Commanding Clouds With Towels

Today isn’t so much about writing, it’s more about editing. There’s still some overhanging parts of the old version of Order Of Burning sitting there waiting to be lobbed off but the extra scenes I need have all been written. It’s all in a mess currently though so here’s how today goes. Count this as a day in the life of an amateur script writer.

7:30am- Wake up and get a face wash and shower.

7:45am- Wake up my Son because he has to get to school.

7:48am- Continue trying to wake up my Son as he’s stuck the duvet over his head. We usually get this on school days.

7:50am- Make my Son breakfast (peanut butter on toast and a glass of milk) whilst listening to him go through the list of Marvel Infinity figures he wants next. His grandparent’s gave him £5 yesterday and, if he does well this week at school, he gets another £5 from us. With this £10 he can afford Green Goblin. Apparently I’ll have to pick this up during my lunchbreak tomorrow.

This is the one...
This is the one…

8:10am- Finally get him upstairs to get changed. He’s still busy talking so I end up helping him along otherwise this could take an hour.

8:15am- Pack his lunch and break. Minor moment of stress when we realise we’re out of Kit Kats, Jammy Dodgers are suitable substitute.

8:20am- “If they do Star Wars figures for Infinity soon Dad, who would you want?”. I’ve probably been asked this question three times in the last two weeks but it’s become part of his procedure. Yoda is the answer.

8:30am- Start walking up to school. More Star Wars talk.

8:45am- Drop him off and say goodbye. Announce it’s probably pizza for tea, get a high five.

8:50am- Do a bit of shopping on the walk back home. Greengrocers for apples (no strawberries as they haven’t been picked yet, told to come back later), bakers for bread and butchers for bacon. I also buy The Annandale Observer which is 85p, contains not a great deal of reading but is often worth it to see if anybody I knew at school has been arrested this week.

9:00am- Back home for breakfast and read of the paper. Somebody I knew at school has been arrested this week.

9:15am- Put a load of washing out on the line because, strangely for Scotland, it’s really sunny today.

See?
See?

9:30am- Start messing around with almost everything on the internet that isn’t based on writing, knowing that I have a load of editing to do.

10:00am- Switch on the radio to BBC6 Music. Catch the start of Lauren Laverne’s show. She opens with Weezer’s Hash Pipe, this is a good day.

10:15am- Start writing this blog entry as a way of ‘warming up’.

10:30am- Decide to make coffee.

10:40am- Finally start.

11;15am- Get distracted by a visitor.

My cat Raul. Because the internet needs more cat photos.
My cat Raul. Because the internet needs more cat photos.

12:15pm- An hour of running through the script and writing what each scene is supposed to achieve and what it actually does achieve at the moment.

12:20pm- Notice second load of washing has done, look out of window and see plenty of clouds now. Why Scotland? Why always do this?

12:21pm- Put it out anyway.

12:25pm- Wonder about getting something to eat. Remember I have this in the fridge.

WWwwooooo!!!
WWwwooooo!!!

I’m truly sorry if anybody French hates me for getting croissants from a can but they’re brilliant.

12:30pm- The sun is back out! My towels can command clouds!

12:45pm- A bit more editing which at the moment is mostly involving hand written notes whilst laptop is open. The smell of fresh croissant fills the house.

1:00pm-

Nice.
Nice.

2:00pm- More scribbling, it’s actually not bad so far.

2:30pm- This comes on the radio…

So I have a dance around the room.

2:40pm- It reaches that difficult time when I know I’ve got to go and pick up my Son from school soon so getting involved with anything right now will mean it’s broken off for a short while.

2:41pm- Suddenly realise I seem to have one really long eyebrow hair over my left eye. Wonder where my wife’s tweezers are.

2:42pm- There they are.

2:43pm- Seriously how the hell do women pluck hairs like this in a bundle?

2:45pm- Get shoes on, get hoody on because the sun is out.

2:46pm- The sun has gone in, replaced by cloud and a cold wind coming in from the sea.

2:50pm- Leave the house, the rain starts to spit.

3:00pm- Arrive at school.

3:05pm- Bell rings.

3:07pm- Do the usual ‘the bell rang ages ago so where the hell is he?’ thing.

3:08pm- He appears, with only one shoe on.

3:09pm- Other shoe is put on foot.

