Friday, 6 August 2010

Ah, the joys of a photo shoot...

Just been down in Pett (near Hastings) for a couple of days, doing a publicity-photo shoot for a film I was in a while ago. For anyone who's interested, it's called Stranger Things, and hasn't been released yet - but watch this space, as it's already won an independent film competition and is getting some good attention... It was very low-budget - hence the need to take photos later, as normally there would be a stills photographer there while you were shooting the film - but it's a lovely, subtle story with some great performances. (Or so I've been told. I haven't seen it yet.)

Anyway, on the photo shoot we stayed in a sweet little B&B, which was run by a really talkative woman who made ceramics. She cornered us after breakfast and, on hearing what we were doing, started talking about her own creative processes ("You never know where inspiration comes from, do you? It just comes... my grandson said to me, Nan, where do you get your ideas? but of course I just don't know, I just have them..."). And then she started showing us her work ("I had this idea for a pottery frog to go in the garden, with a top hat and glasses and a book... and this statue, I had the idea for the woman kneeling in the waves because I got to the bottom and realised I couldn't do feet...") and it was all... well, not very good. OK, so I'm a bit of a snob - but it was all so incongruous, the kind of Radio 4 artistic introspection, as if we'd come to interview her, when the work was all so bad.

I related this story to my parents, and my dad said, doesn't it make you think of that poem...?

The one he was talking about is:

'Look at the happy moron.
He doesn't give a damn.
I wish I were a moron.
My God, perhaps I am!'

And he's absolutely right.

So today I am not going to expatiate on my creative processes.

I'll just leave you with the image of three people squashed in a twenty-year-old camper van, which is rolling gently backwards down a hill while the driver curses and revs and the smell of burnt plastic rises all around. I've been in cars where I thought they might not get up the hill, but in the past they always did. This one, however, did actually roll back down. And apparently after I got dropped off it got stuck on the M25 and had to be rescued by the AA. The world of low-budget films is a glamorous one...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The most boring job in the world...

At the moment - I'm back in England, and back to work - I'm editing.

Which is normally fairly interesting. In fact, I quite like it. It doesn't have the same highs and lows as writing the first draft: no dire writers'-block days, no euphoric flights-of-fancy nights... There's no real pressure, because you've got something, there's no blank page staring back at you balefully - and chances are, if you're editing from someone else's notes, the book's already been accepted. You can just do a bit of tinkering. It feels mechanical, sometimes, but in the bext possible way: this bit doesn't work here, so there must be something missing there... It's very like working on a machine. And at the end, if you get it to work, you get a feeling of quiet satisfaction, which isn't as exciting as finishing a first draft - but then, it didn't require anything like the same amount of input.

Normally. At the moment, however, I am doing the MOST BORING EDITING IN THE WORLD. I am transposing pretty much AN ENTIRE NOVEL from the present tense to the past. I cannot tell you how boring this is. And no, you might be surprised to learn, there is no Word function that can do it for you, because Word is not that sophisticated. ("This is a long sentence." Thanks, grammar check, if only I'd realised.) It really, actually means you have to change, or at least check, EVERY VERB in EVERY SENTENCE. Did I mention that it was boring?

The novel is, of course, a work of genius. But I can't face actually reading it as I go. No, I skip morosely from verb to verb, stopping every now and then to realise I've changed a whole lot of direct speech from present to past and need to change it back. It is very, very boring. And takes HOURS.

I'm going to stop now. This is already quite a long whinge, as whinges go. It's probably quite boring.

Then again, that's quite appropriate.