Thursday, March 27, 2008

Breaking News

Breaking News

"What did she say happened?"

"She was lying on the floor of the bathroom screaming that she was about to give birth and her partner slept through it".

"And she's on tv for that?"

"She's been on tv twice today. She made the lunchtime news too".

"She's on tv because her husband is a heavy sleeper?"

"He even yawned when they asked him about it".

"So this girl is on the news because she gave birth".

"Pretty much".

"Look North - woman has baby. I'm hoping this is a slow news day".

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Once more unto the breach

Once more unto the breach

It probably didn't escape your notice that back in November I attempted NaNoWriMo, in the end triumphing with an (as yet) unfinished novel named Ilyria which reached 50,531 words by the end of the November. Obviously writing it nearly killed me but it was something I'm (not so secretly) proud of. And though I have since discovered that nothing, other than character development (obviously), happens in the first 20,000 words it may well stand as one of the great breakthroughs of my writing life - just because it proved to myself that I could actually buckle down and (almost) write a novel.

In such a vein of inspiration insanity I have now committed to Script Frenzy in April. Brought to the world by the lovely people behind NaNo the idea of this is to write 100 pages of script in the thirty days of April. You can write anything that the word 'script' might cover, a brief glance at the hardy souls who attempted the feat in its original year quickly shows that writing a screenplay was the favoured option. One day, obviously, I will write a screenplay - if only because Dean and I have already cast the film of Films About Ghosts (Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman as the leads should you be interested) - but that one day is not now. Not at least until I have watched enough films and read enough screenplays so that I don't get stuck having to included Titanic in a list of my favourite films.

So I'm going to take the predictable option and write a play.

Obviously this choice means that I'm not so much walking into the unknown as walking to the shop at the top of my street and buying a copy of the Guardian and a bar of chocolate. I have, after all, written plays before. Even the timescale doesn't feel that terrible. My first draft of FAG (such a great acronym) was written between 19th of September and 23rd of October last year. And of that time there was a good fortnight when - because of the fact that sometimes you just need to walk through fields quoting poetry - I found it utterly impossible to write anything on the play. I vividly remember writing the entirety of the second act (a good 57 pages) in five days. Even when I had the idea of writing a play in a fortnight a couple of years ago I managed 97 pages in the allotted time. And bits of that play are actually quite good. Bits of it are terrible, but that comes with the territory (and possibly with the fact I wrote it concurrently with attending a writer's course where they gave you the rules that are given to the people who write on Eastenders).

So Script Frenzy certainly feels like it's within my comfort zone.

The challenge comes from the fact that my inner editor is going to be much more alert that she was allowed to be during NaNo. I not only have to write 100 pages of script, I have to write 100 pages of script that I think I might be able to re-write and re-write and then re-write again into something that I might fall in love with. Which is a bit different to simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Over the past few weeks the building blocks of the play have started to come together. I've wanted to write something with lots of interesting female characters for some time and this seems the perfect opportunity. There is a spot on your profile on Script Frenzy which allows you to categorise your script as being [blank] meets [blank] and, with a high degree of geek-ness I have labelled mine as My Mother Said I Never Should meets The Blue Room. For anyone who knows the latter play (sending the phrase "Pure theatrical Viagra" into folklore) I would emphasise that it is the structure rather than content that I am (partially) pillaging. I still need to do a bit of work before April 1st as whilst I've almost finished mapping out all the major interconnecting scenes none of the characters have names or full biographies. I've been enjoying myself, however, pottering around making notes and reading about the 'death of the sisterhood', hedge funds, diaries and Rosalind Franklin (as one article described her, "the Sylvia Plath of twentieth century science"). At the very least it has softened the rather more concrete (and scary) MA application and the packaging and sending off of Films About Ghosts which are currently in progress. Indeed letting go of Poppy and Charlie and the world of FAG is proving difficult - the urge to return and polish is one I do not think I will ever rid myself of - a distraction of a new play is something that I suspect I urgently need.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Next Step: The Republic of Yorkshire

Next Step: The Republic of Yorkshire

It is Sunday morning, I am at home, half awake, flicking through the pages of The Observer in the blissful knowledge that for the first time in weeks it is a Sunday where I neither have to work nor travel. The conversation is the type of Sunday morning discourse that fades in and out, going nowhere in particular.

There has, I am aware, been talk of my mother's broken foot for the last couple of minutes, for, like numerous footballers before her, she has broken her metatarsal.

"If you said the word 'ginnel' to someone whose first language wasn't English they wouldn't know what you meant".

For the accident occurred in a ginnel.

"They wouldn't know what you meant outside of Yorkshire" I add.

"Really?"

"Yes, ginnel's very much a Northern word". I pause. A conversation I had on a bus in the middle of South London comes to mind. "It's like the word 'breadcake'; Dean said that [Director Boy] didn't have a clue what he meant".

"They don't use the word breadcake in London?". I can tell that my mother is adding this to the list of reasons why the North is infinitely superior to anywhere below Sheffield.

"Apparently not".

"Then, what on earth do they call a breadcake?"

"Erm" I make some gesture with my hands, as if that is going to help the situation. Because obviously I cannot comprehend a world where the word breadcake is not used either. And I have lived in the south. "A roll?"

"But that's not a roll".

"No it isn't" my father contributes.

I nod. Those Southerners with their southern ways. They shall be getting us to call dinner 'lunch' and tea 'dinner' next. "I know".

We all sink back into the silence of our Sunday papers, safe in the knowledge of the linguistic superiority of our county.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Because I haven't pimped anything for a while

Because I haven't pimped anything for a while

Last year there was Shaggy Blog Stories, this year it is over to Peach with You're Not The Only One in aid of Warchild. The deadline for submissions has just been extended, so if you've got a blog then you know what you should do. At the very least you should submit so that I have someone to have a consoling bottle of vodka glass of wine with if our submissions don't make the final cut.

As for my own submission, I had a ponder, ate some chocolate, listened to Scouting For Girls, pondered some more and then realised that pondering gets you nowhere. Consequently I pulled out the three entries that had sprung immediately to mind, discarded one for sheer vanity reasons and then edited the other two down into more manageable sizes. In the end I discarded the one that I suspect I will use in a novel, somewhere, sometime.

So the chosen blog? You'll have to guess.