Shakespeare & Co.

I’m about halfway through writing a full length play. Unfortunately it’s not my own. Although I’ve had three plays produced, they were one acts, and I’m far from confident about my ability to write something longer.

I remember, years ago, reading that Sean O’Casey learned to write plays by transcribing Shakespeare. I don’t know if he copied all the plays, but I figured if it was good enough for O’Casey, it’s good enough for me.

I take a scene a day, two if they’re very short, and I find myself thinking about the characters differently than when I simply read the plays. More than that, I’m thinking differently about a play I’ve been trying to write for ages. In fact I’ve abandoned three plays because I couldn’t see how to make them longer than 30 to 40 minutes, even thought I know the subject matter can handle three or four times that length.

I’m on The Merchant of Venice now; I’ll do two more after that, and then give my own work another go.

Work in Progress

I thought it was about time I shared some of the work in progress. This is from chapter 10.

John opened the sitting room door to find Fats Waller on TV, singing about the spider and the fly. Mary, asleep on the couch, snored along. John stood in the doorway, watching her; feeling all of the life they had shared. He had seen her sleeping many times; he had seen her sick, happy, sad, fat; he held her hair back while she puked morning sickness into the toilet. But watching her this morning he was overwhelmed with joy that she was his; that even when they fought, and in the early days there had been many fights, fights where she had thrown him out, fights where he had thrown her out; even through that, there had been the quick knowledge of love, not showy but constant, and he marvelled now at how rich that love had made them.

Forty Shades of Green

I recently finished the sixth draft of my next book Forty Shades of Green, and when I went to save it, I got a message saying, basically, that it couldn’t be saved because it was infected. Be fore I lost the entire document, I managed to copy it and paste it into notebook, so at least I saved the raw text.

I’ve started on the seventh draft, and I’m doing it longhand, and I’d forgotten how enjoyable that it – no flickering screen, no tapping keys, just the flow of a hand across the page.

Anyway, here’s the new beginning for Forty Shades of Green.

Frank Moran stood 6’2’’ in the mirror; his hair reflected the same Elvis-black it had since he was seventeen. With one eye on the gallery of bald ancestors on the wall behind, Frank checked his own hairline, and then he stood back. He quickly turned and turned again to check his clothes. Did they pass the JBT? The James Bond Test – when in doubt, always ask yourself, ‘What would James Bond Do?’ They did; now he was ready; that readiness gave weight to his mussels. He trembled like a first night actor in a play. He always did. But this wasn’t a play, or a movie, he wanted to be in, at least not in this place – never in this place. He had been there three days now, and had yet to go into town. All necessary arrangements having been made over the phone, he went straight from the airport to the house. The taxi journey became an education in the brilliance of Steven Seagal movies. Frank made appropriate noises at appropriate moments. An hour later he arrived at his childhood home with a new appreciation for both Steven Seagal and the world he had left behind. He found a key to the backdoor under a flowerpot, and let himself into the house.

At the sound of a car outside, Frank turned his face to the window, but the curtains were drawn; not that it mattered, his father had recently covered the glass with tin foil so he could sleep in a more complete darkness. Frank listened as the car stopped. It was time. He closed his eyes and took a breath – in through the nose, out through the mouth – to centre himself. And again. He checked his reflection one last time.

‘Looking good,’ he said. ‘You can do this.’ He nodded his head.