Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Almost Christmas

It's almost Christmas, and this may possibly be my last post before the New Year.
I would never have imagined that this year I would complete the first drafts of not one, but two novels. Thea Gael, my NaNoWriMo effort, is not too bad as first drafts go, but nothing really happens in it, and so I don't really want to spend time editing it at the moment. I finished The Dragon Prince last week, which is possibly the first book in a series, aimed at children aged between 7-10. I'm still playing with the tone of the story, but the essentials are all there. Now all I need to do is to finish Inter Vivos and I'll be set!

So I will be starting the New Year with two first drafts to work on, as well as a semi-completed first draft of IV, and two budding ideas - one for a stage play and one for a novel (Dorcas). Also, I was thinking over High Street Aphrodite this morning as I got up late, and also Hoodies.

I think next year looks to be a busy, but productive, year, and that's just the way I like it.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The £1.95 million book


I'm a bit flaggergasted at the minute upon hearing the news that J.K Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard sold at auction for close to £2 million. I mean, I can understand it, in a way, because if I had millions of pounds floating around my bank account, I would have paid that too! The woman could sell her shopping lists and she would make a fortune.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lack of Concentration

The writing is not really going ok at the minute. I'm back in the same writing state that I was in early on in my NaNoWriMo experience; basically, writing 50 words and then going to get a snack, and then writing 10 words and then going to make a drink, and so forth. I will be 15 stone if I carry on this way, so I've got to work on my concentration some more!

I spent about two hours on Inter Vivos yesterday, and wrote about 800 words, and I'm still not any further on in the story. Guess this is where patience and discipline come in. Think I'm coming down with a cold, and consequently everything seems a little bit darker and glummer, which is probably why I should leave IV for today and work on something that won't leave me feeling utterly depressed if it doesn't go right.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Zit

Question: How come I can look in the mirror at 8 o'clock and have perfectly clear skin and then look again at 10 and have the most enormous pus-filled zit on my face? Where did it come from? Have my friends and co-workers been monitoring the gradual appearance of this monstrosity whilst I have been sitting here for hours, oblivious to the whitehead that is slowly trying to take over my entire head? :-(

Well, I have finished reading Inter Vivos, and it's actually not that bad. Which is great news! I can see how lazy I was when I was writing the first part, skipping over bits or repeating bits from earlier, so I have a lot more work to do to add to the story. However, I am going to leave what I have already written for the time being, and continue onwards with the story. Once I have reached the end, I will then go back and correct, rewrite and flesh out the bits at the beginning. And then my first draft will be complete! Hooray!

Got to go get some Clearasil and a paper bag now...

(PS I was going to post a picture of a zit on here to accompany this post, but just looking at them has made me feel a bit sick, so I thought I would spare you).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Festive Greetings

Hooray, it's almost Christmas! I am so fed up at work, it is unbelievable, and I'm also nervous because I am supposed to start my new job in January and I've not yet had my job offer letter. I just want a break now. A nice long holiday.
In terms of writing, I have not done any since I finished NaNoWriMo. I am reading through Inter Vivos at the moment and making notes, and am going to do some more tonight. My house is a sty from not cleaning for a month whilst I wrote my novel, and I just can't be bothered to start trying to tidy it up. So I'm currently living like a pig.

Wish I didn't have to work, especially two jobs. But I've spent way too much on Christmas presents, so my dreams of unemployment are a long way off yet!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

NaNoWriMo Won!

I have made it! I have, just this lunchtime, completed my novel, just over 50,000 words of complete narrative. I, Lucy Ann Wade, have actually written a whole novel. It still hasn't sunk in yet, but I am so happy to have finally reached that goal. It has proven to myself that I can be disciplined and focused when I want to be. So tonight, I am going to go home and break open the Marks and Spencers quarter bottle of champagne that I bought last night and celebrate my achievement.
But, it is ever onwards, and I've been thinking a lot about Dorcas Grubb, my feisty eight year old heroine and her family of Time Keepers. I don't mean they are all watches and clocks, but that they are the keepers and martials of time, and just so happen to live in Highfields in one of those lovely houses, right next to the drug dens and the aslyum seekers. Anyway, I am still rolling her story around in my head, and plan to start writing it in early December. It's not quite ready yet.

And then there is Inter Vivos. Sigh. I am going to read what I have written so far over the next couple of days and then get going again, applying the skills that I have developed this year with NaNoWriMo and getting to the end of my first draft. I hope to have the first draft completed by the end of February at the latest. Hopefully the cold winter will inspire me when I write the last section of the book (though I very much doubt we will get the snow I would like).

Yay to me!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

5,673 words to go!!!!

You read that right, folks. I have 5,673 words to go to 'win' NaNoWriMo this year! There are a couple of problems on the horizon however that may stop me from reaching that total; the biggest is The Sims 2 Bon Voyage game that I got for my birthday. Must just ration it away and make sure I complete my words before I play it. My house is a sty, I'm a little bit sleep deprived (though I have been 'catching up' by sleeping in most mornings and being late for work), but I do think that for some reason this year, NaNoWriMo has been quite easy. I will rephrase that so the Gods don't spite me for my premature confidence: the words that I have written so far were easy to come up with, and I found it easy to fit in the 1,667 words per day. The hardest part was actually making myself sit down in front of my pc and type them without getting distracted. But I made myself do it and I did, and now I'm almost to the end, and I almost have a short novel in my hands. I am going to celebrate on the 1st if I manage to get it all done. Fingers Crossed!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Time Travel and 35K

Well, folks, I am still NaNoWriMo-ing, and still on schedule. I've just passed the 35K mark, which is an achievement in itself, and the novel is actually getting easier to write. I can knock out 1500 words during my lunch break (so in about 30-40 minutes) so it's not bad going. Of course, I am resigned to the fact that my novel is turd - there doesn't actually seem to be any drama in it, and my main character spends most of the novel whining about her love life. Oh well, less than 15K to go!
I do at least now feel more like a real writer, in that I am writing something rather than talking about writing something. I don't think I'm going to audition for the next musical on Wednesday due to my increased commitment to writing, and I spent a lot of yesterday evening (as well as being in agony with sharp stomach pains) rolling an idea around in my brain and lazily day dreaming into existence the world and the characters. I'm feeling confident and self-assured. If it is possible to write a pretty poor novel in a month, then surely it's possible to write a masterpiece in a year, if I keep at this velocity?

Anyway, tonight Alex is going to explain the scientific principles of Time and time travel to me before I get bored or my head explodes, for my new story. If any one would like to give me their thoughts on the theory of time travel, etc. then please be my guest! I am doing initial research so that I can then disregard it all and write my own version (or maybe not, depending on how much I understand).

Friday, November 16, 2007

NaNoWriMo Week 3

Well, I reach my third week as a NaNoWriMo participate with 26000 words tucked firmly under my belt. I'm extremely pleased with myself for sticking with it and continuing writing even though at times I just wanted to give in. This new-found dedication has also made me more focused that this - producing works of literature - is what I want to do with my life. Sigh.
The story is on track, though I'm still not sure if it's any good or has potential, but I'm passed the stage of caring right now. Just have to keep on with it. I do like some of my characters, though my main character is extremely whiny; I'll have to do something about that if I ever redraft.

In other news, it's freezing cold today, and I don't have any winter clothes, nor can I afford any. Guess it's a good thing that layering is still in fashion. Just wish I owned one item of clothing that did not have a fault with it, be it a hole, a tear or a dodgy zip. Poor poor me!

New Spice Girls Song is a Pile of W**k Shocker!

Saw The Spice Girls new video last night. It amused me that all the girls' vocals had been layered to try to disguise the fact that they can't sing; well, everyone's except Sporty Spice, who sounded like she had swallowed a fog horn in comparison when she opened her mouth as she was the only one whose voice hadn't been digitally tampered with. Absolutely rubbish.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Twenty-K

Right, well, I've hit the grand old 20K mark for my NaNoWriMo novel (still untitled), and I'm starting to ease back in to the story, after spending a difficult two days documenting everything that my main character did just to keep momentum going ("Thea boiled the kettle. Thea got two cups from the cupboard. The cups had flowers on them. Thea found the tea bags in the jar next to the microwave" etc). I've now taken my characters on a night out and have had one of those 'zing' moments where something has popped into my head that will take the story in a different direction (and hopefully provide an additional 5,000 or so!). So I think I'm doing ok. Still a bit foggy, in terms of writing block, etc, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Hitting 20K is a bit of a landmark for me. Regular readers of this blog will know that the current novel I'm working on (Inter Vivos) currently stands at around 20,078 words, and that has taken me a year to write. I'm pleased with my progress this year, but also wish I had done better last year. Still, when November is over with, I'm hoping to take my new-found skills of discipline and dedication and apply them to IV.

