Sunday, 15 August 2010

Packing and radio plays

What exactly do you need to go away for a year? But still leaving stuff at home because you have to come home for Christmas and Easter. If I pack all my favourite books I feel like I'm leaving for good. So I'm just packing all the literary masterpieces I have bought in the last six months but haven't really read. I also seemed to have accumulated dozens of books on writing. I must just write a list. I go around thinking 'Oh, I must remember that...' and the list is growing. It's easier to focus on what the kids need, to be honest. But if I'm going to feel at home there (very important) and be able to relax enough to work, I must remember the desk and the computer chair, and cutlery is OK but without plates... I swerve between 'It's going to be exciting' and 'Oh, help, what the hell am I doing?'.

I have started chapter seven of A363 which is about radio plays. Now, I can't stand radio. I can't even listen to story tapes. I don't mind music of course, but I read fast, and anything going slower than my normal reading speed loses my interest. Strangely, I think this might be the dramatic medium that suits me best of the three on the course.The exercises get you looking at two short stories: A Real Durwan and Violin lessons, and frankly, I can't stand either of them having looked at them so much. I'm cheating and using my own short stories to write plays etc. from. Besides, that helps with the whole TMA thing, as one at least has to be a radio/stage/screen play.  We had to look at Rose Tremain's play, Temporary Shelter, which seems pretty straightforward. The problem is, the radio plays I have recently read off the BBC website are nothing like this sensible, structured, 'here are all the characters in this setting and here's what happens next'. So I had a go at activity 7.2 (Write a scene or two which establishes a holiday destination known to you (up to 700 words) and before I knew what was happening, I was pushing one of my charcaters off a cliff. 

I'm meandering over the poetry chapter too - it's essentially a free standing unit. In fact, it would work quite well as a last chapter of the Big Red Book poetry section. I decided to have a go at a sestina - but have decided it is ridiculously difficult to keep interest in 6 words repeating over 36 lines. The poetry TMA is 80-100 lines, and most of my poems are well under 20 lines. they have to be in sonnets or in sestinas, villanelles or pantoums. (I love that the spellcheck reads these as 'villainies and phantoms').

I watched an interview with David Almond and how he wrote Skellig. He had one line, sat down and let the story write itself. He was astonished as the readers to find the tramp in the shed has wings... when I'm writing well, that's what I do, just follow the characters (not as successfully as Almond, clearly!). The problem is, planning and trying to write more 'literary' work stops that flow, makes me self conscious and question. I've set myself the task of reading all Almond's other books, see where that first book flow took him.   

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