Happy New Year, Merry Birthday, Jolly Yule Tidings and YAAAAY ONLY 2 WEEKS UNTIL WALKING DEAD RETURNS to you all!
So I decided to have a nice Christmas break, but one day in of ‘relaxing’ and I was going crazy with the thought “You can’t have a break, you’re not a successful writer yet.. just what in the hell do you think you’re doing?!” Had The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad not already finished, this may have been different, but I simply couldn’t stand not working towards something, so I only had Christmas Day off and decided to use the break to obnoxiously force myself into as many writing arenas as possible.
A) Bits and Bobs…
I love stories, I always have and since I was big enough to hold a pen I’ve been writing them. My heart really does lie in horror and comedy and this goes back as far as a bunch of 1-2 page stories I recently found in the attic.. which I wrote when I was in my pre-teens/early teens. These stories included such parodies as ‘The Dude With the Iron Stuck to His Face’ and ‘Deep Blue School’ (thumbs up to anyone who correctly identifies the source material…). I’m in the process of writing a novel, and have several short stories that I’ve written over the years that no one has ever seen. Mostly because I get angry with them when they’re done because I convince myself that I can’t write, my stories are rubbish and that anyone who reads them will have a jolly good chortle at my attempts. I decided to take the plunge with one of my short stories and submitted it to Spinetinglers for their monthly competition. If my story is placed in the top 5 entries then it will be published on the website and if I’m in the top 2 it will also be published in an anthology next year. Also, I’ll win money yay! If I am not placed then I’ll be dealt a cold, hard slap of rejection (ow, my feelings..) but this is going to happen loads of times as I embark on my career path so I better start now to get some out of the way!
At the start of term, I also attended my first Octopus Writers meeting, which was remarkably well structured and enjoyable. I learned a little about the way in which advertising works these days (in story form, mostly), a little about working from a source and a little about working as a group of writers. I can’t wait to go to more but unfortunately a prior writing-related commitment clashes with the meetings – hopefully I’ll be able to move some things around so I can make it most weeks as I don’t want to miss out on this opportunity!
Now that term has started, we have two new modules; Short Script and Adaptation. I plan to write a radio script for the former, as I have never attempted one before but have become very interested since the last residency weekend. I plan to adapt Bram Stokers Dracula for Adaptation, but with a new spin on one of the characters. I’ve wanted to adapt this story for about a decade now but never had the confidence before, so I hope all goes well! As far as other modules go, I’m still waiting for my final mark for Research Paradigms (argh the suspense!) and also for my Major Project Treatment (double argh, the suspense for this one is worse than the search for Sophia when she went missing in The Walking Dead). On the plus side I had a Distinction for my Script Analysis presentation, which I wasn’t going to mention here because I didn’t want to look smug. But screw it, I worked really hard for that grade and truth be told, I have in fact gone into what my favourite television android refers to as ‘smug mode’.
B) NEW PROJECT!
Over Christmas while I was walking through Cardiff, shivering and thinking “I can’t wait to get into my nice warm bed”, I came across a homeless man whose creativity moved me to the point of stopping. He was sat on the floor, freezing cold, drawing on the pavement in chalk a beautiful scene of nature and I just thought to myself ‘it’s amazing that someone with so little can still have such a beautiful vision in his head’. It was only when I stopped that I realised how extremely cold it was, and my heart just sunk looking at this man who didn’t have the luxury of wrapping his coat around him and looking forward to his nice, warm bed. I didn’t have any change so I gave him the £5 note in my wallet instead, and he burst into tears because he couldn’t believe a stranger would give him ‘so much’ (his words). Then I started crying because I couldn’t believe that he considered five pounds such a huge gift and I felt really overcome with sadness that so many people were just walking past a fellow human being and not even dignifying him with a glance.
