Monthly Archives: September 2010

Quarter

Autumn is here. It’s getting dark much earlier, there’s a distinct chill in the air all of a sudden, and the rain beating down on my roof reminds me of the guy who played the bongo drums in the flat above me in 2003. All that remains is for the leaves to fall off the trees and the clocks to go back.

The end of September means that I’m now three-quarters of the way through this One A Day adventure. The last few weeks have been hard going when it comes to inspiration for blog entries (as difficult as Brian Cox having to listen to David Starkey on Question Time this evening without throttling him), but now that I can see the finishing line not too far ahead of me, I want to ensure that the final three months are the best ones yet in terms of content. (I know, I know: not difficult.) Only one major hurdle lies ahead – my holiday to Grenada in November. Two weeks of sun, sand and sea beckon, but I’m going to have to think about exactly how I’m going to update The Mirrorball while I’m there. I don’t even know if there will be Internet access anywhere nearby. If there isn’t, I kinda have a plan. But it’s going to require a lot of work. Anyway, here’s to the final three months of our depleted but determined One A Day crew. To victory!

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Appraisals

I’ve been thinking about appraisals, due to the fact that the revised opening to my novel is likely to partly centre around one. I’m kinda ripping from myself, since my TV pilot script “Jump!” also featured an appraisal, though in a very different form. But I think that such horrors are dreaded by pretty much everyone. I remember my own appraisals when I was working for RBS back in the day. The managers absolutely hated having to do them, as they were just as baffled by the “Key Performance Indicators” speak as the people they were meeting with, more than annoyed by the wordy bollocks in front of them which meant absolutely nothing.

Seriously, appraisal forms go on and on without containing anything of substance. But these events are a way in for a reader to empathise with the character who has to go through them. Personal experience should create a bond here. I’m creating an unfair appraisal from hell, with a witch from HR and the worst boss in the world chiming in, and it’s all going to link up with the other events which form my main character Sebastian’s day from hell. In theory, this will expand the backstory and allow the reader get to know Sebastian before the shit really hits the fan. And then everything’ll be fine.

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R&R

Today was looking like it was going to be the latest continuation of my bad luck. This afternoon I had another rejection from an agent, and needless to say, I was disappointed and starting to think that I was cursed. Following a quick email back and forth, though, the rejection inexplicably turned into an R&R (revise and resubmit), which is unusual to say the least. The upshot is that if I can sort out the problems with the novel’s opening, then there’s still a possibility that the agent concerned will represent me.

This has given me the impetus to rewrite the opening chapters of the novel again. To be honest, it’s been an inevitability since a theme started emerging in the rejections (basically: great premise, you can write, character motivation at the start doesn’t quite work), and I’d been waiting for this particular agent’s feedback before deciding what to do. So now I just have to sit down and bloody well nail it.

I’ll let you know how I get on. Major brainstorming ahead. I think I’m just one rewrite away from amaze, and I have a feeling that once I leap over this hurdle, the novel as a whole will really come together.

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Monday Blues

I’m not having a great time at the moment. It’s three quarters of the way through the year and I still don’t have a literary agent, so I’m starting to feel like I’m going to fail in my New Year’s Resolution. I’m really not enjoying my job (as readers of last week’s blog entries may just about have worked out!). My stammer is seriously bugging me to the point where I wish voice box transplants existed – I had one phone call today where midway through I just wanted to burst into tears and run out of the office as it was so bad. Oh, and my Grandpa is still in hospital. Overall, life feels like it’s in one big holding pattern where I’m totally reliant on other people to “let” me make steps forward, and even though I’m far from being a control freak I don’t like feeling this powerless. If it wasn’t for my lovely wife and very cute cats I think I’d be pretty depressed.

I don’t actually know what being depressed is like, though. I don’t wake up wanting to kill myself, or feel like crying and going back to sleep, but I do know that I’m not particularly happy in anything apart from my personal life. All this could be changed in an instant if I get positive feedback about my manuscript sometime in the next few days, but the way my luck’s going at the moment I’ve reverted to being rather underconfident about the whole endeavour.

Hopefully a couple of good nights’ sleep will sort me out, as I’m rather run down, too, and that certainly doesn’t help my stammer, mood or stress level. My holiday in November can’t come soon enough as far as I’m concerned. Indeed, I reckon I should think about taking a couple of days off in the meantime.

Right. Depressing blog entry over. Tomorrow I’ll try my best to be more enthusiastic about things. It could be worse. I could be David Miliband.

