9 1/2 weeks. OK, 12. But I couldn’t resist.

9 1/2 weeks. OK, 12. But I couldn’t resist.

If you were born after maybe 1975, you might not get it. But if you’re roughly my age (a grand forty-four and a half) you might now be hearing a dodgy John Taylor* theme tune and getting memory-whiffs of a tousled, sweaty Kim Basinger staring in a confused fashion at all the identical rows of white shirts & black suits in Mickey Rourke’s wardrobe and well, watching things on a projector. 9 1/2 Weeks was basically the forerunner to both 50 Shades… and Sleeping with the Enemy. But I digress.

What I meant to say was that between Mother’s Day & Father’s Day, I’ve done 12 weeks of The Artist’s Way. And jotting it down because the last post was helpful to some people I like. And doing it all has been so helpful to me that I’m starting all over again. pexels-photo-127968.jpeg

If you are interested in this for yourself (it’s basically a refresher / CPD / spring clean for any one, no matter who creative they want they are / want to be),  you don’t need or want a list of my “achievements”, or some wondrous “before & after”s. They’re my things, and while you might kindly say, “oooo, ahhhh”, that’s no good for you!

What might encourage you, though, are these things:

  • I don’t crave “success” for what I do. While I still very much want an audience for my work, I know it’s unequivocally because I want to engage with people, move them, make them feel less alone. Not because a large audience / exposure is a success. It ain’t necessarily so, as the wonderful Ella & Louis sang (go on, have a listen while you read on).
  • I’m just excited & inspired by others’ successes & by great work – and I’m 100% envy-free. When I see any good work in any form (music, theatre, TV), or hear anyone I know do well, my reactions are “clean” – like a happy kid. I want to applaud, cheer, halloo – and there’s not an atom of envy. Yep, with a foot-shuffling blush, I know there used to be. A bit of a “gah, I wish I could…”, nothing nasty, nothing against the bod or the work, but there was a “what about me? when will I…?” And now it’s gone, which is bloody lovely.  Instead, now, I cheer it all, and am just excited to be in the same game, playing in my corner, too.
  • I’m excited by creative risk, after years of keeping my head below the parapet. That’s probably not uncommon for anyone, artist or not, after domestic abuse – as in my case – but it might also be the case for anyone who’s been shamed / mocked / belittled/ blacklisted for creative risks – or just felt like they crashed & burned! That could be from a teacher years back, or your agent never returning your calls. Confidence can be fragile, but creativity depends on confident splash-splash-splosh! I know in my heart that playing safe isn’t playing at all.  It’s just people-pleasing and boring and really not me!
  • I’m kinder, lighter, and excited about the future. I’m working with a wide range of new collaborators on early-days ideas, working out what we might like to plant in the ground. Some of that’s theatre, some film or TV. Some is community, and some is business. But they are all connected, with no false divides.

I hope – if you’ve heard about The Artist’s Way, and wound up here, this is helpful. Or if you’ve never heard of it, your curiosity is piqued. For some, it’s about removing “blocks”, for others, it’s about getting out of a rut, that old rut. Some feel like it’s a spring clean to bring back their lost playfulness. Others, that it’s peaceful self-care, meditation and self-strengthening. Here, it’s all of that (and yes, stuff has happened. Big stuff has happened, and more is happening. But that, dear friends, is another story).

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*YES! Exactly! That John Taylor, from Duran Duran, going solo for what was basically a soft-porno. And ye gods, sorry, Mr T, it was not a great song. I still have the 7″.

Really? Oh, ok. Don’t say I didn’t warn you – it’s a bit 1980s rude: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5OBXJ2AxSA

Craft Work and Magic Pennies

Craft Work and Magic Pennies

Phew. This summer had roller skates. Creatively, it was wonderful, and then whoosh! There I stood, messy making everywhere I looked, enough mucky creative output to dance in for months!

And so. Back to school, while devouring new drama on t’telly, in the wicked playhouses and yet more in those moving picture theatre halls.  And here, in the imaginarium?

  1. Draft Two (caps intentional) of the spec TV pilot I’m obsessed with (an elite public school in the Scottish wilderness is the battle ground for parental titans, demolishing the society around them as they war over their dead son’s legacy.)
  2. Tour planning for Glitter Knickers in 2017 – a wee show I might have mentioned once or twice.
  3. Sleeve-rolling collaborations with writers, makers, and creative entrepreneurs.

There’s two tunes playing in my mind that I want to inject into yours: the beautiful clockwork of dramatic structure, and the joyous Play-Doh Barber’s Shop game that happens from generous collaboration.

First of all, I’m just loving learning how my craft makes my writing so infinitely better.  PEGGY’s first draft grew from a well-critiqued treatment, and then ten pages (thanks to script editors Philip Shelley & Yvonne Grace respectively). I left it well alone (very tough) for 6 weeks and have gone back to edit like a mad editing monster.  I could now see the problems, the (very) weak spots, the frankly cringe-making things that needed sorting.  And then I set myself the kind of challenge I could never have done without (a) a lot of learning from cleverer people than I, and (b) that 6-week break.  Eh? What? Or, yes, sorry – to solve the problems!

  • THAT’s no good as an excuse for his behaviour – WHY?
  • Oh, come on – his character is weak! What’s he up to? Make him work!
  • Ah. Great antagonist motivation. But now your heroine is nothing by comparison! Even out the score – fight that fight!

The first draft’s OK…BUT, nowhere near good enough. But I’m confident enough to know it’s still like a wobbly clockwork thing. It needs several wheels taking out, binning, replacing, moving…. Heck, I might have to lay the whole thing out on the kitchen table and put it all back together again. But that’s OK! Because if this story is worth telling – and it is! – then getting it right is going to make it absolutely marvellous!

Now, the other thing. The magic pennies of the title. I;m going to save that for my next posy (a) because you’ve read enough and (b) there’s more stuff to do before school pick-up and this is the luxury!

Never quiet; always learning

Never quiet; always learning

Gosh – the sediment from Glitter Knickers has just about settled on the bottom of the jar.  The feedback just flowed in – thank you very much indeed, everyone – and in the next couple of weeks, it’s my job to package that up, with a whole load of metrics for The Next Stage. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, paid communications jobs have come in (yippee!) and I’ve just writ my first short film script. It’s an excellent discipline – I’m very much still wearing armbands. If you’ve met me, you’ll appreciate that verbal economy is not always my forte. I’m now a big fan of image boards, drawing out comic strips (as I did for Glitter Knickers) and running away from spoken words.

Y Grace bookI’ve also polished off a couple of TV treatments and had some very handy feedback on them. To make them/ others they best they can be, I’ve also  bought myself a new book (yes, that’s it in the pic). It’s stuff from the brain of Yvonne Grace, a TV guru of great experience who can be found here and if you’re also on facebook, here.

Last, my Jan – April season leading the Rondo Writers’ Group has just ended, with scripts from four of the writers heading into a professionally performed & produced show at Bath’s Rondo Theatre. If you’re local and have the wit to enjoy new writing (and believe me, the scripts, cast & director are great) you can catch this on 4-7 May, here! If you make it, let me know!