Monday, April 06, 2009

So yesterday was a bust

I should have written the first ten pages of my Lighthouse project script, but I knew I wasn't ready. Writing is a lot about heart, it's a lot about craft and it's a lot about intellect. You can take all the courses in the world, attend every workshop you can find or afford, read all the blogs and books and interviews you like. Ultimately, it's about listening to that little voice in your head that tells you what happens next.

I believe you can teach the craft of writing. I'm not so certain you can learn the instincts of a storyteller. It's the nagging in my gut, the little voice at the back of your mind that warns when something ain't working. This scene isn't ringing true, this story logic doesn't flow, this moment ain't right to start writing. Recognising the difference between that and lazy ass procrastination tendencies - not so easy.

But sometimes you have to be willing to forget deadlines, forget the need to do something right now, forget the imperative to be a good pupil. Sometimes you have to listen to that voice that tells you today isn't the day to start writing. Instinct. It's elusive and tricksy and you can't always trust you're hearing it right. But your storytelling instinct is what makes you a writer, what makes your stories different.

So yesterday afternoon was one of those long, dark tea-times of the soul. Knew I needed to write, wasn't ready to start. Having it happen on a Sunday was no help either. I've always hated Sunday afternoons, that back to school tomorrow feeling. The weekend's over, you haven't achieved a fraction of the things you planned and now it's back to the harsh realities of your working life. Bang goes another week of your life.

But there's always hope. Had an email discussion with Phil, the screenwriter and author who facilitates the Lighthouse project. Sorted out a bunch of stuff that was stopping me from writing. Still got a mess o' things to resolve, need to re-plot the first half of my script - if not more - but that doesn't matter. The woods and the trees are separating, I can see a glimmer of pathway, I've got some ideas about where I'm headed.

So there's hope. No idea how of even if I'll make next Tuesday's midday deadline. Got to visit Edinburgh today for an appearance on the Book Cafe, a BBC Radio Scotland discussion programme. Need to pop into my office at Napier and read something I forgot to comment on last Friday. That's half the day gone, no matter how I slice it. Got a full day at Napier on Wednesday. Spending Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Bradford talking sci-fi.

Today will be about plotting and planning, I suspect. Working out a new road map for the journey my characters need to make in the second draft. So that leaves Tuesday, Thursday, Monday and half of Tuesday to write 60 pages. Not sure I'm gonna manage that, but I'll do what I can. After the long, dark tea-time of the soul that was Sunday I'm feeling more positive. There's hope, and hope is a wonderful thing. As ever - onwards!


Scaramanga said...

Go for it!

I am waiting for the follow up post telling us all that it worked out fine and that you are sitting back at home with a nice cuppa basking in the knowledge that - when the time came - you got it done.


Anonymous said...


Insightful post about job v. art and the oft overlooked role of dark tea. Thanks for putting into words what we all go through in silence.

As Scaramanga said, looking forward to the followup post as to the conclusion.


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