Saturday, 29 May 2010

Things to make and do

Through my haze of germs (which are thankfully lessening) I forgot to write about my creative and productive day last Saturday.

Jak and I went to visit a lady about costumes for our play, and spent a most enjoyable time rummaging through rails and rails of frocks and frock coats, blouses and bloomers, and rafter-high shelves crammed with wigs and hats, shoes and trews. Despite the small cast of two for this play, we will need 15, yes, that's 15, costumes. If/when we take our actors to this most magical barn to fit them for costumes, it will be, I fear, necessary for me to dress up too.

We also, Jak and I, had our very first sewing lesson. This is with the view to being able to alter some of the costumes ourselves next year. Should we get to direct it of course, still not tempting fate!

Having only ever carried my mum's sewing machine from her house to mine, and not even removed it from it's case before, the whole experience was extremely alien to me. But by the end of our lesson I had not only learned how to switch the machine on, I had made an actual pin cushion - pictured here in all its glory.

I am aware that my feeling of triumph is disproportionate to the end product, and have been heartily mocked by my mum and brother, but I don't care. As Jak pointed out, with a suitable dose of mirth, it is only a hop, skip and a jump from pin cushions to corsetry. Non-believers will be laughing on the other side of their faces when I can rustle up stunning cushion covers and curtains from old dust sheets, bits of ribbon and the odd button I find lying around. Oh yes.

Love this poem!

Listen by Charles Bukowski

If it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
Unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
If you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
If you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
If you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
If you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
If it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
If you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

If you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
If it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

If you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

Don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-love.
The libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
Don’t add to that.
Don’t do it.
Unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
Unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

When it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

There is no other way.

And there never was.

Desperately seeking young, vibrant writers’ group!

I’ve read in various different places how important it is as a writer to join groups and communicate with fellow writers. First and foremost because writing can be such a solitary pastime, but also because you can give and receive valuable feedback. I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of my OU course and will miss it now that it’s coming to an end – my final assignment is in the polishing stages and I plan to send it on Tuesday. Not nerve-wracking at all then.

To take the place of the course, I have been lucky enough to join the lovely Get It Write online group run by Amanda Brittany, in order to hold on to that ‘we’re all in this together’ side of the creative process! I’ve also been curious about ‘real life’ writers’ groups, where you actually meet face to face with your compadres. My friend Susannah tracked one down and on Thursday night we went along to see what was what.

Hmmmmm… T’was an experience to be sure, but not quite what we were after. It was a little bit ‘blue rinse’ to be honest, with S and I feeling rather watched, as if to see what ‘the youngsters’ would do next. When we spoke eloquent sense it possibly came as a surprise, and we were crowded and manhandled by a somewhat overbearing Fleet Street sports reporter. The best laid plans and all that…

So we’re back to the drawing board on that one: Desperately seeking young, vibrant writers’ group! There is however the possibility that S has found us a book club to join – she’s working well! We shall find out in a couple of weeks if that too is overly cobwebby and crusty for our tastes, but until then I’ll endeavour to be optimistic.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Agents and actoring

So, let me tell you a little about a project I hope to be undertaking next year. My good friend Jackie (Jak) and I are members of a local theatre. We met several years ago when we acted together in an uplifting and joyful (can you hear the sarcasm?) one act play about suicide called 4:48 Psychosis (written by Sarah Kane should you feel inclined to read it). We weren't put off and between us we've been in many other plays since then.

After the final performance of a play I was in last October, it was suggested to me by a fellow cast member that I consider directing something. Daunted about taking on such a task on my own, I suggested to Jak that we do it together and, fortunately, she thought that was a good plan. We had talked about doing something two or three years ago, but were never quite brave enough to do anything more than discuss what a good idea it would be.

So having decided this time to go for it, we spent quite a bit of time reading and researching plays we may like to direct (any with roles in that either she or I would want to play were summarily dismissed), and we finally settled on one with an enormous all-male cast of two. We presented it to the artistic planning group at the theatre and were shortlisted - very exciting.

On Sunday just gone we were invited back to give a second presentation, and although we haven't been given an official thumbs up yet, I think it's in the bag. Not wanting to tempt fate completely though, I shan't unveil any further details on our chosen production until I have something in writing!

On a different note entirely, I follow a blog by a literary agent called Nathan Bransford - I'm new to it so still discovering things about it. I found out yesterday that every week he does a critique of a follower's first page. As far as I can tell it's on a first posted, first served basis. Even if you don't get your post on in time, his critique and red line of the successful person's work is incredibly useful.

Also, I'm currently reading a book by an agent called Noah Lukeman called The First Five Pages. If you haven't discovered this book - go on to Amazon and get it now, it's fantastic! (Or Waterstones, as, at the time of writing, it's on offer with them.) He basically tells you, step by step, the cardinal sins that will ensure your work ends up in the agent's bin, rather than on his 'to call immediately' pile. He also gives you exercises to apply to your work, in order to correct any problems that may stand between you and an agent reading it. He's done a couple of other books too - The Plot Thickens and The Art of Punctuation. I haven't read them yet, but if Five Pages is anything to go by, they'll be equally interesting.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Bodies on the roof

My friend Susannah and I went to the Antony Gormley exhibition yesterday at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill. We went twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. 'But why?' I hear you cry. Well, the exhibition is on the roof, so we wanted to see it in different lights. The roof of the Pavilion is an amazing venue, with the sea providing a beautiful backdrop. The exhibit was unusual and had the sun not been so bright and the sky not been so blue, it may have been eery. As it was, it was bizarre but interesting to be surrounded by casts of the artist in various postures.

Other things that happened yesterday: An entire, lovely day spent with a new friend (aces); an extremely low flyby from a military helicopter; impressive sunburn; a laryngitis diagnosis (rubbish).

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Hello, good evening and welcome

Well, I have set up my blog. Here it is. Pretty innit?

I have spent today in the throes of task avoidance, with a manuscript (unfortunately not mine) to proof, and a final assignment for my course to be edited. Instead, I went into town and bought some boxes to organise things in, some new photo albums (2 for 1 so obviously irresistable), and a large bag of Doritos. All important things, I'm sure you'll agree.

But this afternoon I did eventually knuckle down and edit my assignment. I had to cut vast amounts to fit the word limit so I imagine my plot line is now reminiscent of a leaky seive, but nonetheless, it is done. Still a couple of weeks till it's due in so I can look at it again next week and grapple with it some more. The manuscript will have to wait until tomorrow as my head is full of cold and I've had enough now. Spending money I don't have earlier took it out of me and I need a lie down. And I might do some knitting. Yes, I knit, what of it? Don't judge me.

Fred is calling, it's tea time and I am being an unfit mother by ignoring him. I must be off to fulfil my maternal duty before he jabs  me with one of his pin-like claws.