Two steps back

Public grief

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Towards the end of the last Millennium I was a young whipper snapper who’d just started a job. A proper job, mind you. One where you actually had to do things and interact with people, none of this hide-in-my-room-with-my-imaginary-friends nonsense.

Day two (or perhaps three, I forget) of the initial training course I came into the room early one morning to find everyone in tears.

Everyone.

Great wracking sobs of grief.

“What’s happened?” I asked, realising something truly awful must have happened to have so deeply affected such a diverse group of people.

“Haven’t you heard?” came the reply “Diana’s dead.”

“No!” I exclaimed, scanning the room for an empty chair … “Which one was Diana?”

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Now you may think it’s blatantly obvious they meant Princess Diana, but this was pre-instant-news-to-your palm-smartphones and almost pre-internet. At that time in the morning I hadn’t seen, heard or read the news. Given everyone in the room was crying, I immediately (and erroneously) assumed it must be one of the people we’d all met the day or so before.

But no. It was the Princess of Hearts.

“So … why is everyone crying?” I asked. Because (and you may or may not remember or agree with this) before her death, Diana wasn’t the Princess of Hearts, she was the feckless whore who was threatening to steal the heirs to the crown and spirit them out of the country with her Johnny Foreigner lover.

At least, that’s how the papers portrayed her.

So why was everyone crying? Why was the death of someone so vilified in the papers the cause of floods of tears?

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I still don’t know. I think it’s sad when anyone dies, but there are very few people I’d shed actual tears over because … well, I just don’t know them. The exceptions would be Christopher Reeve (because he was my hero when I was six) or Douglas Adams (because he was my most favouritest author ever since, like, forever).

Although I never met them, their work touched my life and (I think) improved it. They meant something to me.

Princess Diana – yeah, I felt sorry for her family, but I didn’t know her … at all.

And yet the streets were awash with very public grief.

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Nigh on 20 years later and Twitter is awash with grief when anybody vaguely famous dies. Friends who I’ve never heard even mention David Bowie, let alone listen to his music, were distraught after his death. On social media, that is … not so much in real life.

2016 has been a public griever’s playground. Every month someone of note has (sadly) passed away … and every month people fill my Twitter and Facebook timelines with heartfelt distress and incredibly public mourning.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand what it’s like when someone who meant something to you dies. It is sad and does feel like a piece of you has died with them. I get it, I really do. I have friends (both real and online) who mourn the passing of Bowie or Prince or Ronnie Corbett or whoever because they genuinely meant something to them. They write little online eulogies because it helps them express their grief and the results can be beautiful and, occasionally, makes me wonder if I should perhaps re-evaluate the artist’s work to find out what it is they saw in that person.

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And maybe having R.I.P. insertnamehere trending on Twitter makes the families of the deceased feel better. I don’t know.

So far this year, the only person whose passing made me a properly sad (as opposed to “oh, that’s a shame”) was Paul Daniels. Jason Arnopp and I were reminiscing a few days before he died about how good a magician he was and how he kick-started our interest in magic.

And yet Paul Daniels got unfairly swept up in the wholesale dumping of traditional entertainers during the eighties. The old guard got swept away in a torrent of radical newness … and that shouldn’t have happened.

Yes, some entertainers were sexist and crass. Some merely committed the crime of being warm and cosy and didn’t swear or punch things. They were old, we were all about the new. Paul Daniels was one of the babies thrown out with that bath water and he didn’t deserve that. He was an amazing magician and a fantastic entertainer in the true sense of the word.

I loved Paul Daniels … but I didn’t feel the need to rush out a Tweet or blog letting everyone know.

I’m not sure if that makes me a better person or a worse one. Probably worse. My sad face is just for me.

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Except when it’s not, for if I’m anything it’s contradictory.

Recently I remembered that Douglas Adams wasn’t always my favourite author. I was introduced to him by Miss Seaman in the last year of Coten End Middle School when I was ten or so. From then on Douglas Adams’ work had a significant effect on my life … but he wasn’t the first.

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Before Douglas Adams, there was Nicholas Fisk. I don’t know who turned me on to his work, but I loved it and consumed it voraciously. His shelf was the first I scoured in the library, on the off-chance he had something new out. Or something old I hadn’t read yet. Starstormers was a particular favourite of mine. As was A Rag, a Bone and a Hank of Hair. Grinny is still my go-to cuckoo story, more so than The Stepford Wives or The Midwich Cuckoos.

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Nicholas Fisk steered me deep into sci-fi waters and became my gateway author to Heinlen and Arthur C. Clarke and Asimov and Harry Harrison and even Terry Pratchett. Without Fisk, there probably wouldn’t have been any Douglas Adams in my life … and that would be a great shame.

Somehow I’d forgotten Nicholas Fisk, sold or lost all his books and even stopped really reading sci-fi all together.

Last month I suddenly remembered him. I can’t tell you why or what caused his name to resurface, but I suddenly remembered I had a favourite author as a child. How could I have forgotten? Maybe I can read his books with my daughter? Maybe she’ll love them as much as I did?

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And then, yesterday, I found out Nicholas (or David Higginbottom as I learnt he was called) has just passed away. Sometime last week at the age of 92.

He didn’t die tragically young or while he was still writing and had so many more stories to offer … but, you know, he was a large part of my childhood and even if I had forgotten him, I’m a bit sad that he’s gone. Deaths like his nibble away at our past and bring the darkness of non-existence that little bit closer.

Like I say, I’m not one for public grief (although I’m dreading the day I see Tom Baker’s name all over my feeds – hopefully that day’s a long way off) but just this once I want to shed a single, public tear for a man who meant a lot to me all those years ago.

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Rest in peace, Nicholas.

Categories: Random Witterings, Two steps back, Writing and life | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

2015

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So that was 2015.

No flying cars, there were hoverboards … but they didn’t hover, they just set fire to people’s houses.

Behind the scenes I had a thrilling and exciting year … but I can’t really talk about it.

Not yet, anyway … but one day. soon.

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This is what’s immensely frustrating about being a scriptwriter – all the exciting things happen (and often die) out of the spotlight. By the time I’m allowed to talk about things (because contracts have finally been negotiated and signed) it’s old news and any excitement is feigned.

Well, not feigned … diluted. Like having to remember how excited you were about a Christmas present you got last year when it’s since been broken by the kid next door.fake-smile

But hey, it’s been a busy year with lots of stuff going on. On paper, it probably looks like not a lot … but that’s just the nature of the business. I’ve done a few uncredited rewrites, one of which has just been released … which is a yay I can’t publicly acknowledge.

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But never mind. If I was in it for the applause, I wouldn’t be a writer.

The rest of 2015, the bits I did talk about, went something like this:

JANUARY

Apparently all I did in January was talk about 2014, which although it included Ghostbusters and a suspicious looking codpiece …

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… seems a bit of a waste of a bloggy month.

FEBRUARY

Ah, hello groove I was wondering where you’d gone.

February was a proper blogging month full of blogs and … well, just blogs.

First off I tried to get you all to commit acts of phone-related mischief by adding ‘Okay Google’ phrases into scripts which would punish anyone who had their phone on in the cinema.

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Did any of you do it? Please say someone did it.

Then I defended Footloose because … it’s fucking Footloose. Footloose is awesome.

After succcessfully re-educating the world about the joys of ’80s dance, I went on to prove the three act structure is fine – stop trying to reinvent the wheel, it works just fine.

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And then I immediately explained why it doesn’t really work that well for a scriptwriter.

Aren’t you glad you’ve got me around to explain these things to you?

MARCH

March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb …

I, on the other hand, came in with a thing about the joy of failing

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… stumbled into a confused ramble about clichés

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… mumbled something I can’t be bothered to reread about page thinking

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… compared Joss Whedon to HTC and rambled about how frustrating it must be to be either of them …

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… and went out with an in-depth discussing about liars and lying for a living.

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APRIL

April is where things got interesting …

Just not at first. First I wondered if maybe you shouldn’t really be able to point to the midpoint in a film.

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Then I used my blog to educate my producer as to why he shouldn’t get his hopes up about the first draft I was just about to deliver …

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Just as it might have got interesting … I got angry about spoilers instead.

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Then it got interesting. I had a phone call

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It was Danny Stack … and he didn’t want anything except a chat.

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Where it got interesting was it kicked off a string of phone calls between me and … well, just people. Nice people. People like Calum Chalmers.

MAY

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And it carried on with more nice people like Robin Bell, Andrew Mullins and Dominic Carver.

