Monday, February 18, 2013

Like Clockwork

Today's a holiday here in the US, but us writers never get a day off. I'm not even sure I could take time off if I wanted to - when I'm working on a project, it's always in my mind whether I'm sitting in front of my laptop or climbing down the side of a cliff (as I did, quite by accident, this Saturday).

A script in its early stages - the brainstorming, the bullet-point lists, the snatches of dialogue and character idiosyncrasies written on the back of scraps of paper like petrol receipts and old business cards - is a fragile but fascinating thing, like an antique clock taken out of its housing. It needs to be studied, worked on, taken apart, cleaned and put back together; but there's also a desperate need to get it done quickly before you break something, before the cat runs off with an important spring or you forget how all these parts are supposed to fit back together again.

The clock - the script - is always there, lest you forget something important, some detail upon which the entire mechanism hangs. I'll wake up at 2am sometimes with scene ideas and have to make a note of them before I can get back to sleep. It's what writers do, and it's how we work - because, if we didn't have ideas, where would we be?

And that means, no days off. Sure, I can go for a walk, watch a movie, update my blog - but I'm always thinking about the script. There's no escape from it - and that's where the joy is. That's the exciting part. That's the fun.