I have to keep telling myself that all this hard work will pay off eventually, and hopefully I will have something to show for my efforts and can then go about trying to become the recognised writer I want to be. But I can't be a writer until I've actually written something (and completed it to the end), so it's back to the grindstone and the Word document for me!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Disaster

Well, I'm up to 13,059 words of my NaNoWriMo novel, and I think it's all just awful. Last night I wrote the worst 400 words of my entire life. Absolutely terrible prose. And the story is cliche and on the verge of boring me. But I can't give in, because I have to reach 50,000! I miss Inter Vivos. So I'm just going to moan about my new novel on here for a while. There are some good bits in it, and some good bits coming up that I've yet to write, but on the whole it's just bad. I have a whole immigration sub-plot that I'm looking forward to writing, so much so in fact that my actual main character is just moving from place to place to get me up to the part I'm excited to write. Perhaps I should have a coup and kill off my main character in favour of the supporting character? That's a thought worth thinking about.

Anyway, despite the appauling state of my NaNo novel, I've also been having lots of ideas about other things to write about (sure enough, if you're working on one idea, ten more will pop into your head). I've come up with a new character, called Dorcas, who I've yet to find a story for, but I think she may end up in a children's book. I have ideas for plays that include music and dancing, and I'm loving the 1940s and 50s right now, so may find some inspiration there. I especially like the 40s/50s pin-up posters (see above for an example), so may have to write that in somewhere.

Had a meeting with Sabrina last night to make a crack at the Arts Council Grants form for our Semper project. Basically, we're going to try to organise our own theatre festival in Leicester. I realised as we were filling in the form, that I've actually got quite a lot of experience! It's always good to remind my inner critics that I'm not completely hopeless!

Monday, November 05, 2007

NaNoWriMo: The Journey So Far

Well, at the time of typing this blog, my word count for NaNoWriMo is 7,412, which means I'm slightly ahead of my RDA of words for the weekend, but obviously behind on today's total (seeing as I haven't started writing for today yet). So far so good.
I've found that the hardest thing about doing NaNoWriMo this year is not the story - that's relatively simple at the minute (touch wood) - but actually making myself sit down at a computer for long enough to type something. I never fully realised how undisciplined I've become. On the first day, I would sit, write maybe fifty words, and then get up and get a drink, or have a snack, before coming back and writing another fifty words, and then doing a word count check and going to clean the bathroom, before coming back to write again maybe half an hour later. It was painful, and not because the story wouldn't come, but because I was too lazy and/or distracted to actually write it.
I'm getting better though. On Sunday I sat and typed in bed for about 30 minutes straight without getting up and doing something else. As the month goes on, perhaps a newly developed increased attention span will be added to my list of achievements, as well as a 50,000 word novel.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NaNoWriMo Eve

I think everyone should have a group of aspiring writer-friends who, whenever you meet up with them, leave you with a filthy hangover. Whenever our Semper group gets together, that's exactly the state I am left in the next day, although this weekend I was extremely worse for wear and couldn't really enjoy Morph's hallowe'en party properly (ie with alcholic beverages).
Now having fully recovered from hangover and back on solids again, I am trying to mentally prepare myself for tomorrow and the big kick off of NaNoWriMo 2007. Whoop! So tonight, I am going to do all of my washing up (strenuous in itself), tidy around my desk, and then compile all the notes I've made about this forthcoming novel into one handy word document. I'm going to give it my best go this year, and with no theatre to distract me, I'm hoping that I can really get into it. I have a slight concern in the fact that I don't really have a plot as yet, but I'll worry about that in December. The countdown for midnight has begun...
Happy Hallowe'en everyone. Tonight I shall be making treacle toffee and indulging in a little candle magic in celebration (after doing the washing up of course!).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Ending

I'm a little bit worried about the ending of Inter Vivos, in so much as I don't actually know what's going to happen. I sort of have a vague jist, don't get me wrong, but I've still not decided what will happen to my heroine when her journey ends. Over the course of this last year, my novel has become increasingly sci-fi, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I'm starting to feel a little confined by the genre. So I'm going to go back to how I originally conceived this story and add a pint of magic realism. That's what I want to write, after all. Both conceits however leave me with the problem of having to research Communism (I hate political theory), but adding the fairy tale elements makes it a little easier to swallow.
It does seem that the more work I do on this book, the more work I create for myself! I started with maybe four rounded characters, and now my character list is getting so long I actually need a Character List so that I can keep track of them all! For example, I am just now devising a dinner party for Nox and Cyrus, with Thaddeus and Lochan Snr. So there needs to be other guests, all with interesting dinner conversation. And serving staff. Urgh! I enjoy it really. But whoever said writing a book is easy is living on another planet!

Plus, it's almost time to give up on Inter Vivos for a month in order to focus on NaNoWriMo 2. I think the story is in a good place for me to break for a while, but I am a little concern about neglecting my baby for a whole month. Still, it should hopefully work out for the best.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Don't Judge a Book...

OK, so I know it's a little presumptuous, especially seeing as I only have a quarter of my first novel written, but I've been thinking about book covers. Now, book covers, in my opinion, are the make or break in whether someone makes a purchase or not. Now then, there's the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. I personally favour the stylish, the clear, concise approach. Not like this.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Panic Over

Panic over, I'm writing again! I haven't done a lot, only about a hundred or so words, but I'm in the right frame of mind, so that should keep me motivated for a while.

I received some good feedback from Sarah Francoise about 'Hoodies' a few weeks ago. Some extracts include: "I was hooked by the dialogue" and "This is a very promising piece". It concludes with "I would definitely encourage this writer to pursue the idea, because once the bones of the play are in place, this could be a very powerful piece". I haven't touched the play since I sent it off to TWP back in May (I think?). I do want to go back and continue with it, and actually work out what's going on and what it's about, but I'm worried that by doing this I'll lose momentum on my novel. I'm sure with some organisation I can manage to do both, but it might have to wait until after Christmas (or at least until after NaNoWriMo) before I tackle it again.

I really like creating characters and the worlds in which they live, and I like to think that I'm good at it, but it's the follow-through, the actual writing down of the story, that I find difficult. I can write background on characters until the cows come home, but find it hard to keep motivated when it comes to writing the narrative. One good thing is that, with Inter Vivos, I feel I'm now writing the "good stuff", by which I mean that I've written the introduction, have settled into the world. and now my story is really starting to take off. It's nice to be finally able to write the scenes that I've watched in my head over and over again for over a year. I'm going to be sad when I have to put it aside for a while for NaNoWriMo (though at least NaNo should hopefully give me a follow-up story to plunge into when IV is finally finished!).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Panic!!

How am I going to be a writer if I never write anything? Aaaaargh!!!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tired!

I am so so tired right now, I haven't caught up on the sleep I lost last week, and my body clock hasn't reset itself to 'work time' yet, so I'm extremely tired in the daytime and wide awake at night. Am falling asleep whilst writing this. To make things a little bit worse, after I've finished work here I've got to go and work at my other job for 2 hours. Still, I get to listen to half an hour of the Philharmonia Orchestra, so it's not all that bad, I suppose. If I can stay awake.

In terms of writing, I haven't done any this week yet. Instead I've been vegging out eating fresh produce and watching rom-coms on DVD. I'm quite enjoying having time to potter about at home, doing little things and just watching telly. I'm not missing the theatre, not yet anyway.

I have signed up for NaNoWriMo. My username is 'Grizabella', so if anyone out there wants to monitor my progress, etc, you know where to find me! Hopefully I'll do better than last year. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 05, 2007

This Week

What I have been doing this week:
  • Performing every night in 'The Witches of Eastwick', which involves me as a townsperson, a busy body, a sexy devil bitch and a gospel singer.
  • Writing letters all day at work for students who want to open bank accounts. Snore...
  • Reading Belle De Jour's blog in my lunchbreak. (it's seriously addictive)
  • Coming up with the back story for Tula, one of the supporting characters in this year's NaNoWriMo novel.
  • Listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on my way to work.
  • Talking to everyone in a thick Shil'on/'Inckley accent, seeing as this week I've spent more time speaking to people from over there than over here.

