Saturday, 3 March 2012

damn you, actors!

Last year I went to a script development workshop - a chance for writers to have their work dissected by actors and see what happens. I was there, I thought, under false pretences. My 15 minute script was already pretty great. I knew it was great because I'd seen it performed in Camden and it was amazing. Clever and funny and a little bit political.

So when, some uppity actress in the workshop had the cheek to tell me one of the characters was underdeveloped and the other one didn't half go on a bit ('wanking' all over the script as she memorably put it) I did what any sensible writer would do and completely dismissed all critiques and advice.

A year later (now) and I am in Budapest. I've joined a new writing group. I take this script, because it's the only script of mine I have printed out, and also I really want to impress people, and this is fucking dynamite.

And of course, I haven't looked at this script and it's a cold read-through and these people are great but not professional actors and OH MY GOD it's a mess. Character one is completely underdeveloped. Character two is totally self-indulgent, saying lots of clever lines that show how *great* I am at being a writer.


This is what I've learned then: don't judge your script from the version where brilliant actors and directors have taken it and made it work, because that is their job. Don't assume that your script is is brilliant, just because it's had a good performance. And, as ever, editing is a million times easier after a good break away from your script, when you're less embroiled in the amazing cleverness of it etc etc.

The good news is that the rewrite is going well, and who knows? Maybe one day soon I will also have a new idea or two which would be very welcome and all that.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


This time a year ago, I jacked everything in. I left my job and my (rented, shared) flat and put stuff in storage and set out.  I didn't have a plan. I didn't have a right lot of money. I just had this kind of hopeful, nervous belief that things would somehow just about work out alright.

I went to India and travelled around being awed by friendly people and stunning temples and the most beautiful mountains in the world and life-threatening driving to get to them.

I came back to London and stayed on sofas and felt some angst to be doing this in my thirties.

I moved to Budapest, and continue to be impressed and delighted by the experience of living abroad. (mental right-wing governments aside).

I fell in love (swiftly, glorously) and out of it again (slowly, painfully).

I did a minimal amount of writing, but a maximum amount of living.  

If I was writing this as a real-life story for a women's magazine, there would be a Triumphant Conclusion. The Unforeseen Setbacks would be overcome, it would all crescendo to a Moment of Truth, and I would be sure that Everything Had Worked Out Great In The End.

I'm not sure I ever feel quite like that. Life is complicated. There are ups and downs, wherever in the world you are. Today is not a great day.  I don't really know where I'm going or what I'm doing.

But there's never a day when I regret leaving a job where I felt chained to a desk every day, looking out over the grey roofs of south London in a office devoid of life, devoid of laughter. There's never a day when I regret choosing the complicated mess and uncertainty of adventure and risk and taking a change and sometimes feeling down but sometimes feeling up in the clouds. Always, whatever my mood, feeling alive.