Falling Behind and Catching Up
So there I was saying in my last post how I had boxed off Feb 1st through to Feb 9th to write my novella, with the intention of doing it how I’d done my first nanowrimo last year, by writing 2667 words a day.
A pretty easy work load – except on Friday January 31st, I ended up going out for drinks with a few friends and having a couple more beers than I had originally intended. But, here’s where the years of working at the discipline required to finish scripts – discipline that was fortified by finishing my first nanowrimo by successfully hitting my 80k word limit – came into play. In years gone by, if I set myself a target and contrived to go off course, I’d usually just give up and coast along until the motivation grew once more to the point I was in the right space and frame of mind to set a new target and go again. Not these days though. On Sunday I settled in and reeled off the 5,334 words needed to get back on track. Of course, hitting targets and having the discipline to follow through on what you set out to do is a good habit to good into, even if it isn’t exactly, well, a guarantee of great quality – just having the discipline to finish a story I mean. It sure helps you get shit done though, and if you never finish, you never know, and not finishing stories is a problem I know a lot of writers have after the initial buzz of starting has faded.
It occurred to me as I was working my way through the first few chapters of this novella that I don’t yet have a title for that I’ve assembled quite the bizarre assortment of characters; a Tourettes sufferer, a woman who’s living room is covered with self portraits of herself that she has drawn and a young man who has an interesting way of unwinding that I actually don’t want to spoil right now.
At the heart of this is a dark story about, among other things, repentance, regret and mortality. But there is definitely an absurd element that comes through here and there, which, the further I get into the story, reveals itself to me as a definite shift in the way I handle certain themes. Whenever I used to tackle anything dark or heavy, I really accentuated these qualities above all others, to the point the story would be dripping in this, oppressive atmosphere. Now though my stories have far more contrast and moments that if anything, heighten those more oppressive moments. I think that, on balance, this is a good shift and development.
I discovered the interviewer Charlie Rose on YouTube over the weekend and I thought I’d just quickly mention how much I like his interviewing style. I suppose on the surface that may seem a slightly odd thing to say, but I’ve always believed that being a good interviewer is an art form in itself. To be able to draw your guests out of themselves so that they give interesting, informative and engaging answers is definitely a skill.
When I watch an interview, especially with an actor or director or writer, I really want to get to know what their feelings and thoughts are; what their specific, individual take on the creative process is in whatever artistic capacity they work in. It always fascinates me and there’s a skill in not just asking the right questions, but in the silence after asking the question. A silence that demands true reflection, a silence that isn’t awkward because the interviewer has set the tone. And the ability to remain silent and let the interviewee have the time to get to their point – rather then some who always feel the need to jump in and interrupt the flow with their own little inane observations and points.
To me an interviewer has to have a mix of congeniality mixed with a natural gravitas, whilst also being slightly deferential but not so much that you come off as sycophantic, something that would sour the whole mix. For me, you can see all of these little subtle things going on when you watch a good interviewer at work and I think Charlie Rose is a good exponent of this.
After that I should probably include a video, so here –
Today, I’m going to go for this, a cracking song from a cracking album that I can’t believe is nine years old.
Oh yes, and that 365 self portrait thing, I’m thinking I’ll start from my 28th birthday next Monday.