Those gentle readers who may have detected a faint note of desperation beneath the surface ebullience of yesterday’s blog will be reassured to know that today has seen progress of a most decided character. (I can’t fully explain why I have suddenly started trying to write like Charles Dickens, but the hour is late, the wine has flowed and I have been in almost continuous conversation with Susie whose ever-fulsome use of the English language may perhaps be rubbing off on me). I woke around 8 and was getting ready for a run to clear my head, when Susie popped out of her room in her nightie and proffered the latest synopsis which she’d bashed out the night before, feeling (I think) that the pressure was mounting for someone – most likely her – to start finding the plot.
She’d written a very strictly pared-down version of Act One, with simple, clear story beats and no attempt to elaborate on the wit or tone or detail of the thing. A smart move. With a few insights from our previous evening’s hill-walk and the advice of our mentors to keep things simple and remember our source material ringing in her ears, she’d got down something that felt fresh and good. Act Two tailed off after about three paragraphs, but Act Twos are always where the trouble lies. I went for my run and came back with new thoughts and doubts which by the time we’d walked back up to the house Susie had seen off with a notable confidence. She clearly felt she was onto something.
After breakfast I think we spent an hour finishing the storyline together (a long day – events are blurring) and then presented it to George and Ants. It felt good. They clearly bought where we were going with this. Ants beamed, told us we’d “cracked it” and bounced off to walk Sixpence.
We spent up until lunch fleshing out the outline and now – at last – I was able to start thinking about songs with some confidence of what they needed to do to serve the scenes. And joy of joys: it seemed that this version of the story was going to allow me to use a good few of the songs I’d so far come up with! As we discussed the big clinching moment at the end of Act One, I was even moved to start sketching a power ballad. God knows I’ve never felt the need to write a power ballad before, but this moment seemed to be calling for one, so dammit, I thought, (reaching at last for George’s guitar) I’m going to supply it!
By the time we repaired in doors out of the sun for the post-lunch Act Two fleshing-out, we were clearly on a roll and coming up with ludicrous song suggestions at a rate of knots. This was where I’d been dreaming of getting to for so long now. The road beginning to rise up ahead of us; the immense amount of work implied by all fanciful ideas now of course looming incontrovertibly into view – but with a proper sense of map and destination. We could build this; it could be good.
Inevitably, as we tried to get the last couple of scenes mapped out, things began to unravel a bit. Susanna was flagging and demanded a break for a swim and we mulled the story’s epilogue and aftermath in the calm of the pool. There were no obvious answers, but we felt that the real ending of the story was clear; and the tying up of all the threads something that would likely be achieved better when the characters and tone were better worked out.
Anyway, Pastis and Noilly Prat on ice were (for better or worse) applied to the process and the last couple of paragraphs were typed up by Susie in a looser, more golden-hued style than hitherto employed. We’d done a good day’s work. Ants had made a chick-pea curry, not too hot, just hot enough to “open the pores” and the work that we read our mentors over the embers of a fine dinner fell on wine-loosened and receptive ears.
Let’s hope it still feels good in the morning.