film in a sea of oestrogen-happy teenagers and Miscellaneous Other People, sitting between a girl with restless leg syndrome and a woman in her forties who “just loves it so much, so much, it’s amazing, oh god, I love it”.

Then I remembered I haven’t got a blog. Read the rest of this entry »

Nanowrimo Retrospective

Monday, 8 December, 2008

So I ‘won’. 50,542 words of codename/working title ‘Playtime’ written by the deadline of 23:59 on the 30th of November. I actually finished at about quarter past four on Friday morning, the 28th, egged on by various people in the chatroom, and I felt great, but yet again I don’t have a complete draft. That’s got to be my target for next year, to get a complete draft in the month, not just 50,000 ambling words. And fuck, do they amble. We’ve got a past that shouldn’t be dull given what it consists of but it is, a present that I quite like but am not sure where it’s going, a bunch of inserts from a conversation between two of the characters and a couple of ‘out there’ fantasy/dream-ish scenes that aren’t particularly relevant yet, but they will be.

– – –

I posted haphazardly to Viddler during Nano.

I also made a few journal-type notes in separate – uncounted! – sections of my Scrivener file as I went through the month. Most of my scribblings were to do with the mechanics of the thing itself or random personal musings but here’s some of the stuff I wrote about the ‘process’. (Ha.) Just a mini insight into the weirdness of Nano.

FRI 14 NOV 02:16 Read the rest of this entry »

How to Write

Saturday, 20 September, 2008

New series in The Guardian, starting today, entitled ‘How to Write’, including a nice piece by Robert Harris on producing a novel.

Just in time for NaNoWriMo, which I wasn’t 100% sure I’d be taking part in this year, but I think I need to, just for an excuse to blitz some ideas that keep niggling at me and infecting all my other ideas.

On the couch in the front room

Wednesday, 20 August, 2008

THE BLOCK [novel]
This started as my attempt at NaNoWriMo 2007, and I got the 50,000 words done, but didn’t finish the story. Ultimately it’s a big mess of multiple plots and cringe-makingly clumsy prose that has no real focus and a trillion loose ends. It also has some sections and characters and ideas that I love. Reading it over I’ve discovered a few things:
a) I was trying to do too much at once. Thriller meets Lit Fic meets Coming-of-Age Cheese meets Rom Com meets A Great Big Mess. First step is to decide which stories work best together and put everything else on the proverbial clipboard because otherwise I won’t do anything justice.
b) I can come up with some nice little phrases when I want to, engaging characters, decent twists. This is both satisfying and reassuring. I reckon it’s generally a good idea to be not completely talentless. In fact I think that’ll be my mantra. “I’m not completely talentless.”
c) I reap the rewards of hard work, but also, just maybe, hard work on this whole thing is its own reward.

SECTIONS [prose poems]
The first things to get cut from ‘The Block’, which frees both projects up to be what they need to be.

OH, AND…
I love movies. I love them. I love cinema. I love film. I love movies.

Musings

Monday, 18 August, 2008

I talked to my brother tonight when I got home and suddenly I was a person again.

Typing is not natural to me – in writing, that is – but it’s faster, so less is lost, but there’s a barrier. And the backspace key. (Soon to be the ‘delete’ key, once I have my Mac.)

EMBASSY [screenplay]
Haven’t mentioned this yet, huh? Started life as my attempt at Script Frenzy 2007 and was then lost in the great computer crash of that same year. I still like the basic set-up, the protagonist, the themes etc., but the intricacies of the plot are nowhere. I know what I want to see but it doesn’t make sense yet. It’s high concept and dystopian future. In fact who am I kidding, I’m basically writing Children of Men, only not that subject matter. Hmm.

THE CENTRE [screen drama] Read the rest of this entry »