Tuesday, 23 February 2010

sick as a parrot

Gutted. The footballers' adjective of choice, and the one I have used most liberally in the last few weeks to describe the feeling of not quite getting through to the finals of a live comedy competition.

That is to say, getting very close, final 32 close, but falling at the final hurdle, to use another overused sporting metaphor.

That is to say, writing a lot. And for nothing, because none of it will be staged (not for this, anyhow.)

Damn this genre and its need to be produced to mean anything. At this rate, I'm going to start writing bloody poetry and publishing it on here and then you will all be very sorry indeed. (You really will. I'm terrible at poetry.)

Do I deal with losing out well? No. In this instance I bloody do not. For a number of reasons:

I worked my arse off. I had a really good script. And there was some shenanigans relating to the way it all happened that I am too disheartened to go into, but let's just say it didn't work out as I would have hoped.

So this has been disappointing.

There's something very personal about writing, and when it gets rejected, it's hard not to feel it personally. And when you're emotionally involved with your writing, this is especially the case.

And you have to be emotionally involved with writing if it's going to be any good, don't you? At least a bit. Otherwise why are you writing at all? Why bother if it doesn't have some connection, however small, however tenuous, to some important feeling or thought or moment you have or have had in your life that means something.

That's what I think anyway.

But maybe it's just about writing more funny lines, and that's where I went wrong.

And of course, if you get too emotionally involved, when stuff doeesn't work out, it feels like you've been kicked repeatedly in the kidneys, and that's not great.

And that's the good news.

Not really! There is actually some proper good news. I will write about it imminently...

Sunday, 7 February 2010

not a sob story

I can remember exactly what I was doing this time two years ago, this equivalent Sunday just after my birthday.

It was a beautiful day, sunny and bright. I went to Hampstead Heath. It must have been raining the week before, because it was incredibly muddy - I trashed a pair of boots by bravely tramping through the mud to try and impress... someone. Let's call him Mike.

Mike and me had been seeing each other for a few weeks. It was our fifth date, or thereabouts. He'd never been to Hampstead Heath. We watched the people flying kites - it was windy - and we sat looking out over London. And we kissed. And I thought, this is what other people do. They get together and go for walks on Hampstead Heath and kiss. And now I'm doing it. This is me.

This is what I thought.

And after the heath, we went to a beautiful pub and had a couple of pints of very nice ale. And then, we giggled our way to the bus stop in that happy way you do, when you're with someone you like. And we made our way back to Angel.

It was a perfect day. The kind of day that if you saw in some terrible rom-com you would dismiss as embarrassingly twee and naff and some kind of Richard Curtis view of London and how great it is. (London is great, obviously, but not generally in the way that Richard Curtis makes it look.)

And so there it was, this moment of happiness.

And not just the romance. Work was going well. I'd just had an interview with a big publishing company, and it made me realise that I didn't want to work there. I really loved the job I was in. I worked with people I liked and respected. I felt useful and good.

And when, inevitably, it all came crashing down, when, three weeks later, I found out I was being made redundant, and a week after that Mike said 'meh, not for me thanks' or words to that effect, it was ok.

This isn't a sob story. My woes are pretty paltry compared to most. Who didn't have a shitty 2008 as the ecomomy crashed and burned? I was one of the lucky ones. I found another job. The Mike thing wasn't heartbreak, it was pure bruised ego and bad timing.

But what makes me sad now, as I think about that day on Hampstead Heath, is how difficult it is to feel ok about feeling ok. Because as soon as I feel like stuff might be going well, it scares the shit out of me that some vengeful god will hear and pull the rug from under my feet once again, and find new ways to make me wish I'd never even thought that things were ok. Because it's terrifying to feel ok, because the only way is down. And at least, through the self-pitying, self-indulgent misery, there is the sense that things will be better. They can only be better - they can't possibly get worse.

And so now, as I write this, I think well fuck it, I'm tempting fate but there we are:

Things are ok.

My writing is going well - there's a possibility that something I've written might be staged. I feel less of an idiot than I have for a long time. And that maybe it really is possible that things can change - not be perfect, but be ok.

We shall see.

If you hear, by the way, of unexpected job cuts and freak thunder and plagues of moths in the north London area over the next month, that will probably be my fault. Sorry about that.