Friday, 4 April 2008

10 Pages of Funny

So, I finally managed it. In the last couple of days, I’ve written the first ten pages of the sitcom. Whether it’s any good or not is not important. I’m just relieved that I’m finally out of the dry spell that’s bothered me for about a month. The new job completely broke the routine I’d kept to for the last couple of years and which had made me so prolific. The job has also made me much too reclusive when I get home. I’d stopped answering phone calls from Fry, who insists that I help him finish the libretto for his opera about the iPhone when he gets back from America. I’ve not seen Oddie for days; the scent of spring having sent him off looking for the first frog spawn of the season. Even Judy has deserted me for the fresh air of the garden. From my office, I look out on her now, her elbows deep in the loam. Will there ever be such a women to sit on a daytime couch and touch Richard E. Grant’s knee? I think not.

Now that my competition submission if written, I’m going to give it a final polish, add a few more jokes, and then send it off to the BBC. I doubt if they’ll like it. It’s probably far too Channel 4 for their tastes, what with all the midgets and macaroni cheese. Perhaps I should ask you to judge it for me before I waste postage sending it. Only, that would require my publishing it to this blog and I’m not so keen on giving it away for free. Why let the competition know what I’m up to and give them a chance to write something better, with more midgets and cheese?

Liberated from my mental struggles, I’m now in the mood for a walk. I always have my best ideas when I’m walking. I fancy nipping to the local Tesco and spending money on strange forms of bread which I’ll never eat. However, I mustn’t. This is a month for tightening the belt, readjusting the braces and even rearranging my sock drawer. I don’t even intend to buy a single book this month. Well, that’s a lie. I bought James Wood’s ‘How Fiction Works’, which I recommend without reservation if you’re into intelligent writing about books. I think it was buying this book that shook me back into activity. Thank you Mr. James Wood. (And I loved you in Salvador.)

However, I have one bit of bad news. My bad luck is clearly spreading. I can only give you ample warning that if you find that you have inadvertently given yourself a paper cut, you must sever your arm at the elbow to stop the bad luck spreading to the rest of your body. I send this advice out to Elberry, in particular, who I see has failed to get funding for a PhD.

I suggest to him that he write his thesis anyway. Those of us who lack the patronage of a publisher to fund our writing must struggle to do what’s important to us. I see that he makes the point that office work is tiring not because it’s difficult but because it’s easy. I understand this so well. I think it was Joseph Heller who wrote 'Catch 22' in his spare time, at night, after working all day (possibly in a proofreading post in Manchester). I’m trying my best to write after a day working on 'Eye of the Storm 2' but I would say that the majority of we mortals cannot succeed like that. The analogy we’re looking for is that of a car’s gearbox. Any driver will tell you that it’s impossible to move immediately from first to fifth gear. The two extremes are equivalent to the way the mind works when doing office work and doing original writing. You need to build up speed to do the latter. This can take hours, if not days or weeks. The other can be done as soon as your arse hits your office seat at 8 o’clock in the morning.


bertas said...

I'm glad you have managed to push through the writer's block :)

And remember when your sit-com is a success you are taking me to one of Gordon Ramsay's restaurants :P :) I draw the line at pigeon salad though :)

Richard Madeley said...

Bertas, should I ever get to a point where I could afford such things, I would take you *all* to Gordon Ramsay's place.

Anonymous said...

In a sense it doesn't surprise me that Catch 22 was written while holding down a full-time job...its plot is almost non-existent, it's a series of hilarious sketches. Anything with a plot requires you to have it in your mind, just as one has to keep watering plants, a lot of the time, not just when you're physically free to write.

With my PhD there's also the problem that i'm not sure anyone would want to read it. My supervisor was enthusiastic but if the university don't think i even deserve a chance at funding, that i'm that unintelligent and uninteresting, then it's hard to maintain the determination needed to write a scholarly work, the hundreds of hours of research, the hard writing...

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