Writer’s blog, Week 10, Tuesday

Blog4Mar14a Happy birthday, Bobby Womack. It’s traditional for me to say that on my birthday. It’s my birthday. I’m still, miraculously, in my 40s, and found a single grey hair in one of my eyebrows the other day which I have yet to pluck expertly out for visual continuity. I feel OK, thanks. My eyesight is not as sharp as it was last year when I tried to avoid seeing the Oscar winners on breakfast news while I was on the treadmill in the gym (planning to watch the whole ceremony, as live, during the day) – what I’m saying is: it was a little bit easier to do so yesterday.

Clearly, I am giving myself the day off. (It was a close-run thing last night when I was called up at the last moment to spend at least part of today in the offices of a Shoreditch-based production company where I’m helping another writer storyline the second series of her sitcom, but I was stood down about an hour later, so the day is back to being my own again.) Even when you’re self-employed, as I have been now since I was 32, you have the moral right to give yourself the day off without written warning, especially when you’ve been routinely working weekends since Christmas. I am going to see a gay film.

It seems, momentarily, to have stopped raining, which is a plus. And there are two baby sparrows in the back garden, hopping optimistically about. I have delivered a workable draft of Drama A, as I am calling it, so the waiting game begins. Torture, in other words. Meanwhile, what I shall herewith name Sitcom A (as the previous Sitcom A has been rejected by the BBC, so this one moves up to most-likely-to position) seems to be enjoying a shot in the arm, in the form of interest from a performer who might consider taking the lead role, which will really raise its game when we request a “table read” as a way of impressing upon its potential commissioning editor that he should commission it. We already have a fine cast assembled, but the lead pulled out, and the replacement is a much bigger name, so maybe it was for the best.

ACBNRTOscars

Not that anybody really cares, but of the eight main Oscar categories I was forced to predict for Radio Times, alongside my teen-cinephile hero Barry Norman (another annual tradition), I got half right. The one I wished I’d got right was Best Adapted Screenplay for Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for Philomena, which went to John Ridley for 12 Years A Slave. I enjoyed watching the whole extravaganza play out in “real time” during the day yesterday, with coffee and chocolate. I’ve been measuring out my life in Oscar ceremonies since I was that young teenager, steered into film appreciation by the BBC’s Film programme and not just Barry, but a string of replacements they put into his swivel chair in – I think – 1981: Ian Johnstone, Michael Wood among them. I’ve taken films seriously ever since.

I had a two-page feature printed in the Guardian yesterday about TV medical documentaries. I’m very proud of it. You can read it here. It’s proper, and a nice little marker flag on my CV: first two-page feature in G2. Like Matthew McConaughey says, if you make yourself in ten years’ time your hero today, you will never attain the position of “hero” but it will always give you someone to aim for. I’m definitely not the “hero” of myself in 2004, so maybe his crackpot, God-fearing theory holds some water.

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7 thoughts on “Writer’s blog, Week 10, Tuesday

  1. Happy Birthday! I enjoyed your G2 article. I can’t say that I’m likely to deliberately watch An Hour To Save Your Life but having sat through the odd episode of 999: What’s Your Emergency it does give you a huge admiration for the work that those services do (not least the amount of patience they have).

    Good luck with Drama A and Sitcom A. Can I ask whether the influence of video-on-demand services (Netflix etc) has had an influence on your writing yet? Specifically, it feels that some of the tropes of screenwriting, such as having self-contained episodes and ending on a cliffhanger, no longer apply when watching drama in a non-live context.

  2. So that’s why you responded to only a few snarky comments on Telly Addict. Hope you had a pleasant day. God, I hate Matthew McConaughey., Yes, he can act, but he’s the quintessential southern gentleman, my least favorite U.S. male type. When he’s in a decent film, I briefly forgive him for being such a narcissistic jerk. I became serious about movies when I read a book that encouraged me to attend as many as possible and not to be afraid to go alone. It was the 1970s, and we had only one pathetic movie theater in my town, but I saw at least two movies a week, and at university I saw as many as eight each weekend. Now it’s much easier to fill the love, even though I still live in the middle of nowhere.

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