Past Glories; Day 114

… in which tickets go on sale

The running order and dates have been confirmed and announced, and tickets are on sale … NOW!

The 4 one-act plays will be presented as double-bills over a fortnight from 5-16 April 2011. The dates for Never Rains But It Pours are Tues 5, Thurs 7, Sat 9, Wed 13 and Fri 15.

For the full running order, plus details about all four plays, the writers and info on how to book, click [here].

It has been a busy time lately, but this is still very much on the radar. Have not had much to update as have not started on Draft #2 yet but it is imminent …

Past Glories; Day 50

… in which I cross my fingers and click ‘Send’.

Done. For now.

Never Rains But It Pours Draft #1. Tick.

Of course, Draft #1 is never actually Draft #1. For me, I have 10 versions leading up to this point.

Not all 10 are full versions, I hasten to add, but 10 documents in which I have picked up from where I left off and moved forward and/or made changes. I don’t believe in deleting or writing over stuff too much. You never know what might come in handy later, so I try not to discard anything in case I want it further down the line.

10 seems to be about the norm for me … looking back, Mam, Dad, Monkey & Me got to 10 for the first draft, then a further 6 until the rehearsal script.

The next stage is a reading of all four scripts together. This is pencilled in for October, if memory serves. It’ll be exciting to hear what the other writers have come up with and how it compares in topic, style, tone, etc. And there’s always the worry I’ll be the rubbish one. But for now, today at least, I will savour the joy of getting the thing in on time. I’ll start fretting about the rest of it all tomorrow.

A bit like the Blue Peter tortoise, NRBIP can go in a box for a bit and I’ll dig it out in a while … in the meantime I have radio pitches to write and a third draft to crack on with elsewhere.

Because there’s nothing like a countdown to put the fear of God in you: 206 days until Past Glories opens at The People’s Theatre …

‘Past Glories’; Day 17

“Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. It’s one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period.” – Nicholas Sparks

Well knock me down with a feather and all that guff. I have finished Draft 1 of  Never Rains But It Pours. Let me say that again … I. Have. Finished. Draft. 1. I am as shocked as you, believe me.

My excursion to the cottage-on-a-hill was a disaster work-wise, although there were omens dotted about. The play features a rubber duck in a bucket, and not only was there a duck-shaped hot plate in the cottage-on-a-hill, but from the patio you could see a row of trees that look distinctly like a duck. No, really. (What do you mean, grasping at straws?)

Anyway. Omens or no, the rest and relaxation gained by a week away in peace and quiet seems to have paid off.

It’s been a busy year – I’m not complaining (when I say ‘not’ I mean of course ‘sometimes I do but who doesn’t’) … we all know it’s better to be busy than bored and so far this year I’ve been anything but bored. Long may it continue. Fingers crossed. Sometimes, though, I can’t help but feel I’m churning the work out and it becomes a bit … I don’t know … the spark can get lost. I’m lucky, the projects I do tend to be varied and recently I’ve been challenged with new stories and new ways of telling them, but there are times when it wears me down. Creating a world of people and their words and plots in my head, but sitting alone in a small room typing them up.

Hm. That all went a bit maudlin.

My point is … THESE moments are when it’s all worth it. Batteries apparently re-charged and able to say “that there Draft 1, it is in the bag”.

Good job, like. Today was the last day I had to work on NRBIP before devoting the next 7 days to the second draft of a different script.

I’m having a packet of crisps to celebrate. Seabrook Salt and Vinegar. Really, it deserves more but it’s all I’ve got in. The glamour.

The last-minute spurt was born from the stuff last-minute spurts tend to be born from – necessity. All the faffing about, pussyfooting on, was out the window. It was business time. Business time is usually heralded by one thing – getting up at 7am. I tried this in Scotland, but apparently it does not work across the border. Back home though, it worked a treat. Isn’t it scientifically proven or something that our brains work better in the morning? Mine does. And then it’s so proud of itself, when it returns to the computer later in the afternoon for Round #2 it can cotton on faster to what it was doing those few hours before.

Don’t get me wrong. Draft 1 is by no means perfect. It’s messy and inconsistent and overwritten and vague … but that’s first drafts for you. Indeed, in the words of Ernest Hemingway “the first draft of anything is shit”.

But it is not nothing. There is a framework, albeit loose. There are characters and a story, and a start and an end. A foundation, I suppose, to be knocked down and rebuilt.

But it’s not a blank sheet of paper. It’s a start.

‘Past Glories’; Day 10

… in which I don’t get off to a very good start.

So, today was the day. I was going to start, gosh-darnit. After a couple of days exploring the cottage-on-a-hill and the surrounding areas, today I was going to knuckle down and get going.

