Unity, Radio, Caretaking.

Just a quick update. I’ve successfully shelved my novel for the time being and you know what? It felt great. I think some times you can really let something get its talons on you and won’t let you go, but it felt very liberating to leave the book alone for a bit. So instead of writing that, I’ve been writing my play which is going very well at the moment. I’ve just about got Act 1 written, and then it’s onto the dreaded Act 2 (where most shit will go down, yo). But I’ve also contact the Unity Theatre, in the hope to book 3 nights there for the play. The thing is, they get booked out so quickly that their next slot is Spring 2015, but that’s okay… it gives me time to write the damn thing, then some time to shelve and come back before I need to cast etc.

I also have been introduced to the idea of writing comedy for radio, so I rewrote a sketch of mine into a radio format, and I’ve started writing the pilot of a sitcom which I’m hoping to get done to submit to the BBC mid April when they’re opening up for comedy scripts.

Maybe I’ve got too much on my plate, because I’m also heavily into rehearsing The Caretaker, which will be on the 1st of May and 3rd of May. The lines are a bitch, but if I know most of Act 2, just need to sort out the last act and I should be good to get on with actually learning how to act, and not just riffing lines.

First Draft

Well, I’ve finally got there… after about 21 months I’ve finished the ‘first draft’ of my novel. I’ve put that in quotations, because while it is complete – meaning it has a beginning, middle and end – it’s not complete. It’s still full of notes and there’s quite a lot of stuff at the beginning that was written over a year ago that needs altering or taking out to reflect how the story progressed. It needs editing too. And polishing. And… well everything, it just needs a total makeover, but at least it’s there, a solid chunk of clay in the rough shape of a human being, I just need to start molding now.

That won’t be for a while though. It’s probably quote common for a writer to feel excited about jumping back in without having a break, but not me. This novel has been a fucking bitch to write. There have been numerous times when I’ve felt like I’ve been doing it for the wrong reasons. As if I’ve been doing it just to see if I could, or to make people think I’m a smarty pants with the complex plot. Maybe these are common feelings for writers. I’ve also felt a lot like writing novels just isn’t me, but maybe that’s me looking at the industry of books and the idea of the typical novelist, because when it comes down to it… I love ideas, I love stories and characters, and I love writing them down. That’s all it should be about.

One main obstacle about this book was writing about a police detective working for the Metropolitan Police. I don’t know a thing about police work, let alone London. I read a lot, but never felt it was enough. My friend’s dad is a 25+ year detective, so he was a good person to go to with questions, but the other issue was that this wasn’t a typical detective novel. I don’t do typical. It was about a DI who worked in a High Tech Crime Unit, something I know even less about, and so did my friend’s dad. Perhaps laziness played a part in my research. It can all still be salvaged, I’m talking like I’m not going to properly finish this thing, but I will be taking a break for a couple of months at least… because I’m writing a play.

The play idea I came up with a while ago, but it’s a comedy, its main impetus is a competition run by Liverpool Hope Uni, which has a deadline of 30th May, but it’s win-win, because if I don’t win I’m going to finance and direct it myself. Possibly even star in it too. I’ve fleshed out the plot and characters, and only started writing the script this week, but it feels SO much easier to write than a novel. I feel like I could write the thing in one sitting.

Maybe that’s a bad thing.

We’ll see.

I want to play

Hello. Just another quick entry into this blog that no one really reads. Maybe it’ll become popular in the future when/if I become successful/a serial killer, but for now it’s just more like a journal for me. It’s nice to look back and remember where I was, it gives me impetus for where I want to go.

First up, novel is going really well. I’m writing consistently every week day and now even adding some work at the weekends. I reached the 100k mark the other month, but there was a good 30k of that which was old stuff I needed to remove/edit. So I got rid of most of it and I ended up with around 90k again, but now I’m back to 100k with only 8k of bumf to alter/remove. I’m also getting quite near the end of the story. I know EXACTLY how to end this thing, but at the moment my characters are in situations that I’m finding difficult to coerce them out of, to arrive at the ending I want. It’s a nice problem to have though, because it’s realistic, and so I want their journey to the end to be as least contrived as I can make it.

