Katie Mccullough Talks and Writes

Words will get written here and some videoblogs will appear. You don't have to look but it would be nice if you did.

Daft Drafting Discussion May 20, 2009

Katie surrounded by whiteboards

First of all I’d like to say that after being dressed like a slob for a while (I have of course been ill) I’ve taken the effort to put on ‘outside’ clothes for my trip to the hospital and doctors. I don’t seem to have got the balance right and look fairly dressed up, they’ll possibly think I enjoy my trips to their tea-stained wards or they’ll think I live the highlife and I’ll be swanning off to meetings and premieres after our little chats. Neither are unfortunately true. At least I don’t look so pale now, but then again I did fiddle with the colour saturation to make me look more human.

Right, I’m here to write about drafting, rewriting, multiple drafts, agony writing and exorcising the writing demons. Whatever you call it it has to be done.

As years have gone by since I considered whether or not to try it as a writer in this world I’ve steadily grown to appreciate the drafting process. Whilst at university I hated the idea of unpicking ideas and having to go through and re-stitch vital elements of the story and more than often convinced myself that my first draft was more or less okay. No wonder I didn’t get the marks that I craved for, but as much as I have a love/hate relationship with my degree it taught me vital lessons that I’m only really utilising now.

I used to print out my script and announce smugly, “I’m done”. Completely premature; a lot can be said of re-drafting and I’ve now come to the point in my career where re-writes are the most important step. You have to be able to disregard what you thought once worked and find a solution. This is the part where I really get a kick out of it all; because it’s still my work and still my idea. It’s the inclusion of other minds that force it to be a better piece of work, more solid and that is no bad thing. Collaboration (not just for personal profit or gain) is key for making work stronger and ultimately better. If I’ve harassed you or littered your inbox (the whiteboards in the photograph show my list) it’s because I feel your opinion can help me to craft my work and because I trust you. Any writer know it’s hard to pass on work especially when you know it’s no the final appearance it can muster, this in itself is a hard task to undertake.

I personally, whilst momentum is hot, thrust my script electronically into the hands of friends, colleagues and fellow writers; each time my list expands. I find not only does this force me to kick back for a few days, but also lets me encounter different types of feedback. Mostly the main bulk of friends are either scriptwriters or playwrights but I also give to friends who aren’t even vaguely touching the creative arts because they’ll keep me grounded and approach it as your average theatre punter. It’s for this very reason that I still get excited because you set your work free for a bit and anxiously wait for it to return home and you can re-embrace it.

The only image I can conjure that I feel would fit the bill is this. I’m a mother that’s sent her child away to a holiday camp and I’m spending my days busying myself tidying, cooking for one, reading books and giving them my full attention. Then I get a call to say my child is on their way home. And I sit by the door. I’ve missed my annoying, sniveling, snotty child who didn’t always do what they were told but I’ve missed them. I’m ready to have them back, because I’m lost without them. Then they arrive and I’m greedily accepting hugs and my child is talking nonstop about this, that and the other and although I don’t really want to hear everything they have to say I’m glad that they’re back and will listen patiently to their stories. Later on that evening when they’re in bed full of sugar and spaghetti hoops I’ll sit down with a Gin and Tonic and think about everything they’ve said and relish in the fact that I have that child and I have their stories and that they’re home. Then the process repeats until the child has no more interesting stories to tell me or they’re too old for camp and I have to find more adult conversation.

I think it’s fairly obvious what I’m trying to say but sometimes a naff analogy hangs well. So for all the holiday campers out there, treat my child well and you may just get some spaghetti hoops with your Gin and Tonic.

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