After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.
— Philip Pullman
I grew up watching cartoons and movies in a way that, I suspect, few others did.
If I liked a show or a movie, I’d watch the same thing over and over again, almost on loop, until I could recite the lines and mimic the actions to a tee.
What this indoctrinated was a distinctly audiovisual train of thought. Before I knew it, my little brain was dreaming up its own images and sounds, scenarios and dialogues… stories that needed to be told.
I rushed to put the images and thoughts in my head. Words weren’t exactly the best means I had to do that, but being a very slow sketcher meant it was all I had that would be quick enough.
The first screenplay I wrote was, in hindsight, terrible. Just awful. But I was only twelve, so I should probably be excused for thinking, at the time, that I’d written the next Godfather.
I read books too, of course. Asimov, Blume, Dahl, Follet, King (alphabetically listed). Varied, I know. But then a good story is a good story. And my treatment of novels were no different to cartoons. If I liked ’em, I read ’em over and over again.
With experience and time, my writing improved. I stuck to the screenplay format because I felt I could be more succinct and to the point. Instead of getting bogged down in description and prose, I could get on with the story.
Then life got in the way.
Studies, jobs, girlfriends, threats from the mafia (which will require a whole other blog post), a wife (now, thankfully, very much ex), court cases, divorce, more studies, more jobs, etc.
Then, a few years ago, in what seemed like the darkest part of the night (though this could have been down to the very thick and quite tightly drawn curtains), I woke up with an idea for a movie.
I started to scribble down whatever came to my head. Over the course of the next month I’d rush home from work to write, to complete the thoughts that had started to form that night.
Then came the re-drafts, during which more and more ideas started to pour into my head. I jotted these down and, before long, three more screenplays got written.
Now, I know that in the cacophony of voices screaming to be heard on a second-by-second basis, it is difficult for a new voice to be heard.
But I just had to tell my stories.
Still, that didn’t stop me from floundering around for a while, looking for agents in a decidedly stop-start manner, checking out trade rags one day, deciding to give up the next, and then starting a new screenplay on the third.
There were periods of confidence, mingled with some long bouts of self-doubt, when I thought to myself that I couldn’t really be serious, could I? Some seriously negative programming going on here, I’d think to myself, but found it impossible to do anything about.
Then came the worst period of all. Within a day of each other, a new, intensive project kicked off at work and a brand new story idea struck! After the first week of non-stop 12 hour days, working and writing, writing and working, something had to give. Surprisingly, I found myself relegating the work project and ploughing on with the screenplay.
Both, I thought. It became clear that if I was going to get all these stories out of my head and onto paper (or computer), and out into the real world, more time needed to be spent on the endeavour. A decision had to be made.
Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.
— David Frost
Given that you’re reading this, the decision I made in the end will come as no surprise.
Here we are, about a year or so after that juncture. Book 1 of the Book of Dark Series is out (a difficult ‘first baby’, but I’ll document its birth and the accompanying complications in a later post). Book 2 and 3 are on the way, and a number of other works and series are in the pipeline.
As social animals, we crave stories because they teach us how to deal with life, and possibly even help us survive. It’s in our programming. We love to hear them and we love to tell them too, whether its around the water cooler at work, or in conversation with friends, or through blogging or Twitter or any other means.
It’s just that some, such as yours truly, love to tell stories more than others.