theatre

Happy New Year

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It’s been a while since I’ve blogged on here, and to be honest I feel a bit bad about that.

A couple of reasons really, I’ve been busy writing two plays and continueing with all the other writing commitments that I have. I’m struggling with an ongoing back problem which has made it just bareable to carry on working, but leaving me exhausted in the evening and just being damn right lazy.

I’m still to blog about my trip to NYC, the saga with my ailing back and my Christmas radio play.

For the person who read a review I did about a certain play that I endured at The Lowry who went on to say that I was a frustrated writer and hadn’t finished anything. Well I have and I had a radio play broadcast four times over Christmas. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Eve. I’m also well on my way to writing two out of six episodes of my comedy drama “The Starr GIrls” – yes you read it here first. Determined to get those finished and hopefully graduate this year with my MA in Television and Radio Scriptwriting, unless my back gets in the way. It would be a fabulous achievement to have completed my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in my thirties.

With the new year comes those awful new years resolutions. What is it that a different day, brings with it a time of reflection and the need to change things about oneself.

I don’t like new years resolutions – I much prefer to set myself targets. That way if I fail miserably I won’t feel like such a failure which I think with resolutions you do. I know, it’s the same thing really isn’t it?

What are yours? I love finding out from people.

I’m going to be joining weightwatchers again on Thursday – along with half of the population I suspect. I don’t know what’s happened to me in the past 18 months but my will power got up and left me, and with it it’s left some extra flab and a horrendous sweet tooth. I managed to lose a couple of stones before I started the job where I am now. But overtime it’s slowly crept back on. Not helped with having to decrease my exercise when my back started giving me hell shortly after returning from holiday in September. So back to fat club I will go, back to counting points, being hungry and if I am a grumpy cow at the moment it will get worse when my belly is screaming out for snickers and custard creams.

Facebook. Oh yes indeed this one rears it’s ugly head as I realise how much time I spend reading posts every day. I have eased myself off posting things on there other than posters, captions etc but I do need to stop reading it before I get up in the morning. It winds me up – full of attention seekers, show offs, baby bores or moaners. I much prefer twitter and have a fondness for a number of my followers, but just love the way I can watch TV and find out the opinion of others who are watching the same show as me. Powerful stuff.

I’ve already mentioned trying to pass my degree this year. I’m also going to try and not be a doormat that certain people in my life only contact when they want something. In future I am going to put myself first, and to stop tieing myself in knots to try and please folk.

Every payday I am going to treat myself to an item of clothing. Over Christmas I have looked through my wardrobe which is full of clothes which I never wear anymore, clothes that are faded and tattered. I have a couple of pairs of shoes and that is all. I realise that I really need to invest in making myself feel better about myself and it starts with clothes. A woman of my age should not live in converse, and work shoes – have no clothes to go shopping in other than jeans and a hoodie. No more, I wouldn’t think twice about spending money on my kids so it’s time to spend a little on myself.

And that’s it. There’s enough there to keep me going in 2014. We’ll see how many I actually achieve by the time I reach the end of this year. But, no matter what I do or don’t achieve this year one thing I did do was finally go to New York City. If I never do anything more with my life at least I have the fabulous memories of that wonderful city.

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22 July : Advice to aspiring writers #wpad

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Hardly think it’s appropriate for me to offer advice to aspiring writers given that I am one of those myself.

However, there are a few things that I have done which have assisted me with my writing.

• Register for a writing course. It wasn’t until I began on my masters degree that I realised that I knew nothing about structure, characterisation, plot, narrative, genre and a host of other essential ingredients that make a good story. Local colleges and theatre groups also run sessions on writing which are not as expensive as university. I have undertaken two sessions of a Writing for Stage course which I found extremely helpful. It’s also good to be mixing with other writers.

• Start a blog and write about anything.

• Join twitter. I follow dozens of writers and it’s a great way to communicate with one another. There is also a valuable twitter forum called #scriptchat where a different member of the industry is on hand on a Sunday evening to answer any questions that are tweeted (in 140 characters though).

• Write for e-zines. The more articles you have published, the more of a portfolio you create for yourself.

• Write every day. I cannot stress that enough, the more you write the better you will get at it.

• Read.

• Make contact with other writers, it can be a lonely time so being able to communicate with somebody who knows what you are going through makes it seem all the better.

• For any scriptwriters, go to the London Screenwriters Festival in October. I went for the first time last year and it was well worth the money. There are so many guest speakers and workshops and I felt so motivated after the weekend. I cannot wait for this year’s festival, and I may just be brave enough to pitch my current project to industry members.LSF2

This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of July.

1 July : What I write #wpad

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Firstly I have decided to take on the http://www.writesofluid.com blog challenge again for the month of July. I participated in the June challenge right up to day twenty-five and then due to what I can only describe as pure exhaustion from not only the busiest month at work, but also a deadline for my MA, I couldn’t force myself to switching on my laptop for a few days.

