writing


“May you live in interesting times”

– a Chinese curse, that. Apparently.

Anyway – the Imp is doing just that: living in interesting times (well, aren’t we all?). And one of the moments on the horizon is that I’m about to spend the night in a near-empty theatre, writing a 20-minute performance piece, from scratch, for 6 actors I’ve yet to meet, to be performed 24 hours after we wet our pens. Dead excited, but also nervous.  The whole thing goes up on the main stage – and it’s filling up (this ain’t no teeny theatre).

Cor – the unknown – and I don’t mean Rumsfeld’s unknown knowables….

We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

Beautiful….’cos what could I possibly have to worry about, having read that?!

😉

The boiler’s gone. And it’s raining. T’was sludging earlier, so this is an improvement. And I’ve not really got my brain in yet, either. Next couple of days bring trips to That London, the far east (Anglia), friends, professionals and recalcitrant teens. I’ll play teacher, adult, grouchy stranger and, in-between, really get to be a mate.  Part of me would much rather curl up and hide. But if I did that, who knows when I would reappear?!

I suspect half of this desire for the cave is about writing. In the last few weeks, I’ve spewed out plays of 60 and 15 minutes. That’s not to say they’re good; they will more than definitely need work, but the act of squeezing them out is quite intense (and throughoutly enjoyable – lucky me this time, as it can be merry hell). I’m also now reworking an earlier, incomplete work, and seeing how weedy and flawsome it was – also a good feeling, but….So, yes: engagment with the outer world is going to take me away from this lovely writing.

Better get back to it, then!

😉

I remember why I procrastinate when it comes to creative writing: it’s bleedin’  HARD.

Luckily, the only diversionary tactic I can legitimately allow myself (apart from this. Ahem) is harder and definitely less appealing: updating the personal finances.

I don’t think I can stretch this out much longer…except (phew!) to remark that I really might have lost my quality-ometer and have no idea whether what I’ve written this last few weeks is any good at all (it’s a script rewrite, following a script-in-hand rehearsed reading/performance).

I mean, it might be ok, or even not bad (go on, push the boat out!), but – well, people saying the original was any good so took me by surprise that my critical compass looks rather unreliable and may well have gone completely haywire (if a stopped clock is right twice a day, a buggered compass must swing past North every now and again).

Any writers reading, or any body reading, with thoughts on knowing quality (or is it a knowable unknowable?), click the button and say your thang! Help me lose that haywire-making magnet!

😉

To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.

– The Farmer’s Almanac, 1978

I can’t help but get superstitious when the gremlins come to play. I have two computers on the go, both refusing to do as they are told. The third (yes, the third) is being a sturdy stalwart (a mac, of course!) and I am very grateful. I can’t print, I can’t edit, I can’t get online, I can’t progress……

That’ll serve me write for making up horrible characters and then think about sending them to jail. Or death. Or decades of agonising, chronic pain.

Ironically, the ur-plot’s the one about overcoming the monster…;)

I can’t expose a human weakness on the stage unless I know it through having it myself.

– TENNESSEE WILLIAMS

Here’s a bastard thing about script-writing. You can have lots of pages, and only a meagre few thousand words. The goody is that you can write silence. The baddy is that a misjudged word put in a character’s mouth is so dissonant, the whole thing can fall apart and the world you have created becomes suddenly so weak.

Just done a 4.5 hour stint on the new play and the energy levels are plumetting. Have tried a read-through, out loud, to bring the whole thing together, get a sense of pace and timings. We now have a full-length play’s first half (ie 45 minutes), or two-thirds of something shorter. Doing that  helped, greatly – it reminds me of the whole. But I’m still shattered. Time for some air…

Hats off to medics and care/health-worker types. Many fine people in there. ….What inspires this particular random salutation?

It’s the little memory I’ve had just now, that in measuring the success and value of various interventions (operations, drugs, procedures, protocols etc), the quality of the patient’s life is often taken into account. And there are scales of measurement. Which is, natch, where the fighting begins. Quite right too: you have to get these things right.

Quality of life ought always to be a consideration when treating someone’s health.  Seeing the patient as a person, not a “condition” is the only way you can do this, and it takes time. Thoughtfulness always does. What’s so tricky is that things that improve my quality of life are completely subjective (thankfully, otherwise we’d all be quarrelling over the strangest items).

But are you aware of the things that improve your quality of life, really? Today I got a full 3,000 words down, had me hair done, did some proper cooking, had a great conversation with my hairdresser and said ‘screw the tax chores’. All on top of yesterday’s wintry-sun five-mile, peaceful wander and a damn fine sleep. These things make me happy and each one (and other stuff) make my life better.  But it was the writing that made the day so good and really made me feel fine – when I would have thought it would be the walk or the sleep that won.

Of course, it’s not necessarily the activity that generates a sense of well-being. It’s the state of mind generated by the activity. I’m having a jolly fine time right now, thanks to the barber’s shop rendition of “What shall we do with the drunken sailor?” rolling around the kitchen right now [it’s the radio; not me!]. And chatting with you, of course. Although it’s not doing my concentration much good, as you can clearly see.

Lots of us use TV to relax, to switch off – in effect to make the day good after hard work. Some read, others drink, play sport or chat. Do they get you to where you want to be? Have you thought about it? Do you ‘save’ quality of life-improvers for the weekend, thinking they require time? When was the last time you tried or found a new life-improver (without obligations – the horrible fun-spoilers that they are)?

We’re coming up to a time of year that causes so much stress for so many people, when it ought to be enjoyable. Take the holidays and find the fun for you. An Imp on every Christmas tree!

😉

Readers! Regulars will see that I’ve changed the design of the page today. This is something I do every so often, to alter my relationship with it. I wholly believe in changing your writing environment, and (related) that the appearance of a page affects how it is read.

So, in that vein, we’ve shifted from what I would call the womb-like, warm, surrounded feel of the old design, to this bold, stark, newspaper-esque style.  The words are just the same, but your thoughts are more than welcome – for interest, not necessarily consultation! 😉

Not even sure how I’ll get on with it – but always worth a try!

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