I’m also back to reading some good fiction, which at the moment is Stephen King’s collection of novellas called Different Seasons, which contains the following stories that were turned into films – The Shawshank Redemption, the Body (Stand By Me) and Apt Pupil. I’ve only read Shawshank so far, which I loved of course, and near the end of Apt Pupil, which is dragging out a bit but still pretty good, but I’m constantly reminded of the words of King in his book ‘On Writing’. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

I’ve found that I’m a better writer and more consistent when I’m reading fiction, than when I’m reading non-fiction. So I’ve told myself that even if I am reading a non-fiction book, I’ll have to swap it out for a fiction during the day at some point, most likely before bed when I always read. This way I can keep my ‘storytelling muscles’ pumped up and keep the pace up on my work. It certainly helps.

With the novel’s ending on the horizon, I’ve been thinking about what to tackle next while I let the first draft fester in a drawer for a month or two (to help me get some fresh perspective). I’ve decided I’m going to write a play. After performing in Noises Off I realised that I really do love theatre. I love acting, I love directing, and I love writing. When I was in school, all I ever seem to do was write small plays or sketches and would perform them in class, to the annoyance of most of the other students. I actually think ‘plays’ are more me than novels or films. It’s a platform that not only lets me explore my ideas and writing, but my ability to create characters and act.

It’s difficult to get ideas seen/read/heart. My desire for making another short film has plumetted recently, because the thought of not only hiring the cast, but the crew, is daunting. You’re really relying on a LOT of people. A novel, I’ve loved writing because it’s just me, my fingers and my brain. That’s it. If it’s shit, I’m to blame. If it’s good, I get credit. The thing about theatre, and what Noises Off reemphasised… theatre is FUN. Not only is it fun, but it seems extremely achievable. You watch a show start with 9 strangers in a pub reading fresh copies of a script, to a sold out theatre of hysterical patrons really ENJOYING a night out. And we are the entertainers. With theatre you don’t need much money, you don’t need much help. A two person play (two-hander) could be performed with just the two of you. So that’s why I’m really into the idea of not only writing a play, but funding it myself, directing it myself, AND starring in it. Egomaniac or what? The thought alone is extremely inspiring to me. It’s yet another challenge and one I’m excited for.

There’s a competition being run by Liverpool Hope University which is looking for a new comedy play to be performed at the Empire. £10,000 first prize with a deadline at the end of May. I’ve already got an idea for a play, so that’s one obstacle out the way, I just need to write it. The way I see it, the competition is more of a deadline. I’ll get it done, send it in, and if I don’t get anywhere then I’ll put it on myself. It’s win-win really. In fact, a part of me doesn’t even want to win the competition; I’d have to give up my rights and watch someone else direct it, cast it, perform it. That’s the fun part of theatre that I don’t want to miss out on.

Just got to write it first.

Noises Gone

The cast of 'Noises Off '

The cast of ‘Noises Off ‘

Just last week was our final performance of ‘Noises Off’, and it was the best theatrical experience I’ve had so far as an actor. The theatre had enough seats for 112 people, and on the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday they were only half filled, but come Friday the show was sold out… to the point where people were turned down at the door. And boy did it make a big difference. Maybe it was because it was a Friday too, but the audience were REALLY up for it, laughing at all the right places. The whole cast had so much fun being part of it.

I’d like to again thanks PurpleCoat Productions and all the cast who made the journey from taking Michael Frayn’s crazy, near-impossible play from the page to the stage. Right near the end of the run I had a feeling that I couldn’t wait for it to be over and that I wanted to have a big break from theatre… but after that amazing show on the Friday, I only feel the opposite.

I will take a break, for a month or so, I think that’s a good idea. But it will be in the back of my mind as I finish off my novel. Either get another, big part in different play, direct one myself, or… what I really want to do (like a huge egomaniac), write, direct AND star in a play.

I have time now, the priority is to relax and get my novel finished, then I can start thinking about entering back into the fray.

Nothing On

Noises Off

Noises Off, Arts Centre, Liverpool

Whoa, been a few months since my last update, but I’ve been really busy. Mainly rehearsing Noises Off, which is on in 3 weeks! Tickets and info can be found here: http://www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk/whats-on/noises-off.html

I’ve also been on a writing course with Liverpool University, which is every Thursday evening. I’m enjoying it. I don’t feel like I’m particularly learning anything new, but it’s good to meet other writers and just talk about it.

