Saturday, 30 November 2013

The View From Here

It's a funny thing time, I'm never sure if it goes too slowly or too fast.

Half way up my mountain, it seems as if this semester has gone in a blur of the other currency, and that I've been struggling to keep up. I'm doing Screenwriting this term and, if I'm honest, I've found it hard. Film doesn't feel like my natural language, I like film but I struggle to watch anything for too long; people who know me know that I'm not one for telly. I can only really settle to watching something when I'm at the cinema or what I'm watching is animated. Otherwise, if I'm honest, just sitting watching feels too passive, I prefer the more active, intimate, experience of reading. And I'm picky anyway, there are huge swathes of films I've not watched just because they have 'that guy' in them (asking me to remember actors' names is like asking me to do nuclear physics - doomed from the start, unless it's someone like Edward Woodward or Christopher Lee).

I wanted to do the module though in part because I think being able to write screen plays is a very useful skill to have, in part because it will hopefully make it easier to craft things like radio plays, comics and other non novel and prose shaped objects. It feels very versatile and like something I could use a great deal.

It's just not my natural way of telling stories.

Despite that, I think I'm getting there - it's just the work load feels heavier this term than it did in the spring. My novel work has stalled (again) in favour of mastering the new technique and the 'finish by Christmas' dream is well and truly popped. I hope to get some more of it done at the Christmas break but we'll have to see. On the plus side the people I farmed out what I've already written have all pretty much given me good feedback, which makes me happy.

I got my proposal for my Final Project in yesterday, which is gratifying (and I hope they take it because otherwise I'm at a loss as to what to do). The idea for the piece is a book of short stories in the world of one of my unpublished stories, Sacrifices. What I want to do is tell a set of stories which meld myth, fairy tale and folklore with fantasy fiction, making stories which explore female archetypes in fantastic settings with a snifter of feminism on the side. The genesis of the project actually lies with Sam Stone, who read Sacrifices in the summer and suggested that I expand the world and add more stories to flesh out the other characters.

I've mentioned authors like Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Juliet E McKenna and Emma Newman as being inspirations and touchstones for what I want to do; hopefully getting a balance between the various elements. Weirdly, my undergraduate dissertation was a political pieces about representation of gender in science fiction, largely coming down on the side that generally SF tows the line by sidelining female characters into traditional roles. Nearly twenty years later, I'm doing another piece that again focuses on gender, its just that this time the political angle is nowhere to be seen (or perhaps is relegated to third position, as I don't believe it's possible to talk about anything without some sort of political angle creeping in... )

Beyond that, it's just more climbing up the mountain.