So there are a few people waiting to see the next draft of my play – and some of them even know they’re waiting for it. That’s obviously fantastic and I’m also feeling pretty good because I’ve actually written it now. All that hot air about how, oh yes, lots of ideas, absolutely, that’s now in fact done. I’m at the stage of refusing to look at the script for a short while because otherwise you know I’ll send it out and about one buggersecond later I’ll realise something.
And there’s thing with Piers Beckley and the BBC Drama Writing Academy: I’m waiting to hear he gets in, partly of course because that would be a good thing, but also because I’m looking forward to raging with vivid green jealousy.
But the truth is that what I should actually be doing now is writing my entry for the Red Planet contest.
And I’m not.
I mean, I’ve read the opening ten pages of every script I’ve written, in order to see if one of those will fly. There were a dozen, would you believe that? Twelve whole scripts, not including the dogs. Either I’m prolific or I’m rubbish but this is not the kind of question to ponder when you’re entering a competition.
Still, some of the twelve look pretty good. None that I don’t want to radically change, but good.
And Danny Stack recommended at the launch of this contest that we should read the opening ten pages of any scripts we really rate, to see what makes their start so good. Can’t fault that advice, it’s smart, but I just turned to my shelves and there must be over a thousand screenplays there in one form or another. I read a few West Wings. Shawshank. Trainspotting. Some Jack Rosenthal, some Alan Plater, John Hopkins, Troy Kennedy Martin, William Goldman, Paddy Chayefsky. Russell T Davies. Actually, I haven’t re-read any of Davies’s, I’ve just had a great time re-reading his introductions. In both the Queer as Folk and Doctor Who script books he does his intros as scripts and they are joyous.
Funny, though: no women in that list. I’ve just had to hunt to see that I do have Caroline Aherne, Connie Booth and Victoria Wood scripts. Oh! Also Emma Thompson’s tremendous Sense & Sensibility. Oh Plus! Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Made me weep, that did.
But this is a big surprise to me, big enough that I’ve just been knocked off the point I was building up to. Mind if I just explore a concern here? I’m honestly stunned that my collection could be so impossibly male-biased. Dare I turn to my right to where the novels are? Jeanette Winterson again, Carrie Fisher, lots and lots of Margery Allingham, some Patricia Cornwall from before I got too scared to read those. One Jane Asher (you should really try hers: she has a great way of building a brooding tension). Patricia Highsmith. Helene Hanff. A bit of Bronte. A bit of Austen. Oooh, another Jane Asher. What happened to alphabetical order? And is Leslie Thomas a man or a woman?
It’s not like I buy to a quota, this is just years of what I was drawn to. But I’m surprised because the reason I’m a writer is Lou Grant, the MTM television drama from the late 1970s and part of that show was watching how two writers whose work I admired climbed up the credits. One of them is Michelle Gallery who seemed to vanish a bit after that show but pops up occasionally with movie-of-the-week kind of screenplays. And then there’s April Smith who I’m really excited to see has returned to TV. I only looked at her site to get the address for you and there it is, after a strong TV career and then latterly many years of writing novels, she’s nipping back onto the telly.
So I’m happy again now, just enough to take my mind off this whole gender-stereotyping thing and back onto the point.
Which is that I’m latching on to any excuse not to write the ten pages I should for the contest. We all have a self-distract button and I am thumping mine repeatedly.
You may have noticed.
I even updated my website, williamgallagher.com with some new bits and pieces.
Cleaned the house.
Wrote a piece in this week’s Radio Times magazine about the locations used in Harry Potter films.
Wrote up the results of a poll RT magazine has run about the best science fiction and fantasy shows. It’s in next week’s issue. Which reminds me, I had this exchange about the final pages with the art editor yesterday:
ART EDITOR: I don’t know if they’ve been changed since you wrote the copy but it’s very funny now.
ME: Definitely changed, then.
Alphabetised my book collection.
It’s not that I’m struggling to find an idea, incidentally. I have one. It’s just unfortunately absolutely 100% perfect for an existing TV series which will never, absolutely 100% never, look at a spec script. And one of the producers is on the panel for this Red Planet comp. There is no possible way in which I should write this script.
So I’m writing this script, right, and – actually, yes, I am writing it. Pointless, really, but you know what it’s like when you’re reading something you can’t put down? When you’ve got to turn that page? I’m unable to shake this idea and I want to see what I can do with it. So I’m writing a script I’ll never send to anyone.
Had a bath.
Played Scrabble a lot.
Refused to buy Suzanne Vega’s new album until I’ve written the ten pages for the comp.
Decided what I really need to write the ten pages is to buy Suzanne Vega’s new album.
And now, you’re the only one standing between me and the pages. I’ll take any suggestion for how I can prevaricate more, anything.
Hey! It’s gone one o’clock! I’m going to break the habit of a working lifetime and have lunch. You’re brilliant, thank you.