Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Well script all back on track again - after a tough thrash-it-out call. Makes me realise that 'writing logic' is something (I suspect) most writers carry in their head without even knowing it. The innate logic - of the how and why and where and what - of the story and characters - which sometimes seems to bypass others involved. So when a host of irrational and unsound 'solutions' are suddenly being put forward, logic can come in handy for rebuttal. Its not always about being stroppy for the sake of it - is it?

Anyway where were we - us?

There's not been a huge array of takers for the two new facebook groups I suggested - so I'll mention them here again. One will be 'drawing for writers' (as opposed to the brown paper one) and the other one more a fun group for daft ideas - to misquote another blogger - "a place to bitch, groan and despair" (ha!) for shelved bad ideas and such like, arising from this post ages ago - which spawned an array of blistering badger attacks across the blogosphere. Never mind. If interested leave a comment. Ta.

Which brings me nicely to the much quoted (Paul Newman RIP) steak and hamburger thing. My feeling is that, given the choice most women would rather not cook steak at all and prefer to go and eat it in a restaurant, cooked by someone else. Mind you I don't eat four legged myself - so what am I talking about?

My mind is a bit elsewhere today - flipping between dung beetles and beat sheets.

And colour. Of course.


Sunday, September 28, 2008


Slipping in a quick post about drawing - because that's mainly what I've been up to last week. Pasted up 3m x 2.5 m of thick brown paper on the wall and am now working on 'H of H part#' - filling it up with lots of people - including you. Yes indeed ha! I've been plundering everyone's fb photos for inspiration. (Ha!) So there's boats, hair, grown ups on swings, children, dung beetles, people eating..whatever. Don't be shy now, step out of the shadows on to the paper..

Drawing seems to use a completely different part of the brain to writing (the editing part - is that right brain?) Most of the time is actually spent rubbing out lines, so the mind is completely blank.
The best thing is that my daughter draws too alongside - happily occupied for hours on end - drawing and colouring in bears with matching kites and matching plates of food. Hmmm I think I might steal some of those kites and put them in my picture.


Friday, September 26, 2008


Yep the writer song meme tagged by the luminous Potdoll. I'm not digging too deep for this one: musicals, London 08 with Jimmy Cliff 'The Harder They come'

Maybe I feel it having worked on LU *snort*

Well the officers are trying to keep me down
Trying to drive me underground
And they think that they have got the battle won
I say forgive them Lord, they know not what they've done


ooh yeah oh yeah woh yeah ooooh

And I keep on fighting for the things I want
Though I know that when you're dead you can't
But I'd rather be a free man in my grave
Than living as a puppet or a slave

Plus I tag Elinor, Jennifer the occasional lurker, and WC Dixon - 'cause he has great musical taste (sometimes).

open road

Just peeking in to say 'hello pumpkins!' Nothing much to report at all - but that's the whole point of blogging sometimes isn't it? Good.
So notes on notes on notes. The rewrite is proving a real pain and I'm at the stage where I feel like stepping off completely ('No-oo' I hear some cry. 'Do it!' others murmur.)
The main problem: 'moving goal posts'. Yes that old chestnut. I take aim to find everything's now in a different place. Plus the latest strategy is to get me to incorporate elements of previous scripts into this one. Stuff that! No. Way. However I can be very reasonable if it is worth my while. Cough.

Let's see.
Friday now. Holidays here next week. Time for a glass of PG. Cheers! And what are you doing?

Monday, September 22, 2008


Ages ago, I went on a fab filmmakers lab organised by (the now liquidated) Moonstone. One of the tutors - the tiny Ms Joan Darling conducted a fascinating workshop on 'working with actors' - all about pushing emotional buttons. She started by telling us that when she was a young girl her father died and she felt pleased because when she went to school, she could now tell her friends she was a 'half-orphan'. I guffawed loudly only to see Ms Darling pointing a knotty finger at me. "You're laughing because this rings true for you too." Loss. Indeed when I was five years old my mother left my father in West Africa and we travelled all the way to Liverpool in a ship. I didn't see my father again for 20 years (and grew up thinking fathers were irrelevant or at least fairly disposable.)

