I’ve had a lot going on over the past 18 months, both good and bad and it’s culminated in a huge swathe of doubt, bigger than I’ve had before. I’ve been getting this strike of fear that sits between my head and my chest and in the back of my throat. It creeps up on me at the most mundane of moments and swells until I don’t know what to do except embrace it and wallow for a few moments. Then it’s back to normal, back to emptying the dishwasher, cleaning my whiteboard, parking the car.
My fear is that I’ll get a few years down the line and wonder why the fuck I’m still attempting to do what I’m doing now. My future self will ridicule my present self and tell me I’ve been stupid chasing this dream and I should concentrate on other more important things.
I’m being honest. I pride myself on being honest because if I’m not honest with myself who else is going to be.
Here’s an insight into my life: it’s all writing. Scoff all you want, I do very little else. So when I get another rejection, get pipped to the post for another scheme, don’t place in an award it’s a large cavernous dent in my thinning armour. I do not know how to switch off and stop working, I have a fear that I’ll miss an opportunity. It hurts. It hurts a lot to know that my mountains of work, my paper children I’ve birthed, will sit and stack in the corner of my overcrowded room.
I’m running on the spot and I’m not sure if I’m learning anything new apart from years of experience of not being heard. I want to share my work, I do not have money to mount my own productions, I do not have a sponsor to kindly do it for me, I can’t even afford to move out of home. I sit here writing knowing that more people have probably read this blog than seen my stage work and that’s fairly minimal. Why do I do it? Why do I insist on carrying on knowing it’s a waste of time and that there’ll always be someone else who reaches that destination before me? Why the fuck do I think I’m different? And why the frilly heck do I feel the necessity to compare myself to others?
I don’t know. I simply don’t know. I’m tired. My heart aches at the thought of not writing, although I’m suffocated at the prospect of carrying on. I’ve lost the spark that I used to run towards, now I’m frantically searching around for it. Actually, I’ve passed that and I can’t be bothered to look around. This may seem bombastic, but all I do is write because I want to, it’s the only thing I’m good at. Maybe you’ll read this and think, “maybe no one’s paying you attention because you’re a shit writer?” And maybe you’d be right. Maybe that’s the thing, maybe I’m not being honest enough with myself to say that I cannot write well. I don’t know. That’s the worst thing, I do not know how to find this out.
I’m going to be quiet for a while (writing wise) because I’m a bit lost. And when you’re lost you don’t really make a lot of sense. This isn’t a cry for help or the cue for you to send me reassuring words, it’s an attempt at an explanation as to what’s going on, why I haven’t done anything, and to maybe quash the questions for a bit. I know people are only trying to be kind, and I love them for it, you are the people I’m writing for. Real life has meant that I’m putting writing on the back burner for a bit. I’ve lost the passion and I don’t want to force it. I’m pretty sure in a few months this post will be redundant, I would like to think so.
No doubt you’ll see me in real life or on the usual social platforms soon. If you do, let’s talk about anything but me writing. And bring gin.
Riddled With Niggles August 20, 2013
Firehouse Films – The Result! July 6, 2013
Here’s the resulting film from the Firehouse Film Creative inaugural film challenge I was invited to do. Six writers, six directors, one room. We’re all paired off after being picked at random from a hat and we’re all played the same stimulus. It’s a recording of a woman talking about how she remembers her grandmother being the life and soul of the party, a real chatterbox. But as age takes over she slowly begins to talk less and less, a former shadow of herself.
So there was our stimulus which we could take anyway we wanted. I was paired with director/producer-duo Dave Thomas and Nell Garfath-Cox who were living in Worthing when we started the project together. I’ve mentioned before how I like to have imposed restrictions as it gets the ideas flowing thick and fast, so this was no different. Although I’d never had to do something so restrictive over a prolonged period of time. A month. One month to write, shoot, edit and finalise a short film with no budget. I was worried that the initial adrenaline rush would drop once we were out of that room and as the days ticked over. But I knuckled down to the script and vomited something down as soon as I could so the momentum would tide us over. And collaboratively myself and Dave worked great together – we’d email the drafts with notes and work out where we both wanted to go, and it worked. People seem to avoid particular areas of collaboration because they feel exposed, or that they feel they have to bend to somebody else’s whim. That’s definitely not the case. You discuss points and open them up. You never have to take on every note, but you’ve got to have a good reason for going against it. And if you can articulate that reason well, then there’s nothing to worry about.