In fact, most of May was taken up with phone calls, broken only by me trying to figure out how to write the perfect cameo (it worked! I wish I could tell you how well it worked … but I can’t) and to celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary.

Oh and I went on a bit about competition and how much I enjoy it.

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JUNE

June continued the #PhonePhill-ing bringing delightful chats with Dee Chilton, Rosie Claverton and Rebecca Handley.

In fact, June was all phone calls apart from one post about being better and how we should all pursue knowledge as if it were a … thing. I don’t know. Insert your own simile, I’m tired.

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JULY

July brought yet more telephone awesomeness …

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This time in the shape of Mac McSharry, James Moran, Jay Sutherland and Terry Newman.

As well as yakking to people, I also (gasp!) worked over a weekend.

Apparently this is so shocking to me I felt the need to blog about it.

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I also made an uncredited appearance as Iron Man at a little boy’s birthday party in a homemade, cardboard costume:

I enjoyed that.

AUGUST

In August I had a little panic about potentially offending  someone I quite like by giving them script notes. In order to cover my anxiety, I wrote this post about the kind of script notes I get and how upsetting they can be … if you don’t take them in the spirit they’re intended.

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Later on, I followed that post up by giving myself notes on an old script.

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I also pretended a meal/drink with some friends was a sort of #PhonePhill episode … even though it wasn’t.

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But it did lead to this picture, which is my favourite of the year:

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I rounded off August by highlighting my inability to not focus on background detail.

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SEPTEMBER

Man, I did a lot of blogging in 2015. Too much, some might say.

In September I added one more thing to a script and felt the need to tell everyone.

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Then I added a second thing and banged on about that too.

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I did a thing about tokenism and … well, I don’t know what my point was there. Feel free to read it and let me know.

Oh, and then I added some nonsense to Jason Arnopp’s blog post about hands.

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OCTOBER

I kicked off October by contrasting Rose Tyler with Jurassic Park … which, you know, is clearly two different things and needs a blog explaining why.

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And then … the future arrived!

I meant to take a photo of myself with my trousers on inside out … but I didn’t. Possibly because I don’t think I wore any in October.

Instead of wearing trousers, I watched some videos about deleted scenes from all three Star Wars films:

I say three because I’m a prequel denier. At that point I was adamant there were only three Star Wars films. Now, of course, there’s been another half of a Star Wars film.

Hopefully we’ll find out in a couple of years whether or not any of it makes sense.

NOVEMBER

Just when you thought I’d forgotten about it, another #PhonePhill – this time with William Gallagher. He’s written a book, you know. Bits of it are about me.

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Inspired by the resurgence of telephonic communication, I immediately didn’t do it again and instead waffled on about River Theory …

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Expressed my love for the Verity podcast …

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And raved on and on and on about this speech from Doctor Who:

Oh, and I found this photo of a Burt Reynolds crab.

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DECEMBER

Which brings us to now. All I did in December was a handful of short blogs about other people’s stuff. Things like:

Arnopp’s patreon campaign, the UK Scriptwriter’s Handbook and the Heaven Sent/Hell Bent scripts.

There were meant to be more, but there wasn’t.

I didn’t even wish you a merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas.

There, I did it.

And so, with this year nearly spent, all eyes turn to the next one.

Hopefully it’ll include at least one blog about my new office:

And loads and loads about my next script to be produced:

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Happy New Year, let’s chat soon.

Categories: #PhonePhill, Bored, Career Path, Christmas Crackers, Industry Musings, My Way, Progress, Publicity, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, Someone Else's Way, Sparkle, The Ties That Bind, Things I've Learnt Recently, Two steps back, Writing and life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2013

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Oh come on! That was never a year!

Really? Did we have all the months? Does everyone remember having all the months? We must have skimped on one of the summer months. July? Anyone remember there being a July in 2013?

The rate time’s passing is getting ridiculous.

On the plus side, if it’s 2014 tomorrow, then it means we only have one more year until hoverboards and flying cars!

And yes, they are both on my future Christmas list.

So how was your 2013? Was it good? Did you enjoy it? All of it? Even the July which I’m sure the Government have covertly pinched?

Mine, since you’re doubtlessly asking, went something like this:

JANUARY

I started the year by getting a bit excited about January. No, I have no idea why either.

Then, inspired by this post by Debbie Moon, I got a bit ranty about jealousy.

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And I finished off the month by rambling on a bit about HMV maybe shutting down.

Which it didn’t.

The essence of my argument was it would be a shame if HMV went bust because the immediate next wave of filmmakers would never know the elation of walking into a shop and buying a copy of your own DVD. HMV is one of the last outlets who stock pretty much any low budget films. If they went, the only shelf space would be in supermarkets and they are a bit funny about what films they’ll sell.

Now, okay, DVDs (or Blu-Rays, if you prefer) will ultimately go away and people will feel giddy and excited about something else.

But a year later, DVDs are still here (as is HMV) and they’re still exciting. I don’t know about you, but I have a hierarchy of film-love. Only my absolute favourites get bought on DVD. Films I really enjoy … I probably won’t bother to buy. I might watch it several times on TV or pay to stream something … but only my absolute bestest films get bought.

Unless I know the writer and want to annoy/promote them.

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Having a film produced is exciting. Attending the première is more exciting. Seeing it in released in the cinemas is even more exciting still. But holding a physical copy in your hand, one you can put on the shelf or lend to people or just look at and smile … that’s the best bit.

For me.

Because that, in a small way, puts the thing I wrote on a similar footing to all the other films I love. Even when I fucking hate the actual film itself.

FEBRUARY

I began February by busting the shit out of the motivation, willpower and confidence conspiracy myth bullshit.

Or possibly by just ranting aimlessly about those imaginary things. One of the two.

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I finished off the month by loving Wreck-It Ralph. A lot.

At least I was right about that.

Was that it? Hmm … didn’t blog much in February, did I? Probably because I gave up chocolate, biscuits, sweets, crisps and cake in a vague effort to stop looking like a fucking hippo. That kind of thing is bound to make someone less bloggy.

MARCH

I began March by explaining, politely, that they don’t fucking love your script in Cannes – no matter what they may have said. If they loved it, they would have bought it. Did they buy it?

No. Then they didn’t love it.

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Yes, you can still pay me to re-write it.

I also blogged about exercise, P90X and biscuits – somehow finding it appropriate to insert myself into Death in Paradise wielding a spoon.

ginge-in-paradiseNo, I have no idea why either.

That was a weird thing to do. Although, the good news is I still have that spoon. In a lovely bit of serendipity, I stole it from the Jamaican hotel which initially inspired Death in Paradise. It’s now my emergency back up spoon.

Then I wrote a blog about Other People’s Ideas and how hard they are to write. For some reason I equated it to making a human being and having too many ears.

Seriously, never give up biscuits. It’s just not worth it.

APRIL

Wait … what the fuck? THERE WAS NO APRIL! I fucking knew we hadn’t had a full year! Here’s the proof …

Or rather, here isn’t the proof because April never fucking existed. It can’t have existed or I would have blogged about it.

You fuckers stole my April!

I’m a bit cross about that.

MAY

All I did in May was give away a really cool book which, despite the cover, has no information in it about how to get laid by writing scripts.

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What a rotten swizz.

JUNE

Apparently, some insanely exciting things were happening in June … but I have no idea what they might have been.

My laptop had a bit of an accident. That was annoying.

laptop-exploding-battery-fireBut I fixed it. Sort of.

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What else happened?

Ooh, I wrote some stuff and edited some stuff and had some meetings and all sort of proper writing stuff. That was exciting.

I then went on to promote a writing development scheme thingy.

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What was exceptionally exciting about that is a writer friend of mine later told me she’d applied and been accepted onto the course – something she never would have known existed if I hadn’t mentioned it.

That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I love being vaguely useful occasionally.

Buoyed on by that, I promoted some free stuff. Which probably isn’t free any more, so … don’t bother clicking that link.

Assuming anyone’s still reading and is even clicking anything. Are you?

Really?

Why? Go do something more fun.

Oh, no, wait! This next post was my most popular post of the year. Still is.

I think.

MAN OF STEEL – 3 THINGS I TRY NOT TO PUT IN A SCRIPT

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JULY

July was simple. All I did in July was reveal the meaning of life and the meaning of illegal.

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I got both of them completely and utterly right too.

Because I’m awesome.

I totally rocked July.

AUGUST

I’m getting bored now. Anyone else getting bored?

August! What did I do in August?

NOTHING!

There was no August either.

Wait a minute … no April? No August? No months beginning with the letter A?