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Insurrection

Writing is cool, but reading about the process of writing is something that I’ve always found interesting. It’s true that I probably discuss the process of writing as much as actually doing it, but when I read material from successful writers about their trials and tribulations I always learn something, and it’s often quite inspiring.

So, following my love of Russell T Davies’ “A Writer’s Tale”, which outlined his experiences while showrunning Doctor Who, yesterday I took possession of Michael Pillar’s manuscript regarding the writing of Star Trek: Insurrection, which always seemed to me to be a rather troubled, muddled project. Indeed, Paramount Pictures blocked the publication of Pillar’s experiences, and following the appearance of the manuscript on the internet, Pillar’s family themselves asked for it to be removed.

Despite this request being adhered to the work was already out there, and even though I’ve only read the first third of it, it’s a fascinating insight into the process and likely, in the remaining material, to lay out the vagaries of the studio system in Hollywood.

What is already clear is that the initial premise for Insurrection was very different from what eventually ended up on screen. There were originally flashbacks to the early Starfleet experiences of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and a relationship between two best friends that ultimately turned sour only to be picked up again many years later; descriptions of pretty cool action scenes and agonising over the execution of plot points that never made it. The journey from initial premise through various treatments (basically, documents that outline the story of the film) shows the evolution from early ideas, through producer and studio notes, to the final product. I have a feeling that there’s soon going to be details of a crisis of confidence and massive studio interference, as the cinema version of the finished film bears little resemblance to the early thoughts.

Anyway, more on this once I’ve read the rest. But it’s already a more than compelling read.

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Miliband

So, Ed Miliband won the Labour leadership election. I quite like him. However, attacking him is going to be like shooting fish in a barrel. He didn’t win the MPs’ vote. He didn’t win the party members’ vote. He only won because of his union support, and that’s a red rag to a bull for the coalition. “Red Ed” is his nickname, and it’s going to be the clear line of insult for a long while.

While the coalition arrange their huge spending cuts, the unions are going to oppose them, and their opposition is going to be portrayed as like being from a bygone era. Likely, Labour of the 1970s. And that’s Ed Miliband’s problem. Only finishing second in the popular vote is a major weakness. He has to make sure that he doesn’t seem in thrall to the unions, and the more he opposes the cuts, the more that charge is going to stick.

So it’s going to be a fine balancing act. I wish him luck, as I think he’s going to have a very difficult job to negotiate his way around the minefield that he’s partly constructed for himself. But he should be a strong leader, and he think he’ll do well.

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Job Share (Part Five)

As I was visiting a client for much of the day and was faced with a couple of urgent jobs to do when I returned to the office, I only had the chance to finish off entering the nursing agency invoices on Sage. Didn’t even get to post them out. Neither did I amend the couple of invoices that I need to because I made a couple of boo-boos, which will involve issuing credit notes (for internal use only), then reinvoicing, then factoring both the credits and the new invoices… aaaargh!

But as I didn’t get to finish everything off this week and will therefore be left with more to do on Monday than would otherwise be the case, my planned entry for tonight – the grand finale to the week’s meanderings – is toast. Therefore, have the Top Errors Nurses Make With Timesheets instead:

1. Not putting their name. Maybe they don’t know it.

2. Not putting where they worked the shift. Do I look psychic?

3. Putting in the details of a hospital where they didn’t actually work that day, by mistake. Don’t worry, though, they love receiving erroneous invoices and are always happy to pay them in full without shouting at us.

4. Writing shift times in the 12 hour clock (ie. 7.30 to 9.30). Which is am? Which is pm? Who knows?

5. Adding up the hours they’ve worked wrongly, often leaving it unclear as to whether they had a break and just didn’t put it down, or whether the start or end time is incorrect, or whether they just can’t add up. Hmmm.

6. Saying that they worked in the year 2019. “This timesheet’s FROM THE FUTURE!”

7. Writing the shift details on the day of the week line that’s incorrect for the date concerned. For example, putting a shift for 24/09/10 on the Wednesday line. I usually cry at this point.

8. Leaving everything blank other than the shift date and times. Who are you? Where did you work? If I rub a lemon over the timesheet, will ink magically appear? Maybe it’ll work with blood – I have an axe ready just in case.

9. Writing numbers in a blotty, spidery scrawl that Shelob would struggle to translate.

10. Calling up to scream, “I HAVEN’T BEEN PAIIIIIIIIID!” Then finding your timesheets in your coat pocket, in an envelope that you intended to send us but forgot. And not apologising.

All of the above happen. And that’s why this weekend feels so good.

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