I ensconced myself in the conservatory – a ramshackle set-up; garden chair carried in, table from the living room lugged through, laptop balanced on a hamper lid and a couple of telephone directories. It didn’t last.

I decamped to the kitchen table. Hoisted up on a couple of pillows it was much more comfortable and conducive to work. I lost the lovely view and gained the (frankly amazing but potentially distracting) clock that plays a different bird call each hour.

Ok. So. Sitting comfortably? Ish. Cup of tea? Check. Ready to start … Ready to start …??

That was six hours ago.

Because I am developing an idea for which I already have some of the script written (see ‘Day 1’), the trick is getting back in to the mind-set of that play I started six months ago. I have managed to write nothing new today. What I have done is edit and trim and explore the 30-or-so pages that were already there. Not ideal. I wish I had made some headway instead of revisiting old ground. I feel dull and uninspired, with a numb bum and too much tea sloshing around inside me.  It feels like a wasted day. Not happy.

On the plus, I have learned the bird calls of the Chaffinch, the Cuckoo, the Great Tit (snigger), the Great Spotted Woodpecker and … as 5pm strikes … the Song Thrush.

Past Glories; Day 7

Erm … right then … *looks sheepish* …

On Saturday I confidently wrote the headline ‘Past Glories; Day 1’.

Sadly that blog remains the sum of work that I have managed to do on the new play.

Well no, I tell a lie, I have decided on my title – Never Rains But It Pours. Which, as it goes, came from writing that aforementioned optimistic blog, so it hasn’t all been time wasted.

I have not been lazing around sipping piña coladas or whatever it is my housemates think I do all day, but sometimes you just can’t rush these things. I have been working on other plays. And if you’re not ready then you’re just not ready. Which can be a bitch. I have been doing some good ol’ thinking, though. Thinking really really hard …

(hopefully not this cottage)

I am going to a cottage on a hill for a week. The intention is to get lots of cleansing fresh air and write myself stupid. I will come back with a first draft. I. Will.

‘Past Glories’; Day 1

A while ago, I can’t remember exactly when … hang on …

** trawls through diary **

… April 5, fact fans … I attended a meeting. At said meeting I was finalised as one of four writers commissioned by The People’s Theatre to write a play for its forthcoming Centenary Season.

The writers – myself, Tony Gannie, Philip Meeks and Sue Saunders – all have a connection (either past or present) with the People’s, which is one of the largest and longest established non-professional theatre’s in the country. 100 years young in 2011, the Theatre is lining up a celebratory season of events, including a fortnight of new writing in its Studio Upstairs venue.

I can’t remember exactly when involvement with the People’s began. I’m guessing 2004 because I originally joined with an eye on The People’s Play Award. This is a biannual competition run in conjunction with New Writing North to discover and develop new writers for theatre.

As ever my timing was impeccable … I had just missed the deadline for submissions. But. I was there now so why not kick about til the next one rolled around. You don’t have to be a member of the People’s to enter for the PPA, but I love theatre and all things theatre-y so this was a chance to pitch in and get involved, something I hadn’t done since Uni.

I did some backstage work (my table moving in A View From the Bridge is still talked about … by me); got a gig as Second Asst. Director; helped out with publicity matters; and first ventured on to the stage when cast as third hobo on the left in Little Shop of Horrors! So, I kept busy.

Time ticked by – I wore a wig in a Panto that made me look like Pat Sharp – and before you could say “Fun House!” it was time for submissions for the 2006 PPA.

My play My Mam Was An Ice-Cream Blonde was primed and ready – I wasn’t going to miss that deadline date again.

I am delighted to say that I won and the play was produced for a week in May 2006 in The Studio Upstairs, with a fantastic director, cast and crew. I made some fabulous friends during the process and since, and have kept up my involvement with the People’s to this day.

So, when I was asked to be one of the writers for the Centenary new writing season I was delighted. The brief is as vast as it is constricting – each of us must write a one-act play on the theme of Past Glories, with a cast of no more than four, all women.

At the time of the April meeting I had an idea and a bit of a script I’d started dabbling with at the beginning of the year. With work and development it could work for the brief.

What I didn’t bank on was that very script idea being short listed for the Nick Darke Award, something I had entered it in for and then promptly forgot about as other work and deadlines took over. So, my idea was in limbo and – while excited to be short listed for the NDA – I was a bit scared if it was selected, I’d have to come up with another brand new idea for Past Glories and have two plays to write for September. It never rains but it pours, etc …

So, it was with mixed feelings I found out a few weeks ago I did not win the NDA. Close but no cigar.

So, I have my broad idea. I have an opening few pages. I have three possible titles.

Now, to stop writing this and get on with writing that …