Hmm …

That video would probably be more relevant if it was actually about the letter A.

SEPTEMBER

There was a September! Since September doesn’t begin with the letter A, this completely proves my theory.

It fucking does!

In September I went to see Monsters University.

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Then I gave you writer-based fashion advice.

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And I rounded out the month by getting upset about a wine glass.

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OCTOBER

In October I had a letter from Linda Aronson, which was far politer than I deserved.

Then I wrote the first two parts of my fantastically successful Notes from the Other Side series; which was about my inept fumblings as a script editor for PERSONA.

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They were called Part One and Part Two. I’m original like that, I am. I was the first person ever to think of calling something part one and part two.

NOVEMBER

I’m really bored with this now. I’ve no idea why I do this every year, I mean what is the fucking point? Does anyone read this far? I will send a five pound note to the first person who quotes these three words in the comments:

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That’s a serious offer. I’ll send you a proper five pound note through the proper mail and everything if you’re the first person to copy and paste those three words into a comment.

And 12p to the first person who can use them in a sentence.

And now that I’ve (hopefully) successfully proved no one’s reading any more … on with November.

First up, Part Three of the Notes from the Other Side trilogy. I broke boundaries here by calling the third part Part Three. I also got a bit ranty about it all.

Sorry.

Especially to the person I referred to as a fucking twat; but to be fair. You were.

Or I was.

One of the two.

Possibly both.

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Then I talked about tailoring. It was in relation to an upcoming meeting … at which everyone behaved in almost exactly the way I hoped they wouldn’t.

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For some reason I then had a pop at actors who don’t afford my scripts the same respect as Shakespeare’s.

No, seriously. I can only assume I was heavily medicated at the time.

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And I finished the month by gushing about my love for a man. Well, eleven men. Twelve, as it turned out. Thirteen now.

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If you’re feeling particularly geeky, you can spot seven differences between this photo and the one uploaded in November. Although, I warn you now imaginary person who’s never going to fucking bother doing this … number four is almost impossible to spot.

DECEMBER

I began December by delivering my verdict of The Day of the Doctor … I fucking loved it. I know I fucking loved it because I wrote “I fucking loved it.”

You can’t argue with that kind of proof.

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Then I decided to tattoo something on my forehead so I wouldn’t forget it. This is the worst possible way of remembering stuff … mainly because it’s really fucking hard to see your own forehead.

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Don’t do this. Seriously, it’s silly.

And I finished off the year with a series of Christmas crackers – little bloglet mentions of things I either think are cool or just felt like mentioning:

  1. The Elephantom
  2. Totally Serialized (there’s a competition on this one – you can win free tickets!)
  3. Dead Elf
  4. Production Hell
  5. Kung Fury

And that was pretty much it in blogging terms.

Behind the scenes, this was an interesting year. It’s the first year for nearly a decade I haven’t had anything produced or released … and yet I probably earnt more this year than any previous year to date.

Apparently a writer can earn more money by not getting films made than by actually getting involved in all that icky and annoying shooting business.

Who knew?

At the beginning of the year, I made a conscious decision to write something for myself. Something I really, really wanted to write which I would then try to sell.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, I worked almost continuously on other people’s ideas with varying degrees of success.

I had some lovely meetings with some lovely people and at least one of them I didn’t completely screw up.

I got paid to write stuff I enjoyed writing for people who actually cared about the script and wanted to get it right … as opposed to caring about the shooting date (tomorrow) and wanting to get it finished … even if ‘finished’ means ‘nobody fucking cares how good it is, we just need some words’.

As an added extra bonus, a producer sent one of my scripts to a director whose work I really, really admire. I’ve no idea if that guy actually liked the script or not. Probably not, but he wanted to read it and therefore at least now knows who I am.

I’m the guy who’s script he (probably) didn’t like.

Unless he hasn’t read it yet. Which is entirely possible and extremely likely.

2014 already has some super cool awesome stuff lined up with a couple of projects lining up on the starting blocks and even a few lumbering asthmatically towards the final set of hurdles.

Beyond which are another set of even higher hurdles, because that’s what the whole writing gig’s about.

So bring it on 2014, do your worst!

Just nicely.

Please?

Categories: BBC, Bored, Career Path, Christmas Crackers, Industry Musings, My Way, Opportunity, Persona, Progress, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, Someone Else's Way, Strippers vs. Werewolves, Things I've Learnt Recently, Two steps back, Writing and life | 16 Comments

2012

Every year, for reasons I can’t quite remember, I do a post which rounds up exactly what happened to me over the past twelve months. To me, these recap posts seem interminably long, dull and quite pointless … but for some reason they always get read more than the original posts did. I have two theories to explain this odd behaviour:

  1. The majority of you wait until the end of the year so you can get the whole  sordid tale in one go.
  2. The majority of you are fucking mental.
  3. I said two theories, why would there be a three?

But with that in mind, let’s  begin. I promise this list will be as dull and as pointless as ever. We begin, in …

JANUARY

I began the year seven days after everyone else because I’m fucking hardcore, despite having been teetotal for 22 years now.

Maybe I just forgot the new year had begun?

Either way, I began with an explanation of one of my favourite writing techniques, THE BOX.

This technique is so awesome and so useful, not only have I not used it since; but I have no recollection of ever using it in the first place. I’m assuming I just made it up.

You know, lied.

Then I had a moment of genius. I know it was genius because Steven Moffat said it was. On Twitter. This is as close to a fact as you can possibly get without using things like set-squares and alphabet-heavy theorems.

This post garnered more views than my arse did that time I accidentally left it in Trafalgar Square. What’s more, people seemed to  like it. It wasn’t really anything much to do with writing and had more to do with my inability to repair a car … but it’s quite funny.

Essentially, I explained How to beat procrastination and was generally awesome while I was doing it. Assuming ‘awesome’ is a synonym for ‘a bit sad’.

You should read it.

I’ll wait.

I immediately failed to capitalise on this massive new following by bloging about some confused Thundercats and rounded off January by having a film I had almost nothing to do with, Stalker, released on DVD.

FEBRUARY

And lo, the second month did dawn and lower, I did shout a bit about baby-earrings, hotel sink-plugs, iTunes and shitty writing advice.

Ten days later, I was still pretty upset about people charging writers for bad advice and gave my own bad advice for free. This time about dual time-period script writing. I have since ignored every single one of these ‘rules’ … with catastrophic results.

I should learn to listen to me more.

Or at least learn to read the stuff I write.

I also got upset about Tuesdays and stupidity.

Decided Rosie Claverton is ace …

… and then drowned in bullshit.

MARCH

I watched Deviation in various international locations.

Wondered when The Descendants was going to end.

Showed you the quad for Strippers vs. Werewolves

… which is far better than the film itself.

And then went on a trailer frenzy for season three of Persona:

I finished March by getting into the quarter-finals of The Sitcom Mission.

APRIL

Don’t know about you, but I’m bored now. I’m also full of duck and empty of sleep. I might give up at any minute.

April!

April was the month … some stuff happened.

Stuff a bit like …

Pointed out ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITIES happened fairly regularly, best not to get too upset about them.

Explained the difference between a character being likeable and people fucking right off with their stupid fucking notes about kittens and fucking rainbows. Or something.

Swore I’d fucking show you all by explaining why script format was important. This would be it, the definitive guide to every aspect of script format explaining why I’m right and you’re all fucking wrong.

Which isn’t egotistical at all, it’s just the way of the world.

And then there was the Strippers vs. Werewolves première.

This post is well worth reading. It’s a master-class in how to blog about the première of your own film when you think it’s shit, without mentioning how shit you think the film is; but instead mentioning sausages. A lot.

Seriously, go read it. See if you can find any mention of how shit the film is.

They were fucking awesome sausages, mind.

After the première, the film came out in the cinemas because this is what happens.

Here, watch the trailer. Just because, alright? Just fucking watch it so I can have a rest from all this fucking typing.

MAY

I began May by making good on my promise to explain every aspect of script format. I started with the title page … and then gave up. For ever. I mean … what’s  the fucking point?

The 7th of May was Me Day when the whole world revolved around me for 24 hours.

It wasn’t my birthday or anything, it was just a day when the whole world gathered round to worship me and celebrate how amazing I am. Or was. You may not remember it because I think you were temporarily dead that day.

Ooh, this post on Script Trajectory was quite good. Must have been ill that day.

The papers in May did a mighty fine job of promoting the BluRay/DVD release of Strippers vs. Werewolves by pretending not to know something they patently do and being all sniffy about it in a headline grabbing way.