Anyhow, as I mentioned once, a father or a father figure keeps returning as a key figure in my stories - often as an emotional conduit. I daresay there's a lot could be analysed from this. I've written about a four-times-married father trying to relate to his various offspring and about two girls who refuse to accept their mother's new boyfriend as a father figure. Then also a father who has to expiate his son's violent death and a blind father who shapes his son's vision.

The current script - dealing with a fight between two women - was the first where a father doesn’t really figure - or so I thought. But ahem - the re-write is forcing me to acknowledge (yet again) that a father is pivotal to playing off the conflict.

So what about you - is there someone or a character that keeps coming back in different forms? Or does your father figure in your writing?

Friday, September 19, 2008


Hello blog! Friday at last and whew what a battle to get these 'arc' pages out. The stuff I hate the most is planning trajectories and plotting character change. But all done now. So on to beating sheets for a couple of days, then straight into the home stretch; a massive re-write.

What a difference a day makes huh? Here's what I blogged yesterday (but didn't post)

I'm keeping my head down and collar up. I'll study the greys and rain on the pavement and think about words. Don't want to see any shaky mountain, any girl skipping, any 50 green birds, any men sleeping on the stoep, any geese flying or yellow letters drawn in chalk. I'm not looking anyway so I won't see them. Grey pavement and rain. That'll do. And words.

Today I woke up wanting to draw again - stick massive pieces of brown paper up on the wall and get out the charcoal. People. I want to draw people. Folk don't argue the toss with a drawing (or worry about character arcs either) They either like it or lump it.

What else. At this time of the year, thoughts turn to 'What next?' Drawing yes. Plus need to get both script re-writes out of the way, by end of October. The jazz book - now needs a kind of 'longing, belonging, un-belonging' text comparing the experience of jazz exiles with that of those who stayed. Hmm

Plus I want to jump on a plane right now and fly away.

What about you?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

pow wow

This was really supposed to be a post called 'shift' but I don't know what happened to that one - I mislaid it - maybe it got sucked into the recycle bin or fell into a crack behind the sofa. But anyway, things shifted - so it doesn't matter now..

On to work in progress - the weekend pow wow - was basically all about them talking me into doing a massive amount of firming-up-the-story, re-writing work for the next month or so. Unpaid. I know I've blogged about this script, but really it's just been sitting in a drawer for the last while, incubating. Always good to put work aside and think about it in the abstract. And talk brings the story back to life - I can sense how much better it can be. So I'm fired up again.

Each script is different to write - and the problems have to be solved in different ways. Sometimes I draw charts, or lists, bullet points or even 'ballet points' as someone mentioned somewhere recently. I like that idea - ballet to give it 'a light lift.'
But right now I'm arc-ing characters by writing a little summary of where they're at, at the end of each act. It's going to be so good.

Sad news. One of the writers lined up to contribute to this jazz book - John Matshikiza died from a heart attack yesterday, aged just 53. He was a one-off, a perspicacious, snarky wit, tuned into the schizoid intersection of SA life. I encountered his acting in London with the RSC, years before I ever arrived on these shores and read his M&G columns. RIP.


Sunday, September 14, 2008


You blog on regardless - but sometimes real life gets in the way - like today - when it all starts to feel like a high octane episode of Jerry Springer - complete with shrieking and hollering and slamming and cowering and even audience participation (neighbours, both sides). Hell.
Well *sigh* that's about all I have to say on the subject of bi-polarity, except that sometimes intervening in the rational life of a loved, elderly family member is nigh impossible but must be faced.

So this wasn't the post I was going to do at all (that one was called 'shift' but I'll save it for now.) I've been pondering the ability to face up to the ugliness in ourselves (and others close by), to confront the stuff we like to sweep under the carpet or veil with pretence.
On the whole, writers seem to have a huge propensity for honesty - though for everyone, there is always a grey or 'no go' area. This illness somehow seems to be 'imaginatively' connected to self-image, but maybe I'm wrong. I'm outside it.

Today's plea: medicate

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Apologies to anyone who still expects posts about scriptwriting (ha!) but now is think-time until the weekend pow wow when everything gets thrashed out and I stop faffing..

Meanwhile noticed a few strange little signs from the universe - all occurring in a short space of time..

