Been a while hasn’t it?
I can assure you that my absence from the internet has absolutely NOTHING to do with Sherlock marathons, book reading and “going out” and everything to do with not actually having access to the web. At all. I am currently in limbo land waiting to move house and as such all electricity based interactions with the outside world have been severed.
In these dark and unsettling times I have had ample time to [watch Sherlock on loop, read books, "go out"] work on my book. Again, I say “work on” when I actually mean “think about”, but us writers like to think that the time spent staring out of various Starbuck decaled windows as we dribble into our netbooks can be called “work”. ..
….after many book-work sessions I am suddenly beginning to think that I may not be the generation defining novelist I thought I was and I may actually be a ground-breaking screen writer instead.
I don’t believe in fate; I just believe in people noticing and doing things they ordinarily wouldn’t and then reacting to them in a way that best suits their current situation. So, having left a Starbucks yesterday on my way to Queen’s Street Station, cradling my lovingly prepared beef stew (this has nothing to do with anything. I’m just showing off) , my head was groaning with creative indecision: to screenplay or not to screenplay?
As I pictured myself gently deleting everything I have written and feeling a little bit erotic about it, I was thrust a Stylist Magazine. The distributor must have been expecting me to lock my jaw around it as I had no free limb with which to relieve her of it. But she seemed pretty adamant I was going to get one and seeing as I had a train ride in front of me, I asked her to shove a copy into the front of my tote bag. I forgot all about it until this morning when a too hot bath rendered my usual reading material a little taxing and something a bit more visually stimulating was required to prevent me from slipping into a coma.
Half way through was a brilliant, bite-sized article by Jane Goldman about screenwriting and it reaffirmed that perhaps I shouldn’t drag myself through the novel-writing process to then wait 7 years for someone ELSE to think about turning it into a film (if any part of anything I ever do is actually ok and doesn’t make people vomit out of their fingernails). This person would no doubt go on to probably win a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, as I, herded together with all the other writers into a sound-proofed lock down room, yell “BUT I BLOODY WROTE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” as I chuck orange peel at the screen and sob into my shredded satin dress. Goldman made me think that maybe I SHOULD just write it as a screenplay, and more importantly she made me realise I probably COULD write it as a screenplay (and win a bloody Oscar myself).
I “work on” my book a lot when I’m walking about, setting out scenes and characters. It turns out I’m actually ok at coming up with whole scenes that work and are funny, but only when I’m visualising them actually happening. When I get home and try to write them out into depthy paragraphs they fall flat. This may just mean I need to hone my writing skills a bit before carrying on with the book, but it may also mean I ALREADY have the skills to push out a screenplay.
One rule of writing is just to get the hell on with it and not muddy the waters with too many redrafts in the early stages. Goldman herself points out that anything that comes to her which she wishes to add (such as a character owning a cat or having a stammer) she will make a note of and add in during subsequent rewrites. She highlights that GETTING IT ALL OUT OF YOU FIRST is of the utmost importance and endlessly rewriting the same section before moving on will take up your whole, miserable life.
So, with this in mind, trying to squeeze what I have already done into such a linear form may be a total waste of time and utterly frustrating but it also seems to make complete and utter sense. This way I can write out everything I want to see happen, to who and in which order and get some semblance of writing done before my fingers fade away trying to drum out a novel I may not even have the skills to write.
I am very, very tempted…I’m also pretty sure it’s what Sherlock would do.