I can’t be fucked with this, I’m knackered. I’ll finish it off tomorrow.

JUNE

Hooray! It’s tomorrow!

For me, probably not for you.

June! The month of … more stuff.

Surprisingly little stuff, actually.

All I did was make a mis-step and bitch about people asking me perfectly reasonable questions.

Fuck you, June, you suck.

JULY

July was the month I was recruited by a clandestine organisation to invade a nation of pixie warmongers who live in an old forgotten tea cup behind my garden shed. I was given a spud gun, a nifty secret hat and a licence to break wind in public and sent off to murder pixies. After a series of, frankly, quite dull adventures involving grit and teaspoons, I found myself in Yakatang (the capital of the pixie nation, it looks a bit like Harlow only not quite so grim and with a few extra pixies). I was all set to assassinate King Ian (Yakatang’s chief biscuit maker and all round bastard) when I realised the whole incident was merely the result of a dodgy kipper that morning and I had actually invaded Lakeland, naked save for a pink Santa’s hat and brandishing a small clockwork frog.

Come to think of it, that might not have happened either.

I can’t really remember July, can you?

Oh wait, yes I can. In July I …

Went to the BBC TV Writers’ Festival, met all sorts of splendid people and burbled insanely about The Dukes of Hazzard at every opportunity.

I also said Fuck You, Mr Arnopp.

… and then got all serious with some musings on disability in scripts. That one’s worth reading again.

AUGUST

In August I declared myself FREE to whatever the fuck I want, any time I fucking want to do it!

Then did this …

… which probably wasn’t worth the effort.

Then I watched The Dark Knight Rises … which was worth even less effort.

I did fuck all for a couple of weeks and then I had a serious think about the difference between horizontal and vertical careers. Basically, producers can opt for horizontal careers, scriptwriters can’t.

I rounded off August by giving away literally hundreds of literal pounds … because I’m either nice or a complete fucking mug.

HELLO-is-it-tea-youre-looking-for-Mug

SEPTEMBER

Slipped off to the secret writing island for interesting conversations about ‘the first ever genital piercing’ and ‘how to wake someone up with a spoon’ before proclaiming I had a new regime … and then failing to do anything about it.

IMAG0891

Bigged up Helen Smith‘s new book The Miracle Inspector, because she’s all kinds of lovely and I felt like it.

The Miracle Inspector by Helen Smith

I paused for a bit longer and dropped in a secret plug for Jason Arnopp’s new book without anyone knowing I’d done it.

IMAG0911

Hmm … it kind of looks like I spent the entire month on my secret writing island. Wonder if that was true?

Ooh! I got really shouty about people giving bad advice!

message

Which was probably uncalled for. Except it wasn’t! Don’t listen to the cunts!

And finally I rambled a bit about changing writers/directors/producers on a film. Which is just fucking annoying, so stop it.

OCTOBER

For fuck’s sake, are you still reading? Go out, get some air. Have some fun or otherwise do something more useful than your time.

Like what I am.

October was the month I …

Rambled about recycling jokes.

BillHicksDenisLeary

Realised I shouldn’t be allowed to write horror movies because I don’t really like ’em.

photo

Wrote a long, boring, yet strangely fascinating blog about file names.

And then gave away a free BluRay of some shit or other.

Here’s a photo of me with a spoon.

E17TVaSociopath

Why? Why the fuck not?

NOVEMBER

Thank fuck this is nearly over. I’m not doing this again, I’m bored shitless, fuck knows how you feel.

Met up with some writers …

MP_0020468

… and talked about Pets and Zombies. A subject which is nothing to do with either, but just more dull talk about scripts.

And then I saw Looper and explained the RULES OF THE UNIVERSE. There are surprisingly few of them.

Wait, is that all I did in November?

Cool. Let’s hope December was as pointless and then I can go and get some food. I’m having a curry, in case you cared.

DECEMBER

Got beaten up by a four year old.

Explained why fighting naked isn’t always sexy and having your arse and boobs on the same side definitely isn’t.

tumblr_megw857zgq1rmx3kqo1_1280

Somehow managed to defend iPhones while slagging off myself. How the fuck did that happen?

Screenshot_119

And then promoted a festival because someone asked me to and it was easier than thinking of anything new to write.

totally serialized

And really, that was it. That was the whole year.

Fuck me.

I did do quite a lot of proper writing too, I just didn’t really talk about it much. I script edited hours and fucking hours of Persona, wrote far too much of it and worked on multiple drafts of seven features … so not too bad.

But not good enough.

I will do better next year.

Which is in about five hours’ time.

If you want proper stats and all kinds of flashy animation about all the stuff I blogged about this year, then you need help.

Or this link.

Hope 2012 was super-sexy-awesome for you, now stop reading this, go out and get pissed.

New-Year-2013-Celebration-Wallpaper-600x450

Categories: Bored, Career Path, Festivals, Industry Musings, My Way, Opportunity, Persona, Progress, Publicity, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, Sitcom Mission, Someone Else's Way, Stalker, Strippers vs. Werewolves, Things I've Learnt Recently, Two steps back, Writing and life | Leave a comment

2010

I know it’s traditional to do your end-of-year-blog-round-up at the end of the year you’re rounding-up, but I didn’t, so I’m doing it now.

And no, I haven’t caved in, bought an iPhone and then failed to wake up for three days in a row (although I do find it highly amusing and can’t wait to smile smugly at certain friends of mine whose most cherished and deeply held belief is ‘Apple products never go wrong’.); but I’ve just been excruciatingly busy with Persona … which the more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed completely failed to manifest itself two days ago. There is a reason for that, but it will have to wait.

So, what did I do in 2010 (which I can’t believe I’m talking about, it’s so last year)? Well, I did something rather like this …

JANUARY

I explained how to be happy, in a rather long winded post which went on for so long it annoyed the piss out of me; Lord knows how you felt about it.

I discovered there was a 5,50 in the morning, ate my first school dinner since I was 11 and became the world’s first, ginger Bollywood consultant.

Updated Quicktime.

Discovered a watched kettle does boil and took a video to prove it:

Equated ‘In the Night Garden’ to genital piercing.

Then ran head-first at a wall and played with some bunnies.

FEBRUARY

Posted lots of behind the scenes videos for ‘Just for the Record’.

Talked about Piers‘ Writers’ Social.

Got lost in America and had to ask where I was.

Updated iTunes.

Spend a weekend in a fabulous house on Anglesey (which may or may not have some connection to St Seiriol) with a Lord who taught me how to con money out of people on Waltzers and a young woman who tries to bring helicopters down by hitting golf balls at them (but is considering giving it up because she almost hit a car and feels that’s a bit dangerous), whilst working out a plan to invade the Falklands as the first step towards exploiting the untapped mineral wealth of Antarctica and being served dinner by William Wordsworth’s great-granddaughter … surprisingly, this wasn’t a dream and did actually happen.

Failed to get mentioned in The Sun, Broadcast and GMTV.

That was pretty much it for February.

MARCH

Wondered if Caprica would get any better – decided it wasn’t worth spending the time to find out. Did it get better?

Got given a note I didn’t understand.

Accidentally saw Superman Returns and got all shouty and upset.

Updated Quicktime and iTunes.

Explained how to deal with notes by wearing a skirt and letting other men in skirts stab you.

Broke down exactly how I deal with a thirty-day deadline … badly, is the answer, in case you were wondering.

Went to Piers‘ Writers’ Social.

The DVD for ‘Just for the Record’ became available to pre-order.

Remained unconvinced by 3D. I’m still not convinced – good idea or pointless gimmick?

APRIL

Got very stressed because I was working on five projects at the same time – five! How pitifully small that number seems now. My stress dissolved in the face of this pretty picture:

Which may or may not be in pre-production around about now. Probably isn’t.

Got held prisoner in France due to a dastardly plot involving my parents, British Airways and an Icelandic volcano.

Got a bit disappointed by the Daleks and their magic Easter egg.

Decided I don’t trust anyone’s opinion.

Updated Quicktime.

Got in a bit of a tangle about an exclamation mark!

MAY

Updated Quicktime.

Spent three days shitting myself here:

Stayed awake for 36 hours, whilst travelling eight hours across five time zones so I could get to here:

Just so I could attend the premiere of ‘Just for the Record’

Updated iTunes.

Went to see ‘Just for the Record’ in the same cinema I went to see all of the films which initially inspired me to be a writer. A film (based on) a script I wrote showing in an actual cinema! And not just one cinema, several across the country. Something I wrote got a theatrical release! … Shame it was a bit shit really.

