A stale mind is the devil’s breadbox

Perhaps it’s because I’m not Professor Mary Bly, B.A., Harvard College; M.Phil., Oxford University; Ph.D., Yale University?

Or perhaps it’s because my mind is so stale? 

But I don’t understand this metaphor. Quite.

Sarah Graham

I suppose it means something like…a stale mind allows easy access to malign thoughts.

I have to tell you that yesterday my mind started off dangerously stale but became fresher as the day went on.

Don’t ask me why, or how. It just did.

New writing strategy for the day: If you can’t write the next scene then forget it and write the scene after that.

(Somewhere, I shall have to accumulate all my strategies. Who knows? My Iced Currant Bun Method could become famous!)

This feature-length screenplay writing lark is SO very similar to running a marathon, for me. In marathon running, some people hit the wall at about 20 miles…

Ralph Steadman (Of course! Who else could it be?)

  …whereas for me, once I get to a certain point – around 16 miles – I KNOW I can finish. It’s the mid period – say 9 to 16 miles that I find toughest – so many miles to go.

I reckon I’m at around 20 miles now, on the homeward stretch but still with a few miles to go – but the end is in sight. The medal. The space blanket. The elation…

Day 26 Update
6 pages and going steadily

Try as we might, we write what we write.

bg Thurston said this. She’s a poet and I can’t find out much about her.

A ca Coxon aside: I found her name slightly annoying, at first. WHY does she not use a capital BG? What IS her name? I searched and searched and could find nothing much at all. That was even more annoying. I like to KNOW things. Then I realised – what a very good way it was to ensure your name is memorable

That aside, yes, try as we might. we write what we write…

Oh, the strategies I’ve employed to get this screenplay written.

I regularly face west as part of my Feng Shui strategy to promote creative thoughts.

I make myself complete x number of pages before I’m allowed to eat another Iced Currant Bun (food of the gods)

(I’m getting used to eating stale Iced Currant Buns)

Yesterday’s strategy was – I’m trying to think of a name for it…

If I have a problem, say – I can’t think where a scene should go, or what will be a credible motivation for a character’s next action or whatever, normally I sit and stare at the page until I go cross-eyed.

Yesterday, I wrote a list of household chores. A problem surfaced. I looked at my list. I chose a chore. I said to myself – ‘Before I’ve finished hand-brushing the stair carpet I will have worked out how to get x to do y”

Other stair carpets available

IT WORKED!

Peter likes my new strategy.

Day 23 Update
6 pages – that’s better, girl!

“Pain is temporary."

“It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me. So when I feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with?”

Lance Armstrong

 Yep, today I need a REALLY motivational quote. Up to London last night, coaching, home at 12.30 a.m., less than four hours sleep. All my choice (except the not being able to sleep bit) so I’m not complaining.

But I AM tired.

I choose pain!

And coffee.

And having the window wide open so the fresh air keeps me awake.

And another Iced Currant Bun.

Day 21 Update
2 pages and a feeling that this is NOT enough, Caroline

If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.

,,,said Heraclitus.

(I’m looking at the picture, which I chose because it was jolly, and wondering which way the fish jumped.)

Yesterday was unexpected. I didn’t expect it. Having dutifully informed all my clients that I’d be back at my desk (well, I’m nearly ALWAYS at my desk – but I mean, back at my desk and open for business) from 10 a.m. I expected to be inundated with work.

Nothing. No e-mails. No phonecalls. NOTHING! ALL DAY.

This was the thought process that ran through my head: Because I dared to take a week off, they have FOUND ANOTHER WRITER. Another writer who is better/cheaper/faster/more intelligent/more diligent than I am.

I WILL NEVER WORK AGAIN.

So instead…I carried on with the screenplay and got on more quickly with it than on the days that I took off especially to work on it.

Now THAT was unexpected.

Day 20 Update
7 pages and sailing

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On writing screenplays: "I never know whether to pity or congratulate a man on coming to his senses."

Thus said William Makepeace Thackeray, 19th Century English satirical novelist, most  famous for Vanity Fair

 Ha! Spot the deliberate mistake. Somehow, Hugh Jackman in a vest  is more appealing to look at than Thackeray. Just my opinion…

ANYWAY…here’s how I’ve come to my senses. (Don’t worry, I’m sure it will only be a temporary state of affairs.)

I’ve been trying to write my screenplay in my…

The trouble is, I don’t HAVE any spare time, with all my various commitments with work, horses, family, visitors, coaching – listed in no particular order.

One of the things about working from home is that if you ARE at home then, effectively, you’re AT WORK. Since I rarely go away on holiday that means I’m always on the end of a phone line or email-accessible. Great for my clients. I have lovely clients, without exception, and it’s my pleasure to go the extra mile for each and every one of them.

HOWEVER…it means that my own writing time is always being eaten in to. Either that or I work such long hours that my brain has died before I start.

It was setting myself up to fail (thanks, John Bourne, for your insight) to think I could write three pages a day and achieve everything else.

SO – I declare that I AM TAKING A HOLIDAY from close of play this Friday, August 10th until Monday, August 20th.

In that time, I’m going to write my socks off!

I don’t think I’m needing pity for coming to my senses!

