As a writer, you inevitably spend a good portion of your time alone. The process is after all, fairly solitary and in truth, that’s one of the great attractions. At least it is for me. I’m not really a people person you see. Or to be more specific, I’m not really a real people person.
For on most days, I’m not actually alone at all, I’m in the company of all kinds of characters. Men, women, kids, hooligans, old men, glamorous women, thieves, thugs, hero’s… the list is endless. In fact it’s limited only by my imagination, because that’s where they live.
The joy of that is that they exist purely at my bidding and are real only for as long as I want them to be. Some I will meet only once, others will remain for a long time. Sometimes we have fun, sometimes I put them through all kinds of grief, sometimes I just watch what they do and feed off them. People are amazing, even imaginary ones.
Now I know this makes me sound like some kind of mental case and if I were to chop off the first paragraph of this post and read it aloud to my doctor, she’d be quite justified in having me sectioned.
But the key word in that first paragraph is ‘writer’. Creating is what I do and my vivid imagination is my primary and most important tool. That’s how I can get away with having a mind which is a cross between a bizarre soap opera with only one viewer and a computer game with only one player. Both of which are me.
Sometimes however, it all goes horribly wrong. Or rather, fabulously wrong. Yesterday was one such occasion because filming began on my own adaptation of Top Dog. A novel I wrote well over ten years ago and which itself is the sequel to a book which first hit the bookshelves over thirteen years ago! And as I sat on set watching scenes I had created in my head actually being played out for real, I was frequently struck by how different it all looked from how I had imagined it. And the truth is, it looked a whole lot better in 3D.
That has taught me a very important lesson and it’s one which is almost certainly going to make me a better screenwriter.
Because actors are real, locations are real. And as a writer, if you want to give your characters and situations life, the best way to do it is to understand that unlike the people in your head, they already have it.
Aside from the commencement of filming on Top Dog which will continue for a while yet, this week will also see two of my novels hit the shelves of WH Smiths (and all decent bookshops).
The first is the print edition of my most recent book, Wings of a Sparrow and the second is a re-issue of The Crew which continues to hold on to the #1 slot on the sports download charts. A position it’s held for well over two years now.
All in all, not a bad few days for me then.