Explained how cold reading helps get you out of holes you dig by being thoroughly unprofessional.

Realised IMDb ratings may be a slightly better work of fiction than the films themselves.

Was deeply surprised to find ‘Just for the Record’ in the DVD charts. Number 13, if you’re interested:

Updated Quicktime.

Went on a long and pointless rant about builders.

Updated iTunes.

Went on a long and pointless rant about isms.

JUNE

Was surprised to receive a smattering of complimentary emails.

Updated Quicktime and iTunes.

Stole some money:

Wrote my most popular post of the year: It’s not fair

JULY

Listened to two Jamaicans argue about the best way to spray paint an elephant.

Had a First Look at LVJ:

Got called a lying bastard for failing to recognise Apple as the true inventor of video calling.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Pause/beat – not the fucking same.

‘The Wrong Door’ came out on DVD! No one bought it! Hooray!

Got angry about some spelling.

Updated iTunes.

AUGUST

Updated iTunes.

Promoted some random shit.

Updated Quicktime.

Saw some films.

Updated iTunes.

Failed to understand semi-colons.

Updated Quicktime.

Invented a new sport.

Failed to win at the sport I’d just invented.

Updated iTunes.

Got removed from a project for waiting too long for them to send me some feedback.

Updated Quicktime.

Made some robots swear:

Updated iTunes.

Swore I’d make the robots swear once a month, just for fun.

Updated Quicktime.

Failed to make the robots swear ever again. This will probably be a lifelong failure.

Updated iTunes.

Got annoyed with people slagging off Richard Curtis.

Updated Quicktime.

Someone set up a Twitter account in my name … still don’t know who.

Updated iTunes.

SEPTEMBER

Realised I don’t know what iTunes is or why it’s on my computer. I mean, I know you can use it to buy music and stuff; but what’s all the rest of it for? As far as I can tell it’s something which gets between your computer and an mp3 player or a phone and … makes it all a bit more complicated. A bit like a geriatric butler who insists on chewing your food for you. I mean, what the fuck is it for?

Decided to uninstall iTunes.

Got excited about a poster I haven’t seen for twenty-five years.

Liked ‘Roger and Val Have Just Got In’ even if no one else did.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Moaned about people fucking up my (admittedly poor) scripts by removing, changing or otherwise tampering with the protagonist AFTER the fucking script has been shot.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Went to the theatre – nothing blew up, no one got naked and there was a surprising lack of giant killer robots; but it was actually very enjoyable.

Updated Quicktime.

Expressed a desire to project a photo of my balls onto various people’s faces.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Updated Quicktime.

Uninstalled iTunes – what the fuck is this shit? Where does it keep coming from? I don’t want it. I don’t need it. Please, please fuck off!

Gave up and updated iTunes.

OCTOBER

Tried to name a space shuttle ‘Brian’.

Updated Quicktime.

Learnt there is such a thing as a one word pitch.

Updated Quicktime.

Had a warm gooey feeling because I did something uncharacteristically nice.

Updated Quicktime.

Got confused between my imagination and a piece of paper.

Updated Quicktime.

Tried to decipher the numbering system of a script competition.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Realised iTunes seems to have given up asking to be updated.

Updated iTunes.

And Quicktime.

NOVEMBER

Confessed my sexual fondness for a cartoon character.

Updated Quicktime.

Ranted about working for two producers who hated each other.

Updated Quicktime.

Wished Apple would just make Quicktime work properly in the first place. Or at least the last place, since it seems to update every fucking two days and still doesn’t actually fucking work. What exactly is updating? Is inability to play any fucking file whatsoever?

Uninstalled Quicktime.

DECEMBER

Reinstalled Quicktime so I could watch a film trailer.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated iTunes.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated iTunes.

Updated Quicktime.

Talked about the snow for fucking ages.

Updated Quicktime.

Realised I’d spent more time updating Quicktime than fucking breathing. In fact, I’d go so far as to say updating Quicktime is 80% of my social interaction with the world.

Talked about some loveliness.

Realised Quicktime hasn’t asked to be updated for a week. I miss that little guy.

Did something I didn’t want to do and enjoyed it.

Made writing ridiculous complex with all sorts of colour-coded formulas.

Where’s Quicktime? Why isn’t it talking to me any more? Have I upset it somehow?

Got really excited about the trailer for:

And began the nine day countdown to … nothing.

UPDATED QUICKTIME! HE’S BACK! HE DOES LOVE ME! … Bollocks.

And that was about it. There wasn’t a lot of actual blogging happening this year, primarily because 2010 was the year of taking on too many projects. 12 features in all. 12 – fucking ridiculous. Behind the scenes, unblogged, I managed to work my way through 9 of those 12 features – 3 of them are still waiting patiently in the wings; invented the format for, hired writers for, developed, wrote and script-edited Persona (which has been delayed, but is definitely starting in January this year); attended a lot of meetings; met the world’s most pretentious man; travelled 8402 miles in 16 hours just to wank into a pot; became a sort of Producer; was forced to interact with actors; set fire to lots of things which went fizz …. bang; ruined four rolls of really expensive wallpaper; loved my wife and my daughter and generally had an absolute fucking ball.

What does 2011 hold?

Well, Persona for one thing. Those last three films and then a break from films for a while. Probably. Maybe some features going into production. Twitter – maybe? I might just follow people for a while and see what happens. And … um … sleep. I need some sleep. Quite a lot of it, really.

Happy New Year!

Categories: BBC, Career Path, Industry Musings, Just for the Record, LVJ, My Way, Opportunity, Persona, Progress, Publicity, Rants, Sad Bastard, Software, Someone Else's Way, Sparkle, That Band, The Wrong Door, Things I've Learnt Recently, Two steps back, Writing and life | 2 Comments

2009

So here we are at the end of the year, hell at the end of the decade and …

Actually, when does the decade end? Is 2010 the end of this decade or the beginning of the next one? Tricky number, zero. Still, fuck it. If the Romans couldn’t get to grips with it then why the fuck should I? I mean, they built roads and shit while all I’ve ever done is push buttons on a keyboard … and even that I do pretty badly.

Mind you, have you seen the roads in Rome? Shockingly bad. Fuck knows how those people supplied an empire.

But I digress.

Did you have a good Christmas? Did Santa bring you everything you wanted? I asked for World Domination and some French Fancies but the fat git failed on both counts. How was 2009 in general? Mine went almost exactly like this:

JANUARY

I realised we were living in the 21st Century … nine years after the fact.

Discovered Oli stops reading when he reaches his own name and then talked briefly about magic puppies with Lego faces.

Tries to get someone to hold my hand.

Learnt, once again, communicating by email results in appalling scripts and that the more notes someone has for you, the better the script is.

Revealed I had a BIG IDEA … with no time to write it.

Had a pile of work, so massive and so daunting … I decided to fuck everyone off and go to Disney Land instead.

Didn’t go to Disney Land, just knuckled down and attacked the pile of work.

Talked about a Writer’s Vision – basically how to lie in order to get money.

Revealed to the world that Satan talks to me through the TV and told me I have to leave Pipex and sign up to Sky Broadband or he’s going to make me rape, kill and eat next door’s babies.

Fielded an email from an American Production company looking for something almost exactly like the BIG IDEA. It’s right easy this marketing lark – you just sit there and wait for them to call you.

And then saw Seven Pounds and got depressed because I can’t write like that.

FEBRUARY

Had a pointless conversation with an Air Hostess in the middle of a forest.

Got bored.

Decided, more or less on a whim, never to speak to anyone ever again.

Named and alphabetised my T-shirts.

Decided I didn’t want to be in Battlestar Galactica.

Revealed my obsession with Creative Screenwriting Podcasts.

Got confused about Easter.

And got bored once more, this time by Benjamin Button. Fuck it, if he doesn’t pay any interest in his own life, why should I?

MARCH

Failed to blog about THE A TEAM V DAD’S ARMY and DAISY DOGNUTS. No, I have no idea what that means either.

Talked about the technical difficulties involved in writing a script … although for the life of me I can’t remember which fucking script I was talking about. I may have been making shit up to make myself seem cool.

Shit a solid gold brick.

Explained why this:

Made me into a writer.

Discovered a clone of me from the future used to stalk me in the past.

Got attacked by a T-Rex and rescued by Spiderman.

Got nominated for a Rose d’Or. Sort of.

Met up with Lara Greenway and Terry Wogan in Madam Tussauds.

Got emails from actors asking if they could be in a film I didn’t write. Only to find out I may have written bits of it, sort of.

Realised I could carry all my scripts around on my phone, all the time.

