Tag Archives: inspiration

Sarcastickled: Blog Tour

Good morning, darling reader.  How goes the world with you?

My dear and hilarious friend Laura Lexx asked me to join in a “blog tour” where I talk about me and my writing stuff.  Her blog can be read here.  It’s being passed round bloggers who love each other. Lovely idea, no?  There are 4 questions that need answering.  Let’s do this.

What Am I Working On?

Er…that’s an awkward question.  It brings out the Sunday evening, guilt-ridden “OH GOD I HAVE NOT DONE MY HOMEWORK” side of me that inevitably makes me feel slightly grumpy.  In real terms, I am working on my film script for the Sky version of Chris is Dead, which is also a play which will be on in Edinburgh from 1st-9th August.  Do come and see it.

How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre?

It doesn’t.  My genre is a richly populated and well-fuelled arena that positively throngs with lively discussion and worthy conversation.  The things I have to say are just louder and more grammatically correct, that’s all.

Why Do I Do What I Do?

I’ve always liked words as a means of connecting with people, and although I tried to be a “proper” grown up who works nine to five for a living, I discovered quite quickly that it doesn’t suit me.  There are all manner of other complicated and boring reasons why I write, but at the heart of things I do it because it makes me happy, and because I want it to make YOU happy.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I get up, I frown at the kettle, I sit at my desk and I write down the first thing that I have an opinion about.

No, really, I take ideas from television, conversations with friends, etc., and then I tend to scribble a load of nonsense onto whichever surface is nearest (up to and including my own arm).  After that I try to make some sense out of the notion before I subject you, my lovely reader, to the inevitable nonsense.  I like writing so much because it doesn’t really matter what my process is: the end result is that you laugh, smile, cry or get angry.  I hope.  I genuinely don’t care how you feel about what I say, as long as you feel something.  Apathy is the enemy of everything we hold dear, including Crunch Corners and student discounts.

I will be recommending the marvellous Fran Paterson for taking this on next. Her blog is here.

Shameless Plug Alert

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Good morning, you lovely thing!  How’s your weekend going so far?

Life takes you to some very strange places.  For example, my first play was written in a blind panic over two days because we needed a play to perform for an assessment, and we ended up doing it at the Edinburgh Fringe.  A few months ago I sat down in a sulk and started writing a scene that is being performed tonight as part of a new writing showcase.  Who’d have thought that having a hissy fit would be so productive?

It’s not as simple as that, of course.  Life is full of twists and turns and very confusing states of affairs, all of which combine and conspire to get us places.  The scene that’s being performed tonight may have started off as my exorcism of a bad mood, but it’s turned into something very different.  The actors have definitely made the characters their own, and the original source of inspiration is all but obsolete.

It can be very difficult to let your ideas change, but most of the time we have to trust that they are changing for the better.  As time goes by your attitude changes, you hear other people’s opinions, and you adapt to circumstances.  For example, the piece that’s on tonight (and tomorrow and next Sunday, just by the by) is called Irresistibly Drained, which is a reference to a Conan Doyle quotation that sounds a lot more emotionally fraught than it was meant to.  When I originally came up with the title I thought it was fine, but as time passes I feel less and less comfortable about it.  It kind of sounds like I’ve written a romantic melodrama worthy of Mills & Boon.

Letting your ideas change is something that comes up a lot for writers in particular, because you can imagine a line being spoken one way, but then an actor will interpret it completely differently.  Lines that I didn’t realise could be amusing in Chris is Dead (which will be on at the Edinburgh Fringe in August, just FYI) were made hilarious by the actors’ performances, and I loved that.

The main thing about letting your ideas change and develop is that you have no way of knowing how much better it could be.  Letting other people make their mark on your work could open it up to all sorts of possibilities, and you might unlock a huge amount of your own potential.

Whatever you’re up to today, have a glorious Sunday.  If you’re around in Kennington at 6pm, do swing by and see the new writing festival.  Details are here.

Friendly Advice

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Hello, you lovely human being!  Did you change your hair?  It looks amazing.  No really, you should wear it like that more often.

I’ve talked about this a lot before, but friends are absolutely ace, aren’t they?  (As in actual friends, not the television show.  Although that is ace as well.)  They make you laugh, they inspire you, they encourage you and they accept you for who you are.  Having said all of that, friends are also the most baffling and infuriating people on the planet.  Let me explain:

I love my friends dearly, and in many ways it’s great that a lot of them are drama types.  We all root for each other when we’re doing performances or projects, we’re an outgoing bunch so we tend to have excellent nights out, and every single one of us will drop whatever we’re doing for a good game of Werewolves.  The other main things that we have in common are a tendency to be pretty  emotionally expressive, and a burning desire to analyse everything.  In some extreme cases this can lead to over-thinking, hyper-sensitivity and being a bit of a diva.  In most cases it just creates emotionally aware, interesting people who can talk over a point.  In all cases, it leads to completely contradictory pieces of advice.

