Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pruning back the trees [dead and alive]

Had a local tree surgeon round last night to give me a quote on some work in the garden. The big copper beech is reaching out to throttle the overhead telephone lines again, so that needs trimming back. The hedges have exploded, thanks to all this rain and the warmer weather. There's a big lilac that needs taking in hand. But it's the rhododendron that's the real reason for calling in help.

Seven years ago it was a decent sized by nicely shaped and decorative. Now it's a voracious monster blocking all light from the front room and threatening to consume the house. Come the end of this summer, the triffid-like beast is getting a much needed pruning.

I've been doing much the same in my office. Whenever I end a major project, I like to spend a day or two clearing away all the relevant reference materials and tidying my office. It restores a sense of control to my working life that's not easy to attain when you've big, hairy deadlines bearing down on you. For example, I'm in the habit of keeping hard copies of all the marked-up drafts for my novels.

But when you've had eighteen novels published and each runs to several hundred pages, that quickly turns into thousands of pieces of A4 filling every available shelf and surface. I've got the various versions on my computer and backed-up on disc, so all those pages are going into the paper recycling bin for collection next week.

It's much the same inside my head. Once I get to the end of a project, I have a habit of dumping the accumulated knowledge from my thoughts. Large chunks of it will still linger at the back of my mind, but I need to clear space in my consciousness for whatever comes next. I can only keep so many plates spinning at once, otherwise overall is reached and none of them get the attention they deserve. So has it been with soaps and continuing drama series of late.

I've been faithfully watching the Scottish soap River City since last February, preparatory to trying out for the show as a writer. It's gotten to the point where I say most of the characters' lines before they speak them out loud, I've gotten so familiar with the cadences of their speech. [I'm still waiting to hear back on the sample scenes I was invited to script last September - these things take time.]

In preparation for applying to join the BBC Writers' Academy, I've been recording Doctors and EastEnders, and watching Casualty as often as possible. But no matter how hard I try, I keep missing the fourth and final series covered by the Writers' Academy, Holby City. If by some faint miracle I get summoned down to London for the academy workshop, I suspect it's my paucity of Holby City knowledge that will cost me dear. But there's only so much room in my head, and watching eight hours of soap a work with critical faculties fully engaged is testing my limits.

If only I could get a man in to clean out the cluttered sections of my brain and leave me a freshly organised mind, with everything in its own compartment and neatly labelled for ease of access. For now I'll survive with a brain that best fits the description of organised chaos.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

We can share info my friend, I know loads about Holby City and not as much about Doctors. Email me and we can chat on the fone about both shows if you like, might be more useful.

While I'm here - if you have a Fever Pitch style logline and synopsis kicking about, enter it in my rival comp over at my blog.
Details here my little pretties...