3:20pm- After a brief stop for the boy’s traditional Friday after school chocolate bar we get home.

3:30pm- After getting changed he’s straight on the PS4 with Marvel Infinity. I cannot call it Disney Infinity as, to him, the word Disney is associated with princesses in pink dresses and other such ‘annoying stuff’.

4:00pm- I’m still editing whilst the Guardians of the Galaxy engage in a gun fight across the room.

5:20pm- Put aforementioned pizza in oven.

5:21pm- Write the words ‘This is all making sense so far’ in big letters halfway down the page of my notes. Hope this will not come back and bite me on the arse later.

5:30pm- Dinner!

6:00pm- Suppose I’d better clean up the kitchen and iron some shirts for work tomorrow.

7:00pm- That was actually more of a clean up than I anticipated.

7:05pm- Read back the next scene. Realise that it has a complete character u-turn from the last draft which has remained meaning IT MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL.

7:15pm- Do that thing when you spend a few seconds trying to scratch a mark off your computer screen before realising it’s a single full stop surviving the edit.

7:50pm- Probably a good time to run the boy’s bath.

8:10pm- The wife is home! Quick talk about how her day has gone.

8:15pm- Boy gets out of bath singing.

8:20pm- Still editing whilst Son plays more Marvel Infinity.

9:00pm- Get boy to bed after reading him a book based on Minecraft we managed to find in Tesco not long ago. It’s basically fanfic about a videogame.

9:03pm- Reminded about Green Goblin for the tenth time today, apparently ‘the world will end’ if I forget to pick him up tomorrow.

9:15pm- Boy leaping around all over the place.

9:30pm- Back downstairs for more scene cataloging.

10:00pm- Finished the scene list. Actually the order seems okay but there’s a chunk of the end that will need rewritten mainly because I was trying to balance far too many characters in the end and I’ve cut them down although some of them still actually have lines.

10:10pm- Decide to call this one a day.

10:20pm- Wonder if it’s too late to stick Grand Theft Auto 5 on.

10:21pm- Think it’s probably better I get to bed now and read for a bit rather than be up nearly all night conducting heist missions.

10:22pm- Wonder exactly who the hell will have read this far.

Calling All Drivers Of The Interplanetary Highway

The last two weeks or so have made me feel like a writer.

Let’s examine that a bit further.

There’s often a feeling I get that makes me think that writing is just a thing I do in the small hours. It’s the inbuilt reaction in me that putting words down on the page and forming them into some kind of story for the consumption of an audience is a sideline at best. There is nothing to see here, move on quickly. During a meeting with my friends of Mostly Ghostly a couple of weeks ago in Dumfries I started talking about Order For Burning and a couple of other bits I have lined up to move onto once the witches are done with. As I spoke I felt myself believing more in the stories, considering them something to work on and to craft. Essentially, they stopped being silly thoughts and turned into something more.

Coming back that evening I rewrote about five scenes of Burning, the next night another three and the night after that another two. Not long sessions by any means but small chips into the block of the project. Shaping the script up, to become the first feature film I’ll pitch to any great degree and keeping away from just sitting doing nothing constructive on it each night.

I spend a lot of time each day semi automated. My work has a set list of procedures that can apply to pretty much any situation. If Customer A has trouble with B then C may work if not try D. Writing isn’t automated though, at least it shouldn’t be. Over the last few years it’s been a case of trying to drop the automated bit when I get home.

I’m not athletic, I can’t really do anything practical, I’m probably too laid back to succeed in much, I suck at a lot of stuff but writing is the one thing I’m good at.

You want a story?

I’ll give you a story.

So I talked about writing and I discussed my ideas and this set me alight. I’ve done more in the last two weeks that the last three months combined. I’m aiming for Order For Burning to be in a readable state to the outside world by April 30th. Then I’ll pitch it and see what the response is whilst moving onward to the next thing on the list.

I am a writer.

Keep repeating…

I am a writer.

A Wonderful End Of The World

I opened the mess that is Order For Burning again today, a good couple of weeks since I finished it. I had my notes to one side, written in my moleskin notebook with gel glide pen.

For some reason the font looked terrible. Letters appeared on the screen as if my monitor was running out of ink (if it used ink, hang with me here). They were scratchy, incomplete. Then Celtx decided to throw an update message at me. I had to sign in to do this, it rejected my first email address and then my second.

