My girlfriend and I are both writers. We differ in the books that we read and the genres we like to write. I read books by Haruki Murakami and David Foster Wallace. She reads Harlen Coben and Gillian Flynn. I like to write prose and poetry. She likes to write prose and screenplays. This latter genre has been on my mind since before I met her, when I tried to write scripts in uni back in 2007. I tried writing plays and couldn’t get the hang of it because I was used to describing long, drawn-out scenes suited to a novel. The last play I wrote was during my Masters in 2010. I didn’t get a good mark for it. Haven’t written another one since.
But the thing is, there is a larger industry where screenplays are concerned. It’s very difficult to get a novel published, and I know, having had mine rejected a number of times. But I’m interested in writing for the screen now because more will be seeking it rather just a jaded agent.
However, I have been struggling to write for some time. I think it was those judgemental literary agents that put me off. I finished my novel earlier this year and was very proud of it. I’d written other pieces, but this one I thought was better having learnt more and experienced more. It was better structured and had a more mature voice to the narrative. But rejection after rejection got me down and I tried writing something else but couldn’t get my mind to it. After a few months I started writing short stories, which felt strained and heavy. I began reading properly again and I gave myself from the start of December to start on the novel again. I didn’t. I had a lot of personal problems to deal with, to say the least, but it was another set-back. I thought I was never going to fix that novel.
I wanted to collaborate something with my girlfriend and we were going to go to Liverpool Central Library but the city was hit by some bad weather and so we walked to the nearest Waterstones and sat in the café and drank coffee. She had green tea. Being in there I didn’t think we’d get anything written, with it being loud and obtrusive unlike the library. But after a while I was writing down characters she was coming up with. She likes to write comedy and I like to write more of a darker comedy with drama. So we came up with a TV show she called a ‘dramedy’ (drama/comedy). I think it’s quite good. I took it home and today emailed her the basic premise of the show.
After that I began working on my novel, writing, by hand, the plot with some changes. I then edited chapter one and read it back thinking it was much better. I think sometimes when you’re stuck for something to write, suffering from writer’s block, you can do a number of things. You can force yourself to write, which a lot of writers say (except Bukowski, who said you can’t force it). You can do what I did and take a break from writing as a whole. Try reading. Or try working with someone else. I’ve never written with someone else before. I guess the old cliché of ‘Great minds think alike’ or ‘Two heads are better than one’ work here. But I’d say, find your momentum and fall into it.