Firstly, this morning at around 5 am I looked out of the window to see a young woman (outside the house across the road) skipping or rather jumping on the spot with a skipping rope. Unusual at that time, (in the half light) but nothing too out of the ordinary. Exercise.

Then about half an hour later, my daughter came running up to tell me that she could see a man lying asleep outside our house, on the stoep. I must have missed him before - but indeed there he was - fast asleep outside. 'Moving people on' is hub's job - so he did that and the man went away. No fuss. All the while, the girl across the road continued to skip.

Then as we all left the house for the school run, my daughter pointed out a loopy 'm' (or 'w' depending where you stood or maybe it was even a number '3' on its side) drawn in yellow chalk on the ground outside, directly opposite the front door. She hadn't drawn it so I guess the man who'd been asleep outside did.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Bridging the digital divide

Google and HSBC are financing a constellation of 16 satellites that will bring high-speed, low-cost internet connectivity to emerging nations located near the equator.

Announced Tuesday, O3b (abbreviation for "the other 3 billion") Networks said the satellites are planned to orbit near the equator to deliver internet connectivity to emerging markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. The service is planned for activation by the end of 2010.

Company's founder, Greg Wyler says "Only when emerging markets achieve affordable and ubiquitous access to the rest of the world will we observe locally generated content, widespread e-learning, telemedicine and (much) more"

More info available here and here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Saturday, September 06, 2008


A banal post about butter.

I was considering a sideways move into recipe blogging and thought about ways of cooking smoked haddock. But as I never really follow recipes or read them, I thought I'd just blog about butter. Plus I've been a bit butter-fingered lately...

When I lived in Wigan and went to the corner shop to buy butter, the lady, (who referred to all the magazines as 'books') would always ask "Do you want best butter love?' You see best butter was butter, but if you didn't stress the best, she'd give you margarine which was cheaper. I've never really liked the taste of margarine, not on bread - despite the fact it is polyunsaturated. Fine to cook with though.
So all these years later, I always examine my butter carefully - especially with the array of spreadables now masquerading as butter. Have to be careful.

So what for you butter or margarine?

Thursday, September 04, 2008


As it was in the beginning, so it shall be in the end
Matt 24, 38

Ok back to the script. The end is sorted - as regular readers should know by now. All written up and written out, finito - a nail-biting heartbreaker - so no need to worry about that.

So it's the beginning I'm having to work on - work backwards - a bit like choosing the wrapping paper after you've opened the present.

So what is needed is passion and punch and power and all words beginning with 'p' really - and playfulness. And pregnancy. Yes that's it. I thought the beginning needs a pregnancy - a late-in-life, yearned-for conception. And because this is a 'hot' script (the producers tell me it has already been sold on a promise just on the tag line. Hmmmm I don't know whether I believe a word of that, without seeing further funds but it keeps me at the keyboard. [The tagline is fab though]) Anyway because of all of this and because this is drama - the unborn child is doomed. You see the drama was missing an inciting incident..

Thinking about all of this brought me to ultrasounds. I took out my daughter's from 6 + years back (see above). I must admit when I first looked at it, I wasn't that impressed - maybe the artist in me wanted picture but could only see noise. It was only after I'd glanced at it every now and again, over a few years (by which time my daughter was already five) that I started to see how it all fitted together. Anyway..

So lately have been going off on a writing thought-tangent about creating pictures from sound...

All thoughts welcome. Speak to me.

Monday, September 01, 2008


years old today - happy birthday blog! And to blog twin Pot - many happy returns!! So the blog gets its annual makeover today. Somehow I don't think it will make it to three...

Two years eh? I looked back at the very first post here when I starting chirping at the universe 'Life is not a plot!'

Oh how wrong I was...

Little did I know then, that this blog was actually remote controlled by some universal cyber-puppeteer (Thoth perhaps?) and I was merely an 'appropriate' conduit for typing up pre-determined stories, thoughts and rants, under the delusion that they were all my own. Hmmph.

But I can stop anytime I want to (I think).

In the meantime, the bar's open all day, drinks are on the house and there's even a cake with icing, that's been left out in the rain specially for Helen.