Two are in love
Everyone always says ‘write what you know’, and its sturdy advice. However, numerous people I know, in the midst of writing about an experience they have had, have also said the following:
‘But that’s not how it happened!’
‘Why isn’t this working? Its not coming across how I want to!’
And it is at this point you should lower your pen and take five.
Writing ‘what you know’ basically means taking inspiration from real life and drawing inspiration from the people you know and your environment. A lot of people, including myself, have the need in them to write about experiences that are personal to them. Something happened and you need to express it, because it is both unique to you and also universal to mankind. That’s what makes great writing, right?
Absolutely right! But it doesn’t have to be exactly how it happened, with the exact same people saying the exact same things. In life we have the luxury of time, situations play out over hours, days, months and maybe even years. In a film/play/tv episode we are constricted by time. Your story can’t take that long to develop.
‘So I’ll just cut out the boring bits, or skip ahead in time’
In some instances this may work, but how many times can you skip forward and keep it interesting? What happens if you’re writing about an issue that’s on going? The answer is simply this – write about what you know in essence, but not completely. Situations in life are rarely formed into a three act structure, they might not have a climax or resolution. Don’t write exactly what happened. Write something that is inspired by what happened. Then mould it. Make it work for you.
If you stick to everything exactly as it is, it will become very frustrating very quickly. Your story might be fun to read, but does it go anywhere? Does it say anything? Don’t get caught up on the details.
That’s what’s fun about writing, you have artistic license. Your characters can do ANYTHING. Don’t limit them and don’t limit your writing.
I just wanted to talk a bit today about how volunteering is really important for your local theatre and the arts industry in general.
I’ve been volunteering for my local theatre for coming up to six years now. Admittedly its been on and off as life always gets in the way and I have been backwards and forward to uni.
It started off as something that I had to do for my course, I had to ‘attach’ myself to a theatre for the year and get to know how a theatre works. I met with the secretary, who is now a longstanding friend, and he agreed to let me interview him and write a report on their theatre.
I must have been working on this report for a few months, and in that time I had learnt so much from being in that creative environment. I was able to see behind the scenes, how a theatre worked, how many people it took to run it, budgeting, hierarchy etc. I also got to sit in on some rehearsals and see that creative process through to completion.
Not long after I had finished that project he invited me to be in a play that he was directing, That Face by Polly Stenham, and of course I said yes.
It gave me my confidence back in acting and heavily influenced my decision to go to university to study Drama.
Aside from what it did for me, I think it taught me that the theatre needs people. It needs dedicated people to run it, in this case everyone was volunteering their time so the theatre could be successful. The theatre needs people to write plays so it has something to show. It needs people to fund those plays. It needs people to direct the play into a cohesive artistic vision. It needs people to maintain the building, design the posters, light the stage, sell the tickets. And most importantly it needs people to go.
Volunteering at your local theatre, although its giving your time for free, is securing the future of that theatre. A lot of local theatres aren’t given enough funding, they can’t afford to pay everyone – or anyone! Any money they do get goes straight back into the productions, the building maintenance, making sure people come back – securing the future of the theatre.
Your local theatre can offer you invaluable experience, if you just offer up your time to learn everything it has to teach you. Its a community of colourful people who all have the same passion, which is to keep their small corner of the arts alive.
Time doesn’t always equal money, it can equal experience and investment in the future. All three have their own value.
This weekend has been super busy, and one of the highlights has to be seeing KneeHigh perform Tristan & Yseult at The Bristol Old Vic on Saturday night. This is the third time I have seen KneeHigh perform and every time they have offered up something new and exciting to watch.
KneeHigh’s style is largely immersive and physical in its performance, the fourth wall need not exist when they are performing, as they address the audience effortlessly and have them in the palm of their hand from start to finish.
Here is the stage at the beginning of the evening, the way KneeHigh interact with their set almost makes it a character in its own right. As you can see from the image below, there is a small circular section with vertical wire, which was used to move the actors up and down in different scenes. The ropes were detached and used for multiple purposes, my favourite being Tristan and Yseult energetically swinging backwards and forwards like acrobats, intertwining and then uncoupling.
The story is framed by a group of misfits named ‘The Unloved’ who were an audience favourite and highly amusing. Dressed as twitchers in their anoraks, glasses and trainers they told their story through slapstick, asides and even puppet pigeons. They kept the pace interesting and dynamic throughout scene changes and costume changes.