What I have not been doing this week:

  • Sleeping. Not getting to sleep until about 12:30 every night after dancing full out for almost 3 hours and then trying to get up at 7 is starting to take it's toll. Zzzzzzz.
  • Doing laundry. I'm down to my last pair of socks and have been wearing the same bra for 3 days now. Thankfully tomorrow is Saturday so I can do a quick wash before the performance starts.
  • Writing. I'm just too tired to concentrate at the minute, though I'm pleased with the back story I've just created today.
  • Seeing my boyfriend. Sob.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Witches of Eastwick


The musical that I am starring in, Witches of Eastwick, started last night at the Concordia Theatre in Hinckley. And it went really well, probably the best first night performance in my personal history, I think! The audience lapped it up, although the blue-rinse brigade were heard to comment that it was "a bit rude". If anyone is interested in coming to watch, you may still be able to get tickets, though I know the latter part of the week has pretty much sold out. Tickets are available from the theatre by calling Claire Pitt on 01455 636627.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Oldest Profession

OK, so I watched 'Secret Diary of a Call Girl' on ITV 2 last night. And I thought it was good, entertaining and all. What really annoyed me, though, was a few days ago, the prudes on BBC 2's Newsnight reviewed the show negatively; the only reason given for this was that the show glamorised prostitution and, basically, wasn't about crack whores. I live in Highfields. If I wanted to watch drama involving crack whores, I'd just look out of my window. The only woman on Newsnight as part of the reviewing panel (over 50, upper-middle class) was complaining because it wasn't about 'reality' and apparently portrayed the male-fantasy version of prostitution, rather than how it "really is" for the 90-odd% of working girls out there. Let's skip over the fact that the programme is based on a true story. All TV shows, movies, etc are glamorised to some extent. Archaeologists don't all look like Harrison Ford. Men don't all have fifteen-inch penises, like they do in porn films. Prostitutes don't all work in safe, controlled environments, drug- and pimp-free. But isn't that how it should be? Perhaps not the 15 inchers or Harrison Ford, but I mean safe and clean and as unexploitative as possible. If prostitution was legalised, then at least it would get some of these "90-odd%" women off the streets. Legal brothels would mean the girls would get regular health checks, help with drug rehabilitation, lodgings and clothes. It would be safer. And some of these women wouldn't then be exploited by men for drugs and money, they would be the ones doing the exploiting, because they would be trading sex for cash on their own terms. And I want to point out that just because I'm pro-legalised prostitution, that doesn't mean I'm pro-infidelity, but at least you would know that if your future bloke had been with a pro in the past, they were clean and healthy and it was purely a business transaction, and wasn't funding drugs trafficking and terrorism (like pirate DVDs do…). I know the argument above is somewhat naïve, but surely it is acceptable for TV to show how the minority live, as well as the majority, and also highlight how things could be improved? I don't think they have any right to write off a TV show because it's not about prostitution as us Highfields-survivors know it (and I'm sure the woman from the Beeb has probably met more prostitutes like Belle de Jour than the girls who used to work my street corner and leave used condoms for me to clean up down the alleyway to my front door). I am thoroughly prepared for people to comment and disagree (and fair enough if you thought the show was crap!); we're all entitled to our opinions and this is just mine.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Word Count

I've written 20,078 words of Inter Vivos. That's just over a quarter. I'm trying to decide whether Nox should, as is written at the moment, kill the guard in order to escape from prison by slitting his throat with a shard of glass, or have her knock him unconscious with a bottle. I'm sure that I will decide upon the guard's fate as I continue to write, but right now I am a little concerned that the killing might make her unsympathetic as a character. Though I suppose it just depends on how I justify it to the reader. Hmmm.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Calm before the Storm

...Well, sort of. Today is the last day (at work) before enrollment starts on Monday and all hell breaks loose. Good luck to anyone out there starting university next week, but you have no idea how stressful it is to actually coordinate! I think I've just about got every thing sorted. It'll be pretty hectic, so I may not be blogging much next week, just to warn you.
In terms of writing, I have written 23% of my target word count for the completed first draft of Inter Vivos in almost a year. Not very good progress. I am going to put in more effort in the coming months, as I really don't want it to take four years before I have even finished the first draft. I read over some of it before I started to type up my latest addition, and I have to say that some bits are quite good. Some bits really need work, but they'll do for now to move things along, and I'll go back and sort them out later (that's what second drafts are for!). 23% isn't a lot, but I am pleased with what I've done so far. My only problem is that when I get new ideas for directions in the story, I realise how far I actually have to go. It's not an easy story to write. And I'm still not sure exactly what's going to happen at the end. I have a rough idea - it's going to be fun getting there I hope!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Power of *

I feel really guilty sometimes, as I have a habit of abandoning my characters in the middle of highways, in prison cells, in hotel rooms, walking through snow storms, in orange groves and all manner of other places. I do this because usually my characters have just been involved in an Incident and once that has occured, I kinda run out of steam. OK, Incident occured, lesson learnt, now what? Sometimes my characters are stranded for weeks, years in some cases (I've had two characters stuck in a forest since 1995). So I find it hard to move the story along, to interconnect the numerous different scenarios that make up the story.
As a consequence of this, I have adapted a style of writing where I just write the Incidents and, after each one, use an asterix to mark the separation and passage of time, etc. and then go on to the next. That way, I keep writing, and hopefully will come back after my story is complete to fill in the missing gaps. Sometimes, however, I find that I don't need to fill in the space; an intelligent reader can gather that a passage of time has occured simply by a paragraph break. This also means that I now tend to write out of chronological order, so I write the climatic Incident sometimes quite early on. This helps me keep motivated, and also helps to direct the story, so that if I do get stuck, at least I can review where my characters roughly need to go. Now I have finally figured this out, I have dozens of characters that need rescuing from their respective places of limbo!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Weird Face

I have, apparently, a really 'weird' face when I pose for photos. So after all those years practising trying to look relatively normal in photographs, I am told that I "always look weird"; it was a bit of a shock. Now I'm even more petrified of being in front of a camera. I mean, just take a look at the photos of me of Facebook to see what I mean. This is why I'm much happier on stage acting and performing rather than in front of a camera. At least on stage, if I pull a weird face, it's gone in a matter of seconds, and there's no possibility to rewind or freeze frame.
I haven't done any writing over the weekend. I bought my mum a birthday present and worked for 8 hours at my other job. I also made pork casserole, double chocolate cookies and apple crumble, which had too much sugar in and made my teeth tingle and made Alex a bit wired. The silly thing was that I kept getting the urge to go and write, but I made myself do something else instead. Not sure why that was. Anyway, I'm hoping that this week will see me putting in a bit more effort.
PS that's not me in the photo above!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

NaNoWriMo 2007

I know NaNoWriMo doesn't start for another couple of months, but I've just decided on the idea that I am going to develop for it this year. Last year, NaNo was a great starting point for Inter Vivos, which, ok, still isn't finished, but it's coming along quite well, I think.
So seeing as last year's novel was sci-fi, this year's is more chick-lit (I really hate that term!). I'm going to try to develop the idea that I've had for quite a while, which is sort of based on the Wizard of Oz. My contemporary Dorothy (Thea, a twenty-something with a shoe-fetish) is searching for a place where she belongs, and along the journey makes her way through three men; one brainless, one heartless, and one who she thinks is just perfect but turns out to be impotent and powerless. Along for the ride are her two best friends, the bitchy Tula and closeted gay Leo.
Seeing as I'm not going to be involved in a show this November, I should (fingers crossed) have more time to develop to writing, and may actually get further towards the target of 50,000 words than I did last time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Edinburgh

Our little trip to Edinburgh was really lovely, though not long enough. Managed to meet Robin for a drink, but unfortuantely we had to leave early, as we were so tired from our 8 hour drive there! Next time, we're flying, definitely! We went exploring around the castle and saw the Scottish Honours (though Alex wouldn't let me steal them, even though there was only one 'guard' and she looked really bored and overweight, so I think I could have taken her - element of surprise and all that. I've always wanted my own crown...) and then we went shopping and Alex bought loads of books and then we went for tea at the cafe that claims to be the 'birthplace of Harry Potter'. It was really nice cafe, actually. There was a big window with loads of light and a perfect view of the castle, and writing paper in a holder by the fireplace, and they made proper camomile tea and yummy hot chocolates and the food was great too. Alex has his own 'I did this in JK's cafe' story, but I don't think it's fitting to write about it here! We also went and had the most lovely dinner at the Loch Fyne in Leith, with the nicest waiters and waitresses in the world! It was a great trip.
I am now, though, officially Poor, with a capital letter and everything. I think I have enough money to pay for bills this month, but I don't have any money for food or luxury items (like washing powder, shower spray and singing lessons). Luckily, I think I have enough in my cupboards to last me for about a week, if I ration myself, but after that, I'm not sure what I'll do. Guess it'll help me lose a bit of weight, and I still have my vitamin pills, so I guess I'll be getting some nutrients, even if they are in pill form. I've decided not to audition for the next show at the Concordia, as I just can't afford the rail fare to get there. But on the plus side, that does mean more time for writing. Hurray! I'm just so sick of not having enough money to live on. I mean, it took four weeks of saving just to go to Edinburgh on the cheap for the weekend. And I need new glasses, and a hair cut, and I really need to go to the doctors but can't afford the prescription cost, and all of my clothes have chosen this month to fall apart, and it's just so depressing. Sorry to moan, but sometimes you just need to vent, you know?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Stumped

