I’ve found throughout my life that Fate has always been handy with the bit of lead piping, so it shouldn’t really be surprising that, with a short story, a script and two ideas for further screenplays now in hand, as well as an inkling, at last, of where my writing bent could best express itself, the health problems which first made an appearance in late September are still hampering attempts to actually get on with things.
We’re inching towards some sort of diagnosis, mostly by finding out what it’s not, and tidying up some other things on the way. (I did say it would be nice to have some sort of MOT, now I was at the point where I could drop ‘at my time of life’ lugubriously into conversations – but this isn’t quite the way I envisaged it.) After three months traversing the health care system I’m getting a good idea, not just of how the NHS works but, even more helpfully, the rationale of how it works. So, in my usual vein of passing on useful info I would have been really glad of myself, various future posts on this subject will hopefully spare you my own errors as you move through the NHS.
As to the writing: the screen-plays were started in the late summer before all this health nonsense began. The first is supposed to be a romantic comedy but, as ever with my attempts at this genre, keeps edging more towards romantic drama: it’s more a love story with a twist, about a misunderstood man and the power and importance of music to move people.
It came about after I’d been idly spinning out a clip of The Voice I’d found down a YouTube wormhole into various follow-on scenes: I woke up at four o’clock one morning to find the whole thing suddenly unfolding as if I was recalling a film I’d seen the night before for a friend. After a week during which the script poured out relentlessly whenever I sat down at the computer, it stalled on the lack of solid back story and my minimal technical knowledge of the music industry – and has been on hold ever since.
It was during the work to fill in these gaps that I got the ideas for the other two screenplays; both also set around the music industry, as there’s no way I’m wasting the amount of research I’ve had to do on just one script. One is a dilettante-ish piece using the stock industry and media types I discovered during work on the first script. It lacks body at the moment – all I really have is a theme: ‘Love is for Everyone’, the basic outline of a fairly interesting journey for my main character and a general idea of the other characters. I spent quite a few weeks constantly spinning various detailed scenarios in idle moments to find ones that could fit and flesh out/illustrate the plot/character points, but once I got these I rather lost interest. It’s all a bit Millenial in its treatment, so if I am to do it I need to get on with it if it’s to stay topical. It’s a little bit too frothy to really get my teeth into but it could be quite fun if I can get it to work properly.
It’s far more likely, though, that it’ll be yet another of my doomed attempts to write romantic comedy. This is something I generally aim at when writing screenplays and always fail. As any Pratchett fan will tell you, the Story goes where it wants to go and one of my favourite characters in the script I wrote ten years ago about Second World War pensioners ended up getting stabbed, which was extremely annoying. She didn’t die, but it definitely brought down the mood of what I’d intended as a feel-good comedy.
(Perhaps when I get Even Older I’ll be one of those sweet faced little old ladies: a diminutive figure with snowy white hair and perhaps a shawl. I shall pat small children on the head, always have a pound coin on the mantle-piece for whichever charity comes calling and then retire to my knick-knack filled sitting room where I write blood-curdling murder mysteries under nondescript initials and a surname; a fact only discovered after my death by my startled biographer. My fan club of diehard goths will also be duly appalled and there will be a short dip in sales as they recover from the shame. This will be followed by an enormous surge in popularity as the incongruity of the situation is just the thing to appeal to the chattering classes and, cleverly managed by my agent who appears on numerous chat shows after publishing his account of affairs, results in a large extension to the Cat’s Home to which I have left the copyrights. But I digress.)
The third screenplay is just an outline along the lines of a ‘what if?’ scenario with the build-up and resolution done in an unusual way. At the moment I only have the pivotal midpoint scene but the idea interests me a lot because it explores the reasons behind the three key characters’ behaviour that brings them all individually to that place. It’s far more of a thriller/drama and something I’d be keen on workshopping if I ever get these health issues resolved.
In an attempt to get round this I’m thinking of doing a sort of on-line workshop for the first of the rom coms, by posting the back stories for the characters and the details of how I worked out the plot. The idea is that by explaining things to you I’ll discover where I’ve gone wrong with some of it and how to improve on the weaknesses. I’m not sure it’ll work but it should be interesting even if it doesn’t.
Now then, the perennial search for a writing niche. Much of the work I did to get an idea of the music industry was through studying radio and tv interviews posted on YouTube. These proved absolutely fascinating and, after a while, interestingly predictable in questions and responses. Both interviewer and band have an agenda, ostensibly the same, in reality often conflicting, which leads to various manoeuvres between the two to elicit/not disclose information. (I can see I’ll have to do a separate post, because I could go on for another couple of thousand words about this almost chess-game.) But in terms of my script, very few interviewers managed to draw out the person behind the lifestyle that I needed. (Very few of them seemed interested in doing so.) Even print interviews were often frustrating in their chosen angle and general lack of depth.
Inevitably, I started to think that I’d rather like to see how I’d get on, if I tried this myself (at home). I’ve always been interested in people and how they tick, have found in the past that people I meet end up telling me all their problems and spent a large part of my last job ‘interviewing’ academics about their work, how they did it and what they wanted to achieve with it. The outlook seems quite encouraging then from this basic level, though obviously I’m completely ignorant in terms of professional technicalities and experience. But it feels like a very comfortable ‘fit’ and one I want to explore this year.
There’s also the Girls’ Own Annual project, that ran into copyright issues on my first attempt, to be picked up again. A lot of the articles make points that are still amazingly relevant to the things we’re going through today and you might (possibly) find them as useful as I do. (Plus ca change etc.)
So, lots of things on the boil at the moment, which should hopefully result in some interesting posts for you to read (argue about/deride/like) in the next few months. As to New Year’s Resolutions, one is to write more far regularly this year, and the other, more importantly, is to actually write down all the random scenarios and near constant dialogue for these scenarios that clog up my thoughts day-to-day. And then maybe, just maybe, I’ll start producing some good stuff.