Last night was the first time I’d noticed it. Around half-past eight. That wonderfully Irish thing. A sign of nature trundling forward, despite, or in spite of, the rest of us. A grand stretch in the evening. I’d been oblivious to it. My evenings (and much of my days) have been taken up lately with getting a first draft of my feature done. I’ve been writing most evenings until it was dark outside; only noticing it when I needed caffeine and suddenly realised I was sitting in a dark room and the day had disappeared. Last night was different. I finished a bit earlier than usual because I was finished my first draft. Finished my first draft. Sure, the page count isn’t quite where I was aiming, and to be honest it’s a bit of a mess, but it’s done. I have the bare bones of my screenplay completed. I’m delighted with that even though I’ve a lot of redrafting to do. There are several scenes that I’ve already decided need a major revamp, and even more ideas that have come to me to make the story work better. Characters will probably change a little too. But the bones are there.
After I clicked “save” on the first draft I made myself a celebratory cup of tea, partially because I wanted tea but also because it was in keeping with what my characters would’ve done; Val would’ve put the kettle on and we’d have made some space in her cluttered living room to sit and drink. And that’s what happens. The story becomes real; the characters do and stay things that I wouldn’t have thought they would. And the things I think should happen simply don’t fit into the story anymore. I’ve found myself rereading some dialogue and thinking “did I write that?”. The answer is that odd reply of yes and no. Of course I wrote it- it all comes from me but something else happens that isn’t quite as tangible. It’s a possession of sorts and only writing it out can exorcise it. This is probably one of the reasons I’m also a firm advocate of writing for personal and therapeutic reasons too. Whatever it is, it needs to be birthed. Characters and stories are like that. They persist in scratching my insides until I let them out or they drive me crazy. For now, I’m a bit more relaxed. The last few weeks have been frantic and stressful but with the first draft of Grand complete I can breathe a bit easier.
Next week I’m off to the beautiful Gregynog in rural Montgomeryshire where I’ll spend a few days workshopping my script at a writers’ retreat. My plan is to then redraft my script over the summer months and have a final draft ready for September. After that, we’ll see. I find it hard to keep so many things on the back burner but I can only work on two (three at most) stories at any one time. Grand is my main focus at the moment but my short script Gig has been optioned (technically anyway) and hopefully that’ll be produced over the summer. I’ve also got an almost finished stage play (still my first love) that I need to reengage with. Those 1950s Chicago gays are still impatiently waiting to get out. Soon boys, soon.