Finally, I crossed the 100,000 word mark on my novel and am definitely coming close to finishing it. Maybe another 10k and it might be done! There’s still a lot of work to do on it, but once I get a finished draft I’ll be able to put it aside for a while and come back with fresh eyes.

I’ll hopefully have some cast photos or maybe even dreaded reviews of Noises Off once we’re on (7th-10th Jan)

 

Make Some Noise

Hello. I’m still here! I’ve had a busy few months with starting a new job, moving and getting stuck into a few things.

Firstly, the novel is progressing nicely. I’m still hovering around the 95,000 words mark, but that’s because I’ve hit the point in the story now where I’m essentially rewriting the last third of the book, skipping forward to stuff I’d written months ago, picking good pieces out of it that I can use and then removing the rest and continuing on. I’ve felt the quality of my writing dip a bit as of late; maybe I’m trying to rush towards the finish line but my prose is a bit stale… lots of “He did this” and “He did that”. I think I’m just looking forward to having a finished novel as a framework that I can then work on the finer details. It’s the plot that has caused me the most trouble, so once that’s out-of-the-way I can polish it up.

Secondly, I’ve started an evening course with Liverpool University called ‘Writing Novels and Short Stories’. It’s once a week and finishes in March, but it should give me a better insight into the process, and meeting other writers is always a bonus. There will be a lot of critiquing in the class, showing your work to others and reading their work, which I think will be extremely helpful in developing as a writer. Here is a drabble (100 words) story that I wrote in the first class. I only had 10 minutes, so excuse me if it’s a total piece of shit.

           It started like most do. We met at a party. An exchange of phone numbers. A cheeky text. Drinks, and so on. Then I got to know her and boy is she fucking psychotic. Stalking me when I go the pub with friends. Demanding to see my phone messages.
           The news said a man was found stabbed in the chest and his manhood missing. Michael Fisher his name was. I was sure one of her exes was called that. A few weeks later they found another; sans penis. And now I’m tied to a chair, saying goodbye. She is coming.

Some people read out their drabbles, and I really wanted to but just didn’t have the balls. Hopefully that will change in the coming weeks.

Thirdly, I’ve got myself a part in another play. It’s called ‘Noises Off’ by Michael Frayn and is being put on my Purplecoat Productions, who have been around for 5 years and put on quite a few shows each year. We’ve only had one rehearsal so far and it’s been really fun. I was dying to do something a bit more contemporary after doing Shakespeare for the last three years, and a comedy is right up my street; that’s all I ever used to write/perform in school, so it’s good to go back to my roots. Performances will be around January 2014 so I’ll keep you posted.

One fire burns out, another’s burning…

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Last weekend saw the final performance of Liverpool Network Theatre Group’s outdoor production of Romeo & Juliet. I had a really great time playing Benvolio and met some good friends along the way. I’ve acted a little throughout my life; I was really into it when I was younger and full of confidence, but only in the past few years have I got back into it and found a new love. I find it extremely liberating.

I have performed in the past 3 summer Shakespeare plays that LNTG have done (as well as directing Glengarry for them), but this was the first play where I really got hold of a character and thought I performed as well as I’ve ever done. It has even given me confidence to maybe act more, for stage or anything else really. Something to chew over.

In other news, I’m still writing my novel and it’s coming along nicely. That’s all I can say really –  it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I have, however, had the desire to write a play that’s been brewing under the surface. I’ve got an idea that I was saving for a feature-length film, but reading it back it could very easily be a play. So I’m going to consider writing that, with the idea to go on to direct it.

And this leads me onto something I’ve come to learn about my creative side recently, which is that I prefer long form stories to short form. Feature length films, novels and plays give you much more opportunity to create so much depth and complexity, the kind of things I love when thinking of a story. Short films, while can be extremely clever or moving, just don’t interest me that much and the only reason I have made one and considered making more was to just move into more long form narratives. Feature films are EXPENSIVE, so I think for the meantime I might have to focus on novels and plays. They’re cheap to produce and will at least reach an audience, even if sometimes very small.