Once again I am marvelled by KneeHigh’s cast, who seemingly can do everything! They act tragedy, they act comedy, they sing, they dance, play instruments, they swing around like acrobats – the result? A bloody brilliant show! This is theatre at its finest!
The main thing I associate with KneeHigh, apart from high energy performance, is stunning visuals. In the second act my eyes were feasted on visual after visual, which left me reeling after the show had finished. I can’t spoil any of them for you, but let me just say ‘Black or white?!’.
Review: ***** (5/5 Stars)
You can check out KneeHigh’s promo for the show on their website here.
Photos: Header image courtesy of Visit Bristol
Up and coming music talent Frazer Mitchell hasn’t been on the scene for long, but he’s already produced an absolute summer banger ‘Memory’. Hailing from the Southwest, Frazer is part of a music scene that has recently seen a surge of fresh new talent, which is very exciting for the area.
The track features heavy distortion, an easy beat and melodic piano coming together to inspire images of driving through the countryside on a summer’s day with the windows open. Its a feel good track that to me sounds like the audio embodiment of contentment, it makes you want to lie back and let the track roll over you.
You can check out the track here.
I have finally been brave enough to share something that I wrote for a writing challenge competition that I entered. The word was ‘Sledge’. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
She never did like liars. And now she hated red. Sarah could see straight through that cheap fabric and false drollness now. She had been betrayed.
Sarah had grown up in an orphanage; spending most of her time alone as a child, she developed obsessions. Hiding behind her vivid imagination, she used escapism to free her mind from the constant sense of loss she felt, choosing to find something, anything, that would give her hope.
December could have been a particularly upsetting time for a girl without family, but not for Sarah. Sarah believed. Santa was going to be arriving soon on his sleigh, to take her away to live at The North Pole with the elves. She wrote him a letter and asked for it to be posted.
On Christmas Eve, Sarah decided that she wanted to personally give Santa a cookie and a carrot, so he would remember her. Outside, she heard the sound of Christmas music distorted by the winter wind. She ran to the window to devour the sight of him. Well, he looked less decadent than she had imagined, but times were hard for everyone. The sleigh was more of a sledge-on top of a truck. Where were the reindeer?
Sarah rushed to the kitchen, not altogether put out by the humble man in red. She stopped in her tracks as she noticed the cook leaning over the open fire, throwing paper into the blaze.
“Oh, you frightened me, dear.” The cook said as she tried to hide the fire with her figure.
It was too late. Sarah had seen the singed paper with her handwriting on. She grabbed a sledgehammer and walked out of the front door.
“Santa?” A small boy said as he pressed his face closer to the frosty windowpane and squinted his eyes to focus on the jolly old man on the makeshift sledge.
“Hey, Santa. I’ve got a present for you” Sarah said and she walked out in front of the sledge.
Sarah didn’t like liars, but she had found her new favourite shade of red.
I feel like for the longest time I have had the passion and determination to write, but not the inclination as to how to be successful with it. I feel like I’m looking at so many options for possibilities and not truly working on one thing. Maybe I’m trying to be too diverse.
My aim as a postgraduate is to be able to sustain myself and my life by writing, something which will be (as I’m sure a lot of you know) a struggle. I’ve done all the right things…
- I’ve asked my boss for a day off in the week so I can focus on my writing.
- I’ve entered my film script into multiple competitions.
- I’ve set myself deadlines for writing (which hasn’t been very successful).
- I’ve toiled with a play that I desperately want to finish – and still haven’t.
- I’ve started this blog to inspire me and document the process.
- I’ve written writing goals for the year.
- I have an ideas folder where I write ideas down when I get inspired.
- I have checked out the local area for writing opportunities.
- I’ve been to writers’ workshops.
- I’ve given my scripts to writer friends to feedback on.
But still nothing. I can’t feel satisfied until something happens. What I’m waiting for is unbeknownst to me and maybe that’s the problem. How am I monitoring my ‘success’? What do I value as ‘success’? Does writing have to be rated on a “Not Successful -> Successful” scale?
Perhaps this is a hangover from my university days, where when you put a lot of effort into something it gets graded and given back within a specific time period. There is a sounding board for ideas and you are told whether they are good or not based on a points system. After university you don’t have that all the time. I’ve sent my scripts off to writer friends for feedback, which has been extremely helpful, but it isn’t a substitute for being in a learning environment and encouraged at every turn.
Life isn’t always encouraging. People you work with just might not ‘get it’. Family and friends may be drumming their fingers on the table thinking ‘When are they going to succeed?’. And you may find yourself- on more than one occasion- explaining why everything takes so long in the writing world.