Got annoyed about mugs and companies who sell themselves as cool without actually telling you what their products do. Like Apple.

And offered to buy people lunch.

APRIL

Got nominated for a BAFTA. Actually, this has nothing to do with me.

Dropped an imaginary phone into an imaginary vat of home brew at Dan Turner’s imaginary house.

Wrote a script to an extremely complicated and prescriptive set of rules. Rules which the producer who set them immediately complained about.

Karma Magnet came out as a DVD extra.

Pimped some stuff for someone else.

Got fucking angry about the media’s ‘information’ about Swine Flu and declared it was all fucking bullshit and no one was going to die from it. Bird Flu, anyone?

Warned people their ideas would make a 90 page script into a 180 page script. They didn’t listen, I wrote the script, they got upset.

And filming started on a sitcom pilot … so I hid in Crouch End.

Wow, nothing really happened in April, did it?

MAY

Got annoyed about story drops – the point in a film/TV thing where you could stop watching and not feel like you’d missed the next hour.

Got really unreasonably upset about MOMENTS LATER. That must have been a particularly bad day.

Just for the Record began filming. I went to hide in the Caribbean and got sucked off by an air steward in First Class. There was a video of that and everything … but I seem to have lost it.

Got a phone call from the Mail on Sunday who wanted to talk to me about not being in Cannes.

Took a meeting in a room chock full of little rubber pigs – every single one of which bore a sticker proudly proclaiming: THIS IS NOT A TOY

Went to Nuneaton. Never again.

Apparently I went on holiday somewhere, but for the life of me I can’t remember where.

Oh, and I bought a new laptop:

Touchy touchy!

JUNE

Came over all positive for a moment and said some nice things. Hopefully that was just a phase.

Launched Jack Tweed’s movie career. Great.

Went to the Screenwriters’ Festival and drew some sperm:

Muttered something about being forced to promote stuff even when I thought it was shit

Saw a preview/promo for Fleeced:

Saw a trailer for Just for the Record … which has since been removed. Damn.

Saw a poster for Just for the Record … which has since been binned.

Tried to make sense of Spatulas, Iguanas and a fruitbowl.

Attacked a man on the bus so I could rip this page from his paper:

Because of this paragraph:

Which is about a sitcom pilot I co-wrote.

And came over all nice again and promoted other people’s short films.

JULY

Finally explained about the movable goalposts of excitement.

Held a meeting in a street which was on fire.

Attended a screening of Splendid. It was.

Got hassled by an all female Squad of pissed up Motown fans. One of whom insisted she was a natural blonde with the landing strip to prove it who went on to kick me in the chest with a spiked heel. I quite enjoyed that day.

Got angry about morons giving James Moran a hard time for writing good telly.

Did this:

For these people:

Deleted more than I wrote.

Ran out of ways to procrastinate and very nearly had to do some work.

And saw the trailer for the sitcom pilot I co-wrote:

AUGUST

Oh, and a music video from the same:

Another trailer for Just for the Record. This one’s still there!

Took part in a three-way conference call between New York, Barbados and Crawley. (I was in Barbados, but strangely my car was in Crawley).

Was told I wasn’t allowed to photograph an imaginary gorilla and used it as an excuse to show this trailer again:

Finally realised (but haven’t fully accepted) that NO ONE FUCKING CARES ABOUT SCRIPT FORMAT.

Confessed I frequently imagine I’m Steve McQueen.

And tried to work out what I wanted out of the SWF.

SEPTEMBER

Are we all still here? Are you as bored as I am yet? Yes? Good, moving on.

Saw a trailer for Exposé.

Signed contracts and received feedback for the BIG IDEA. Wait, did I mention I sold the BIG IDEA without trying? No, not to the American Production company, but to a different American Production company. Actually, my friend sold it for me without my permission or knowledge. Suits me, as long as I don’t have to do any work.

Made some cats out of blue icing.

Talked about two adaptations and how they’d missed the fucking point. Since I’m now working on two adaptations I look forward to people throwing that blog back in my face.

The Dutch gave me some money, via the BBC.

So did Sweden, Denmark, Italy, America and Russia.

And, for reasons which escape me, babbled about furniture for far too long.

Is that it? Is that all I did in September? Was it a short month this year?

OCTOBER

Hooray! This is nearly over and I can go and do something more interesting!

In October, I lost my rag with Microsoft.

Got suckered into thinking this was a real school orchestra:

Got stuck in a rant about designing cars and then bought one to cheer myself up.

And … that’s it? That’s fucking it? What the fuck was I doing in October?

NOVEMBER

Went to the Screenwriters’ Festival – fannyed around, didn’t really make the most of it and met a lot of nice people. Like Hayley McKenzie – she’s lovely. Oh, and I compared cock size with Simon Beaufoy. I’m not telling you who won.

Masturbating monkeys … I still don’t really want to talk about that.

Tried to sell my car via my blog. Bizarrely, I actually sold it in absolute darkness, during a storm and a power cut to two Eastern Europeans who paid cash and didn’t want to test drive or even inspect it.

Got all mellow and wibbly over stuff like this:

Wrote an open letter to directors.

Wrote an open letter to writers.

Wrote an open letter to producers.

Hmm … looks like I did more in November than October but still, come on! Have I really been too busy to blog?

Yes, I have as it happens …

DECEMBER

 Moaned a lot about writing constantly without actually writing any scripts.

Pointed out the target audience for a script is the producer and the director, not the people who pay to go and see a film. That’s the target audience for a film.

Spoke to a wall.

And that was it. That’s the entire fucking year.

I can’t help noticing the beginning of the year involved a lot more blogging than the end of the year. I’m sorry about that (unless you hate my blog, then I’m happy for you) but I have been exceedingly busy. I’m currently working on four feature scripts as well as keeping all the other plates spinning and blogging has become an expensive luxury.

January and February 2010 promise to be absolutely fucking mental and possibly completely impossible – but hopefully once this lot is out of the way, normal blogging service will be resumed.

And by normal service I mean me talking shit in extremely long-winded, ill-thought out and ill-advised posts.

Happy New Year to you all, see you in the next decade!

Or maybe the last year of this decade … depending on how you count it.

Categories: BBC, BBC Sketch Show, Bored, Career Path, Exposé, Festivals, Fleeced, Industry Musings, Just for the Record, Karma Magnet, LVJ, My Way, Progress, Publicity, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, Software, Someone Else's Way, That Band, The Wrong Door, Things I've Learnt Recently, til Death, Two steps back, Writing and life | 1 Comment

Gutted

So I’m working on this treatment at the moment and it’s all going well, I know what I want to write and am making good progress … but there’s little nagging thought: I’m missing a couple of scenes.

Basically, there are scenes I want to include between a guy and a girl which I haven’t found space for yet; and every time I look for space I can’t find it because each scene moves logically and seamlessly onto the next one. I could randomly stick them in, but that’s not screen writing – that’s just a fucking mess and my number seven complaint about bad scripts: if the scenes don’t flow into each other, it’s not a movie – it’s just a random collection of scenes.

So there’s no space for these scenes, which I assume means they’re not important because it’s not a romance and the girl is neither protagonist, antagonist nor love interest. As eminent brain care specialist, Gag Halfrunt might say: she’s just this girl, you know?

I leave out the scenes and I carry on, ploughing steadily through the treatment towards the end of act two when … oh shit.

I’ve reached the point in the treatment where I need to end act two (somewhere on page 8, if you’re interested – this is based on 1 page of treatment = 10 pages of script or screentime) and there is no way to hit the planned end of act two.

Did I say ‘Oh shit?’

I did?

Marvellous.

But hang on, maybe this isn’t a bad thing? Maybe there’s a whole new way to end the second act which either still leads into the planned third act or, even better, leads to a completely new third act which trumps the old one and immeasurably improves the story?

No.

Bugger.

As far as I can tell, the best that can happen from here until the end is it will ramble on for a bit and then stop. Not exactly thrilling.

So what’s gone wrong? Why have I come out of the dense thicket of act two in the wrong place? Why can’t I see the finish line, the prize, the treasure … the end?

Obviously, it must have something to do with those scenes between the girl and the guy – something about the things I wanted them to say to each other must steer the guy towards the correct end of act two. But if that’s true, which I suspect it is since it’s beginning to dawn on me the girl embodies the reasons the guy is making the wrong decisions, then why don’t they fit anywhere in the story? Why is the sequence of scenes seamless without the vital scenes needed to keep it on course?

And there’s the answer.

