Tuesday, 12 October 2010

This noble profession...

For forty odd years in this noble profession
I’ve harboured a guilt and my conscience is smitten
So here is my slightly embarrassed confession –
I don’t like to write, but I love to have written...

Without doubt, this is one of my favourite bits of doggerel by a writer called Michael Kanin. Doesn't it just sum up how impossibly difficult writing occasionally is, and how frustrating.

At the moment, I seem to be bogged down by all the material I want to finish or start. There's a competition being run by Shine Pictures called The Big Idea. Look it up. (http://apply.shinegroup.tv/writingcompetition/index.apply?redirect=true)
It's a really interesting competition and you're allowed up to one entry in each genre... only the storyline has to be 700 words and for some reason this seems to have stumped me. The pieces I would love to develop have either short two page outlines or storylines that range above the 3,000 mark.

And I want it to be a really strong piece - there's no point otherwise - and yet, every time I think I have space in my head to thrash it out, 'something' happens. An enquiry arrives from the outside world looking for me to develop a proposal for a body of work, or to see if I have something to match a certain brief -- which means developing on spec, yet again, but sometimes it pays and if you're not in, I don't see how you can win.

It's a greedy business. It gobbles up time.

Then there's the script-editing work, which always seems to take far more time than I ever allow for. And I'll be teaching again from Thursday eve in Filmbase so I managed to spend hours today reorganising my handouts, my notes, choosing different clips... Which led me to realise I have to see heaps of films and fast because I want to find even better clips.

And then there's the children's book I was rewriting. (I managed to narrow the focus down to just one for rewriting). My life - which seems large and enjoyable now that the tooth/ sinus/ jaw demon has been mostly expunged - tugged me me away from it a fortnight ago, at the tail end of Chapter 7...

I've realised in the interim that there there is sooo much more I can do with it and I'm wondering why I got an idea that all the chapters should be the same length? It's so arbitrary and it really isn't necessary. I'm hungry to get back to it but I haven't had time.

Mind you, sometimes that 'something' is me, allowing distraction to lure me in just about any direction. And hell knows, there are enough genuine distractions in life without procrastination jumping in. Self discipline is something that comes like a miraculous gift and then you get tons done, amazing mountains of work sift away into manageable dunes... but then, sometimes, it vanishes again.

And this is one of the reasons I haven't been looking at Facebook or writing the blog or watching those fantastic TED lectures. I WANT to be writing. I want to create something new and original and bloody compelling... and I want to finish everything else so that it feels new and original and bloody compelling, with bells on.

So I'm considering buying a self-zapping collar. I could rig it up so that if I strayed too far from the desk, it would remind me with a gentle (?) electric zap to sit back down... Only it might kill more brain cells than I successfully murdered with wine last night and might be self-defeating.

Besides, sometimes the procrastination, the long walks and the ruminating and the picking out of odd books from a bookshelf, or even the making of a pot of coffee are all necessary to the art of creation.

I think.

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