Mightier than the sword

Today has been very satisfying on a multitude of levels. I got up early, cooked carrot & tomato soup (I make fantastic soup, by the way, from fresh organic ingredients) and put a roast on for lunch. Then collected my notes, my thoughts and sat down to write. Sometimes nothing happens and I stare at a blank page, make umpteen cups of tea or coffee, pace about, chew fingers and generally distract myself with daytime TV as a gnawing wave of guilt engulfs me. Not so today.

Boots has been undergoing a transformation in my head (where I do most of my writing these days) for about a year. My job and my family commitments have left me with very little time for my creative self. I’m forever encouraging my students to take time to explore their own creativity above and beyond the constraints and demands of academic work, but I never take my own advice. That’s rather too Jean Brodie for my liking; less, “Creme de la creme,” more, “Do as I say, not as I do.” As I now teach part-time, I really ought to watch myself before I fall prey to charges of hypocrisy (or I back the wrong side in the Spanish Civil War). But I digress…

The phone rang, the doorbell rang (numerous times) and the children were pretty noisy, but once I’d stepped inside the world of my characters I managed to stay there. Discipline is the only way forward when you are writing. It isn’t the creativity that dries up, it’s the dogged, tenacious, bloody-minded hard graft – that’s what writers-block is, nothing more. In her wonderful book, Screen Language, Cherry Potter devotes a whole chapter to the procrastination process that writers go through. “No-one will want to read what I write.” So thinks the procrastinator, followed by, “The kids are bothering me and the ironing needs to be done…” and so on. Potter’s observations hit home with the precision of someone who has herself used these excuses to not achieve her writing goals. She then goes on to give tips as to how one can overcome all of that. I’m so glad I read her book and admitted the truth to myself some time ago. It made today easy & maybe tomorrow, too? Whereas in the past I had a lot of time to allow a fairly organic writing process to take place,  nowadays I have to work at it every day. I must note down ideas, or they’re gone; I draw sketches, take photographs or make film notes on whatever recording device I have to hand. There’s a constant process of refinement, analysis and working out the puzzle. Making films is all of this and more, but it’s real life in all its boring, ugly, chaotic and challenging forms that keep it interesting.

Just watched Tell No One (2006) on iTunes: an excellent thriller with one of the most amazing stunts that I’ve ever seen. Who needs green-screen when you have pin-point accurate stunt driving and a very nimble stuntman? Cherchez la femme should always be this good.

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