The girl keeps the guy on course, and therefore the story too. Without her input, he’s making the wrong decisions and will continue to make the wrong decisions until the film runs out of time and just stops. Now I know this, I can trace the story back to the point where it goes wrong. Now I can see half of the seamless scenes are actually seamless in the wrong direction.

Bugger.

Oh, I said that did I?

Fuck-toggle?

I’m pretty sure I’ve never said that before.

So where does that leave me? It leaves me leaning on the delete key and rushing perilously back towards page 4 and the point the story began to meander. It does still cross the mid-point at the bottom of page 5 and for a moment I think I maybe able to stop the word-slaughter there, but then I realise it crosses it in the wrong direction so all that has to go too.

Back to page 4.

Arse-phlegm.

I, like the treatment, am gutted.

Categories: My Way, Two steps back | 1 Comment

2008

Another year over (nearly). How was your 2008?

Mine was suspiciously like this:

JANUARY

George MacDonald Fraser died. I was a bit upset about that.

I set out to write a feature in six days (due to some ridiculously bad time-management skills). I actually managed to write it in three … and it was shit.

I found out I had no idea what blue pages actually are. Or rather, I knew what they were, but not exactly what they looked like and how to do them. I’m still not 100% sure but I’ve come up with my own version and no one’s complained so far.

Whilst on location for ‘K‘ I managed to work out a cheap way of throwing an actor off the roof.

I got fired from a film and inexplicably became obsessed with tin foil as a direct result. Looking back on that, it might have been a teeny tiny nervous breakdown.

I learnt how to write a sex scene which won’t upset actresses, then got called a sexist by Piers for using the word ‘actresses’.

Weirdly, someone asked me to put more swearing into a script. I’ve never been asked for that before or since.

K‘ started shooting.

I began a new script and immediately tried to hide under the tin foil again.

I bought my first ever calendar.

And to wrap January up, BBC Three announced the airdate for ‘The Wrong Door‘.

FEBRUARY

I learnt how to keep actors happy. Or happier, anyway.

I finished the first draft of the new script and for some reason felt the need to post a video of my friends and I massacring ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’.

IMDB made me happy.

After a couple of years of faithful service, I abandoned this room:

Office

And moved into this one:

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Which has a sofa for me to lie on whilst wrapped in tin foil:

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And a light switch shaped like a nipple:

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All to make space for my soon-to-be-arriving daughter. My old office looks more like this now:

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And then I got memed. I didn’t like it.

 

MARCH

I decidedthe new script was going to be my last low budget film and from now on I was going to concentrate purely on some TV specs.

I started work on two more low budget films. Since I can’t remember what they were, they obviously went the way of most low budget films and imploded on contact with reality.

I wrote a lot of shit about strategy.

Adele Silva completely failed to mention me in Hello!

I learnt taking meetings when your brain is in a different time zone is a bad idea.

I got invited to a mysterious gathering.

I learnt I used to live in Croydon – or at least that’s what the Croydon Guardian believes.

I worked out how to introduce a character without having her in the scene.

And then I got dressed up as Captain Kirk.

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APRIL

Wow, are you still reading? Really?

I went to the thing I got invited to – a BBC shindig and chance to meet the producers of the BBC’s New Comedy Unit. Where I stood in the corner for a few hours, got very hot, very angry and completely failed to meet any of the producers of the BBC’s New Comedy Unit.

I realised there are very few female sidekicks.

I picked up even more low budget film work.

Abi Titmuss completely failed to mention me in The Sun and then promised to continue to never mention me in public. I decided not to believe she existed.

Karma Magnet turned up online. People seemed to like it.

Abi Titmuss made good her promise and failed to mention me in Closer.

I confirmed, once and for all, actors don’t really have sex in sex scenes. Unless it’s porn.

I got to write for Doctor Who. Not the show, or even the current Doctor, but for Sylvester McCoy and that’s good enough for me.

I decided some actors needed punching in the throat.

And then the new script started shooting, so I went and hid in the Caribbean.

 

MAY

 I finally gave in and went on set. It was fun. I made tea.

Shouted at people for getting upset about not winning competitions. If you’ve entered the Red Planet Prize this year, you should read this post again.

I had a day off. That was nice too.

Someone said something nice about me on IMDB. I immediately became suspicious.

I had another shout at people for being idiots and starving themselves to death whilst failing as a writer. Get a proper job, for fuck’s sake.

Had my first, and so far only, guest post.

Wrote a short guide to dealing with notes which basically involved a lot of swearing and some minor violence.

Hmm … May was a bit rubbish, wasn’t it?

 

JUNE

I decided to murder my old spec scripts and just deleted them.

I rescued  my old spec scripts from the recycle bin and hid them where I couldn’t find them.

Fleeced‘ started filming – that’s three features so far this year.

Got another black belt – also my third.

Went on a bit about loving the treatment I was writing. I wish I hadn’t now.

Shouted a bit about questions and then took two weeks off because:

dsc00076

Seriously, who gives a fuck about the rest of the year?

 

JULY

Oh, you’re still reading, are you?

Fine, come on then.

Shall we just have one more photo of Alice?

alice

 Aw.

Anyway.

In July I organised a museum heist.

Got invited to a screening of The Wrong Door.

Went to the screening of The Wrong Door, met loads of people including Doctor Fox, Sarah Morgan and her boyfriend, didn’t make a tit of myself (except with Doctor Fox) and managed to steal a T-shirt:

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Two days later, I had to give the T-shirt back. A handy tip – if you steal something, don’t mention it on your blog.

Learnt how to be constructive with my criticism rather than just scrawling SHIT on the script in red ink, wiping my arse on it and sending it back.

Met Gordon Robertson after knowing him via email (not in the biblical sense, that’s impossible) for a few years. He’s a nice bloke.

And then waffled on a bit about random shit to avoid having to do any real work.

 

AUGUST

Crap. Still working on that fucking treatment.

Got asked an annoying question.

Got offered a shit load of imaginary money.

Got asked if I wanted to run a sketch writing workshop. I didn’t. Then I thought I might. Then the guy stopped talking to me. So I didn’t.

Didn’t have dinner with Gordy Hoffman.

Bought a new computer:

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It has touchscreen. I like touching it.

Discovered cats and touchscreen computers don’t mix.

The Wrong Door got a lot of publicity in the run up to the show – 12 of the 14 reviews I read were very positive. 2 were very negative.

The Wrong Door kicked off. So did a guy called Ben Randall who was so upset he didn’t find a programme funny he came all the way over to this blog to call me names.

 

SEPTEMBER

The Wrong Door had the highest opening of any show on BBC Three (about four people) which seemed to greatly upset a handful of Internet loonies who went on and on and on about it for fucking ages.

I made the mistake of suggesting the people coming to my blog to call me names because they didn’t find a TV programme funny were a bit mental. Several people took great exception to this and went far out of their way to call me names in an effort to prove how mistaken I was about their lack of sanity and a real life.

Got my first death threat. Actually I got two death threats and one offer to rape my three month old daughter to ‘teach me a lesson’. That was nice. Perfectly sane behaviour that, I thought.

Still working on that fucking treatment.

Had a superb meeting where people offered me lots of money. I didn’t, and still don’t, really believe them.

Got offered another low budget feature film. That’s more like it.

Yet more abuse about The Wrong Door. One guy has taken to posting insults then changing names and agreeing with himself. He doesn’t seem to be able to grasp concepts like IP addresses, I can see it’s all one guy. I assumed this was a guy because I like to think women have better things to do.

There was a new trailer for LVJ. Again.

An old project threatened to spring back to life … and then didn’t.

Finally finished that fucking treatment.

Oh and a bit more abuse about The Wrong Door.

On a serious note, all that abuse was a bit wearing. You write in the privacy of your own room for years until someone decides they want to make your work. You’re pleased, they’re pleased, the show comes out and generally people either like it or turn it off. Then a small contingent of morons think it’s perfectly acceptable to come and call you names, threaten your family and generally behave like cunts because – horror of horrors – THEY don’t like it. It’s depressing and it’s demotivating. I expected to be slagged off in papers if the critics didn’t like something I’d written. I expected to be slagged off on forums or other people’s blogs – all that’s fair enough; but the sheer persistence of a few individuals who felt the need to come here and spout off about it did actually get me down.

Until Oli sent me a cartoon. Which explained everything and really cheered me up. I decided I would find some way to repay him, somehow.

I completely failed to do some writing and in a gargantuan procrastination session, I redesigned my website.

 

OCTOBER

I revealed the one true secret of screenwriting THEY don’t want you to know.

The Wrong Door finished.

