Sunday, October 15, 2006

I've got the Klappe [that's an Ikea chair]

So, for my birthday I got a new writing chair - I got a lot of other presents too, including a wonderful party and all manner of alcohol, but the chair was a much needed and appreciated gift. It's from Ikea and rejoices in the unfortunate name of Klappe. [There's an omlaut over the letter A, in case you're wondering.] Ikea product names can be a great source of culturally insensitive hilarity, but this one is a particularly strong example. What next, a table called Siph? Actually, there's a liquid scourer called Cif, so that's already been covered.

Despite getting the Klappe [sorry, couldn't help yourself] for my birthday, I decided to hold back from using the chair until after I'd finished my 17th novel. That left the building on Tuesday and Wednesday saw my old faithful writing chair retired to the guest bedroom. It's supported me through more than a dozen novels, as many audio dramas, two dozen scripts for the Phantom and millions of words. Let's hope the new chair proves just as productive a place to plant my arse. So far, so good.

It was week two in trimester one of year two of my MA screenwriting course on Friday. We had a discussion about the merits and symboolism in Bresson's L'Argent first, followed by a screening of Casablanca. Amazingly, there were some students in the class who'd never seen Casablanca before. I don't consider a great cinephile, but I must have seen that movie at least a dozen times, if not more. Perhaps the best time was on its 50th aniversary cinema re-release in 1992. Amazing how different the experience of watching Casablanca is on the big screen.

In the afternoon the part-timers went into a huddle with our screenwriting tutor James Mavor. He'd set us the task of bringing in 20 ideas for films or TV projects - each. Some of mine were little more than a title, others more considered and more advanced. One of them seemed to catch James's imagination and, I have to admit, it's one I was already seriously contemplating for further development, so I take that as a good sign it's got legs.

The local theatre workshop production of Major Barbara ended its run last night. I didn't take a prompt during any of the four performances and managed to think on my feet a few times when expected cues didn't materialise. By the last night I was beginning to find some depth to my characterisation that I hadn't previously appreciated. I wish I'd learned my lines sooner, so I could have devoted more time to exploring the characters, but pressure of work prevented that.

I'm helping to produce the pantomime, but will not be auditioning for a part tomorrow night. The combination of college, being mentored and half a dozen other work-related projects means I have to curtail my extracurricular activities for the next few months. It's a shame, as I love taking part in the panto, but something's gotta give and that's the most obvious candidate. As it is I've had to get a three week extension on the deadline for my next novel, something the editor has kindly granted. I might have gotten it finished by the original deadline, but the quality would have suffered. The extra time means a better book, so that's to everyone's benefit.

Once novel #18 is done, I doubt I'll be taking on any more novels for a month or four. I need to pour as much of my energies as possible into the mentoring project, my MA and other activities specifically aimed at advancing my career into new areas. Money-making work is important and I care deeply about every novel I write - if you don't care about a novel while you're writing it, you can't expect the readers to car while they're reading it. But the novels are a massive time committment and it's time I can ill afford in the new year.

I suspect the first quarter of 2007 will be among my worse for making money as a writer, but I'm hopeful they will represent a breakthrough for my future career. I've been an editor and journalist for the past twenty years or so. For the next twenty, I want to be writing drama for broadcast, be that radio, TV or even films. To make that want a reality, I have to make sacrifices. Speculate to accumulate and all of that. Let the accumulation begin!

1 comment:

TonyB said...

Hi David - perhaps you could report back on how you're finding the chair. I'm looking for a new office chair myself, I think it makes quite a difference to how you feel sitting at the keyboard if your chair is nice and comfy and supportive!

Good luck with shifting your career towards broadcast writing. Given the insecurity of such a profession I think it's best not to abandon your 'core business' and always have another string to your bow - commissioning editors and producers are often the most indecisive people on the planet, and much waiting is involved!

I read on another blog (can't remember which one) a writer describing the process of writing his first Doctors episode - two years in the making and the princely sum of three grand at the end of it! Hmmm, definitely need a day job!