I wrote another book. More aptly I should say I finished it before I got to the end of the last rewrite of the book I’ve been working on for the last four years on this site. Put simply, writing about old wrestling shows became far easier than facing my own story and the many flaws it has. Hence nothing here since August.
I’ve been podcasting, I’ve been miniature painting over on Instagram, I have written reviews on videogames alongside my son and I have been plotting how to write a text adventure game. As the world caved in with a cocktail of COVID and Brexit these things felt like instant wins. Clamouring back to the coal face of aliens from other worlds and Scottish tourist villages felt far too much of an uphill task. It’s a task that must begin again though especially as I’m not that far away from a possible ending.
There’s a chance my head is a bit out of practice with creative writing though so I might go and write something fairly short to get back up to speed. If so it’ll get posted here.
The very best to you and I hope you’re all keeping safe and well.
A book seems a really big and all consuming thing right now. Having finished the latest draft a couple of weeks ago during lockdown I’ve touched up a few chapters but not gone back to it since. I’ve taken to doing smaller writing tasks that provide much more of an instant gratification upon completing them. I’ll spent time reviewing a cheap game over on the video game blog my son and I keep. I’ll write some more about wrestling and put that up on Bad Education. I’ve also discovered single player role playing games during the lockdown, one of which is scratching that writing itch just dandy right now. It’s called The Machine by Adira Slattery and Fen Slattery and it’s something of a revelation.
The Machine involves the keeping of a journal detailing how your character makes the titular contraption. It can be anything you want it to be. In my case it’s quite small like a pocket watch and able to sing songs from within. You play the game alone but the idea is that, once your character meets their demise, you pass the journal onto a friend so they carry it on as somebody who has found or been given the same journal. My current character is a discreet magician (I figure he’d have to be in order to keep his tricks under wraps).
You select two options from a list of about sixty jobs and characteristics, crossing them off the lost so nobody else can choose them. Using a deck of playing cards you lift the card on top and the number and suit influences what has happened. For example my first entry proper was the six of diamonds which gave me ‘hateful’ and ‘a sleepless night’. There followed a frantic half hour as I described my character pacing around his elaborate study in the early hours sketching his grand plan for the construction of the machine that would gain himmhis fortune. After those thirty minutes I was done, I could move on, I had achieved something. No long think times, no sitting infront of a blank page and no going back to rewrite. The Machine is part game and part creative writing exercise and if you’re a writer at a loose end or needing something of a writing based distraction then it’s a good $5 to spend.
The book still hangs over me though and it’s something of a problem to work on it knowing that there’s a whole heap more to do before I get that ‘done writing’ hit.
An e-mail arrives.
In the opening line I’m described as ‘a force for creative writing in the region’.
I nearly spit coffee across my desk.
It’s an email with details of an event local to me which is dedicated to getting school kids to write. It has workshops to go through poetry and story telling. In the evening they’re putting on a bit of live performance. Would I be interested in coming and doing a bit of teaching?
Yes, but not yet would be the simple answer. A longer one would be something on the lines of feeling I’ve done nothing of note so far in any kind of writing field. I have had one movie made and screened and a show put on in a small theatre. Neither of these things paid any money, neither of them have led to anything else. I have a quick nightmarish thought about being surrounded by a group of school kids, pads at the ready, when one leans forward and asks “What have you done then?”. I struggle for an answer and upon giving my writing CV verbally they look at me confused with an air of “Who the hell does this guy think he is?”.
So I decline which is a shame because there’s ‘a budget for tutors’ which, unless I’m getting the completely wrong end of a stick here, means I would have got paid. My first job related to writing would be to tell everybody else how to write? I have a deep discomfort with that idea.
It’s been a long six weeks.
Many months ago now I sat with Kathleen and John of Mostly Ghostly and proclaimed with some confidence that I could have a 90 minute script for Order For Burning up and running in a month and a half. I was basing that assumption on the fact that the story was already there and that history had given me my ending before I’d even put fingers to keyboard. There was to be no juncture in which I would be stuck, I would simply be able to find out how events panned out in real life before pressing on with my Get Out Of Jail free card. I’d be done and dusted in no time.
It has not been the case.
If anything, conforming to history has proved even harder. If I was writing something completely fictional I’d have free reign to just make something up if I ran into a problem. Anything would work as long as I made it do so. With this project however I’m forever asking myself questions like ‘Is this actually possible in 1659?’ and needing to find an answer to get around the troubled sections.
A fine example are the trials themselves. When I hear the word ‘trial’ I’m imagining a court of law with a guy in a wig and banging a gavel on a podium whilst shouting ‘Order!’. I’m aware it was probably nothing like this at all back then but am unsure as to what to replace it with. These are the parts I’m writing whilst squirming, knowing that they are truly awful.
Also, I’m trying to make the film about the struggle of the women involved but during this first draft they very much seem to be taking a back seat to the battle between the community and religion. On that note also, bar a witch hunting man determined the put the blaze on anybody who moves the wrong way, there’s not much to give a more human side to the religion side of things anyway.
So there we go, I’m plugging away and writing junk desperate to get ‘The End’ written on draft one by Christmas. Part of the problem has also been getting the motivation to write it when I know it’s currently just going through motions and reading horribly when I check it back. Having something to work with will be invaluable however.
I feel like I haven’t written anything new and worthwhile in ages. A few weeks ago I finished polishing up ‘Seven Lucky Stars’ and it sits there waiting to be sent out to more theatres. This is usually the time though, right on cue, that I get the voices of doubt. It’s not anything like Brian Wilson had during his Beach Boys career, voices saying they’re going to kill me but it is a small noise that tells me I’m not really good enough and that this writing thing should have been confined to the cupboards years ago along with all the other remnants from my childhood. I shouldn’t be here anymore, the chance has long gone and I have been found wanting. Why carry on?
I’ll go through patches like this, patches when absolutely no writing gets done as a result. To be honest it’s almost always at the start of anything I write when it’s at the loudest simply because there’s nothing there to combat it. You don’t have any notes, nor do you have any writing, you just have a bare minimum of an idea and blank pages. If ideas grow from one single spark then here’s at the most vulnerable.
I never usually get writer’s block as the condition is defined as not knowing what to write. I have ideas, a fair few of them mulled over continuously in the last few months, so it’s far from that. What I do struggle with though is gaining a foothold somewhere about it before starting the climb. It’s a phase that can take weeks if not months. Once started I can usually rattle through and get something readable which is when the manic writing comes in. Reaching that tipping point between the two is a slight art.
Once the doubting voices have shut up I have an sketched out idea for a short film. I’m hoping for a chunk of 1950’s influenced sci-fi.