snow is falling, all around me, children playing, having fun (cos the schools are closed) …

Now this might surprise you – cos it’s not like there has been blanket (no pun intended) rolling news coverage – but it’s a bit snowy up North right now.

It was fun. For a day or so. But the novelty has well and truly worn off.

The guttering has been pulled off the side of the house from the weight of falling sheets of snow, walking anywhere takes frickin’ ages and my boots are really starting to chaff, the post is not being delivered and there is a package I need by Thursday, 3 of the 3 things I had scheduled to do last night were cancelled and I am sick of being bloody freezing.

On the plus, I got to wear my ear muffs today but even it has a downside cos the subsequent slightly-clammy-ears were no fun.

AND there is the possibility that my train journey to London at the end of the week to see But Otherwise Went Well is going to be disrupted. Whaaaaaa?! Fingers crossed, though. Fingers. Crossed.  All the reports from HQ seem positive, the director and actors seem to be enjoying working on the play. Which is good. I just hope I get to see it …

Stupid warm front hitting stupid cold front … **shakes fist at sky (from which, surprise surprise, more of the stuff is currently falling)**

What else? Well, there is loads else but it’s mostly work-in-development and you know I don’t like to go in to that in great detail (jinx).

So. Erm. Rascally Scoundrels won an Award recently. Best New Writing at the Ovation Awards, don’t  you know. Not for a play of mine, but ‘Trust’ by fellow Rascal Roz Wyllie … but I’ll hang off the coat tails until they notice and boot me off.  I couldn’t go to the event in Whitby cos I was in the midst of moving house but they brought home the bacon (aka a small trophy).

Past Glories; Day 129: I delivered Draft #2 yesterday. Based on the read-through my aim was to tighten it all up, esp the last section. I managed to get rid of 7 pages worth, which was pretty good going. Just waiting on getting a meeting together with the director Kath Frazer to discuss it further and see if a final re-draft is required before auditions etc grind in to action. Exciting …

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.