So everything’s been set in motion.

My course has begun, my new freelance work job is up and running, which’ll give me four clear writing days or so a week, and spiritually, I feel ready for anything, reinvigorated.

I feel a new sense of purpose and confidence but, of course, people with a ten-second attention span like myself can always be blown off course easily. So I’m working on a number of projects which will hopefully provide me with a bit of variety from day-to-day.

I was chatting with someone about this the other day. I miss the daily deadlines I used to have at work, I miss them dearly, and have often struggled to impose my own on my writing work, and I think it’s a common problem for writers.

It’s not that I’m not writing from day-to-day, but I could happily fiddle around with the same scene till doomsday, when what I should be doing is forcing myself to draw a line under it at a specified time, and then move on.

Now, at least, with the MA, I’ll be getting the kind of regular feedback that will enable me to move forward, to pick up the pace a little.

What about you? Presuming, you’re writing in your own time, or are not getting paid, what kind of discipline do you place on yourself to keep moving forward with your writing?

***

I love reading novels, and there’s never a book too far from my side. And once I’ve started reading a book, I force myself to finish it, whether I like it or not.

But I’m struggling with Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s beautifully written and everything, but the entire book is infused with such a sense of cataclysmic disaster for the father and son who roam the dusty post-apocalyptic road of the title, that I can’t hardly bear to read on.

It’s an absolutely heart-breaking book. I’m  only half way through it, and I don’t know if I can bear to read on. My nerves are shot. Christ knows, you won’t see me going to see the Viggo Mortensen movie when it eventually emerges.

Anyone else read it? If so, please tell me that everything’s going to be okay? 

What a week it’s been. Lots of new beginnings have all collided in one furious and hectic week of activity.

Everything’s moving forward nicely. Everything’s back on track.

Which means I can start blogging again.

Stand-by.

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Like me, you may be old enough to remember when episodic television ruled.

A crime was committed at the beginning of a show and solved by the end. The following week another crime would be  committed and wrapped up within 50-minutes or so and everyone would go to bed satisfied.

These days, of course, it’s all arcs, volumes and series-long mysteries, 24-week long teases. Is he in a coma – looks like it. Will they get off the island – no, yes, but they’ll go back. Who the hell is spray-painting Bad Wolf all over the shop? That kind of thing.

With a serial element incorporated into many genre shows, programme-makers suddenly have to bank a denouement which explains sometimes torturous show mythologies if and when the whole thing grinds to a halt. And they can often tie themselves in knots wrapping up a series.

The US hospital show St. Elsewhere infamously revealed the whole series had been the imagination of an autistic child. David Chase alienated half his loyal audience by having Tony Soprano’s fate hinge on an enigmatic fade to black.

Sometimes it can be a difficult to tie up loose ends when a show is cancelled quickly. Patrick McGoohan had to admit to Lew Grade that he didn’t have an ending for The Prisoner, although the nonsense he managed to come up with quickly seemed to do the trick. 

And now the US version of Life On Mars has divided audiences with its bonkers resolution to its central mystery. The explanation for Sam Tyler’s time-travelling in the UK-version was most-satisfactory, but had been so heavily signposted for two series that you couldn’t fail to see it coming.

In the US, they seem to have a more cavalier attitude to this kind of thing. If you, like me, have no intention of watching it, you may find the answers here at Dark Horizons.

How did your favourite series end, I wonder?

Time to dust off those crime, sci-fi and Period specs and get them out there.

Drama Commissioner Ben Stephenson has announced what the BBC is looking for. Kinda vague, but if you’ve got an idea that shouts “oh my god, I haven’t seen that for ages,” then Ben’s in the market.

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Distracted by business in the real world and a huge pile of scripts to read to deadline, a return to my own beloved laptop was a bittersweet experience this week.

I felt like one of those people who returns home from holiday to discover – horror! – that they’ve been burgled, only to realise that they’re simply one messy bastard.

I booted-up – do computers still boot up, these days, or do they simply switch on? – to discover my desktop plastered with files. From the top of the screen to the bottom.

First drafts, seconds drafts, fragments of drafts, final drafts, second final drafts, final final drafts of numerous projects. FDRs, PDFs, DOCs, DOCXs. Scripts, novels, play fragments, log lines, treatments, scene-by-scene breakdowns.

All sitting there on the desktop just so I know where to find them. All there because I don’t have the patience to file them properly. And now look, I can find them alright, I just have no idea which version I should be working on. And, oh my christ, look – half a dozen flash drives full of updated work. But which are the most recent?