I've come to a bit of a stop with Inter Vivos. I'm not sure whether it's because I'm actually stuck, whether I've got writer's block, or whether I'm just not in the mood. I am quite tired, so perhaps that's why Nox and Cyrus are standing in a prison cell and conversation has run dry.
I'm off to Edinburgh on Friday with Morph, and I'm really looking forward to it. It's such a beautiful place, and it's one of those rare places that for me, it just felt like home as soon as I got off the train. Perhaps I can convince Morph to move there with me...
I really need a break though. The last time I went on holiday was in 2004. I'm only going for the weekend, but at least it's Away.
I keep meaning to send some of my work off to places to see if they'll publish it, but I haven't been able to find a minute to do that. Perhaps next week, after my break, I'll be able to get organised and go for it again.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Sumo review

Well, the thing on Saturday at Sumo went quite well I thought, though I'm not sure how much money they must have raised, as everyone seemed to be there for free. Oh well.
My mono seemed to go well - the whole room was silent listening, so I took that as a good sign. Cat, my actress, was really good too - I'm going to have to write more stuff for her, as she's great! Drank too much and spent a small fortune; I must learn to manage my money better. Still, we were there for 7 hours, so it was a bit inevitable that we would drink too much. We all went for Japanese afterwards, which was the perfect end to a pretty successful evening.
I won a book on the raffle about feminisim during the first world war (how random?!), and have taken it as a sign that I should really get to work on my 'Munitionettes' story, which is about ... feminism during the first world war.
However, need to get Inter Vivos out of the way first. Going to go work on it now, like a good girl.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Shameless Plug

If anyone out there isn't busy on Saturday (1st September 2007) and are in the Leicester area, feel free to come down to Sumo for the Ladyfest fundraiser that I'm involved with. There's going to be readings and short sketches and extracts from plays and specially written ten-minute performances, as well as live music from a number of different bands, from 4:30pm onwards. An actress friend of mine is going to be performing Lupus for me, which should be good (fingers crossed!). I think she's just about gotten over the fact that it's 'rude'...
Anyway, it costs £4 to get in.

Hmmm...

I really don't know what to do about Inter Vivos. I mean, since NaNoWriMo finished (which was when I started this project), I've been sort of carrying on in the same way, just opening up the document, reading the last paragraph, and then carrying on from there. Should I stop writing anything new and go back and put the first half into some sort of order? Or should I just keep on until I get to the end of the story, and then go back and change all the mistakes I've made along the way (ie plot inconsistencies, mysterious disappearing characters, etc)? I want to just finish it, but I'm a bit worried that if there's too much 'fixing' needed for my first draft, I'll just pack it in.
I've had to reformat my blog so that I could add a links section, but now I'm not happy with the spacing of the page. I have no idea how to fix it though, so guess I'll just have to learn to live with it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back online again

After my holiday from work and the bank holiday weekend, this is my first day back at a computer with an internet connection, and after going through the 57 emails I had received since Wednesday (most of which were spam), I've just gotten around to posting on my blog. It's been a busy few days. I'll try to recap here what I've been up to.

Wednesday: Awoke with acne (I'm 26 for Pete's sake!). Had to catch an early train to Beeston, to get to Nottingham University for the first day of the Momentum Festival. I attended a workshop by some people attached to the Royal Court, which was ok - basically there was a Court writer there called Alex and we had to read a couple of scenes from her published play and then write our own version. This struck me as a bit egotistical on her part and a bit embarrassing on mine (what if she was outraged by what I had done to her play?). Anyway, that was all ok. And then there was some lunch (thank God for Boots) and then there was the 'Script Slam' session where everyone got about ten minutes with the director and two pro-actors and they basically performed the extract of your play for you. Mine seemed to go well; the director was really good, and the actors kept saying they liked the extract (the male actor kept reading lines from my script at inappropriate moments saying he liked the language, which I found a bit embarrassing, though I guess it was a compliment). Then I even got to act in Sabrina's play, because she needed three actors and the director designated me the 'confident person' to do it. That was weird, receiving professional direction whilst being pulled about by two actors. So all in all the Script Slam was great. I have more of an idea of what to do with Hoodies now. I knew before that I needed to rewrite the Naomi and Jase scenes, and the Mouse=wood glue thing is so cliche it's ridiculous. But now I also need to figure out what happens to Brick and Sandie too, and what their journey is. After that, it was time to jump on a train back to Leicester, and then into a cab (with the world's slowest cabbie who didn't know where Fosse Park was) to go to the Short Story awards thing, where I received a 'commended' certificate and met loads of cool people (including my secret blog idol). I was a bit disappointed about not winning, seeing as it would have meant I could paid off some credit card and afford to have a haircut (finally), but I didn't really expect that I would win. Glad I didn't have to read my story out though, as it's quite rude.

Thursday was a bit less manic, and acne had mysteriously cleared up over night. I attended a presentation about the development of a short film, led by EM Media, which was really interesting. I've never really thought about getting into film before, but the process of pitch to finished product was really inspiring. There was also a session on promenade, or site specific theatre, which again was really good, as it's sort of like the opposite of regular theatre writing, and you're really encouraged to think big. So I spent the afternoon setting the myth of Echo and Narcissus in the grounds of University of Nottingham, which was good (though I think I was a little too bossy, sorry Alex!).

Friday: Early start again, but only because we felt guilty for skivving the 'Bottomless Coffee' session on Thursday. Attended a session held by the Gob Squad about performance art and installations and about generating ideas, which was good, and then a really excellent session by Jack Bradley about how to structure a play and about finding your story and the elements of a play you should really consider. I think this session is going to help loads when I come to redraft Hoodies. Also went to see Dec's play, which had a professional performance in the main theatre, and it was really good, so much better than the first draft. Well done!

My weekend was pretty lazy. I met up with Cat to talk about the event at Sumo (she will be performing the story I wrote for the Short Story awards at the Ladyfest fundraiser event at Sumo on Sat 1st Sept), and had barbeque, and made some really lovely double chocolate chip cookies which I'm now wishing I had bought to work to munch on this afternoon.

Rehearsals for Witches of Eastwick are going well. I'm a bit nervous because we're running act two on Wednesday, and we've not practiced my solo bit in the gospel number and so I'll be doing it for the first time in performance-like conditions, and I'm not really sure what note it starts on!

So that's about it really. As you can see, I've also figure out how to do that link thing in my blog, so you can reference anything I've written about. Well, I think it's cool anyway, but I have a feeling I'm easily pleased!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Busy

Well, I've decided that the only way to get stuff done is to give myself 'Daily Writing Goals' so that I actually do something every day and don't get overwhelmed by things.
So this lunchtime, I'm going to figure out what the Hell I'm going to do for Sumo, as not only is the deadline looming and the others are all wanting to know what I'm up to, but my actress is also apparently getting a bit arsey over the fact that she's not seen a script yet. If she's going to go off on one, I might just do it myself. But I'd rather not, obviously.
On my train to rehearsal, I've set myself the goal of planning what is going to happen in the chapter I'm trying to write for Inter Vivos, as I think that's what's putting me off actually putting pen to paper. So I shall plan it on the train, ready to write tomorrow.
It's the awards thing on Wednesday for the Short Story comp, and I'm not sure what to wear. I know that's a really dumb thing to worry about, but I'm going straight there from Momentum (where an extract of my play is being workshopped with a couple of pro-actors), and I don't want to turn up in soggy jeans and a jumper when everyone else is wearing ballgowns and dripping in diamonds. I don't really have any options, but I'm taking Alex with me, so at least I won't be the scruffiest there! (only joking, honey!). I'm sure it's not a black tie event, but even so, it'd be nice to make a good first impression and not look like I've literally been dragged through a hedge backwards. Oh well.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Writer's Block

It's confirmation and Clearing at the moment, so I'm completely swamped, and sick of looking at UCAS forms (I work in University Admissions). Because there's so much on the go here at work, it feels like I'm busy in all aspects of my life, which means that I'm not actually getting anything done (except cleaning my kitchen, which is going well).