After a weekend of what can only be described as pure relaxation I am ready to get that brain into gear and those fingers engaged again. Having a daily challenge is just what I need and the prompts for July look rather stimulating. And, of course every new follower that I get for my blog gives me a few minutes of feeling good about myself – and everybody should have something in their lives that makes them feel thankful.

Onto challenge number one What I write? Let me tell you that whatever it is that I write, it’s always a lot easier when I have done some of this – see photograph of me in Florence……….Adventure in Europe 2012 527

What I like to write are scripts, as I enjoy writing dialogue and thinking of ways to show the audience what is going on in a story without having to write dialogue for it. That isn’t always easy. Creating characters is always exciting, as you start out with perfection. A name, age and sex of a character which you then start chipping away with flaws, hang-ups and obstacles until what is left is a fully rounded person who is going to drive a story through those flaws rather than having them happen. It sounds simple, but getting the characters right for the story is taxing.

I wrote a radio script late last year which I really enjoyed as writing for that medium is different from television and stage writing. Radio writing is something that I intend on going back to after I have completed my MA project. I’m attending a one day writing for radio workshop in London in a couple of weeks and am hoping to get some inspiration for a future project from there.

I write plays, although I can’t really call myself a playwright yet as I haven’t actually finished one yet. I have two plays which have been performed in a read through by actors, but finding the time to complete them is another matter.

I write theatre reviews for http://www.publicreviews.com and http://www.thegoodreview.co.uk

Reviewing for theatre has enriched my life more than I could have expected. I’ve been only doing it for six months but I have experienced some wonderful shows, and some not so great. I have met actors, writers and other reviewers through it. It’s a great way to see lots of different shows and not have to be a financial burden. Through this I have discovered the Manchester fringe scene which I wasn’t really aware of before, and it has given me the incentive to firstly try and write a complete play of my own, and to also get it put on in Manchester. Reviewing shows is also gold for a writer as it enables you to see many stories being told and be able to analyse why some work and some don’t. Hearing other writers voices also helps with having your own voice.

Finally the blog http://www.northernscribbler.com although it is often hit and miss whether I post anything.

For now though, my focus for my writing is for my MA in Television and Radio Scriptwriting. Passing the course is my priority for 2014, after that who knows where the scribbling will take me.

This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of July.

Self-promotion : Challenge 23

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It’s all well sitting behind a screen and dreaming that one you’d like to see your play on a stage being performed by actors, or listening to a piece of radio that you wrote etc. This will only happen once you get your name out and the internet is a great place to start.

The goal is visibility. Name recognition can lead to industry awareness, respect, paid writing assignments, and greater creative control over your career. That would be a nice goal to aspire to, but I still need to pay the bills and working full time in the day job will be a reality for years to come. Somehow, Hollyoaks or Corrie aren’t going to come knocking, unless I can go to them with some credits to my name.

The first stop was to get some work published online so I sent off my CV and examples of written features. Two e-zines took me on as a features writer so long as I could contribute three articles per month. The first time I saw an article that I had penned published online with my name next to it, well that was a nice feeling. Always great to see your name next to something that you have put heart and soul into.

The next piece of advice I was given was to start a blog. Having no idea what I would write about, the only thing at the time that I felt confident writing about was running. My first blog title Sweaty Betty was born. I wrote in that for approximately nine months. Due to a serious back injury which affected my running, I neglected this and felt that I wasn’t in the position to blog on that subject given the current circumstances with my health.

I don’t know about other people, but thinking of a name for a blog is not the easiest of things to come up with. I rattled my brains for weeks to think of a catchy title, that would not only sum me up, but also be a reference to what my interests were. I wanted the blog to reflect my journey as a struggling writer, and then The Northern Scribbler was born.

The blog has only been live for nine months, but already has over 1800 views, and I’m pretty sure they are not all from my mum and the other half. It’s always a massive compliment when a complete stranger decides to follow my blog, as they don’t know me and they have taken the time to sign up to an email notification everytime I post something. I currently have 42 people who have signed up to following my blog and I appreciate every single one of them.

I’ve been taking part in @sofluid June writing challenge this month. I decided to participate as my entries to the blog were very sporadic and I wanted to spark some life into the site. As a result of doing this challenge the creator of http://www.writesofluid.com wanted to feature me in an interview about the challenge. This was a really nice request, I’ve never been interviewed for anything before – except jobs, and quite a compliment to be featured next to “proper published authors”.scribbler

Finally, in order for me to gain a greater knowledge of stories and structure I decided to become an online theatre reviewer. It’s a great way to see live shows and Manchester is rich in the arts industry, both with our fantastic The Lowry, Opera House and the Royal Exchange Theatre, but also it has a large fringe theatre scene which seems to be growing. Being part of this is such a privilege, and is also a cost effective way to see lots of exciting plays.
This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June.

Networking : Challenge 22

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Networking is something that haunts me deeply. Having previously written about the subject after my poor networking performance at London Screenwriters Festival 2012 http://thenorthernscribbler.com/2012/11/14/knowledgeispower/

After writing that post back in November 2012, I made a commitment to do two things, the first is to try and collect five business cards at this year’s London Screenwriters Festival 2013. The second was that I bought a Networking book and was going to put some of the ideas into practice.