I’ve no idea, so I reach into my bag, and onto my shelves, for hard copies.

They’ve all been scribbled over, with various stuff underlined once, twice, three times – just so I know, you see, that that was absolutely my last word on the project – and then, oh shit, four times. Bits of paper, receipts, newspapers, post-it notes, various notebooks, folders full of old scripts plastered with copious thoughts, all mixed up with other business. Old ideas mingling with new ideas. Yes, I was very much his favourite once upon a time, dontchaknow, until you came along. 

And I think, this really can’t go on. It just can’t. So I’m going through it all, bit-by-bit, so I can sort the old from the new, the work-in-progress with good notes from the work-in-progress with the extra bad notes. 

The waste paper bins, both virtual and real, are gaping. The shredder is at my feet. I’ve chosen one loyal notebook who shall travel by my side until I lose him or he strays too far, and I’ll be forced to pick up another.

Tomorrow, I’m going to five serious consideration to picking up my clothes from the bedroom floor. But, better not get ahead of myself. After all, tomorrow is another day.

I’ve been tagged by the marvellous Laurence. The Meme: Impossible…  to mention “six things or habits of no real importance” about me, so here they are…

I’ve been mentioned in three published books. In one of them you’ll find me just above Adolf Hitler in the index, in another my fictionalised-self is eaten by a giant, mutant pig.

I’m allergic to the wonder-drug of the age, penicillin. Ironic considering my aunt was one of Fleming’s test-samples. I fear that if I’m ever in a car-crash this fact will actually turn out to be quite important, but hey-ho.

Growing up, I wanted to be Quincy M.E., and I think I still do. I can take or leave the day job, with its cadavers and gruesome injuries, but there’s a lot to be said for enjoying a cocktail with a pretty lady on a houseboat.

My father was a professional boxer, and rather a good one. I can’t punch my way out of a paper-bag.

I’m a lucky so-and-so who really shouldn’t complain about the hand that life has dealt me, but that doesn’t stop me trying.

For eighteen years I’ve written down every book  I read in a little notebook so I know how many I read over the year. Every year the total makes depressing reading, and this year has so far been spectacularly dispiriting. However, only yesterday I added ‘Lush Life by Richard Price’ to the list. If I read a more brilliantly written book this year, I’ll be surprised. If I manage to read another book this year, I’ll be surprised. 

I won’t tag anyone, because I’m actually sure anyone reads this blog, but feel free to compile your own list.

For a few months me and the missus have languished in the world of Lovefilm, churning remorselessly through movies and TV series popped into our letter-box with the bored energy of people who have been starved of top quality drama.

That’s not to say that we don’t watch Holby and Casualty and the Bill and Waterloo Road – and Mistresses, which is on particularly fine form this series – or any of the other staples of British television. EastEnders and Corro and, yes, Emmerdale, all provide occasionally dazzling drama.

Lately, we’ve also enjoyed The Devil’s Whore and the patchy but stylistically enjoyable Red Riding, and Criminal Justice  – oh, I’m sure you can name them all. I’m also a keen consumer of those two – recently, three – parter dramas that seem to motor ITV’s schedules – Unforgiven, that was terrific.

And although I personally leave my mum to keep me up to date on the New Tricks and the Lewises of the world, they’re perfectly fine specimens of the UK television programme eco-system.

I don’t want to sound like one of those tiresome blog bores who thinks UK television is inherently inferior. But although all of these provide solid,  meat-and-potatoes drama, none of them seem to have any of the amazing character work or the unpredictability, subtlety or empathy of any of the US series that have recently returneed to the schedules.

I’m talking your Damages, your Losts, your Mad Men, I’m talking your Battlestar Galacticas and your Dexters and your Shields. These, for the most part, are not network shows in the US – and, of course, they’ll be hugely expensive – so perhaps we shouldn’t expect our own equivalents over here.

But I still find it incredible that, in this day and age of sophisticated storytelling we can’t seem to be able to write and commission stories featuring compelling, layered, deeply complicated characters like Vic Mackey or Patty Hewes or Don Draper.

And, of course, it ain’t going to get better. As British television struggles to apply old business models to a new media environment – what a fucking cock-up it’s been, some of these channels should really be ashamed; but that’s another story – it looks like I’m going to be stuck popping those dvds into the post-box at the end of the road for some time to come.

Anyone know when Breaking Bad is due for release?

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