I read in another blog about a writer who claimed to have written his book in two weeks, writing from 11pm - 2am every night, whilst also doing a full-time job. At first I was all envious and thinking "well, maybe I can do that too", but then I started to think realistically. No way could I write like that, 1) because going from work (8:30am -5:30pm) to rehearsal (6:00pm - 11:20pm) to writing (11:20pm-2am) for two weeks would be a complete nightmare and 2) because if I don't get at least 8 hours sleep, I get grumpy (right now I'm functioning on about 7). This also sounds like a bit of a stereotypical 'bloke' way to go about things, you know, to compartmentalise everything thus. I tend to do fifty things at once, so I would be writing whilst doing the washing up (wash til water goes dirty, write until dishes have drained), or write whilst eating lunch at work. To spend a whole 3 hours doing nothing but staring at a computer screen/blank piece of paper seems very daunting in comparison. So I've decided to try the much more watered-down version of "writing for an hour a day", which I've not actually managed to do yet, but am starting tonight.

I'm in a phase at the moment (possibly spurned on by the A-Level results and admissions cycle) where I feel like I have to do something with my life to get it going in the direction I want. I've been looking into creative writing courses (which I can't afford) and thinking about doing my PGCE again (which I don't quite qualify for just yet), and about moving to new and exciting cities and things like that. I know that I just need to KEEP WRITING, but I think I'm having a block or something right now, as I just can't seem to make myself sit down to do anything.

Have a new idea (which I kind of wrote about earlier) called 'Gloria, the Dog and Me' about a 20something newly-single woman who befriends an eccentric bohemian woman called Gloria, who's in her 50s, and lives down the street from her. Going to publish it online, but have to write the first two chapters first!

Also, the thing at Sumo is getting closer and closer, and I have 2 pages of dialogue that isn't going anywhere, and I'm getting quite stressed. I think this weekend I'm going to start going through my old stuff and see if there's anything I can recycle from that. I just don't know what's wrong with me at the minute!

Friday, August 10, 2007

I Wanna Live Forever!

Well, on Wednesday I went to audition for the BBC Fame Academy bursary, and I felt like one of the kids from Fame, though without the legwarmers and leotards. I had been shortlisted by the BBC from over one thousand applicants down to 260, so thought I shouldn't miss the opportunity to audition, which was held at Central. We had polaroid photos taken and were divided into groups of about 15 people, and then went into one of the rehearsal rooms and had a performance warm-up with a pro-actor/coach. We then had to perform our songs for a panel of three judges, using the best pianist I have ever heard (one girl had forgotten her music and he played the song from his memory!). Everyone did really well, but the judges decided to chose the pale guy who forgot his lyrics. Oh well. Afterwards, our little band of reject Fame-kids decided to go to the pub, only to realise that it was not yet 11 and the pub was closed. So we set out on our "Big Adventure" to try to get cheap Wicked tickets. Some of us made it all the way to Leicester Square's half-price ticket hut before realising that this was probably not such a good plan, as we all had lives to be getting on with, but the idea of doing something so spontaneous after performing in from of 19 people in a little room was rather nice. Once we had gone our separate ways, I then proceeded to wander the streets of London for about seven hours carrying my suitcase that must have weighed about 2 stone, and, consequently, I am still knackered.

I knew in advance that I wasn't going to get the bursary, and was kinda dreading the interview part if I had have been called back for the afternoon - I had no idea what I really wanted the money for! I mean, going to drama school would be great, but the sensible side of me says "it's not worth getting into debt for over £20,000 as there's no guarantee that I'll get a job afterwards". Also, I just kept thinking about my writing, and how it would have to go on the backburner if I decided to go to drama school, and this idea really did upset me after a while. I'm not one of those Fame kids - I think I did a pretty good impression of one on Wednesday, and everyone thought I was about 7 years younger than I am, which was good, but I'm just not that driven, like them. I really admire these kids, because they seem so sorted and know exactly what they want (some at 17 years old!), but I just don't have that instinct to get up and do a song and a dance in the middle of the tube station. I've spent most of my life wishing I was invisible, so why I ever thought that drama school would be the place for me, I don't know. I like singing, and I'm good at it (I gave a "classy" audition, apparently, and was one of the stronger singers there), but I think I will save it for amateur shows and my singing lessons. I want to be a writer. I've wanted to be a writer since I was about 7 years old. So that's what I'm going to do!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Idea

I love the feeling you get when you get a new idea, a really good one, and you have it buzzing around in your head, and it makes you feel happy and excited by the millions of possibilities it generates. And it's like having a secret, a really exciting secret, which makes the whole day brighter, because it's really good, but nobody knows about it yet.
Well, that's how I feel right now, and I'm finding it impossible to concentrate on anything else other than the characters that I have just magically created from thin air, and I know I'm not going to get much done at all today, because all I want to do is spend time with them inside my head.
So if you see me walking around today with a glazed expression, you know why.

Wow, I'm Famous!

http://leicesterbooknews.wordpress.com/short-story-contest/

Thursday, August 02, 2007

"West End in Crisis" rant

Just read the article below. My initial thought was to defend musicals (I think Avenue Q is great personally, and what’s wrong with ‘lightweight’ anyway?), although I have said for ages now that I’m sick of these jukebox musicals that seem to dominate the West End at the moment. At least the Yanks’ trend of adapting a film into a musical is a bit more creative than stringing together some pop songs with a really flimsy story. One of the main problems is the lack of new talent in terms of composers and lyricists; Broadway seems to have a few, but the UK hasn’t seen anyone really since Andrew Lloyd Webber. Thing is, the new composers are probably out there somewhere, in grotty flats, writing their masterpieces but having no where to put them on. Billington’s comments about writers/producers with ‘small scale ideas’ are partly the blame of the production houses, telling new writers that they only want small scale plays. I mean, companies don’t seem to have the resources (or more likely aren’t willing to take the risk) on a play with special effects and a cast of more than six. Writers have it drilled into them at an early stage that they need to write plays that don’t cost any money. So much for imagination running free then.
Personally, I’d rather go and see a really brilliantly written play than see a Hollywood actor in something dire. And I don’t (and can’t afford) to pay more than £30 for a ticket. If the theatres want to charge people £50-60 for a ticket, then, yes, the audience is going to want it’s money’s worth. People see a cast of four relatively unknown actors, on a set with minimal dressing, no changes, no visual effects, actors wearing contemporary clothes, etc. and think, this isn’t worth £50. At least with a musical you can see where your money is going (scene changes, costumes, set, musicians, large cast, lighting, sound, etc). And I think marketing has got lazy, and instead of trying to find interesting ways of promoting a really good play no-one has heard of and getting the crowds in that way, they just stick Madonna in it and hope that will work instead.
We are heavily reliant on the US theatre scene, and I think part of that is that there’s a lack of resources here, for example theatres and theatre-related companies offer these new writing schemes but then don’t have the resources to do anything with these new people. TWP hasn’t taken on a new writer since the first year it did the Momentum Festival, so, cynically one might ask, why do they bother running the workshops? Royal Court has been showcasing international talent this season, Soho seems to do more one-man/two-man ‘comical’ showcases or contemporary dance pieces than ‘real’ theatre, well according to their e-newsletter promoting what’s on they do. And whatever London is doing, the regional theatres seem to copy, like geeky kids trying to join the most popular clique at school. Sigh. Maybe that’s why amateur theatre/fringe theatre is better, because they put on stuff that is actually interesting, and aren’t run by a load of idiots who are so concerned with what everyone else is doing in London that they’re not afraid to take a chance on something new or a bit different.
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http://arts.guardian.co.uk/theatre/drama/story/0,,2139843,00.html

Crisis in the West End
Theatreland is in dire straits. Second-rate musicals rule, new drama is dying, and the venues are falling apart. The time has come for a revolution, writes Michael Billington

Thursday August 2, 2007The Guardian

We have cried wolf once too often. Over the years, whenever a handful of commercial theatres has been closed, newspapers have prophesied gloom and doom. This, we are told, is the end of West End civilisation as we know it. But today the crisis is real. Never in my lifetime has London's West End theatre looked so narrow in its range of choices or so out of touch with contemporary reality. And it is high time the crisis was confronted and a debate launched about what we expect of commercial theatre.

