I’ve been memed by Lara and Oli (which is odd since Lara memed Oli in the same sentence – proof positive Oli stops reading when he reaches his own name) , but I can’t do it. I just can’t, sorry. I have far too much to do, far too many things to say which are so incredibly interesting you’ll shit your … oh no, wait. I have nothing useful to do or say.
“When it comes to writing, what do you know you’re good at, and what aspect of writing are you worst at? (Procrastination is not permitted as either part of the answer.)”
Hmm, well …
I think, when it comes to the ‘putting the words down on paper in the right order’ part of writing (you know, the actual writing bit), I’m consistently mediocre across the board. I also suspect that’s either a lie of a delusion on my part and a thirty second search of this blog will turn up a long list of things I’ve complained about not being able to do. But right here, right now and whilst being put on the spot … nothing obvious leaps out at me.
(Except maybe punctuation – I tend to just throw random marks into sentences in the hope one of them’s right. I’ve tried reading books which explain how to, but there weren’t enough pictures.)
So instead, I’ll apply that question to the other bits of writing. You know, the bits they don’t tell you about in them there fancy writing books. The bits which are actually important if you want a career.
“What do you know you’re good at?”
Ideas in the room.
Picture the scenario: you’ve just met a producer who wants to talk to you about a segment for an anthology feature film. He’s read your effort and he likes it. In conversation he mentions there are going to be four other short stories in this portmanteau script. Immediately you should be able to pitch at least four more ideas.
If there are four more slots available, I want them all. I’m selfish like that, you see? A nicer guy might recommend some of his friends, but not me – I want it all. Me, me, me, me ,me. MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
And the ideas just fall out of my face.
Usually in a random stream of consciousness type way whilst carefully studying the producer’s mouth for any subtle twitch which might indicate I’m on the right track:
“Clams! Giant clams with forks. No? Flapjacks. Talking flapjacks. A talking flapjack who develops self-awareness (yes, we’re on the right track here) and runs for Prime Minister? No, President! Appeal to the American market, yes! But he’s blocked by the giant clams who … no, not giant clams … puppies, with Lego faces! Who can receive radio via their whiskers! Don’t they? I’m sure puppies have whiskers. Lego-faced puppies certainly do. Anyway, they’re also magic puppies … Sorry? … Yes, I can make it into a six-part series. In fact, that’s exactly what I had planned.”
Being able to rattle off new ideas on the spur of the moment is a very valuable skill and one which has helped me immensely. Part of that is just having a reasonable memory – any idea I have gets filed away and springs back into my head whenever required; but a larger part is knowing how to relax my grip on an idea and just let my mind wander. It’s a kind of controlled day-dreaming which lets me make odd connections in a hurry. That skill, coupled with a vague knowledge of how people’s faces move when they’re interested, means I can come up with a lot of ideas on the spot.
Although there is an exception to this, when I’ve missed a night’s sleep I’m completely incapable of thinking anything and tend to sit there like a balding, ginger lemon and blink furiously.
Another aspect of ‘ideas in the room’ is when I have script meetings to discuss the next draft I can apply the same principle and end up talking myself into a complete page-one rewrite if I’m not careful. I know some people who need peace and quiet to come up with new ideas, but I function best under pressure. I’m at my absolute best in a group situation when everyone’s pitching in ideas because I get very competitive and want to have more ideas than everyone else.
It’s a bit sad, but it’s very useful.
“What aspect of writing are you worst at?”
Stupid, isn’t it?
Put me in a room with someone (or lots of someones) who want to hear my ideas and you can’t shut me up.
Put me in the same room with the same people without that starting point or introduction and I tend to go and hide in a corner. I’m terribly shy, you see? It’s stupid, it really is and has done more harm to my career than any amount of crap scripts.
I don’t like bothering people either. A term I extend to asking people to be my friend on Facebook or just generally staying in touch with people I’ve met who could be incredibly useful. If I really, really like someone I might just bring myself to send them an email and say it was nice meeting them – but that’s it. After that I feel it’s up to them to get back in touch, I certainly don’t want to go round pestering people.
Which is also a large part of why I don’t like being memed. I have no problem with answering the question or rambling on about favourite this that and the others – but I hate passing the meme on. I just don’t want to bother people with things they’re probably not interested in.
So I won’t.
Meme yourself if you really want to.