The Writing Journal #53

His Dark Materials got off to a wonderful start last night and promises to be an exhilarating Sunday night treat to carry us into Christmas. There are many reasons for me to be excited by this, not least the fact that it was filmed just down the road from me and demonstrates, once again, the magnificent creativity that can be found in Wales, but there are some out there who have used its launch to question how much fantasy there is across TV (this bizarrely-written article in The Guardian, for example). Clearly, the massive impact of Game of Thrones has led to a rush of fantastical drama that shows no signs of slowing yet, but does that mean there’s too much fantasy in our lives, and should we be trying to reign it in a bit?

In a word, no. First and foremost, fantasy’s bloody good fun, and I will always advocate that the world needs more fun, fantasy, and dragons, regardless of what’s happening elsewhere! On another level, though, fantasy and science-fiction are important genres to have at our disposal, more so now than ever before, as they allow us to explore the big “What if?” questions that real-life drama sometimes can’t. What if corporations are allowed to run roughshod over democracy? What if religious extremism eradicates scientific rationale? What if artificial intelligence and technology grows beyond our control? What if we ignore climate science and the planet burns? Arguably, these are all plausible scenarios for the next fifty years, yet they cannot be tackled by conventional drama alone. We need fantasy to explore them in an environment that is fictional enough to be separate, yet real enough to resonate, and that’s what shows like Westworld, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, The Handmaid’s Tale and now His Dark Materials do for us with their worlds that are fantastical yet familiar at the same time. Characters in fantasy worlds can make the mistakes so that we can learn from them before we condemn ourselves, perhaps irreversibly, to a similar dystopian fate. With so many global challenges about to sneak up on us, perhaps the real question is whether we have enough fantasy/sci-fi on our TV screens?…

Target Number 1: Spend a minimum of 20 hours editing the novel

Status – ACHIEVED 😊

By the skin of my teeth once more, 20hrs and 7mins of editing was achieved for October to avoid a second month in a row of not meeting this particular target. It was much closer than I anticipated this time last week, largely due to the amount of work that needed to go into the feature mood-board over the last few days (more on that in a moment), but with a concerted effort yesterday I was able to sneak over the line in the end.

Target Number 2: Complete the visual mood-board for the feature film.

Status – FAILED ☹

It feels strange to say failure on this one because so many positives have come from working on it this month! But, true to the rules of the game, the mood-board is not yet in a state that is ready to be released to the world, and so therefore not completed, despite most of my working hours being dedicated to it last week!

One of the reasons it’s taken this long is because it has gone through a very fluid process to get to this point. It’s taken at least three different forms in the last month alone, and even now I’m still debating a fourth approach that might potentially be more beneficial. It’s gone through so many forms that I’m now not even convinced about calling it a mood-board anymore! The one thing that has remained a constant throughout the process, however, is the renewed sense of confidence it has given me in this particular project moving forward, and the knock-on effects that will have in pushing my screenwriting career forward in the months ahead. With another push now in the next few days, I’m confident that the mood-board, and by extension the pitch for this feature, will be ready enough to at least get the ball rolling again with my producer which will be a very exciting turn of events to lead us into 2020.

With the penultimate month of 2019 upon us, it’s time to set some new writing targets to see out the last autumn month…

Target Number 1: Spend a minimum of 20 hours editing the novel

This should come as no surprise to anyone any more. Whilst other projects vie for more immediate attention, the twenty-hour editing goal is a challenging enough target to keep the novel not only in my thoughts but also making progress.

Target Number 2: Write the Poor Uncle Dave Christmas Special

Poor Uncle Dave passed 500 listens last week, which is pretty good for a project I wrote, produced, performed, and edited myself on a budget of £25! The support has been incredible to date, and has shown that there is an audience out there for these stories which is very encouraging indeed. Seeing its continued popularity despite a lack of new episodes has made me realise that there could be an opportunity to create something special with it if the series as a whole receives more attention, from audiences but also from me! Since Christmas specials are a cultural staple, and I bloody love Christmas anyway, it seems like the perfect way to reinvigorate Poor Uncle Dave as an audio-series, before getting more episodes ready for early 2020.

A new project and a novel this November, alongside a renewed drive to push the feature forward with my producer. No time to sit around gathering dust, then. Well, not “dust” of that kind, anyway…

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