Anyways. Script done.
Then we had an issue with a location. I’d written the script for one location, but it was proving difficult. So much so that the script that was written so soon after our initial meeting… Was actually shot on the last weekend of the month. It was so close to not happening at all. But then the lovely Beatrice Curnew stepped in and saved the day by letting us take over her house (and cook a whole roast meal) for the short. Thank you Bea!
Here are some shots of the filming in action.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Ingvild Deila, Ian Houghton, Dorothy Lawrence, Oliver Malam, Dave Thomas, Nell Garfath-Cox and Sarita Tam all work. I know that I’ve made some friends from this, and there’s more delights to come.
DROPPED SEQUINS for #FUTURESPARK is cast! July 2, 2013
I’m thrilled to say that my short play DROPPED SEQUINS for How It Ended Productions’ FUTURESPARK has been cast! Let me introduce the superb ladies…
First up (above) we have the delightful Stephanie Overington, a fresh young actress based in Luton. I recently worked with Stephanie on a charity video to raise awareness of self-harm. She has the right spark of naturalism and plays that vulnerability to suit the part of Natasha brilliantly. I’m really looking forward to working with her more directly and on some new writing.
Then we have Rachel Jackson who I’m really excited to be working with. I saw Rachel in a Coming Up (Channel 4) episode from a few years back, then saw her in a short play as part of RedFest last year, and both times she’s stuck out for me. She’s got the feistiness in her for sure and the boldness that completes the part of Gemma.
Two actresses who will bring my work to life under the direction from the lovely Madelaine Smith. Niceness.
REMINDER TO BOOK TICKETS! —> here
FUTURESPARK with @how_it_ended June 16, 2013
I first encountered the theatre company How It Ended Productions on Twitter a few years ago. They were on the lips of many that I’d talked to, and I was intrigued by the work they put out. I even pledged some cash in their WeFund campaign to help them get to Edinburgh. I was all for helping out a theatre company, especially when they were so close to home (they’re based in Luton). I was excited to see their work and looking forward to meeting them. Then I got busy. Which meant that I didn’t get to see their work or meet them.
Skip forward a fews years and now they’ve mounting a short play of mine alongside others in their event called FUTURESPARK this July. So I will get to see their work, I will get to meet them and I’m obviously working with them. This pleases me so. My short play DROPPING SEQUINS will be directed by Madelaine Smith who I kind of know already from Twitter firstly, then through a mutual actor friend, and then because I invited her to a reading of one of my other plays to give feedback based on our previous interaction. There you go folks, as they sing in Bugsy Malone, “You give a little love and it all comes back to you (na, na, na, na-na-na-naaaaaaa)“.
So we’re casting this week and it’s quite a rhythmical piece, not intentional but it just came out that way. There’s dancing, some spoken word elements… It’s going to be fun. The springboard stimulus was the word ‘Carnival’. I ended up writing about two girls who are best friends getting ready to dance in the carnival – but they’re also planning something else untoward and the Carnival is the perfect cover. But aside from that, I should probably tell you the date, time, place .etc.
11th July – 8:00pm
12th July – 11:00am
The second performance is FREE and is for ANYONE! (But if you are a school and would like to arrange a group booking contact email@example.com) Both performances will be at the UK Centre For Carnival Arts (UKCCA) and you can buy tickets HERE!
It’s looking to be a treat with 8 short plays, live music and other happenings. I will obviously be in attendance, and if you can get your fine self there too it would be grand. As much as it’s nice getting work on at all, it’s especially nice getting it on so close to home. Come!
LONDON PRIDE is imminent! April 25, 2013
Crikey mikey pudding and pie!