I did not need this today.

Anxious to get on I downloaded another free piece of script writing software. This actually had some advantages over Celtx such as a full screen, no distraction mode. Sadly, the font problem remained here also so it’s obviously something up with Vista (I know, I’m running the worst operating system).

Not wanting to start the whole thing again I go back to Celtx and grin and bear it. Not before I’ve got in touch with them on Twitter to do the very British thing of passively moaning about it in the hope somebody notices. Thankfully they did but they’ve yet to offer a solution at time of writing.

I’ve ripped apart the opening scene and it’s now completely different. Even with this small amount of pages redone so far it feels much better.

Apart From The Human

Build a house, tear it down and improve it. You might keep the sink.

Essentially that’s what happens when you go from the first draft up to the second. I’ve say with Order For Burning and written some long and extensive notes on what’s gone wrong. as it turns out they’re fairly plentiful. The main one being that this is a film about religion’s grip on people and what it will make them do. In a strange twist I’ve neglected to include anybody who represents faith. Sure Jack, our witch hunter, will bang his Bible but he’s twisted from the very beginning. My aim is to introduce a minister character who is friends with the local community. Being forced to hunt down those close to him on the commands of Jack will be something to turn the story on.

The other major thing to consider is the question of Jack living or dying at the end. In this current draft he prays after the burning and walks off into the sunset. It feels very wrong for this man who has essentially manipulated a whole town to suit his own ends gets away with it. David, the husband of Agnes, has vanished at this point as Jack burns down his farmhouse. I’m playing with the idea of having David reappear out of nowhere and slay Jack. It’s David’s change to get back at the man who destroyed his home and killed his wife.In the meantime I’ve been writing some more (and recording some more) thoughts about wrestling. It’s felt good to sit and write all this down. For those interested my stuff can be found over on http://theconquistabores.tumblr.com/

You can also listen to the podcast from the banner in the upper part of the screen. We recorded a new episode about Summerslam 2002 the other night so that should be up there in the near future.

The Orange & The Mango

The first draft is done.

Those are words I’ve wanted to type for months on end concerning Order For Burning and finally I’ve made it. It’s a complete mess, a structure held together by sticky tape which needs kicked apart and rebuilt stronger and faster but it’s there, it exists and the hardest part is over.

Characters come and go, often without reason, the story wobbles from place to place with no apparent justification and historical accuracy takes a dive around page 40 and never comes back but these are things I can (and will) fix in the weeks ahead.

This is an odd mixture of happy and nervous.

The First Lap

The painful writing of the first draft is nearly done. My son was ill today and therefore off school. He awoke at his usual time in the morning, went to the bathroom but then went back to bed. I moved through to his room and asked what was up.

“I feel hot and dizzy” he said from under the duvet. My eventual coaxing got him downstairs for breakfast. Upon pouring his usual Choco Shreddies cereal he lay his head down on the table and uttered “I don’t think I can manage chocolate today Dad”.

Sound the alarm, Houston we have a problem.

He went back to bed. I still have many memories of my Mother doping my Sister and I up on Calpol in these situations and just waiting for the phone call saying we’d thrown up during maths (this makes her sound awful, it was not the case at all). I didn’t fancy dragging a lethargic 8 year old up the road for 9am only to inevitably return for him an hour later. He slept until 10am before taking up camp in our living room, on the couch, under a duvet, watching cartoons and eating peanut butter on toast before falling asleep again.

A planned shopping trip with my Mother was postponed until Monday which is probably for the best as Scotland is currently being battered by 100mph winds and belting rain. We’ll give the weather gods the weekend to calm it down.

The silver lining in all of this is it gave me an excuse to not leave the house and write like a demon. I’m approaching the end of this terrible, shaky, taped together draft with its odd combination of history and story flung against the wall to see which sticks. Nearly done for the initial process of taking it from up here to some pages.

Houston, I’m with you soon.

Burning Down The House

Ploughing forth with Order For Burning now, the aim of having draft one done by Christmas is alive even though I may have to be writing on Christmas Eve to get there.

I’ve ventured very much off track for the middle section only now really returning to the plan for the ending. Even now I’m adding bits to the story based on what I reckon each character would do. The part I finished tonight will either stay as a fantastic set piece or be dumped quickly.

