Good Practice

After I left Los Campesinos! I did so with the intention to write a film based on a script based on a short story based on a feverish dream caused by an allergic reaction to tomatoes.

To me, it made total sense to become a writer. I looked back at my musical career with a ‘well that was ridiculous,’ and looked ahead to my next ambition with a ‘well this is also ridiculous.’  You go with the level of ridiculousness you feel comfortable with. Impractical hours and inexplicable encounters are fuel.

When I was growing up I had no aspirations to be a writer, or even a musician. I was from a sleepy village with a Budgens who had promised her dad she was going to grow up to do something to do with business. I don’t know what. Like add. Or subtract. Or speak to China at 4am asking for more of something. More… of that…. Material you export…please?

When my brother sold me all his belongings for an extortionate price, then took them all back the next day I realised I had no head for business. But what did I like other then reading Sweet Valley High? Well, I liked drawing hands, so why didn’t I become an artist?

From age 10 – 18 I was determined to become some kind of artist who exclusively drew hands.

I did an art foundation course but lacked the necessary drive to see it through beyond that. Sure, I could really draw those hands, but was it enough? Probably not. But I discovered I liked writing about art. Or rather I liked writing about Rodin’s ‘The Kiss,’ so why didn’t I just become a writer! But one that wrote exclusively about Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’.

Sadly there was no specific degree in that, so I chose one that gets taken seriously. I did a journalism degree.

I swear I tried my best to be good at journalism but it’s a cutthroat world where you have to be good at spelling and grammar and logic and objectivity. I struggle with objectivity, I suffer from premature hyperbole, where everything is amazing. I like writing about stuff that doesn’t exist anywhere but my head. To me writing is escape. My strengths lend themselves better to fantasy rather than commentary, but fantasy which is reflective of real life possibilities. I would struggle to write the epics of other worlds, I prefer grounded situations with extraordinary people.

But I didn’t have to worry about attempting to become the worlds worst journalist, as somehow I was lucky enough to find myself in a touring band, recording 4 albums and doing ridiculous things like riding Ferris Wheels on top of buildings in St Louis, and eating great backstage snacks.

But alongside the touring, I was trying to get this idea for a film I had off the ground. Or at least do something with it.

Luckily I had a partner in crime in the form of Tom Betts. He is my writing partner. We compliment each other really well. He buys chocolate and lets me eat the end of it, he is super organised and thinks plot points through. (‘But Tom why can’t they battle an arthritic dragon in a romantic comedy set in an urban location?’) He thinks Out of Sight is the sexiest film in the world, and has excellent taste in movies. We procrastinate wildly with film talk.

But our origin story.

It was a cold wintery night in Cardiff when I sent my shambolic short film script to Tom Betts. He hosted and organised film events in conjunction with Chapter, the independent cinema/crèche, presenting a night showcasing local filmmakers shorts. He seemed like he knew his stuff, but more importantly he would give me an objective opinion on whether it was rubbish or not, because he didn’t know me from Adam.

Luckily he didn’t think it sucked, but could do with some tweaking, and together we pounded it into shape. We sent it to Western Edge Pictures, to a chap called Vaughan Sivell (fabulous name) who had written and produced a film called Third Star, which featured the straight-backed Benedict Cumberbatch. Tom had met him during a Q & A about said film in Cardiff. He thought we should make it feature length, and since then it has been a case of extending the length from short to feature, writing treatments, working out character arcs, names, if there would be an amusing bit with a dog, or a misunderstanding about a briefcase, or explosions, how graphic can that sex scene be? The usual stuff.

And now we have got some funding, and are writing the script full time. I EVEN have a deadline and everything.

So I go from one exceptionally bizarre lifestyle to another, but in between I did temp work. Oh yes, I tempted everyone EVERYWHERE.  I did Christmas tempting at HMV, moving Los Campesinos! albums to the forefront  and wearing a giant elf hat as people asked me what they should buy for their 11 year old niece.

“Errrrrrrrr,” I would flounder.It seems the right answer was always One Direction.

I was a receptionist at an aluminium extrusion company, a customer advisor at an aluminium extrusion company, a data entry processor… at an aluminium extrusion company. Yeah, it was all the same company.

The head of the company, who would walk about and shake peoples hands once a week, would look at me with a strange sense of déjà vu and I would smile inanely. Yes, here I am again, but in a different department. Or am I actually a ghost? Did I in fact die in a freak aluminium extrusion accident twenty years ago caused by your hand, and am now haunting you? No. I just need the money.

By the time I left, proudly proclaiming I was off to write, wishing I had arranged a motorbike to jump on the back of, I knew far too much about window fabrication. Seriously, I know serial numbers of bit parts, and powder coating codes and what time everyone in the building goes to lunch and is available to speak on the phone, and how many tonnes they can deliver up to Scotland and when, and what the code to all the women’s toilet doors are. So if you ever need a wee in Yatton….

But anyway. This is the first day of the rest of my life, or the first day of my writing life, in which I take myself seriously as a writer. Or don’t. I hear it’s best not to. Although I have been thinking about what kind of writers haircut I should get, and what kind of writers tattoo I need, and whether I need a highlighter or a wall filled with inspiration quotes? And do I need a cane? A super snazzy cane?

I am on a strict diet of inspirational images and films combined with episodes of The Carrie Diaries. But I think someone needs to get that show away from me before my brain falls out.

So…the film is called The Photographic Memory Recalls the Highlights of the Year by the way, and it totally has a pinterest page. Follow it.

I’ll be blogging about the writing process as i go. How many crab sticks I eat in a entire day. How much I hate final draft. That sort of stuff.

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