Friday, 14 March 2008

Sans Titre

Writing begins with writing.

It's a rather obvious observation for a Friday morning but I always find it surprising how accurate it can be. I often sit here for a while, wondering if I really want to write anything for the blog, but then the simple act of putting fingers on keys inspires me and I find a few words and I'm off...

The week has been another I've had to abandon (despite the fact that I've enhanced my reputation as the nation's sexiest male [Hattip to Graham]). I haven't seen Bill Oddie in days and the messages coming from the Fry wagon-train have dried up. The problem is that I've also become rather preoccupied by annoyances in the office in which we're editing 'Eye of the Storm 2'. As you know, I'm a man of many dislikes but few are as deep as my loathing for bad art.

My recent lack of energy, my mood swings, and my general inability to function have had one identifiable cause: the art that's used to fill the blank spaces in the nation's office blocks. I spend my days staring at a ghastly picture by Wassily Kandinsky. It's all Modernist angst, twisted shapes and distorted lines, mass produced by some firm who clearly believe that a bit of nice typography beneath the print makes 'Sans Titre' a somehow more meaningful. I'm considering making a legal challenge to the building's management about the print, except I'd find it embarrassing to explain why I dislike it so much. How do you politely tell people that a set of male genitals I can see in the upper half of the picture put me off my lunch? The fact that Chip Dale is apparently back and wriggling his way around North Wales suggests to me that I'm one of the few men with a sense of propriety left in the world. I'm telling you that you're all mad!

The paintings in the corridor are no better. Blotchy monstrosities like a yeast infection has suddenly covered the canvas. Yet they match the carpet and that is the only reason why abstract art is chosen for offices. It doesn't require any thought to hang it on a wall. I'm reminded of the scene in 'Hannah and Her Sisters' when Max Von Sydow's character complains that he doesn't produce his art simply to match the sofas (I'm paraphrasing). Unfortunately, that's how modern art is treated and it's not good for the soul.

Speaking of things that aren't good for the soul: my attention for the rest of the week will be taken with writing a sitcom for the BBC's new College of Comedy competition.* I have a month to write 10 pages of dazzling stuff. My record in these competitions is quite striking. I've never got past the first round. This, however, is the first time I'll be entering the competition under my own name. It's now just a matter of finding some interesting idea for a show. My idea is to call the show 'Twitchers' and get Oddie in to help me co-write it.

* Update: Well, that optimism didn't last long. I would have spent the next few weeks writing something for the competition had I not just noticed the small print on the Press Release. 'The scheme [...] is designed for people who have already begun their careers, and can demonstrate some achievement, such as broadcast material, a script commission, or performance of their work.'

Well, that rules me out! Again.

I really need to write about this at some length but, for now, let me simply say that this is a perfect example of what's happening to the media in this country. I've heard that it's pointless sending scripts into the BBC because they don't read them. Commissions go out to people they already know, which saves them the time and money otherwise spent wading through the slush piles. To compensate and to give the impression that they are open to new writers, they have these occasional competitions. However, even this route is sealed off. I ask you: what is the point? What is the bloody point?

16 comments:

bertas said...

Richard glad to see you are back :)
I have to sheepishly admit I love Kandinsky :) and Miró and Mondrian and all that jazz... dont get me wrong I do have a taste for the classics as well, but then again like with books I am a bit of an art tart... :)

Anyhow, nevermind that to the script... I think you should write it regardless... in fact if you have any ideas or if you want to me read it and give you some feedback I'd be happy to...
It is easy to get discouraged, too easy in fact... but sometimes when you think to yourself damn and blast them to hell, I'll do it anyway, well that usually produces some wonderful results... I'm speaking from experience here... :)
So just forget about the small print for now and what are the chances and whatnot, write these 10 pages... :) Go on you know you want to anyway :)

The Twitch said...

Dick....I have always wanted to run my own beach bar and call it "Twitchers".....what a spooky coincidence. If you & Bill ever want to partner me in this venture I will be glad to discuss it with you.

Selena Dreamy said...

I've heard that it's pointless sending scripts into the BBC because they don't read them. ...I ask you: What is the bloody point?


Frankly, there is no point.

The world’s subjugation by the internet has done much to complete the discrediting of literature begun by agent-inspired thuggery. One in 20 Americans is in the process of writing a book of some sort. The figures in the UK may well be similar - and rising. The BBC’s invitation sounds like the opening move in a confidence trick. They’re bound to receive thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of contribution. The Richard & Judy show, as I understand, some years ago arbitrated a competition to the tune of some 50,000 manuscripts for the ever-increasing, but inexperienced, mass of emerging new scribblers.

