Friday, November 30, 2007

2008 is just a wall planner away

Every year the local weekly paper publishes a free wall planner with its final edition of November. That turned up yesterday, giving me the chance to pin over the top of 2006's wall planner and just underneath this year's wall planner. After a crowded, madcap, lemon-scented kind of year, it's nice to have the broad, empty expanses of a new year ahead on which to plot, plan and peregrinate. [Hold on, let me check in the dictionary that peregrination actually means what I think it does ... to travel or wander about from place to place, to voyage ... well, it doesn't mean what I thought, but it kind of works in the context, so it'll do.]

First thing to go on the 2008 wall planner was a 25 day round trip to New Zealand, starting in mid-March. Various birthdays and anniversaries get marked up next, followed by less salubrious events [dental appointments] and more salubrious events [the third Screenwriters' Festival in Cheltenham, taking place July 1-3 next year]. Other than that, 2008 remains a big blank for me. No burning deadlines to meet, no university assignments to hand in. The veteran freelancer in me sees all those emtpy dates with no work attached and starts to hyperventilate. How will I pay monthly bills?

But the writer in me sees opportunity. Finally, a chance to tackle those projects I've had to set aside for weeks, months, even years while I paid the bills and completed my screenwriting MA. The radio play I've been threatened to develop for grud knows how long. The novel I'd like to write - not for money, but for the love of storytelling. I need to keep refreshing my portfolio of TV scripts, and one day should probably dive into a feature-length screenplay.

Fellow writer Isobel Wright has challenged me to write a play for the stage, something that utilises my strong grasp of structure and tendency towards more muscular, action-packed storytelling. Character-driven explorations of feelings are not anywhere near my comfort. I like plot-driven stories and, if I can't have plot, I'll go for humour - dark, bleak and mordant, but humour nevertheless. There's no reason why that can't be for the stage as well as the page.

So I've no idea how I'll be paying the bills next year, but I've got faith they will get paid. Somehow. In the meantime I'm letting myself imagine. That's what storytelling is about, the great 'What if...?'

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