The first aim is still in my list of things to do this year. I can’t wait for the festival and this year I am going for longer so that I can attend the Save the Cat Wednesday event. So, that’ll be five days away in London, which means that I need to secure one business card, or email address per day.

Sounds so simple when it is dissected like that. But, when you are as introvert as me, it is a horrible prospect. networking

I have been assessing my lack of networking skills since last years festival. It’s not so much that I am painstakingly shy, it’s just that I don’t feel comfortable starting conversations with strangers. If they start conversations with me, I am absolutely fine and can chat as good as most people.

Networking is an odd situation to be honest. A lot of the time it feels forced, and I am sure I wasn’t the only one at the festival last year who found it uncomfortable. Talking about yourself to a complete stranger feels alien to me. I struggle at the best of times, let alone people I have never met before.

But, I have been trying to improve on it this year. I read some of the book that I mentioned in the post that I wrote in November.

My first accomplishment was soon after starting to read the book. It suggested to find something visual that you could use to start a conversation.

So, I was warming my soup up in the communal kitchen at work. In my building, which is in MediaCity we are joined by so many different people, who are either attending conferences, masterclasses, hiring the facilities etc. Basically, you never know who you’ll meet.

Back to the story. I’m warming my soup up and the gentleman next to me is making cups of coffee. Right, my head is saying, be brave and make chit-chat with this man. See what happens – if it goes tits up, then get the soup, and run back to your office vowing never to engage in small talk again. But for now, I’m going to do this. Now, what I can talk about? Find something visual, find something visual…..

The gentleman then starts to dry a teenage mutant hero turtle cup. That’s my way in, just like the book says. So, I take a deep breath and say “retro cup? I preferred the ninja turtles myself”. I almost broke into a sweat as I realised that I haven’t a feckin clue about the turtles ,and if he starts to talk about them then I am screwed. The closest I can get to turtle talk is that I have “Turtle Power” on vinyl. Why start talking about something you have no idea about.

Thankfully, neither had he. It wasn’t his cup, it was the artistic director for the theatre group he belonged to. He was an actor, in rehearsals in our building before moving to The Lowry for four nights performances. See – I got all that information from warming my soup up.

Lucky for me my first encounter at networking was with a theatre actor who are generally larger than life. I tried making small talk the other night with another writer, and it was painful. She seemed even more introverted than me so there was a lot of looking around the room, checking mobiles and looking at the time.

I won’t give up though. Two affirmations I try to live by (among others).
1) Do something every day that scares you.
2) If something scares you keep doing it until it doesn’t.

2 June 2013 – This month’s aim

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Following on from my previous blog in which I am undertaking http://www.writesofluid.com challenge of blogging every day in June. The site has a specific topic for the writer to scribe about.

The topic for the 2 June 2013 challenge is this month’s aim.

This one will be short and brief.

I have a portfolio for my masters degree due in on the 21 June and I am hoping and praying that I finish that piece of work in time – therefore that is this month’s aim.

The portfolio is a selling document for my idea for a six part comedy drama that I will be writing from September onwards. I have a one page treatment, two page treatment, four page outline, character biographies, the pilot episode and finale episode in step outline format, plus I have to write a two thousand word self-reflective essay on how I found the whole process.

These pieces of work have been produced over the semester, to which I received feedback from my tutor and my peers but now I have to rewrite them following on from the feedback. I know I will do it, but I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to make sure that although I am working on this, that it doesn’t affect the time I spend with my children, or at least I limit how much it affects on time with them.

cap and gown

Characters coming to life

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I’m sure Sally Wainwright, Tony Marchant and the likes still get a buzz from seeing carefully crafted characters brought to life in front of them. So far in my writing career I’ve experienced this twice.

The first time was just before Christmas when a radio play that I was co-writing was recorded in a radio studio at the university by performance students. I remember walking to the studio and overhearing a young actress practicing her lines with a Polish accent. This made me chuckle to myself as this character that she was rehearsing was the character that I created for the radio drama series.

On top of my scriptwriting I have also been taking a short course in Writing for Stage. This was run by The Houldsworth, a new fringe theatre in the Northern Quarter in Manchester. Each week we would look at various aspects of storytelling such as creating characters, structure, dialogue and stage directions in the hope that by the final week we would have a few scenes of a play that could be performed live.

Last weekend was the final week of the beginners course, and the session was dedicated to actors performing our selected scenes. Although slightly nervous at the prospect that what appears in my head and onto paper will not match what appears on stage – the experience was one that I had been looking forward to in the run up to the weekend.

It did not disappoint.

Five actors who work closely with The Houldsworth Rep Theatre gave up their Saturday to perform extracts from several plays all written by the course members.

Most of the playwrights felt slightly anxious as soon as their play was the next one to be performed, but the actors did a sterling job and hearing words that first are heard in your head, to being performed in character by a professional was one of the most satisfying experiences a writer can have.