And you’re free to correct me on this, Richard.

As the Booker Prize winner McEwan not too coyly hinted, “There seem to be more authors than readers.” Perceptive, and not altogether wrong (if you include fourteen-year olds). Literature, meanwhile, is built on an alliance between autocratic stingy publishers and blasé, blue-eyed agents. And that power balance remains. It has to be faced: what one really needs is a miracle! I, personally, am not optimistic about miracles, but the alternatives are to unpalatable to contemplate.

So you just keep on writing. Pressure turns coal into diamonds!

Make no mistake, literary agents, generally the most harassed group of all time, are hard as nails. It’s what I would call resolute rather than ruthless. I’d call it that, because I don’t have a lesson to give anyone, except perhaps that writing always struck me as a rather desperate pursuit. A labour of love. Profit is unlikely. And success? The agonizing, unappeasable allure of it. As well as talent and application, writers require contacts, status, patience and time. And with that in mind, if you can’t make it Richard, frankly, I shouldn’t even get out of bed....

Dreamy

Richard Madeley said...

Bertas, I might enjoy it in the right setting. My problem is that's it's reduced to the level of wall charts or the potted plant. As to the script, I will write it regardless. And I'll send it to and damn them for rejecting it.

Twitch, a good idea. Do you have a beach in mind? Anywhere but Bangor now that Chip Dale is back.

Selena, I should really stop dwelling on it, I suppose. It's just that I'm eager to be encouraged by some success. It's all in knowing that it's being read and appreciated. I should just write this blog and forget the rest, that will go unread. I think that McEwan is probably right. It's the whole Kantian business of treating something as an end itself, I suppose. So long as those of us who write for the please continue to do so, we have reason to carry on.

And with that in mind, I'll try to work harder this week and be less self-involved. Whenever I feel down, Selena, I'll think of your ankles. I know it's what gets Stephen through his day, though I had promised him that I'd never reveal this fact to anyone.

The Twitch said...

Dick ...I had a my favorite beach in Majorca in mind. "Twitchers" is going to make Linnekers look like a load of shit. My bar is going to be bursting with rare birds. Granted their with be fair few common tit "Twitchers" too....starting with me ,you & Bill.

he Twitch said...

...and i would be more than happy to invite Chippy to "Twitchers" to entertain the Welsh birds with his prancing pouch. I'd take good care of Gabby too...she can pull a few pints for me behind the bar.

Big Chip Dale said...

Dick, I have the answer to all your problems. A set of full colour pictures of The Chipster are on their way to you. Put them on the wall and you'll never get your work done.

Big Chip Dale said...

Twitch, I would certainly join in such a venture except I've got to be very careful about getting sand in my thong. I've had trouble in that area before and I've suffered terrible cup abrasion.

okbye said...

I have an idea. Fire off a short play and we, your humble readers, will perform it in some park for the squirrels and the joggers. It doesn't have to be good. Then your work will have been performed and you will qualify for the contest. It didn't say it had to be performed well, or viewed by many, so why not. Hey...we could act out your Blackpool trip, or Stephen being maimed by the manatee. Just write 'em up!

bertas said...

Actually Richard does it say anywhere in the small print you cannot submit it anywhere else?
Because I think I have an address somewhere for a production company in Scotland that takes scripts and then have comedians perform it and if does well before the audience they commission it... I mean if you write it anyway, why not improve your chances and send it to more places at the same time? Law of odds and all that :) Oh and I just remembered there is this novel writing competition, but thats towards the end of the year... I can send you the details for that as well, as soon as I locate them :)
What I find ridiculous though if your script was commissioned you wouldnt apply to begin with... tossers...
unfortunately I dont have any contacts at the Beeb, only at FCO so if you ever want to become a civil servant... :)))

Selena Dreamy said...

Actually here's a link that might be helpful, Richard. I think they're still taking comedy contributions. I just never got round to it:

Channel4Laughs

Lola said...

Courage, mon brave - you have supporters with suggestions (obviously I don't have any, being a student) and your talent WILL be rewarded. I can't say how it will be rewarded, but it will. Really. I expect so, anyway.

lee said...

Just as well, Sir Richard, that you didn't see whatI saw on telly a few days ago -a so-called artist who collected hair and displayed it, including pubic hair. What a frigging fruit-loop. And I was just as bad for watching it.

Mrs McAvoy's Buzz said...

Only you dear man, could mention yeast infection in a post.

Show us the pictures of the Chipster when you get them, will you?!

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