It can be very frustrating at times to feel like you’re throwing a handful of darts and the dart board and hoping for one to stick. Frustration is the main feeling I would identify with, being a writer. Sometimes I’m full of energy and want to do ALL THE IDEAS and then sometimes I can’t think of anything worse than writing.
I’m still figuring it all out and trying to make things work. But I think that’s probably – as frustrating as it is- the fun part? I will probably look back and it all make sense, but right now it is real, frustrating, boring, exciting, tedious, painful and fun. It is definitely a different way to live your life and keeps me going throughout the daily grind at work.
There is always a hope for something else, something exciting could be just around the corner. I think I would rather live my life with hope for excitement and it never happen, than never try.
I recently applied for an editing job at work. I figured I had a good level of experience, having edited scripts for film and theatre throughout my masters and professionally, and getting really good feedback on my editing skills from tutors and peers alike.
I have been working for the company for eight months, which may not sound like a long time, but where I work they are huge on in house promotion. They recruit in teams, and then after your probation you are able to apply for any position you want.
I felt the interview went well, I have been working on my confidence recently and managed to hold it together without blushing or having a panic attack, which is a huge milestone for me. I was confident and answered the questions to the best of my ability.
After the interview I had to do an editing test, which I felt very confident, but after the whole experience was over I just felt something wasn’t quite right and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Not necessarily in my performance, but in the vibe afterwards. During the interview I had a great rapport with my interviewers and felt like I impressed them with my previous ability and experience, as well as things I have achieved whilst being at the company, to the tune of ‘Wow. Very impressive!’ and ‘That sounds great’. And yet there was something niggling me.
A week later I got a call saying that on this occasion they had opted to go with another candidate, “fair enough” I thought to myself, you win some you lose some, I was a bit gutted as I would expect anyone to be but then they went onto the reasoning behind this. The recruiter said:
“I’ve got some feedback here for you, and they thought that you’re too creative. They suggested that perhaps you should look at opportunities in the marketing department where your creativity can run free. You interviewed really well and impressed them, but that’s what they said.”
I can’t say I was prepared for that as a reason why I didn’t get a job that I deem to be creative. I have since searched the internet to try and find an article like ‘what does ‘being too creative’ mean’, surely that has to be interview code for unreliable/ditsy/wishy washy/forgetful/in the midst of an existential crisis…. but I found nothing. The only articles I found were ‘How to be more creative’, ‘How to tell if you’re creative or not’ or ‘Do you have these 11 creative traits?’ and it got me thinking.
Creativity is a desired attribute. People want to be creative, perhaps it has some kind of romanticism to it. I always joke about the ‘tortured writer aesthetic’, or that all musicians are ‘misunderstood’, many of my friends being creatives themselves recognise this association in people’s minds when you introduce yourself as a writer/musician/dancer/actor.
To non creatives you either fit into the ‘creative aesthetic box’ or not. Which will either get, more or less, two responses :
“I’m a writer.”
“I’m a writer”
Perhaps being a creative is seen as being uber cool, living a tortured existence and being misunderstood by the masses, frustrated that nobody can connect with your creative vision. All of these things seem highly intriguing as characteristics, but ultimately impractical in the conventional work place. They are to be admired from afar with a ‘good for you’ attitude, but never a serious option for the position you have going in your office.
Aren’t they too volatile? They’re all arrogant. They’ve never worked a hard day in their lives. They expect so much for so little effort. I started out with nothing and worked hard for everything I have, they’re too lazy to do the same.
Ring any bells? This is the problem we are facing at the moment with young people finding fulfilling work. We aren’t lazy, a lot of young people go into higher education which is a great opportunity and also a great deal of hard work, only to come out into a crashed jobs market where everyone has a degree, therefore equivalent to no one having one. Jobs opportunities have more applicants than they are prepared for and therefore can ask the earth from their candidates for as little money as possible, because we all are desperate for work.
I was not expecting to get this job handed to me, I was expecting other people with great experience to apply, I was expecting it to be competitive and difficult. I was not expecting to be turned away from an entry level position that my degree and a masters degree are relevant to, because I was deemed too creative.
To me, being creative is something to be celebrated, something I pride myself on. Being called ‘too creative’ for a position has only fuelled my creative energy and reminded me what path I want to be on.
To all my fellow creatives out there, keep being fabulous, writing stories, making music, acting the part, slaying those outfits and keeping positive. Our time is yet to come.