"What crisis?" some may ask. The Society of London Theatre last year announced record attendances of more than 12 million visitors. They also pointed to the West End's contribution to the wider economy: the commercial theatre regularly generates more than £200m in tax and produces an estimated £400m of ancillary spending on restaurants, bars and transport. Stroll around the West End any evening and the place seems to be seething with visitors, many of them heading towards a theatre. But numbers alone cannot disguise the truth: that the West End lacks any dynamic creative initiative and is living on borrowed time, in that many of its buildings are barely fit for purpose.
Look, for a start, at what is actually on offer. At this moment, there are 26 musicals in the West End but only seven straight plays and three comedies. "The drama's laws, the drama's patrons give," said Dr Johnson, and it would be absurd to deny the public hunger for tune-and-toe shows that offer fantasy and escape. Economic factors also shape public taste: if people are paying up to £50 for a West End stall, at least with a musical they feel they are getting visible value for money in terms of sets, costumes and number of people on stage. I have nothing against musicals. Doubts only begin to arise when you examine the provenance of the shows currently playing.
Of the 26 musicals now showing, 12 derive either from films or TV programmes or are compilation shows drawn from back catalogues. That leaves 14 shows that might loosely be described as "original", even if many of them are adapted from novels. And of those 14, only four hail from the current decade: Wicked (closely based on The Wizard of Oz), The Drowsy Chaperone (due to close after mysteriously ecstatic notices), Avenue Q (a lightweight American import) and The Lord of the Rings. In defiance of my critical colleagues, I happened to like the last. But the melancholy truth is that the musical as a living creative force seems to be in decline. In Britain we have seen no popular, native commercial composer emerge since Andrew Lloyd Webber in the early 1970s: even AR Rahman, chiefly responsible for Bombay Dreams and The Lord of the Rings, has been dubbed by Time magazine the "Mozart of Madras". A genre that in Britain once produced estimable figures such as Ivor Novello, Lionel Bart, Sandy Wilson, Julian Slade and David Heneker is now heavily dependent on a single composer who, at the age of 59, cannot be expected to last for ever.
Also, I wouldn't say the list of musicals opening late this year or early next sound like models of innovation: Desperately Seeking Susan, enhanced by the greatest hits of Blondie, is yet another movie-based musical, while Jersey Boys tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. And does the pulse race any faster at the prospect of a second musical version of Gone With the Wind?
But, if the West End musical relies parasitically on American imports, the straight play as a commercial proposition seems to be in an even more parlous state. When I started as a critic in 1971, I lamented the fact that virtually all the best plays in the West End stemmed from the subsidised sector: they included John Osborne's West of Suez, Peter Nichols' Forget-Me-Not-Lane, Alan Ayckbourn's How the Other Half Loves and Christopher Hampton's The Philanthropist.
From today's vantage point, however, that seems to have been a time of enviable riches. Of the seven straight plays in the West End today, five are thrillers ranging from The Mousetrap to The Last Confession. The other two are Elling, adapted from a cult Norwegian movie, and David Storey's In Celebration, which is a revival of a fine 1969 Royal Court play. But, however good these two are, their commercial viability clearly rests on the presence, respectively, of John Simm and Orlando Bloom. What we have in London is a clear and potentially damaging trend. The audience for plays basically goes to subsidised theatres. They will only pay West End prices if offered a bona fide star. The most one can say is that there is still a market for comedy as shown by the success of Boeing Boeing, The 39 Steps and The Reduced Shakespeare Company.
At the risk of sounding like a critical Thersites, I would add that the fabric of the bricks and mortar also raises cause for alarm. Cameron Mackintosh is the prime example of a West End theatre-owner who has taken serious steps to improve his properties and plough his profits back into the buildings. Under his stewardship, the Prince of Wales and the Prince Edward have been magnificently restored, and the Novello has acquired something of its pristine splendour. The Theatre Royal Haymarket is also a delight to enter. But too many West End theatres are crumbling, decaying edifices. In 2003, the Theatres Trust produced a report confirming that 60% of West End theatres had seats from which the stage was not fully visible, and that 48% had inadequate foyers and bars. They estimated that at least £250m would have to be spent over the next 15 years to make the theatres safe, usable and attractive. But where is the money to come from? There is a clear case for rewriting lottery rules to enable public funds to be spent on modernising our theatres. Otherwise, visitors to London for the 2012 Olympics will be confronted by a bizarre mixture of spanking new sports stadia and theatrical slums.
But what can be done to improve the West End artistically as well as structurally? The most urgent need is for dynamic young producers to succeed the senior generation of Michael Codron, Robert Fox, Bill Kenwright and Thelma Holt. Only two have made their mark in recent years: the admirable Sonia Friedman and Matthew Byam Shaw. The latter was the beneficiary of a bursary called Stage One, in which money from the Theatre Investment Fund is used to kick-start individual careers. I sit on its selection panel, and twice a year we meet to interview a dozen young hopefuls. It is an intriguing process and a valuable scheme. But what strikes me, and some of the other panellists, is the relative scarcity of applicants who think in broad commercial terms: reared in the ethos of Fringe theatre, they largely come armed with small-scale projects.
My belief is that the really imaginative producers of today are to be found not in the commercial sector but among the directors of subsidised theatres. People like Nicholas Hytner at the National, Michael Grandage at the Donmar, Dominic Cooke at the Royal Court, Vicky Featherstone at the National Theatre of Scotland, Jonathan Church at Chichester and Gemma Bodinetz and Deborah Aydon at Liverpool are the real Diaghilevs of modern British theatre. They may be partially protected by subsidy but they still have to think in terms of filling theatres and of devising a dozen or more productions a year that will combine quality with audience appeal. Without wishing to denude the non-profit sector of its talent, it seems vital that the commercial theatre benefits from the wisdom and shared experience of people with a proven track record.
To some extent, it happens already with subsidised transfers. Rupert Goold's Macbeth and the Jonathan Church-Philip Franks Nicholas Nickleby are scheduled to move from Chichester into the Gielgud Theatre this autumn. Mackintosh's theatres also have a tie-in with the RSC. And it would be madness if Peter Hall's revelatory production of Pygmalion at Bath, which captures both the pain and the ecstasy of Shaw's original play, did not move into the West End.
Jonathan Kent's impending season at the Haymarket is clearly an attempt to capitalise on his experience at the Almeida. And, although I've urged it before, I repeat that this should be a working model for the future. Why not give Richard Eyre or Stephen Daldry the freedom to create a West End company? Or why not turn over a West End venue to Emma Rice's Kneehigh troupe for a year in order to woo the audience for visual theatre?
What the West End needs is a radical makeover, even a minor revolution, in the interests of both quality and variety. I'd like to see Sunday openings, lottery money for the rotting fabric, more imaginative use of the buildings themselves: in particular, pre-show talks, jazz and poetry recitals, stand-up comics in the dead hours before the 7.30pm opening. If the commercial theatre can't beat the subsidised sector, it should, in effect, join it: not only by adopting its practices but by employing its personnel. In the old days, the West End theatre relied on actor-managers to give it body and substance. Now what it needs are director-managers, or even dramatist-impresarios, of proven vision. Otherwise it is destined to become little more than a gaudy musical fairground based on sinking land and of scant relevance to the art of theatre or to life.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sorry...

...that it's been a while since my last post. You all missed me, I'm sure! Since I've been "gone", I've read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows twice and so have not been able to write anything, in fear that it would be tainted by that wonderful book that seems to have infiltrated even my dreams at the moment. So I haven't got a lot done.
I've been trying to think of a subject for my monologue for the event we are putting on at Sumo bar on (I think) 1st September, but at the minute, I just can't think of anything. I also need to write a monologue for an actor friend of mine, which I might, in exchange for writing it, get her to perform at Ladyfest for me, that is, if I get it done in time.
But I don't want to leave Harry Potter just yet! Still waiting for my Hogwarts letter. Might go and re-read it a third time now.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dilemma

I received a letter in the post on Saturday morning letting me know that I'd been shortlisted for the Leicester/Leicestershire Short Story contest and was invited to go to some sort of awards do at Borders on 22nd August. This is really cool, and I would be really excited and ranting about what shoes I should wear, etc, except that this is also the date of the one-day writers' residency for Momentum in Nottingham (yes, and my diamond shoes are too tight!).

I can probably make both, if I leave the Momentum day early (which would mean missing Declan's play), though there's no guarentee that I'll make it there on time to the do, and I'd probably be covered in grass and mud and half eaten pork-bears. Alternatively, I could give the do a miss and stay in Nottingham, as I've got a 50% chase of going home without a prize anyway. But it would be good to go and meet some new people, plus I've never been inside the Borders in Fosse Park before. Oh, decisions, decisions!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Facebook

I have just joined Facebook, after months of receiving 'invitation' emails from pretty much everyone I know. It's not that bad. It's not as chav-tastic as My Space is, and the sad state of affairs is that most of my friends will now only communicate through 'The Wall' rather than through more conventional methods such as texting, calling and emailing. I also think it might be a good way to advertise our up-and-coming writers' events, such as Ladyfest and our showcase, so it's not all bad.

