I have reaped the benefits from following the moto Carpe Diem, or just a general ‘why the hell not?’ philosophy in my writing.
We’ve all been in a work place where there’s been someone who is precious about their job. They’ll do what’s in their job description and not a bit more, compared to others who are willing to try something new, cover a different role, go on training days, deviate from their job description. And do you know what? That more willing person will have a more interesting job, a more exciting life and potentially be of more use to that company. Variety really is the spice of life, the thing that makes life more enjoyable.
So here’s my experience.
Last September our writers’ group was given the opportunity of writing a talking heads monologue lasting about fifteen minutes. At the time I was deep into re-writing the first draft of a middle grade book, trying hard to get it right. I’d had interest from agents previously and was hopeful that this would be The One. So it would have been perfectly understandable (and probably sensible!) for me to say, “Sorry, I’m focused on my goal, my life is busy, so I’ll give it a miss.” Besides, I’d never even written a screenplay before and hadn’t the vaguest idea how they work.
But I didn’t. I googled what a talking heads monologue was and discovered that Alan Bennett is the guru of this genre, so read his book ‘The Complete Talking Heads’ and watched them all on DVD. I loved them. They were just my thing; a concentrated dollop of character with a twist of plot.
So I wrote one. I re-wrote it a bit and sent it to a friend who had taught Alan Bennett at GCSE for years and adored his work. Gulp! Fortunately she liked it.
After tweaking and spending a morning on my own, reading it aloud with a generic northern accent, I sent it off to Wendy Freer from Pudding Bag Productions in Ashby. She replied saying she loved it!
Over the next few months I met Paul Smith, the actor who was to play my character, Colin, watched him reading the script, chatted with him about how he sees Colin, talked over how he portrays him and even saw the film being made. It has been a huge amount of fun.
This last Saturday I went along to the Venture Theatre in Ashby where my film was being shown, along with five others, as part of the Ashby Arts Festival. It was amazing! I was nervous but excited. Paul did an excellent job of capturing Colin and Wendy directed brilliantly, so I needn’t have worried. The audience even laughed at all the funny bits – something I was terrified might have been tumbleweed moments.
Afterwards, several people asked if I was interested in writing a full length play. One also suggested that my monologue would work well as a half hour TV program. All of these options were completely beyond what I thought I was capable of a year ago, but now they seem possible. Not that they’ll necessarily get performed, but that I am able to write them. Writing screenplays is now within my reach.
So my point is this. If an opportunity presents itself, grab it with both hands. You never know where it might lead. It will broaden your horizons, make the impossible seem possible and make you more rounded as a person. And life will be richer because of it. Go on – take that nerve-racking step outside of your comfort zone and start living!
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