Hello, reader! How are you?
When Mario and I were in Paris, we saw this sign outside Notre Dame:
We were surprised and amused to discover that, even in the beautiful capital of France, people needed to know how to cycle to London. (We realised later that it probably had something to do with the Tour de France, but at the time it seemed very random.) Cycling to the city of drizzle and pigeons seemed like a mammoth task from our location in the sunshine outside a famous cathedral, and yet it would appear that people wanted to do it.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon with two friends of mine who are of the creative ilk. One of them in particular is a woman of many talents: she designs vintage dresses, she is a director and actor, and she is full of ideas for exciting performance projects. Like most people who want to make stuff, she is hindered by the usual concerns: time, money, finding a rehearsal space, money, finding the right actors, and did I mention money? Not only is there not a lot of it about, but funding applications are about as easy to navigate as an underground labyrinth when you don’t have a torch (or a very good sense of direction).
Red tape gets in the way of a lot of projects. I am assured that when this friend of mine rules the world, there will be no more red tape: it will all be pink, blue and possibly green. (I also put in a request for it to be sparkly, which is under consideration.) With many creative projects, the best way forward is make a good to do list. Breaking things down into manageable steps is a good way to get cracking on making stuff happen. For example, I am taking a show to the Edinburgh Fringe with Empty Photo Theatre this summer, and the tasks that that project will involve make for a hell of a to do list – four A4 pages, in fact. But looking at the individual jobs in a list helps me not to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the entire project, and I’m also very lucky to have excellent friends and colleagues to support me.
The same sort of idea applies to writing. I remember someone telling me once that the best way to check whether the story you want to tell is a good one is to break it down into shorter and shorter synopses until you can sum it up in one sentence. I tend to do that the other way around: I try to come up with a one-sentence summary for a script idea, and then flesh it out until I have the entire storyline set down. The process is different, but the purpose is the same: writing an entire play is much less worrying when I know exactly what’s going to happen.
When my red tape-hindered friend and I were discussing her ideas yesterday, we managed to break them down into small steps that she felt more positive about being able to achieve. I would imagine that any project can be broken down and made less daunting in this way, even a Presidential election campaign, or cycling from Paris to London.
The main thing about starting a huge project is to make sure that somebody who is rooting for you is there to give you a kick in the right direction. A problem shared may or may not be a problem halved, but an idea shared is definitely an idea started. By the way, if your dream is to cycle from Paris to London, the kick in the right direction is probably best left metaphorical.
Enjoy your Thursday!