Homelessness is something that’s always affected me, I constantly get teased for emptying my wallet and pockets of change or giving away half my fast food, but this Christmas that particular man really hit a nerve somewhere and I really want to do something to help. I know I can’t rid the issue of homelessness or ever donate enough money to make a huge difference so I started talking to every homeless person I saw as I tried to think of a way to do something. Their stories were all different, their circumstances all unique, and by large they were absolutely lovely people. The thing they did have in common was the gratitude they all showed to me for just listening and talking to them. A lot of them commented on how lonely they are and how no one will ever stop to talk and how nice it is for someone to be interested. It then hit me that other people might want to hear these rich, deep and interesting stories – they just don’t want to ask.
The new project (updates will be filed under Project 2) is a book compiled of as many of these stories as I can accumulate in the next couple of months. Additionally, the book will contain chapters about things such as the misconceptions people have about the homeless and information on charities and organisations that people can get involved with if they’d like to help. If I can’t find a publisher then I’ll just self-publish and try to find other avenues of selling the book. Any money made will be donated to charities in Cardiff linked with this issue. I’ve already had eyes rolled at me for this idea, but eye rolling is having less of an affect on me these days when it comes to my ideas. At best, a load of money and awareness will be raised. At worst, a load of interesting people will have at least had someone to buy them a hot drink and talk to them for a while, and I will have some new friends!
I’m writing about this here because it ties in as a writing and somewhat of a research project, and I’m thinking in the long-term of creating a stage-play in relation to the whole thing, fingers crossed.
C) RESIDENCY WEEKEND
This was a great weekend, so great that I didn’t even resent going in on a Saturday! Friday was a day of adaptation, the morning with Sian in which we discussed our upcoming projects and I was able to decide on a medium for my script, and also on a 3 Act structure for the piece. The afternoon with Manon Eames was very informative and she gave a lot of great insight into the industry and advice. The most useful advice, I believe, she gave for adaptation was “Leave loads out but leave nothing out”. She went into so much detail explaining her personal process for this kind of work, which was very useful. The information she gave around narrative structure and style was particularly helpful, as was the information she gave us about the television industry. I have pages and pages of notes, I wish I could write fast enough to have captured everything she said! She also warned us of the “tendency to over-explain” as a writer and told us that there’s no need to do this as we simply have to “equip the audience with the tools at the start needed to join the dots”. At the end she advised us to join the Writers Guild of Great Britain, which I am currently looking into. I’ve also started watching soaps (……no comment yet), as apparently it’s very possible we could be writing for them, so I better learn who everyone on TV is and fast!
Saturday afternoon was one of the most interesting sessions yet, if not, the most interesting. The ladies from Yellobrick were both intellectually captivating, as was what they do. I’d never heard of ‘Transmedia’ storytelling before, but boy am I hooked now! I’ve always been a fan of RPG’s and was severely addicted to Final Fantasy 7 when I was younger. And Final Fantasy 8. And 9. There may have been a wee obsession with 10 there as well, but my progressing love of that game series died when Squaresoft became Square Enix and my precious childhood memories were thwarted by how rubbish the following games were. Anywho, what I loved about these games were the worlds within them, the pure density of the characters, the detail in the places, the different accents and languages, etc. I could go on about those games all night, I really could. I absolutely love the stories, and loved playing them through. To this day I simply can not risk playing them because I know that I’ll get so immersed in the world of Final Fantasy that everything else in my life will be forced onto the back burner, and I have work to do so no gaming for me for a while! That sounds like a joke, but in all seriousness it’s not – I had to take my games consoles back to my mothers house during the first year of my undergraduate degree because I almost missed a deadline thanks to digging for treasure on the back of a Chocobo. The Yellobrick ladies discussed ARG, Alternative Reality Games which use transmedia storytelling and now I’m obsessed with playing one because if I could love a retro PS1 game like that, imagine the fun I could have actually playing something live through various mediums! Furthermore, the idea of creating something like this myself is completely riveting, I really want to give this a go. They informed us that they sometimes look for interns, and my application is already well under way.