This isn’t specific to my drama lot, though.  All of our friends (and human beings in general) are hard-wired to analyse things in a unique manner, and therefore take the same piece of information and come to entirely different conclusions.  For example, consider the scenario of a shopping trip.

You: Shall I buy this?  (Whatever ‘this’ actually is.  Doesn’t really matter.)
Friend 1: Yes, definitely.
Friend 2: Not yet, give it some time.  You can’t rush these things.
Friend 3: Are you sure you really want to buy that?
Friend 1: Of course she does.  Get it!
Friend 3: I don’t think you actually want this item.  I think you actually want something else but you’re hiding behind this other thing.
Friend 2: You just have to wait and see how things turn out with a completely separate item before you decide to purchase this one.
Friend 3: I’m not even sure we’re in the right shop
Friend 4: Huh?  What are we talking about?

Bit of a nightmare, isn’t it?  Advice is very complicated.  Of course it’s good to listen to your friends, and in some cases their advice may be absolutely the best thing for you, but you should always go with your instincts.  Even if you turn out to make a mistake, at least you did what you genuinely thought was best at the time.  That way it is you who takes responsibility for the consequences of your decisions, and also you who reaps the rewards of them.  Besides, the fact that your friends have such different ideas should tell you that the situation is pretty complicated.  It’s best at this stage to give up on the shopping trip and grab a coffee instead.

Speaking of which, why not treat yourself to a fancy coffee today?  You deserve a little midweek pick-me-up.  Have an amazing Wednesday.

Autobiography is Irrelevant

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Hello, lovely reader!  How’s everything going with you?  Did you get that essay/presentation/murder trial sorted out in the end?  Oh good, glad to hear it.

Last night I went to the Etcetera Theatre in Camden to see a play called Leaves of Glass.  While it was hardly light-hearted mid-week viewing, it was a very powerful and incredibly well-written play.  The story featured disturbingly empathetic ideas of dishonesty within families in order to keep the peace, and papering over bad memories in order to enjoy the present.  It was so riveting that I didn’t notice almost two hours slip by without an interval (and an audience always notices stuff like that).  I love it when you see a play, or film, or read a book that completely takes over your head space for a few days.  Even if it’s because it’s disturbed your inner well-being a bit, it’s good to really digest stuff like that.  It means it was good.

One of the first comments I heard when I left the theatre was a woman walking in front of us who turned to someone and said “God, d’you think it was autobiographical?”  Strap yourselves in, kids, I’m going in for a rant:

1) If it were autobiographical, would that make any difference to the quality of the play?  Would you enjoy a well-written, energetically performed and cleverly directed play any less because you found out that these things did or didn’t happen in real life?  Theatre is ABOUT life: the whole point of theatre is to show us something that could actually happen.  That’s why we have political plays.

2) It’s really none of your business.  If the playwright has been through any of the things that the characters have then s/he should not have to go into detail about it to gratify your morbid curiosity.  Also, you just watched a whole bloody play about it; how much more detail do you really want?  Wise up, as my friend Carly would say.

(I’m not really cross, by the way.  I know I sound it, but I’ve actually got a very nice day planned, so I’m pretty chipper.  Sorry for ranting.)

I love it when people see elements of themselves in my plays, because it means that I’ve managed to write characters who are sympathetic (and more importantly, empathetic).  But that’s about having a good experience as an audience member and relating to the piece, not trying to look behind the curtain and undermine the story.

Playwrights get very annoyed when people try to detect people they know (or themselves) in their work, because it implies that we don’t have the imagination to come up with our own characters.  Sure, we take inspiration from our real lives and the people in it, but we’re not writing Made in Chelsea here.  Give us a break.   If you switch your brain off to stop worrying about whether your friend’s play is about you or someone you know, you’ll probably enjoy it more.

By the way, I know that in my blogs and articles I talk directly about my friends and family all the time.  I’ve named Carly in this one, for example.  Oh look at that, I did it again.  (Hi Carly!)  But this is real life, not a story I made up.  I don’t have to use my imagination to tell you about annoying my vegetarian friend on an Underground train.  (Sorry – read this blog if that reference baffled you.)

Have an amazing day.  Go to that slightly posh place near the office for lunch; you deserve a mid-week treat.