I have Agnes, the ‘leader’ of the women imprisoned currently, volunteering herself as the one Jack (our witch hunter) tortures in order for a confession. She actually swaps places with another woman to save her further pain. This is on the condition Jack does the procedure himself, Agnes has noticed he doesn’t like getting his hands dirty and calls him on it. She still does not confess.

This makes Jack incredibly angry, a woman has never matched him before. He leaves Agnes in prison and goes to her family home to find her husband David there. Jack tries to convince David to confess to his wife being a witch but he refuses. Upon getting out of the house and, with David inside, Jack sets the building alight. He’s going to go on and suggest this was the Devil’s attempt at covering his tracks.

It’s a huge liberty to take with history, it’s a stab at putting a parallel of the house fire and the flames which will engulf the unfortunate women in the end and it would cost a lot to film. It stays for now however, until something better comes along.

Tin Soldiers Skulking Around The Galaxy

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.

Voodoo Vultures

It’s not so much a work/life balance, it’s more of a reality/fantasy balance instead. Often real life takes over and my writing ends up taking a back seat. On odd occasion it’s hard to leave the real world behind for a while to get on with the script in hand.

The week covering the end of October and the start of November is my son’s favourite time of the year. Halloween because he enjoys dressing up and going to his grandparent’s house for a small party alongside his little cousin. After much debate he settled on going this year as a Ninja Turtle (last year it was Batman).

A few days after that saw his eighth birthday. His actual birthday was on the Monday but he was devastated that he would be at school on that day so we moved the bulk of his celebrations to the Sunday before. After going out for a pizza lunch we arrived home and gave him his present. My son is currently obsessed with Lego, more specifically Lego Chima in which small tribes of animals build massive tanks and warplanes to fight each other over the power source known as Chi. It’s a little bit like Animals Of Farthing Wood only with more explosions.

He saves his money and buys smaller Lego sets when we go shopping each Sunday. Whilst he always looks at the larger sets he soon comes to the conclusion that there would be no way he could save the amount of money needed to buy them. The cash just burns a hole in his pocket and he goes and spends it. Therefore we ended up buying him the Flying Phoenix Fire Temple. This thing is huge, full of mechanisms and took me seven and a half hours to build with him on the day. My only frustration is knowing that it will inevitably be ‘customised’ or demolished within a month. It’s an impressive piece of engineering though, starting as a temple building and becoming a flying bomber at the flick of a switch.

This thing was the bane of my entire afternoon.
This thing was the bane of my entire afternoon.

A couple of days after that was Bonfire Night which once again takes place at my parent’s house. Nothing large scale, just my Dad attempting not to set himself alight whilst letting off the small box of fireworks he bought from Sainsbury. Being scared of loud noises in my youth I used to watch this spectacle from my bedroom window at the back of the house. Oddly my niece did the same thing this year. There were also hot dogs, a fun time was had by all.

This is actually a long way around for saying not much in the way of writing has been done lately. Evenings have mostly seen me knackered and Order For Burning currently sits in that awkward middle section just before we hit the downturn towards our final scenes. This is the ‘swimming through treacle’ bit which isn’t a great encouragement to get along with it. Also difficult is the fact that what I have written thus far is rotten to the core.

But you knew that bit already.

A Map Of Loose Threads

I don’t like picking at scripts, taking a few hours here and there. It means that whenever you return you have to find where you left off each time and attempt to get into the swing of the whole thing. I prefer to have long blasts at writing, spending a few long hours on it and knocking chunks off the total. It feels much more like progress that way.

I have three days off work now and Order For Burning’s first draft has sat alone for the last couple of weeks. I’ve done a rewrite of The Salesman’s Gamble in the meantime as the producer who was interested in it wanted one and I thought it prudent to get it done and away.

But we need progress, no point standing still , nobody gets rewards for standing still.

Apart from the human statue.

But that’s performance art.

After dropping off my son at school this morning I had breakfast by 9am (I usually wait to get back before I eat). Around 9:30am I’m launching back into the script, tackling the awkward middle portion. It reads like a complete mess and I’m cursing it as I type but it needs done. I’m pretty much at the halfway point . Once over the hump of setting up the ending it should be downhill from there, hurtling into our finale.

Three days.

Now two.