This was the TV that started me on the road to script writing.
I watched it when it was broadcast, in 1996, sitting on the green velour family sofa. I was frozen to the velour: how did this happen when we were tuning in for something funny? How could Cassandra have lost her much-longed-for baby?
It is a stunning piece of writing. From Rodney’s despair through to Del’s rousing speech and delivering you to comedy. In just over two minutes.
OK, it may not be to your tastes, and thirty years might have dulled its edges, but this is real talent.
John Sullivan has put me through the wringer. He has made me feel, for those two minutes, that I really LIVED. Emotions which are dulled by the crushing daily routine, are roused and sated.
How often do you get something that makes you cry and then laugh into your handkerchief?
It’s Crème de Menthe.
I first came across these children’s books (“Help Me Be Good”, by John Berry) a few years ago. And do you know what; you can buy them IN A SET OF 16! So some lucky (evil) child can have a few weeks of instructive, moralistic bedtimes and have his or her problems exposed, worked through, and resolved.
“Sleep tight darling, tomorrow we’ll have ‘murderous thoughts’.”
Anyway, after the initial whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat these books got me thinking. Moralistic storytelling: it’s what we’re all about. And aren’t these books, in a very raw way, exactly what we writers peddle. And aren’t they a useful shorthand:
HORRIBLE BOSSES – “Being bossy”
SCOOBY DOO – “Snooping”
LIAR LIAR – “Telling lies”
It’s a huge weight upon our writer’s shoulders this moral upholding. We are the guardians of the nation’s standards, the instructors for a generation. What if we let the bad guy win, will people think deviousness pays? What if the good guy gets what he wants too easily, will people forget that success is hard work?
So I think, on reflection, I should buy this lovely set of books (only $99 plus shipping). They can be my writers bible. And besides, I’m intrigued by “Overdoing It.”
“The first draft of anything is shit“. Thanks Hemingway, you’re so right. Here I am on a break, taking a walk, trying to come to terms with my first draft HELL and I thought this bin summed up how I’m doing, creatively.
Draft one is multiple bags of the stuff.
I keep thinking of Hemingway because, my God, it’s so hard to get past this stage isn’t it? Creating something from nothing. Everything is wooden, characters are lifeless, situations are contrived. Everyone speaks the same and subtext is a few drafts away yet. Bags and bags of shit.
But I press on. With my walk and, back home, with my first draft, thinking of every hackneyed phrase ever invented: “get it written”, “writing is rewriting”, “just do it”.
It’s all true of course but it doesn’t make it any easier knowing I’m going to have to clear up after myself.