Play That Funky Play

My short play, ‘Release Date‘ received a rehearsed reading at Birmingham Rep a few weeks ago.  I could write about how much I enjoyed the experience, but gushing isn’t my thing: it really was that good (the whole experience, not necessarily my play).

I’ve uploaded a copy of the script (click hyperlink above) and I’m now working on a longer version.  Feel free to contact me if you want any further information, or if you simply want to rip it to shreds.

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It’s been a while, I know.  The reason I started this blog was to promote my writing, but then I spend my time, erm … writing, and not blogging.  I don’t just write though: the internet is a vast place with many distractions.

Anyway, on with the motley.  Regular readers will remember that my last post was about the Birmingham Rep’s ‘Write Away’ group.  That was July and I finally get to see a rehearsed reading of my play next week.  Yesterday I got to meet the director and discuss the play.

This was a first for me (despite my advanced age).  I find conversation difficult at the best of times, which is one of the reasons I became a writer.  Talking about a play I wrote five months ago with someone I just met – actually, I found that relatively easy.  When I say ‘relatively’ I mean easier than small-talk (see comment above about making conversation).

It did find it disconcerting to talk in depth about my thought processes and motivations when writing the script.  More difficult, she was complimentary (related to my difficulty with conversation is a difficulty receiving compliments).  I came away with one area to review – the ending – and that is down to my unease rather than hers.  I have spent the last few hours trying to work out how I want it to end.

The rehearsal and performance are next week – invited guests only, I’m afraid – and I might blog again to let you know how it went.

Writeaway

I have just completed ‘Write Away‘, a ten week course for developing playwrights, run by Birmingham Rep.  I’ve never been very sociable as a writer – it may be one of the reasons that I am a writer – but I have had a fantastic time.

The theatre sees the course as the beginning of a conversation.  I have completed a ten minute play and will have a script-in-hand reading in the autumn.  This will be a chance to work with a director and actors and to hear my work performed.  Will it lead to anything further?  That is down to what opportunities come up and my own ability to take them.

What I have gained most is a group of friends who are also writers.  I’ve tried writing groups in the past, but haven’t found anything that quite matched what I wanted to do.  Although as a group we were at different places, talking about writing and exploring ideas and approaches together has given us a solid base to build on.

Write Away is run yearly by the rep (click on the link for more information).  To get on to the programme you have to complete a one day workshop (called, appropriately enough, ‘Play in a Day’).  This is a valuable experience in itself.  After a few hours’ of tuition, participants are given the chance to write a first draft and hand it in.  This isn’t as hard as it sounds and no one is expected to write Hamlet.

I would recommend it anyone who is serious about writing drama.  It probably helps to have already written something and to have some ideas about character and structure, but you’ve nothing to lose if you give it a go.

Writing to the gallery

I recently submitted a short story to Prole Magazine.  Obviously, I looked at the submissions guide first – even I’m not that foolhardy.  One stricture stuck in my mind:

structures and forms that exist only to … appeal to the coffee lounges of our older universities are not welcome.

I have never been in a coffee lounge in any university, let alone an ‘older’ university.  I haven’t got a clue how to write something that would appeal to one.  This is a shame: Prole didn’t want my story – their loss – so I’m looking for a new market.  Here’s the thing, having been rejected, I can’t help wondering if it was because it does appeal to an old-university coffee lounge.  How would I find out?  More importantly, how do I bring my story to the attention of one?  It would seem churlish not to give it a go.

BBC Writersroom

The BBC Writers’ Room submission window opens tomorrow.  This window is concentrating on writing for CBBC or CBeebies.  Unlike some of the writers who post to their comment boards, I have no problem with the Writers’ Room concentrating on specific genres.  I have never considered myself a children’s writer.  A couple of weeks ago, when I out that the window was due to open shortly, I decided I should probably give it a go.  I opened one of my notebooks to try and develop an idea.  The first thing I found was a note I’d made a week earlier and then forgotten: the idea was for a children’s drama.  

I do keep notebooks (obviously), but I rarely find them that useful.  It’s nice to know that the system works occasionally.  I started the first draft yesterday and should get it finished before the window closes on 7th July.

Mathematician, spellcheck, photograph

A word is worth a thousand pictures, I think.  Or, should that be the other way round?  I’m a writer, not a mathematician, which explains why I might not be entirely sure.  It doesn’t explain why I took three attempts to spell ‘mathematician’, before giving up and using the spellchecker (a word which, ironically, the spellchecker on my particular browser doesn’t recognise).

Anyway, I often feel a compelling urge to set my fiction in places I know, usually Wolverhampton.  I’m fascinated by the combination of dereliction, restoration and construction that can be found in this and other cities.  Often this comes out as slightly outlandish similes and metaphors.  The scene below I would probably describe as ‘ looking like a cheap toy garage in a particularly untidy adolescent’s bedroom’.

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Does this help the story come alive?  Does it get in the way of the story?  Is story that important anyway?  Depending on your answer to these questions, you are either my ideal reader, a potential agent, or one of 7 billion reasons why no commercially-minded publisher would touch me.  Whichever you are, feel free to get in touch.

Driving Me Mad

A few years ago, I wrote a post on by other blog about the fact that I don’t drive.  Things have changed since I wrote that: I’m not 37 anymore.  I still don’t drive, and I still take a slightly perverse pleasure in it.  This morning, it occurred to me that for a writer driving is a waste of time.

I sometimes think that it must be impossible to be a writer: you need to write, obviously and read; you need to re-write (Paul Abbott says so); you also need to have a life – not only are they useful in themselves, but they give fantastic material.  How on earth does anyone find the time?

This is why I would find driving another drain on my time.  Travelling by public transport, which I do a lot, I can read, observe, listen and on a train I can even write.  Walking, which I also do quite a bit, provides an opportunity to explore and mull things over.  None of these things is really possible while driving: it’s not easy to make a sudden turn down an interesting-looking side street – I genuinely think that is important for a writer.

I’m sure that there are many great writers who drive – aside from anything being a non-driver makes me a very rare beast – I just don’t see how they find the time.Image