The abuse didn’t.

Took on far too much work and struggled to cope.

Found out I didn’t have a second act. Bit of a bugger that one.

Had a dream about Jason Arnopp, James Moran and an over-ground submarine.

Fixed the second act thing and discovered it no longer matched the ending.

Wrote a whiny post about writing treatments in the hope a certain producer was reading and would let me off for not turning in a treatment he was expecting. It didn’t work. Turns out he can’t read.

Wrote a writer’s vision for a sales pack – I don’t have any vision.

That guy’s still answering himself on The Wrong Door posts.

Found out I’m a celebrity.

 

NOVEMBER

Is anybody still reading?

Why?

Are you fucking mental? Go outside and play.

November:

The second-act-less treatment went to script stage. Bugger. Now I have to write the fucking thing.

Saw some footage from Fleeced. Was pleasantly surprised.

Found out I’m an anal bastard.

That loon is still at it, still posting bile and answering himself. It’s been three months!

Didn’t get an email from Kristen Kreuk.

Made Alice do some writing for me:

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She’s better than me, so I banned her from using the computer.

Got horribly busy.

Actually did some work.

Ate some soup.

Got upset about writing the first ten pages of a script.

Painted the lounge, got high on paint fumes, wrote a load of shit about writing sketches. I have no idea what my point was.

Got a request about re-writing. Wrote a loooooooooooooooooooooooong post about it.

Got sacked from a project I didn’t know I was involved in.

Learnt that A and B are the same thing.

Talked about bookcases and wallpaper. No idea why. Probably trying to avoid working.

Got all arsey about the word ‘what’.

That lone loon’s finally stopped commenting. I miss him, the crazy bastard.

 

DECEMBER

Hooray! December! This post is finally over and we can all go home!

Assuming any of you are still here.

Met some more writers in the pub: Paul Campbell, Danny Stack, Lara Greenway, Michelle Lipton and Oli … as well as the normal crowd. They were all nice. I told Danny and Michelle the secret which isn’t really a secret – just something I don’t bother telling people. Danny immediately left the pub, Michelle wanted to hug me.

Got angry with ten imaginary people because there were ten of them.

Panicked. Finished the script.

Cut out every other word in the vague feeling it might make it exciting and mysterious. It didn’t.

Told people how to wait. Not sure why, probably avoiding some other work.

Declared my love affair with Apparitions. Which I still haven’t seen the last episode of. I’m a fickle fucker sometimes.

Had some fun. It was fun.

Met James Moran. Told him the secret which isn’t really a secret – he seemed to find it funny.

And there you go. That was 2008 for me. How was it for you? 

Categories: BBC, BBC Sketch Show, Bored, Fleeced, K, Karma Magnet, LVJ, My Way, Progress, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, The Wrong Door, Two steps back, Writing and life | 18 Comments

Big bloody hole

So I sat down today to write this treatment. It’s a horror film, it’s got a good premise, I know who the characters are and I’m ready to go.

Step one: white index cards to mark out the opening image, inciting incident, first act break, midpoint, second act break and closing image.

Easy.

Step two: put the murders down on red cards. There are six murders throughout the film, so I mark them all down, in order and roughly how and why they happen.

Brilliant.

Step three: blue index cards for scenes I want to include. These are scenes which illustrate the theme, are essential clues to solving the mystery, reveal character or are generally just cool and I want them in there. Basically, these are the scenes I know have to happen.

It’s all shaping up nicely. Step away from the board and what have I got … ?

A big bloody hole where the second half of act two should be.

Fuck socks.

This isn’t meant to be a definitive guide to the film. I don’t plot out every scene on cards before writing the treatment, just the main points to get the spine and shape of the thing. I like to nail down the structure and fill in a few bits of interest to remind me why I wanted to write this thing and the rest I work out organically as I’m writing the treatment. I find this mixture of preparation and on the job creation works best for me. Afterwards I go back to the board and fill in a card for every scene.

The preliminary carding helps me see, with visual aides, where the gaps are. There’s always a bit I haven’t really thought out properly, usually a bit covered by a ‘hi jinks’ ensue type phrase. In this case the gap is a whole quarter of the film. There is nothing going on except one murder and surely that can’t be right? Surely the murders should be getting more frequent towards the end, not less?

The midpoint is when the characters realise there’s a crazed murderer stalking them and all hell breaks loose. The end of the second act is when the characters decide to fight back. Damn it, they’re just not taking this shit anymore.

So what the hell are they doing in the meantime? According to the one pager they’re involved in a deadly cat and mouse game throughout the house and grounds. But now I come to look at it, what the fuck does that mean? If they’re in the grounds, why don’t they just fuck off home? ‘Too far to walk’ is not much of a reason when there’s a knife happy lunatic on your trail.

“Quick, run away!”

“Fuck off! I’m wearing heels and it’s two miles to the nearest village.”

“Is it! Lordy, we’d best go back inside with the homicidal maniac and make a cup of tea.”

Doesn’t ring true, does it?

That’s actual dialogue from the script, by the way.

So I’ve been staring at this story abyss all day and several things have become clear:

  1. If you stare at things for too long, your eyes stop working. This has something to do with the blind spot in your eye where the optic nerve is. The reason you don’t normally notice a big fucking hole in your vision is because your eyes move about a lot and your brain cleverly fills in the gaps.
  2. I should stop googling stuff about blind spots and get on with the treatment.
  3. A character has completely disappeared. She turns up for the finale but seems to have done nothing in-between whilst everyone else is running around screaming about a murderer. Perhaps she was cleaning the oven?
  4. The characters should just get together in one room and wait for the baddie to come to them. Then they should fuck him up.
  5. Maybe the baddie should have a gun to prevent all the characters waiting in one place and ganging up on him?
  6. I need all of the characters to spontaneously lose their mobiles and their ability to open external doors or smash windows.
  7. I need to rethink this. A lot.
Categories: My Way, Random Witterings, Two steps back | 21 Comments

I’m back

… and I’m kicking bottom.

So, d’ya miss me? Huh? Did ya? D’ya miss me?

I bet you did.

Come on, ‘fess up; who’s been waiting eagerly for my return?

None of you? Really?

Oh.

Okay, fine. Sod you then.

I’ve been having a great time. Thank you all for your congratulations on the last post, they’re all much appreciated. So far Alice is a very laid back baby …

She tends to sleep more than she whinges and we’re all feeling very rested and happy.

I haven’t done a scrap of writing in the last two weeks and I’m itching to get back into it. The next week’s already mapped out and a few other projects are lurking in the wings waiting for a spare day or two to shine.

Although I’ve been bone idle for fourteen whole days, things have been ticking over in my absence and stuff has been happening without any extra effort from me. In the last two weeks:

1) Fleeced started shooting. This is my third feature to go into production this year and I can’t help thinking one every two months isn’t a bad average. The cast includes George Calil, Alan Convy and Natasha White; and it’s directed by Humaira Shah … beyond that I don’t really know anything. I’ll post more info as and when I get it.

 

 

2) An old project, one I thought long since dead, has resurfaced and threatens to spring into life once more. I was so convinced this one was dead it hasn’t even crossed my mind for months; but apparently there is a way forward. Wheels have been set in motion, steam is building up and I’m currently wandering the globe (or at least the UK … and by email, which probably doesn’t count as wandering) trying to get the band back together.

3) An extremely well established project, one which had got so far down the line it didn’t seem feasible it could go wrong, has gone wrong. Sort of. In the best traditions of the industry it threatened to implode in a frenzy of incompetence, political bullshit and bitchy back-stabbing. Although, that may have all been sorted now.

4) I got an invite to a screening of The Wrong Door, which takes place next week. I’m looking forward to this as I have absolutely no idea of what to expect. The weird thing about working on a sketch show is you don’t know what any of the other material will be like or how much of it will be yours. To be fair, I have read a handful of other sketches from other writers; but I’ve no idea if any of them made the final cut.

And 5) I got a few quotes in an article on TwelvePoint.com, written by our very own Lucy. Since this article was featured on the very first day of the launch of this fantastic new site; I’m chuffed to have at least got a vague mention. Probably not quite as chuffed as Lucy to have actually written the article; but chuffed none-the-less.

And that’s about it. Isn’t that enough considering I’ve done nothing for two weeks?

Oh, and to back up Stuart Perry’s post about Cyril Connolly’s quote “The pram in the hallway is the enemy of art” …

Bollocks.

Where there’s a deadline, there’s a way.

Categories: BBC, Fleeced, Progress, The Wrong Door, Two steps back, Writing and life | 11 Comments

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