April 2009


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.