Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gratuitous Cat Photo (and telly and stuff)...

Let's get the gratuitous Nyssa photo out of the way first. Oh yes, she now knows how to get on top of the bookshelves...


As could probably be gathered from the recent lack of posts I've been tied up/a bit shit recently, both with the blog and in terms of producing any work. I've therefore taken the bold step of booking some time off work just so I can get some writing done. Now I've had writey weeks before and they've always been productive (obviously I'm a binger), but I've been trying to switch over to the 'slow and steady wins the race' mentality with mixed results (when I say mixed I mean rubbish). So when I finish work on Tuesday I've got three days off to get some grafting done. I mean it's not like I'm short of ideas, I've got them coming out of my ears - I just need to finish the three projects I've been 'working on' for almost a year (when I say 'working on', I mean 'shirking off').

I think sometimes I'm a little too strict with myself though. I'll have a really good idea (like the other day in the bath I had an awesome idea for a Doctor Who story) but I'll tell myself "No, you can't write that until you've finished this!" Is this the right mentality? It's not like I'm trying to eat my banana split before I've finished my salad, is it? Why not work on the story for a bit, get all excited and then switch over to one of the ongoing jobbies?

Mind you, maybe I just push myself too hard, a couple of weeks ago a writer was quizzing John August about a script which he didn't anticipate completing a first draft of for six months to a year, due to him having a day job. I guess everyone should work at a rate that they're comfortable with but that seems a long time to me, and I have a day job. Don't get me wrong, I've been wrestling with one script (second draft of) for a twelve month but that's not what I consider normal. I know I can bash out a full draft in a week if I really want to and I have a little luck (and some time off...).

So what's my point? Don't know. Every day that I don't work is a tiny kick in the teeth to me, and I plan on doing something about it next week. I'm hoping I can make some decent progress and get a bit of momentum going, I'll let you know how I get on.


Phill was recently talking about not seeing a lot of telly which can be a major problem for anyone who wants to write for the goggle box. I struggle to keep abreast of films and television, especially when I'm trying to manage my time between day job/2-3 hour daily commute/seeing long-suffering wife/squidging Nyssa. God knows what I'll do if and when we have a tiny demanding baby to deal with.

Some of these activities can be merged of course - it's possible to squidge Nyssa/see wife and watch telly simultaneously AND I could probably eat an apple at the same time. The problems creep in because some activities don't go together. For example I can't write with the television on. Yes, my school reports were true; I am easily distracted. It might work for RTD but it's no good for me.

I also can't always watch everything I want to see with my Wife because she (quite reasonably) doesn't always want to see the same thing. I still haven't watched
Doomsday because Dog Soldiers (Neil Marshall's earlier film) scared the crap out of her, and I never bothered suggesting she watch The Descent (which scared the crap out of me).

Worst of all no activity goes particularly well with the daily commute, about the only thing I can do is read - which is great, but often I'd rather do some work (perhaps I need something like
Moran's Anus). It's possible to watch stuff on the tiny screen of my psp but it's quite a faff to transfer things on to it (though I did see Nightmare of Eden for the first time on my psp - can't be many people who can say that).

I feel a sort of duty to try to keep up to date with the soaps, and any other programmes that offer opportunities to new writers. It's kind of like homework. With the exception of Coronation Street this can be a bit of a chore. I'd rather catch up on Battlestar Galactica than watch Holby City (although I don't dislike the show by any means), and I can't shake the feeling that when I'm watching Eastenders or Doctors I could be watching the second series of Survivors, or the Sopranos finale, which I'm sure I'd get more out of. If that phone call ever came though, and you were asked what you thought of the current story lines in Eastender Street Farm, it wouldn't do to ask if Hilda Ogden was still around.

Mostly I end up watching samples of shows, a smattering of this, a glance of that. It's basically précis television, I think it's the way forward. Perhaps it could be a new cable channel.


Finally went to see
The Dark Knight last week. Blimey it's good. Everyone is still going nuts about Ledger; Oldman, Eckhart and Bale were showing some pretty intense acting chops as well you know...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Introducing Nyssa

There’s a new arrival at Stickler Hall, her name is Nyssa. On the afternoon of Friday August 8th Emma and I went to meet a cat in foster care with the RSPCA. Emma is on holiday until September and with us just back from our holiday the time seemed right to finally make good on our interest in rehoming a cat.

It feels a horribly shallow thing to pick a cat off of a website from a couple of photos and a potted biography but that’s what we had to do. One cat did stand out to us, though in truth we would probably have homed any of them. So after a telephone interview and a home visit to make sure we didn’t have any cat mangling equipment hidden in a secret laboratory the RSPCA agreed that we were fit to foster a cat. All that remained was for us to meet her, hence our trip to Walsall.

Nyssa was rescued from a third floor flat where something like eleven other cats were living. As far as we’re aware she’s never been abused or neglected, the cats were removed due to complaints from neighbours. We’re told she’s about three years old and has never been outside, although she loves to watch the world go by through the windows. We have to keep her indoors for the first four to six weeks anyway, after that we'll see if she shows an interest in going out and see what happens.

Nyssa was described to us as a timid cat and certainly seemed so in her foster home, which she was sharing with another four cats. She spent the duration of our visit tucked in behind the sofa with one wary eye on us and the other scanning for rival felines. Once we got her into our kitchen it became a different story. She bounded out of her carry case and had a nose around the kitchen. After a couple of quiet hours under the kitchen table she set about exploring the house. She’s friendly and very, very affectionate. We had a few friends over for the weekend and she was quite unfazed by the noise and disruption.

She was given to us with the name Nikki but shows no evidence of answering to it. In fact there was some confusion about whether it was Nikki, Mickey or something else ending in -icky. We decided to come up with a name of our own for her and as you see Nyssa managed to stick where Kenickie, Mr Bennett and Mouse failed.

It’s been ten days since we brought Nyssa into our home and already it’s impossible to imagine it without her. Her favourite spots are on the back of the sofa, in the kitchen window and under our bed. She may like running up and down the stairs mewling at three o’clock in the morning but then I’m sure some of our habits must seem odd to her too. I guess it’s just a matter of getting used to each other, she certainly seems to be settling in...

Sick Note

Two months? How did that happen! OK, so what have I been up to…

Got a cat – I’ll come back to that.

Had a holiday – yeah, an all inclusive sun chaser in Marmaris, Turkey. Our first holiday for nearly two years and just what the Doctor ordered. Sadly just a memory now though. There are some photos in the ‘lens jockey’ box to the right so keep an eye out.

Not had much sleep due to cat – I’ll come back to that too.

Caught the dreaded lurgee. Why does being ill always seem like more fun than it is? When I was a kid it meant sitting in my PJ’s all day watching Doctor Who and eating satsuma’s – a bit like Christmas. Had a long weekend and Sunday night I was feeling pretty crappy. I’ll see how I feel in the morning I thought (I don’t take time off work lightly). Sure enough in the morning I felt like crap (the cat didn’t help on this front I should note) so I called my boss and told him I wouldn’t be in. It’s not all bad – I thought – I’ll do some work; after all I’m always complaining that I don’t have enough time. Four hours of kids TV later (hey – that new animated Batman is ok!) I’m still sitting on the sofa in my dressing gown.

It’s sick day two now, feeling a bit better but eyes still streaming and such like. Yuk. Another day of recuperation and I’ll be back to work I think, both at the day job and the important stuff.