Friday, 4 June 2010

An exorcism in Penge

It's been a funny couple of months. In writing terms, things came to a bit of a halt during April, when Jane and I went for a long-awaited holiday in Japan. It's a fascinating place and we had an amazing, stimulating experience, but there wasn't a lot of time for the oul' scribbling.

At the end of the holiday we also managed to get caught up in the ashpocalypse, becoming stuck at Narita airport for five days. I wrote about it for Orange here (and that isn't me in the pic), but things turned out reasonably OK in the end; more through luck than judgement, we managed to get on the first JAL flight back to Heathrow.

However, while we were away I had a couple of bruising body-blows (writing-wise). Firstly, Foot Soldiers, my application for the Academy Pictures initiative – on which I'd worked very hard, in collaboration with an award-winning director – didn't even make the shortlist.

Then I got some brutal (but precise and helpful) feedback on another script I'd submitted to a US competition. It wasn't terminal, and it highlighted that the script had "great ideas and terrific potential", but it also indicated that I pretty much need to go back to page one and start again to realise those.

Anyway, all of these factors combined to give me The Fear. Not really writer's block as such, but a paralysing sense of inertia and stagnation – a realisation of how much work I still had to do on my various projects.

Picking up a pen to start the work seemed so daunting that I let it slip, and days soon became weeks. Even the fact that an agent who liked a previous script is waiting to see a draft of Foot Soldiers seemed to add to the pressure rather than giving me the espresso enema I needed.

Fortunately, I've been given a bit of a boost this week; Foot Soldiers has been shortlisted in the Euroscript Screen Story Competition, and a producer to whom I sent another script has asked me to come in for a more general meeting. And the weather's been nice!

So, I took the opportunity last night to get down to Penge's most charming beer garden terrace and banish The Fear. Armed with my lovely new Cross pen – a birthday pressie from Splendid Wife – I plunged in and started to ask myself the questions I needed to in order to get Foot Soldiers moving again.

And guess what? The answers were there all along – like the statue imprisoned in the block of marble, waiting to be liberated.

The lesson? I guess you shouldn't underestimate the importance of momentum in your writing regime. Even if you're just doing a little bit every day, it means that your subconscious is constantly turning it over in a cool, dark part of your noddle, waiting for you to come and see what it's done.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Glad you worked through The Fear, Tom. At the moment I can only dream of getting to such a place where The Fear may actually strike, ie. it is at least a by-product of writing stuff, completing stuff, and getting it out there. Congrats on the interest and Eurscript shortlisting :). (PS Are you sure it's a new Cross pen and not a New Cross pen?)