Day 8 Update
Zero and utter exhaustion

Writing – The Importance Of Names

It’s funny – well, strange – that I can’t start writing a screenplay, story, novel, ANYTHING unless I have the title there. I have an idea of the plot but it doesn’t crystallise until the title is there. I can’t even operate with a working title. It has to be THE title. That’s what makes the whole thing come into existence for me –  a reality, rather than an amorphous blob of random thoughts swimming around in the pond of my brain.

Then there’s the naming of characters. I don’t KNOW the name of a character until I see it somewhere. It might be on a website of baby names or practically anywhere, including a telephone directory. All I know is that when I see the name, THAT’S IT, and the character takes on a life of its own.

I was thinking of this today because of how some names just sing out to me as being so perfect.

Today, that name was Curiosity – NASA’s rover that just landed on Mars!

Yesterday, was the title of a novel: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo (now, SHE could do with a different name!)

I wasn’t forgetting the screenplay update. I have visitors. No chance at all to write.

Day 5 Update
Half a page and incipient panic

 

Screenplay writing: The widow’s mite page.

Mite not as in small arthropod but as in tiny bronze coin. And certainly not as in the textese spelling of might.

In the bible story, (I’m not a COMPLETE heathen, you see) a widow donates two small coins to the temple treasury while wealthy people donate huge amounts that look impressive but that they can easily afford. For someone to give so generously when she has so little means so much more…

Or something like that.

SO here’s me after yesterday with my vague mutterings about having great excuses for not writing. Here’s me and the promised wriggling.

I had lots to do in the house and I also had a 60th birthday party to go to from early evening onwards (which was WONDERFUL) but mainly, I felt really unwell – REALLY. Not the sort of unwell you feel when you don’t want to something.

BUT…

Day 4 Update
I wrote 1 new page and also nailed some more plot points.

“Only one page?” you cry, aghast.

Let me tell you, that one page was momentous. Defied the predictable. Kept up the momentum. Took something even to start. I was pleased.

A widow’s mite page.

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Screenplay Writing: “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.”

 Not, I’m fairly certain, applied to writing screenplays or, in this case, NOT writing screenplays…

After the triumph that was Thursday, I reaped the rewards yesterday, rewards being a euphemistic word for…the opposite of rewards.

No internet = no emails = no access to work coming in = backlog of work with silly deadlines, made even sillier by the fact that I didn’t see them until Thursday night.

SO – yesterday was spent chasing my tail.

I did a massive amount of work for three separate clients. A massive amount of work, none of which was writing my screenplay.

Today promised to be one that I spent castigating myself about yesterday.

How much of a waste of time is THAT?

(Here’s a clue: It’s an ENORMOUS waste of time)

Day 3 Update
½ a new page (Aaaaaaargh!) BUT…I did interview someone at length about all the technical information I need in order to make the script credible, so that was progress, of sorts. (I apologise for being enigmatic but the script is meant to be submitted anonymously so I can’t be specific here.)


I have some fabulous excuses for not writing today…



Watch me wriggle tomorrow!

Screenplay writing: How to end not starting – as if by magic

I would like to say a HUGE thank you to British Telecom for providing such an appalling service yesterday.

My phoneline went dead at about 10 in the morning…
No phoneline, no internet.
I spent quite a time unplugging things and plugging them in again and watching little lights flashing on the Home Hub when they shouldn’t have been flashing and trying not to bother Peter at work because surely A Woman Such As Myself should be able to deal with a simple techie problem like this?
HOWEVER…
Do I need the internet to write a screenplay? No, I do not.
Usually, I use the internet a lot when I’m writing (yes, I know it’s sad and ridiculous!) It’s when I include facts and details. I feel the need to check that they’re accurate before I carry on with the next bit. So I stop writing and consult Mr. Google. I do the same if I can’t find The Perfect Word.
Yesterday, with steely determination and a stiff upper lip, whenever I got to a bit like that I put in the words BLAH BLAH BLAH and carried on.
(I am now thinking that I’ll submit the completed work without having found all those places and people will think I’ve gone mad. Or madder.)
Doing that seemed to work…
Day 2 Update
I wrote 5½ new pages and sorted out a lot of things in my head.

So yes, thank you British Telecom. You may well beam proudly.
BUT DON’T DO IT AGAIN.

Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real

Ha! You thought this was me ignoring the fact that yesterday I started on a screenplay writing regime designed to meet a deadline…and vowed to update you on (lack of) progress.

Fear is a factor in all this, believe me.

Until yesterday, I hadn’t even dared look at the first ten pages of my screenplay, written so long ago. Here is what I had concluded:

  1. The script was a load of rubbish
  2. I wasn’t even interested in it anymore
  3. I couldn’t even begin to think how to continue it
  4. Why did I ever imagine I could be a screenplay writer?

This was FACT. THE TRUTH. Very real in my mind.

So, yesterday, I gulped and swallowed and looked at those ten pages…It took me until after 6 p.m….

This is what I found:

  1. The script was actually pretty good
  2. I loved the characters I had created and wanted to develop them
  3. Plenty of ideas popped into my brain as soon as I started reading
  4. I AM a screenplay writer

False Evidence Appearing Real, indeed.

I have awarded myself a badge:

Day 1 Update

I didn’t write 3 new pages. I DID look at the first ten pages, revise them and write1½ new pages and think about how the story will unfold. I felt pleased.