What I’m Up To…

I’m Watching:

the IT crowdThere’s not much on the tele’ these days, is there? I know I told you all to watch War & Peace but to be honest, there’s a bit too much ‘War’ in it for me and when that horse got killed in the first episode, that was IT! (I didn’t mind the incest but the horse death was too much).

Anyway, because of the lack of anything good to watch, we have returned to an old favourite: The IT Crowd.

I think it’s very funny (and in these gloomy times, I need funny), BUT you might not, so don’t blame me if you watch it now and hate it. (But it may appeal if you’ve worked in an office with lots of weird people).

There’s an ‘extra’ bit on one of the DVDs, in which the writer of the series, the very talented Graham Linehan (who also wrote Father Ted and Black Books), talks about ‘how he does it’ (these could apply to a novel too but if you’re particularly interested in writing a sit-com, you might find these tips on the BBC Writers Room website useful).

Before he starts to write a new series, he writes any ideas he has for a situation – this can be an idea, a word, a line of dialogue – on a card. By the time he sits down to try to do something with those cards, he has about 100. He then spreads them out in front of him and tries to make connections. How can he put them together?

Then he writes the first draft and he admits it’s ‘painful’ and what he writes seems childish and the characters don’t seem like themselves. But he looks on the first draft as really ‘just a bunch of notes to work with’. And you need something to work with, or you’ll get nowhere.

It’s good to know that someone as successful as Graham Linehan finds it hard going at times. Writing is hard work, isn’t it?

I’m Eating:

Which is why I have a stash of THIS.

chocolate
Yes, the ‘Writer’s Block’ is actually a bar of chocolate. It almost looks too nice to eat but I will get round to it, have no doubt.

I’m Writing:

As I’m in the middle of writing my serial for The People’s Friend, which is set in a chocolate factory, I think it’s only right to eat some of the stuff, to get in the mood. And in case you’re interested, I submitted Part 2 to the editor, Shirley Blair, last week and she came back with a few suggested tweaks, which I have now done and I’ve just sent the revised version off to her. So, we’ll see what she says. Hope she doesn’t say, ‘Actually the first version you wrote was better…!’ Eeek. So scary.

I’m Reading:

This lovely little bookStill Writing, The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life‘, which is like sitting down with a good writing friend and having an inspiring chat.

Still writing

A lot of what author Dani Shapiro says, really resonates with me.

This, perhaps even more than The IT Crowd, I can recommend! Ooh, and I’ve just discovered that Dani Shapiro has a blog, so I shall be reading that too.

Come on, share! What are you watching, eating, writing and reading this week?

PS: I have a new laptop! It’s BLUE. But even better than that – it has a ‘B’ key!

laptop

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22 Responses to What I’m Up To…

  1. Heather Walker says:

    Am watching rather too much -War and Peace, Dickensian, Death in Paradise, The Young Montalbano (drooling over Michele Riondino) and got into Father Brown while Doctors has been off air! Eating through a Panettone! Reading – just finished Vol 1 of War and Peace. Writing – between edits of a novel. Love the blue laptop.

  2. I am missing out on some good tele’ by the looks of it! (that’ll teach me not to buy the Radio Times!). Father Brown is filmed in and around the village where I live, by the way! And Panettone, ooh yes, gorgeous. We had one over Christmas but sadly it’s all gone. Good luck with your novel edits and thanks for sharing, Heather!

  3. juliathorley says:

    I’m not watching W&P. I watched episode 1, but decided not to bother. I reckon they will have missed out more than they put in and apparently Andrew Davies put the incest in out of pure devilment. I am watching Father Brown (on catchup, not during the day). I love a good murder. I’m also delighted to see that Code Black is back. In my head I don’t watch much TV, but when I come to think of it: oh dear. I’m with you on The IT Crowd though; love it. I am mostly eating ginger nuts. I am still reading Narnia. So much for getting through all seven over Christmas. I got sidetracked, but I must say I’m finding The Horse and His Boy a bit dull after the excitement of the first two.

  4. kathmcgurl says:

    Lovely post! We’ve been recording W&P but haven’t watched any yet, and might not bother as most people seem not to be enjoying it. Am watching The Voice (Boy George – hero of my youth!). Eating too much chocolate. Reading Kate Morton’s The Lake House, and writing a new novel set partly in famine-ravaged Ireland in 1847.

