Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Writing, shame and self-deceit

"How's the writing? Published anything yet?"

Shit, and no. When will you people understand that I've written nothing, NOTHING, in five years? Although I may have claimed to be at some point in the distant, hazy past, I am not a writer. I'm not anything.

Friends and family always assumed I was going to be a writer because I was forever making up stories, poems and plays, and I was good at it. I let them decide for me. I didn't know what I wanted, unlike like friends of mine who are now doctors and musicians and producers; they knew what they wanted, went for it and did it. I'm not a going for it kind of person. I like to settle for shit. You've read my profile, right? I'm far too lazy even to check out the path of least resistance. People always told me that I was going to be a writer, it was easy enough to believe them.

Of course it was going to take more than belief to make anything happen. Once I'd decided I was going to be a respected and wealthy writer, I set about the single minded pursuit of this goal by smoking weed and watching videos. I knew I had it in me, therefore what did I have to prove? I know that I'm a kick-ass writer, thank you very much, why should I have to actually do any to satisfy the rest of the world?

Good attitude, huh?

What the hell do I want? This is my fucking life, after all.

I think about writing all the time. I think about the kind of writing I'd like to be doing. I can't help it, it's in my head. I get drawn into a TV show and I see where the act breaks are. I notice how long a scene is, how many in an episode, how they're distributed, how many words in a speech, how many primary, secondary, tertiary characters, A plots, B plots, C plots, how they all have something to say and comment on one another.

I can see this. I think I can do it.

The nearest I got was five years ago. I'd been out of uni for a bit, my best friend had just left drama school. He was going to be the major actor of his generation, a great British hope, one of The Times' Rising Stars in the Arts Firmament. We were going to set up a production company and rock the world. Mark was a magnificent Raskolnikoff and a great friend, until the psychosis got him.

While we were working together I banged out a stage script which, in the hope of showing I'm not a complete fantasist, you can read here, if you like. I was twenty-three when I wrote it; it's a pretty spiteful play about me and a girl I knew. It's immature, it's petty, and to be honest I think it's the shame of having written it in the first place that's been stopping me from taking something else up. I'm like that. I find it hard to let go of things. Especially ideas. Particularly the poisonous ones. It has its faults, but people who are paid by Britain's biggest theatres to read these things had the following to say at the time:

"confidently written and well observed"..."interesting themes"..."complex ideas"..."structure is even and precise"..."characters are believable and inhabit a very real world"..."good ear for dialogue...some great lines."

They all rejected it though, but it's good for a laugh.

Since 2001 there's been fuck all. I've had a couple of good ideas but all they've ever come to is a folder each of half-arsed research and pages and pages of false starts and then I quit. I'm allergic to the actual doing of anything that involves work. In my mind I manage to achieve everything I've ever wanted through the medium of montage. Writing a script takes five minutes: there I am scribbling on the wall, surrounded by sheets from a flip pad, shuffling index cards into order, typing typing typing, staring at the screen, argh frustration, pacing and pulling at my hair, a-ha! solution and big relief, typing typing typing, printing out the finished thing, cigar and a single malt. It's a piece of cake! I could produce fifty scripts a day yet I haven't managed one in half a decade.

Because I'm too much of a coward to admit I want that wealth and respect. Because I never learnt to accept people make bad choices and move on. Because it's difficult to admit that I've led a pretty worthless and directionless life for the last decade. Because even though I've got nothing, I'll fight myself to hold onto it and be fucked and damned into the bargain.

I don't want to look into a blank screen and see myself looking back, because I'm so disappointed in that reflection. I'd rather get lost in mediocrity.

It's not just the writing. I'm a coward, full stop.

There was a bit more drama there than I really intended but fuck it. No-one's reading this any damn way.

To sum up: I've got no idea what I'm doing, or where to go from here. I hope you're prepared to watch me make a public spectacle of myself because I've got a feeling it's way past time.

Category: Writing

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