Saturday, July 19, 2003

Sleep cures nothing

by Suw on July 19, 2003

…but tiredness.

Sleep is my refuge at the moment, my escape. I had some wonderful dreams last night, wherein my life was just fine and dandy, people appreciated me for who I was, and I didn't get hassled by anyone. Although I did have some problems with clothespegs at one point, but that was a fairly minor hiccup. I don't remember exactly what time I went to bed last night, but I think I slept something approaching eleven hours. I did wake at 4 to let Fflwff in through my bedroom window. And again at 7.30, which is my normal time for getting up. I just rolled over, made myself forget thoughts of the waking world and went back to sleep. If only I could do that ad infinitum. Just sleep through the whole damn thing. Wouldn't that be nice?

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On the horns of a dilemma

by Suw on July 19, 2003

I spoilt myself today – I bought Neil Gaiman’s Coraline in hardback. I wasn’t going to, but there it was, calling out to me from the shelf, and when I flicked it open I saw it was signed. There’s a slight blemish on the dust cover, which is I suppose why it hadn’t already been bought, but I don’t care. Here in my hands I have something which was been in Neil’s (or if you call him by his signature, Nen Suel's) hands too. Call me a sad fan type, but somehow that makes me feel really quite warm and fluffy.

It’s like the feeling I used to get when I was on palaeo field trips, when you crack open that slate to find revealed a tiny trilobite or ammonite and there you are, the first person in quite a few million years to ever see this wee little thing so pretty in its ancient perfection. A silly conceit perhaps, but it amuses me.

I also bought The Screenwriter’s Problem Solver by Syd Field, not because I particularly have any problems with my screenwriting right now, but because I know I will do. It’s inevitable, like death, taxes and the cat throwing up on your best duvet cover shortly before a hot date. (Fflwff actually hasn't thrown up in a long, long time. Any conclusion you draw from those last two sentences is probably entirely correct.)

I’m up to p38 of my script now. I went through and did an edit last night, and ended up with a page more instead of pages less. Oops. Surprisingly, though, the thing reads a lot better than I had expected – I seem not to be writing the unadulterated drivel that I was assuming I was writing. Unfortunately, I have only two more pages to go before the software conks out at its 40 page limit. Maybe I should put a tip jar up on this site and encourage you all to give me a dollar. When I get to 186 of them, I can buy Final Draft and my script formatting problems will be over forever.

So now I find myself on the horns of a dilemma. Do I read Coraline and bathe myself in the warm glow of Gaiman’s beautiful prose? Do I read all about how to recognise and fix problems with my screenplay? (Although I still have the three books about screenwriting that I borrowed from the library to read before 2 Aug.) Or do I think ?sod the books? and continue actually writing?

Hm, maybe I’ll just sit down with a Coke and the Thornton’s Champagne Truffles I treated myself to and consider the situation for a moment or two before deciding.

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There is a Rule. A new Rule. And that Rule is:

Do not read Neil Gaiman's work when you're trying to cook.

Coraline may look like a slim volume. A children's book, it may seem like light fayre for the seasoned reader. The scrawled signature inside makes you think that perhaps this book was at the bottom of a box which was at the bottom of a very large stack which Mr Suel laboriously, yet without complaint, signed his way through one long and tedious day, until his name became no longer his name, his signature no longer his signature, just a scrawl which, no matter how often he looks at it, seems strange and separated from the reality of his own name and being.

Maybe this book looks like a Cinderella of a book, unloved, unwanted. Don't let that fool you. Mr Suel really is the bastard son of Prince Charming and the Fairy Godmother (who will forever be Diana Dors), and he can draw you in, wrap you up in so many layers of fairytale that minutes become seconds and adults become children. Sure as Cinderella found true love, this book will wrap its pages around your mind until you forget that midnight's coming. You will not be able to put it down. You will not be able to just go and check to make sure that your dinner is not burning. You will not pause and take a sip of that glass of white wine, now warming in the summer evening's heat. And you certainly will not condescend to believe that this work is just for children once you have finished it.

The mice know. And the mice are never wrong.

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