I’ve been in Devonport for a week now and feel like I’m settling in. I surprised myself in how territorial I am – the Writer’s studio did not feel like “mine” until I had rearranged the furniture:
Plenty of light with the windows either side, facing a wall so I can post up notes and the bookcase within reach for textbooks etc.
Those eagle eyed may have spied some notes already on the wall (there are more above the desk out of shot) and there is also a jar of potato water/mashed potato/flour on the book shelf. Can you see them? I thought it would be nice to grow a Michael King Writers’ Centre Rewena bug. It’s in the studio because there’s one of those automatic flyspray things in the house and I don’t know how microorganisms fare in the wake of those intermittent pssts.
I’ve been here a week and I’ve yet to write my play; which is already tying me in knots of guilt even though I have been working. I thought I’d take advantage of the luxury of time as a full time writer and read some books about writing. I’ve finished reading The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri (it was mentioned by Christopher Vogler when he gave a seminar in Wellington on the Writer’s Journey). I’m mucking around with my premise at the moment. I’m hoping at the end of the exercise I will be able to actually answer the dreaded “So what is it about?” question with a confident… well, I’m still working on it!
Egri argues that once you have a strong premise character will unfold from it – that my character will be the only “person” in the world that can prove/disprove my premise; that they would be the type of person to get in that situation and to react in the way that they do. There’s also some interesting stuff about character arcs – how the transition from their emotional state in the beginning must track smoothly and logically to the state at the end.
The most interesting thing for me in the book was the little glimmer of bitchiness. Here’s my favourite quote:
Although it won the Pulitzer Prize, it is far from being a well constucted play.
OK – I’ve never read the play (Idiot’s Delight by Robert E Sherwood) so Egri may be right; but I’m pretty sure it must have some redeeming qualities if it won a Pulitzer Prize. A case of sour grapes? Maybe Egri’s on work was passed over for that playwright’s work? Or do writers’ create drama where there is none?
Speaking of which…
I was woken at 2.30 in the morning on Sunday by the other writer who was staying here because of a “situation”. By which she meant she was calling the cops because some kids were drinking (? I don’t actually know if they were drinking because she hadn’t looked out the window) on the tennis courts across the road. So I stayed up for a bit to appease her, desperate to tell her about the real situation that actually warranted calling the cops that had happened on this mountain’s namesake in Wellington.
When I was living at the Fever Hospital (yes the one that the SPCA plan to move into) a woman knocked at our door – her boyfriend had attempted to kill her and thought that she wouldn’t find any help in the middle of nowhere, but she found our place.
So I could have been a dick and said “This isn’t a situation, that was a situation”* but I held my tongue – the other writer did, after all, run out of the room when I was watching the mild “thriller” The Return (and no it wasn’t because of the bad acting – I had sat through The Princess Diaries 2 with her).
No drama here. None whatsoever.
(Can you tell I’m reading about subtext now?)
*hands up everyone who thought of Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee. If you didn’t – re-read that bit in an Aussie accent. If you’re too young to remember Crocodile Dundee, the Simpsons parodied it in the episode when Bart goes to Australia and the Aussie sayss to him: “I see you’ve played knifey, spoony before”…and if you’re too young to remember that – Youtube them.