Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tales of Group Writing

Writing with others is fun for the following reasons: we make each other laugh, we share the burden of the play rather than bear it alone like a millstone of paper and words, we can write whatever we want and everyone is always pleased that you bought something along.

Wow we are awesomely happy! And Aerobic!
The above is not my experience of working alone. Well, the millstone of paper is obviously a reference to my usual relationship with writing, but the rest of it... no, writing alone is not like that.

Firstly I am not always just automatically thrilled that I wrote at all, I am hard on myself and flick dismissively through hard wrought words and punctuation with an impatient school-marmly air. I don't laugh all the time. Sometimes I laugh, but it's more of a "Oh God, GOD, when will this stop! Make it stop", followed by an uncontrolled high pitched whinny of a laugh. Horses and dogs alone can hear it. And the burden of the play is ALL mine. I am used to that. That is how I always work, alone in my windy garret with only the flickering candle and my trusty cat to keep me inspired. Can you imagine if that was actually where I was working and under those conditions. No plays written ever, if that were the case.

Hemingway and I, so much in common.
I have been writing a new comedy with Jane Miller and Christina Costigan and by crikeys it's been fun. Really fun. And easy. Perhaps too easy. We had a TV script partly written for a series that we were working on a few years ago - and having decide that we'd do a comedy show this year we then revisited some of our old moldering ideas and brought them out into the light of day. Some of them sat blinking in fear and then just exploded into a the dust of bad writing, others refused to even come out. This idea, the Okinawa Hymen Repair Kit Factory, stood the test of time pretty well. It was still funny and had some room to move in it's scope.

We all read the original script and decided that we'd just go away to our respective garrets and just write some things around the theme. When we met again we had magically started the play and made scenes that fit together almost perfectly. I would have cried if I hadn't had my tear ducts removed in the war. Scenes fitting together perfectly doesn't happen often. However when you are working with the very funny Jane Miller then you are already a step ahead. Chris and I have written comedy together for over 10 years we know each others style, but we weren't so sure about Jane. She seems very nice, but perhaps she's a tiny little tyrant. Jane is short - she won't mind me saying that - it's not like she hasn't noticed.

This is Jane, in knitted format.
As it stands Jane is lovely to work with, she loves chocolate and cheese and wine and so she is part of the club. And will never be allowed out of the club. Ever.

We have about 60 to 70 minutes of material and we are done with the active editing process - what we did was put the first draft into dropbox and then suggest that as people edited that they increment the version and then we put it together. Given that I am used to Christina and her "take no prisoners" style of editing I have a hide as thick as some sort of glamourous rhino. I wasn't sure about Jane - so I diplomatically made my edits and then Chris made hers - slightly more vigourous than mine and then I made more and Jane never once complained. She is a good girl and will have a lollypop.

There's Jane, enjoying her lolly pop, what a nice girl.
The rest will be "worked out on the floor". Great phrase that, especially given that I am the director - so that will be my job. So we have our starting script. We have to do some film work as there are short films in the play and we need to get onto that toot sweet.

It's a big thumbs up for group writing as far as I'm concerned. Next post - Group sex.