LONDON PRIDE is impending, like a loveable rogue over that yonder hill. I’ve stopped by quickly to tell you a few things…
- You can buy tickets here – clicky clicky, buysy buysy
- On Sunday 5th May from 4-6pm there will be a New Writing Surgery where both of us, myself and MJ Starling (author of Audience With Ghostfinder), will be present to help or just chat about your work. More info can be found here – click for WAFF info
- There’s a post show Q&A with both of us too on the 9th May
- I’m quite excited about everything.
See you there!
LONDON PRIDE is cast… AND ON SALE! March 16, 2013
Yup, it’s all auditioned out and we have our stellar cast. It was great sitting in on the auditions and meeting some of the talent out there. And as always you want to use everyone and have an interchangeable cast because you don’t want to send anyone away… But we whittled it down to a cast that I’m very excited to be working with. The most thrilling aspect of auditions for me, is when it’s the character talking in front of you and not the actor. They make me forget what I’ve written and make it seem like I’m snatching snippets of other people’s conversation. Definitely.
So without further ado, here be the cast:
Details of where and when and how much (including the rest of the programme for the Wandsworth Arts Festival & Fringe) can be found here: clicky linky (we’re on page 15, just so you know)
Tickets can be grabbed here: clicky-clicky-booky-booky
See you there? Mine’s a pint of gin.
Another Collaboration – But Online With @Gerryhayes March 15, 2013
I’ve been working on a thing, yeah another thing. Because I like being busy, but also because I like exploring different avenues of creativity. And I’m a sucker for coaxing people into a collaboration to make them think differently. And one of my victims/co-collaborators is the delightfully grumpy yet loveable Gerry Hayes. Gerry and I got chatting to each other on Twitter many years back now, and were also contributors to an online magazine called Metazen. Whether we found out about each other on there or vice versa has yet to be remembered. We shared mutual writers that we spoke to online and also a sense of humour, which is what Twitter used to be about (!) and since then we’ve embarked on a project that has kept us tinkering away the last couple of years. It’s not a whole wealth of work we admit, but the idea is that the work actually exists. If we hadn’t created this project then nothing that is held within it would come to fruition. So there. Check out the link below for the work that’s been done so far (and obviously keep checking back, we’re both very proud of each one of our nuggets.)
But excuses aside, that’s the very point of this project. It’s unfurling at a deliberate pace because that’s how the project works. These projects never have an end goal of a timeline, it’s meant to breathe and wheeze in and around real life. The Beloved Box was pitched to Gerry by email in March 2011 and as you’ll see by the time stamps on the website, sometimes we’re flowing quickly and other times we’re taking our time. It’s about creating the time and space to fail but also flourish. It’s a creative exercise to keep the brain ticking knowing that there will always be a response but an unpredictable one.
Gerry is a brilliant photographer and has a keen eye for capturing visuals that I find exciting, lyrical almost. After email discussion we decided on keeping the theme open so we didn’t restrict ourselves and also really explored the content we could create. The idea was that we would respond to the other’s piece of work and it could be in any medium – photograph, film, sound, text – but each offering had to have a title and this was as important to the project as the content itself. The title comes from the first photograph that kicked the project off, taken by Gerry.
So this has become The Beloved Box which is a fluxing sprawling narrative based on what has been offered up before. A creative tag-team, a more inventive wordplay game passing on the creative beacon. With Gerry based in Ireland and myself in Hertfordshire, we’ve been in contact by email passing on our creative responses. Gerry kindly created the website and updates it as and when our new works are finished.
What I personally enjoy about this project is that it’s not demanding, it’s a creative stimulus that pops into my inbox every so often and I have the urge to reply. It’s part of a bigger project but I’m focused on the pebble sized chunks and it’s keeping my brain ticking over. This is the main reason why I start these projects with other people – you have the incentive and necessity of not letting someone down and in return produce new work. Everyone’s a winner.
[The above has also been posted by the author Emily Benet on the Mslexia blog here.]