    • Yes, we caught a bit of ‘The Voice’ last week and I was surprised to see Boy George on there – looking so handsome! Age has improved him, I think! But he didn’t say much..he said nothing for about ten minutes and we were beginning to wonder if he ever would! It was all a bit odd! I’m not that keen on the format of ‘The Voice’, I have to say. It all seems very cheesy! Good luck with your new novel, Kath but please could you slow down a bit because your other novels are still on my ‘to read’ list!!!

  5. Haven’t watched W&P yet. I’m recording it. We’ve been enjoying Endeavour on the other side, about the young Morse. It’s a slightly weird experience for my husband as it’s set at exactly the same time he was a student at Oxford School of Architecture!

  6. I love a bit of drama, so I’m watching Dickensian which has prompted me to buy a couple of his classics. I’m also watching War and Peace (the horse was only acting!) , Mr Selfridge and Jerico. I’m eating less – still a few pounds to lose, and Im reading Lisa Jowell’s, The Third Wife. Just discovered her and loving her books. No time for writing, except for homework.

    • Ah Maggie, now I know, really, that the horse was only acting but it was acting so WELL – whites of its eyes, writhing in apparent agony – that it felt real to me and therefore made me cry. Maybe that horse should be up for a BAFTA? If they’d showed a little clip of it at the end, galloping joyfully around a field, then I’d have felt a lot happier. Re. Lisa Jewell, I loved her earlier books- Ralph’s Party, for example (which was her first). I’m not so keen now she’s gone a bit more ‘literary’ but I haven’t read ‘The Third Wife’, to be fair and perhaps I should give her another go (erm, when I’ve read the 20+ books that are already waiting for me..)

  7. I like Endeavour and Death in Paradise, I like Mastermind if the subjects are good, and lighthearted programmes. Looking forward to the serial, good luck with the rest of it. Sherlock Holmes stories are classic as well. Hated War and Peace, to dram’d up for me.

    • Everyone seems to be enjoying ‘Endeavour’. It’s probably too late for me to join in with that one but I will look out for it! Thanks for the tip, Susan and yes, War & Peace was a disappointment, after all the hype!

  8. Nicola says:

    Great post, Helen. Very up beat and lovely 🙂 Watching: NCIS, Endeavour, Z nation (hubby’s choice) and waiting for Rizzoli and Isles to come back on. I am drinking coffee as I write – just got up. Eating: far too much – will adjust starting Monday. Reading: lots for research as well as pleasure. Forensics: Anatomy of Crime by Val McDermid; Silent Scream by Angela Marsons, Promise Me Forever by Debbie Macomber; A Limited Justice by Catriona King and I’ve just finished Lamentation by C J Sansom (exquisit). So lots on the go. Writing: final edit of novel; editing collection of short stories; planning stages of novel 2; written literary piece for Popshot; written short story for womag. MY GOODNESS!!! I didn’t realise how busy I’ve been over the past couple of weeks. No wonder I’m tired all the time. Have a great weekend Helen!!!

    • Oh my goodness, Nicola, I felt tired just reading that list!! I am full of admiration for people who have more than one book on the go at once. I just can’t do it. I have to get to the end of one – giving it ‘my all’ – and then I can move on! But I don’t read enough and I must rectify that in 2016 (she says, glancing guiltily at the pile of 20+ books waiting to be read…)

  9. Keith Havers says:

    Not watching W&P. Prefer Endeavour. Interesting piece about Graham Linehan. Thanks, Helen.

  10. Tracy Fells says:

    Love the chocolate writing blocks and amazed you still have them. I’ve been recording War & Peace but may give it a miss – don’t fancy watching dead horses.
    PS Really enjoyed your bus stop story in Feb TABFF – I had a little sniffle as I read it over lunch.

    • Aw, thanks Tracy, that’s kind. When i re-read it in TABFF I had a bit of an ‘oh-my-God’ moment, as the shift in time suddenly didn’t seem clear to me and I thought ‘No-one’s going to understand it!!!’ so it’s good to know that you did – and even better to know that I induced a few sniffles!

  11. Wendy Clarke says:

    Have recorded War and Peace and am now working up the energy to start watching it!

  12. Patsy says:

    I so agree about a first draft just being a bunch of notes to work with.

    I’m eating porridge – I got up VERY late!

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