I watched the pilot episode of 'My So-Called Life' last night, as I haven't watched it in years and just remembered thinking 'this is my life' in that teen angsty kinda way when I used to watch it. And it's still great, and Jordan Catolano is still goregous. Sigh. Do I constitute as a 'grown up' now? I mean, some woman in a shop told her three year old to 'mind the lady' when passing me the other day, and I hardly ever get id-ed anymore. I don't feel grown-up. Well, sometimes I do, like when I renew my insurance or budget for groceries, but at other times, I still feel about 19. Weird, huh?

Anyway, I have a dance rehearsal tonight, and I can't wait as we're finally doing 'Dance with the Devil'. Hope you're all going to come and watch the show!

Lucy :-)
(picture from http://www.cafepress.com/opheliasart by the way!)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Momentum 2007

Well, I received my letter from TWP in the post today - no feedback yet, but I've got an invitation to go to a one-day residency which will include a 'script slam' so that some of my work can be performed by professional actors. I wonder how many people will be on this one-day residency, as it will affect the length of the extract and amount of time we can spend on our pieces. I'm looking forward to the festival though, although a few of the sessions look similar from last year. I've just got to try to get some time off work now.

With the letter from TWP firmly stashed in my bag, it's time for a re-write of Hoodies, I think. I'm not happy with the Naomi and Jase storyline, and so need to rewrite that definitely. Also, I think it's a little flat at the minute, so need to add some more conflict/points of tension to make it more dramatic. Not really sure what to do though. Perhaps having the bits I think are the 'best' read by pros will shed some more light into what's not working.

I've decided that I'm going to turn my Munitionettes story into a screenplay. The novel never really took off, but I think there's enough there to make a really good TV drama or something. Maybe even a film.

Lara's story is going nowhere at the minute, so I really need to refocus on that. I think I'm going to write the 'real' story first, and then add the magical/fantasy elements later. At least then I can make sure the heart of the story is strong.

Lucy :-)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Potter-Who

OK, so my brain is a little unfocused at the moment. What I mean by ‘unfocused’ is actually ‘consumed by Doctor Who and Harry Potter’. I’m verging on obsession. It was the last episode of Doctor Who series 3 on Saturday, and I can’t wait until Christmas for my next Who instalment! And Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (which I think is a fancy name for Horcruxes) comes out in (at time of typing) 17 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes. I just can’t wait! I’ve decided now that I’m going to go down to Waterstone’s to collect my precious copy of the last Potter book, although I feel guilty as I’ve already pre-ordered it on Amazon and will have to cancel. I’m hoping it will be an Occasion, rather than a few tired shoppers with hyper-active five year old ‘wizards’. Hopefully I won’t embarrass myself by being the only over-twenty-*cough* person there.

So aside from Harry Potter and the ever sexy David Tennant infiltrating my brain, I have also been busy, theatre-wise. Still no news from TWP about the festival, so I’m starting to think I may have dreamt the whole thing. On Saturday I went to Leeds to watch Amanda’s Bollywood Jane and I really enjoyed it. True, the opening scene was very ‘Taste of Honey’, but I think as a whole it was very good, and looked superb. The West Yorkshire Playhouse is a lovely theatre, really spacious. I was very impressed by the two revolves on the stage as well (yes, it doesn’t take much!). It made me sad to think that Leicester right now doesn’t have a theatre of its own, and I am worried that the new one will be this big white elephant. I mean, I’d have rather they spent all that money on filling the inside with state of the art equipment and using the rest of the money for show budgets and hiring directors, etc, rather than making this big façade with glass walls and no backstage area. The Yorkshire Playhouse isn’t pretty on the outside, but it’s functional, and that’s what you want from a theatre. Anyway, perhaps I’ll be wrong and it’ll be the best theatre in the universe once it is finished. Somehow I doubt it though.

Am going to try to write something to submit to Transmission magazine over the next few days, as I’ve just remembered the deadline is next Monday. Oh well. Inter Vivos is still coming along, though I think I’m going to have to change some information as to what Inter Vivos is and how it works as I’ve realised that even in Sci-Fi, some things just don’t wash! But I’m still optimistic, still trying to get the first draft finished before I’m eighty.

That’s about it really. Sorry I’ve not been posting as often as I should – for some reason I’ve been a bit of a hermit recently.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Back

Right, hello, hello! Sorry about the delay in blogging, but I’ve been on a self-imposed exile from work and the internet, and so have not had a chance to post until today. I’m finding it a bit difficult to type at the mo’, due to the fact that my guts feels like I’ve swallowed a helium balloon (damn you IBS!), but I will bravely carry on. :-)
So, I have been a hermit for a whole five days, venturing out only to rehearse (dance rehearsals recently), go to the bottle bank, and buy mobile phone credit.
What have I been doing with myself? Well, I wish I could say that I have finished Inter Vivos, and that it’s already doing the rounds with publishers, agents, etc. but the truth of the matter is that I managed to write about 1,500 words of that, plus some of my children’s novel, and not a lot else. I cleaned, I baked, I became addicted to MTV’s Cribs, I slept, I developed an unhealthy ant-killing obsession (they go pop if you crush them, hee hee!) but that’s about all. I am sorry that I didn’t get more done, but I don’t feel too guilty about it. I didn’t realise how sleep deprived I was until I unset my alarm on the first day of holiday and woke up at 2pm the next day.
Anyway, Inter Vivos is getting there, slowly but surely. I pretty much know what’s happening now, which is good. So now, as always, it’s just a case of writing it!
Still haven’t heard from TWP/Momentum about Hoodies. I already know that I’m not going to be chosen for a reading (my play has too many characters, and I’m not one of their golden favoured few), but some feedback would be appreciated. I already know what I want/need to change in terms of story and characters (namely the Naomi-Jase bits), but another critical eye is always appreciated. They have to let us know soon though, surely, I mean, the festival is in about 6-7 weeks time!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Scared...

Doctor Who on Saturday was extremely scary. So scary, in fact, that later that night, I trapped myself in a psychological prison, backed into the corner of my bedroom, phone in hand, scared that if I couldn’t see all of my room, if I turned my back for a minute, scary stone angels would come in and get me. The mind really does create its own prisons. I’m starting to think that perhaps there’s something wrong with me, I mean, I’m 26, I shouldn’t be getting so frightened by TV programmes that I can’t leave a corner of my bedroom for fear of being eaten by a monster. ‘Active imagination’ is one thing; this is just ridiculous.

I have a bit more written for Inter Vivos, though I’m still nowhere near my target word limit for my first draft (I have about 60,000 words to go!). It’s coming along though. I have a few nice character bits for Cyrus, and Nox isn’t as passive as I first thought she was. I’m still having problems moving my characters from one place to another, but I’m working through it, through gritted teeth a lot of the time. I really want to get this first draft finished now. Once it’s done, then I’m going to celebrate! Want to come? ;-)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Quickie

Just a quick update to say that my short story 'The Dame' has been uploaded to http://www.umbrellastories.com/, so you can read it there. I'm toying with the idea of writing my own detective 'noir' novel, only with my detective of ambiguous gender, made up of short stories that tell a different part of the same case, from different points of view.

I have realised that trying to write a full-length play for the Verity Bargate award from scratch in a month is a tad unrealistic. I am still writing my 'Lara' play (wrote another scene last night on the train) but I'm not going to bust a lung trying to finish it on time. I mean, I'll just be sending something sub-standard to them, and I want to portray myself in the best possible light. So I will continue to write it, and when it's finished, maybe I'll send it to the Soho Theatre anyway.

I also got some good feedback from my friend about the first half of my first draft of Inter Vivos, so that has inspired me to get working again. As always, time is fleeting, and so I write bits and pieces of it when it comes to me, in the hope that one day soon I'll be able to sit down with all these little bits and put them together in some order and create my first draft.

Right, gotta go as have lots to do!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Lara

The main protagonist of my 'fantasy' play is called Lara. I've chosen this name because it sounds a bit like 'la la' as in, a bit crazy. 'Lara' is actually a variant of 'Laura', which means 'Laurel', and apparently St Laura was thrown into a vat of molten lead by some angry Moors. So make of that what you will.

I have just written a plan outlining the scenes I want to write for this play. So far there are 10, and it doesn't end happily. But then, I don't think you can live happily in a fantasy world in the 21st century - a cyber world, fair enough, but not one where your imagination runs riot and goblins leap to your defense and your only friend is imaginery. I have a number of scenes sketched out in my head, and am scheduled to write a few of these in full over the weekend, seeing as I'm not working and have only a singing lesson to distract me (if you don't count Alex!).
I had my first migraine in six years yesterday, though it was a pretty mild one - only my top lip went numb and my hands were funny, but I didn't vom, so that was good. Got to sleep all afternoon, which was great. Then I watched 'Joy Luck Club', and because of the damaged state of my brain I was convinced I was chinese for about an hour before Alex came over to look after me. All better now though, you'll be glad to read, though I'm going to try to take it easy over the weekend too. Meeks gets back on Tuesday and we're all going out, so that gives me something to look forward to.

So, the above-mentioned play is going to be sent of for the Verity Bargate award, and I'm also working on two new stories for a couple of short story competitions. I wrote a chapter of Inter Vivos on Wednesday, so things are all go here. Wish I had more time to dedicate to writing, but that won't happen until at least my credit card and overdraft are paid off, so I'm looking at - five years maybe? So when I'm 31 things should really start cooking...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's your fault, Guybrush

I admit it, I'm crap with deadlines. I hope no future employer ever reads this, but it's been the same since high school (and no, I'm not being American here, I did actually go to a high school). I always think to myself "oh I won't start that now, I've got plenty of time" only to find myself the night before up shit's creek without a paddle, stressing and crying because I have the impossible task of writing 3,000 words in an hour and making these words into tangible sentences. Sigh. So here I am again, deadline looming, and I have only 440 useable words to my name. It's my own fault for playing 'Curse of Monkey Island' all bank holiday weekend instead of doing any work.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Domestic Goddess

I’m reading a lot at the moment, and it has made my commitment to being a writer even stronger. I want to walk into Waterstones and see my book on the shelf. I want people to like what I write and perhaps even think that it’s good. So I’ve been making a conscious effort to write every day, even if it’s just a paragraph that seems unrelated to any of the stories I’m currently working on. I’m having some trouble with the two short stories I’ve been working on recently, as they don’t seem to be ‘flowing’, and I don’t know whether this is because I’ve not had any time to sit and dedicate to them, as they deserve, or whether it’s because I just don’t have the talent or the stories are uninspiring. Anyway, competition deadlines are looming, so I’d better get my arse into gear and decide one way or the other what I’m going to do.

I’ve also been baking a lot recently, having discovered (yes, I know I’m slow) that you can make most things wheat-free by substituting ‘normal’ flour with wheat-free flour instead. You may laugh at that, but those who know me know that my cooking skills generally amount to opening a jar of ready-made sauce and burning the pasta. So making scones from scratch is a major achievement. And I’ve just found a recipe for carrot cake, and I’m going to try to make bagel soon (they’re a little complicated, but I think I can manage it!). Oh and I’ve found a sausage roll recipe that looks good, when I can afford wheat-free sausage again. If you’ve read this far and are wondering why I’m making such a big fuss about eating everything wheat-free, it’s not some fad diet, but because I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and my digestive system goes into spasm whenever I eat wheat. So I’ve been wheat-free for about 8 months now (not counting that Feast ice cream I ate on Sunday when I thought the biscuit on the outside was nuts). There’s a great website with loads of information and brand-testing of wheat-free food at http://www.wheat-free.org/ So maybe one day, as well as being a literary success, I will also be the wheat-free equivalent of Nigella Lawson. Well, you never know!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Strippers

The new short story I am working on is about a stripper called Honey and her abusive boyfriend, and so right now I'm researching pole dancing and strip clubs. If any of you have ever been to a strip club, please can you give me all the details (or if you wish to remain anonymous, you can email me instead!). I would go myself, but can't afford it. See, this is what Arts Council money should be for! :-)

I have my characters mapped out for my fantasy play (see previous post "Magic"), but in true Lucy-tradition I have yet to write anything since the page of dialogue I wrote in January. But if I stick to my new writing rota, I should be able to work on that tonight.

So, I've created this writing rota, and although it's a little crude it should hopefully keep me motivated and on-track to finishing some of the projects I have ongoing. I was supposed to finish Inter Vivos in April, but that went down the toilet, so my new deadline is a completed first draft by October - that doesn't sound too unreasonable. I also need to begin and finish my fantasy play for the Verity Bargate, so will need a good finished draft by June. At least being too poor to go out anywhere has its advantages.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tale as old as Time

I love Disney animated films. That's something that most people know about me. My favourite Disney heroine is Ariel, the Little Mermaid. She's feisty, she's independent, she's a little rebellious. However, despite these good qualities, she still feels like she needs to give up her tail (in a painful transformation) to gain legs and barter her voice in order to be desirable to her prince. Putting aside questions of trans-species romance, it got me thinking about how far women will go to try to please a man. Luckily, in Ariel's case, Prince Eric actually fell in love with her voice (I'm going to use this as a metaphor for her mind rather than her singing voice) rather than her looks, and so when she turns back into a fish, he risks his life to save her. Sweet. But not all women are so lucky, hiding their true selves from a man to try to 'make him like me', and then being surprised when the man is not being too happy when his slender sex goddess transforms after 6 months/a year/2 minutes after the wedding into a bloated prude.

And then there's my other favourite Disney film, Beauty and the Beast. Tale as old as time indeed. Girl meets monster, monster learns some etiquette to impress girl, girl falls for him and sets about trying to change him from monster into prince. What if the Beast was just that, a beast who somehow learned how to wield a spoon to eating porridge? I for one went out with my very own 'beast' for a long time, thinking that perhaps I could work a miracle and change his abusiveness and violent tendencies simply because we "loved" each other. Well, love, as great as it is, is not some powerful magic spell, and simply served to give me a temporary (albeit too long) lobotomy, convincing myself that I was happy and could cope with his abuse because one day it would change and it would all be worth it. Belle lost her freedom to the Beast; I lost my self-esteem. And what did I get? A toad. Which I thankfully threw back into the duck pond in disguist.

It's easier to pretend you're someone you're not, or exagerate your good qualities, in order to impress someone who you've only just met. It doesn't hurt so much if someone rejects you in those early stages if you play this game, because you can say to yourself that if they had 'gotten to know you', things would have been different. But if someone isn't pretending, if they really are vile and cruel, don't think you can change them, because you can't. Change has to come from within.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Geekdom

My friends all seem to be having relationship problems at the moment, either breaking up or arguing insanely, and so I'm feeling a bit like Dear Deidre right now, as well as secretly being really pleased that I'm single and don't have to deal with all that bollocks. Other people are weird.

In terms of writing, I haven't written anything since Hoodies was sent off, and I'm really enjoying the break from not having deadlines looming over my head. Going to get back to work over the bank holiday weekend though I think.

Right now, thanks to IcarusGirl, I am listening to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on my mp3 player. It's really nice having Stephen Fry reading to me. I can't wait until the last book comes out - I was thinking about having a party to celebrate, but don't have a venue. Have already planned out my weekend when the book is released, so don't expect to hear from me then! I'm such a geek.

(picture of Snape by Laura Freeman, from immeritus.org)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Creative Writing courses create crap novelists

...Or so this article argues. http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=9276

It has a number of good points. Tragedy does seem to be held in higher regard than comedy, not just in novels, but in playwriting too. The Guardian called some of it's points about religion influencing the bias towards the tragic as 'controversial'. I hate it when people label something as that, when really they mean "I agree with these views but am scared by what my peers might think of me". Stupid Guardian writer. Anyway, it argues that you should write for your peers, not to please academics. And don't write "wangst".

In other news, Hoodies is whizzing it's way over to TWP hopefully as I speak, so with that out of the way, I can concentrate (for a bit anyway) on writing a new short story and beginning my new play. Oh, and my novel. Must not forget about that!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Deadline Looming

Hoodies has to be sitting on Sarah Francoise's desk by 9am Monday morning, and it's just about ready. I want to go over it again another couple of times and make sure I'm happy with it as it is. I would ideally like to turn it into a 'full-length' play, but for now I think this will have to do. We're all meeting up tonight and hopefully the others will give me their thoughts on it, and I can spend tomorrow making any adjustments that are needed. Mouse now opens the play, which I quite like, though I'm not sure if it will stay that way. I also have to pen a letter to TWP explaining why I went over their 'only three characters' quota and beg them to consider my play anyway. Hmm.

I'm itching to get started on my fantasy play. Thanks for everyone's comments on my previous post about it. It seems that everyone is really enthusiastic about it, and I really like it. I've been mulling it over since January, so now I will hopefully be able to dedicate time to write it.
So then, what next? Life after Momentum. There's a weird thought. I've been part of the programme for three years now. Wonder what it'll be like to be deinstitutionalised and working independently for a while? Quite daunting really.