I missed a chance to go the Science Museum with my daughter, which was regrettable (especially when I saw the photos of her having fun) but I wanted to finish the first draft of my sitcom script, “Everything Happens (for no reason)” before we go for a quick 3 night break in Austria tomorrow. And amazingly I did it. It’s not a final draft, but it’s a solid first draft with a beginning, middle and an end, which manages to introduce most of the main characters and establish the (quite high) concept. But more importantly, it’s the first script I’ve written since I Killed Rasputin, 18 months ago. I am back on the horse. I hope no one will begrudge me taking ketamine to celebrate (the jokes in the script are, I hope, better than that one).
In the end, once I actually made the effort to sit down and write this, it was pretty easy. Though I have been thinking about it for about nine months without getting anything of any worth down on paper. I hope this signals a return to written work and the end of what might be called writer’s block, but which was more a kind of writer’s laziness combined with writer’s petulance and writer’s insecurity. I have written so many pilot scripts now, without success, that I don’t even really think about them ever being produced and assume they will be rejected. It sounds negative, but it’s a positive state of mind. If I am proven wrong I will be delighted and if I am proven right then it won’t hurt too much. It will sell hurt, but I already feel ready to pick myself up and get writing again. I have wasted so much writing time in my life and should have done so much more.
The sitcom is an attempt to do a “proper” alternate universe situation and includes big nods to all the shows that I love and love to hate like Goodnight Sweetheart (the couple in it are called Gary and Phoebe, but in this case it’s Phoebe who gets to explore “safe” cheating in an alternate world - Phoebe’s surname is Pidgeon, as a further nod to the bird-based surname of GS’s protagonist), Sliding Doors (the gate keeper to the other world’s is vociferously angry about this film), Quantum Leap (I’ve put a little “Oh Boy” after the first journey to an alternate reality) and even Total Recall (I am sure there will be a “you think this is the real Quaid” moment at some point if the idea goes to series. In many ways this is the series I was born to write, but that doesn’t mean that the powers that be will want to make it (and it’s much too complex for me to do on my own). It’s a big idea, but what I think is hopefully good about it is that it is really about human relationships and human choices and human regrets. And I want to properly explore the mechanics of having an affair in a situation that your partner can never find out about (I think Goodnight Sweetheart went for farce on this, rather than considering the real implications on one’s happiness). Would you feel OK about it if you knew you couldn’t be caught, or would the guilt still eat away at you? Is it just the danger of discovery that makes having an affair exciting and terrifying at the same time? (you know, I imagine).
I mean, I wasn’t sure this was any good, but actually writing about it now, it does feel like a good idea and I might have found a good way to explore this whole subject. I suppose all those months (and indeed the years of obsession beforehand) has helped me shape this, but what surprised me was how easy it was to do, once I finally got over myself and got on with it. Writing is 99% application. Of your arse to the seat. It’s absolutely true.
I just wish I lived in the alternate universe where all my sitcoms have got made. But where’s the fun in success? Try again, fail again, fail better. Those are the only six words you need. Thank God for Sam Beckett. Oh boy!
I mean, don’t get me wrong, this is no “Goodnight Goodnight Sweetheart, Sweetheart”, which I still hope to do one day, but it will have to do for now. Looking at the charts from November 1993 perhaps that idea should be called “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” which was number 1 when Goodnight Sweetheart aired and which is sort of apt. Maybe I will do some of it in As It Occurs To Me. I can do anything in As It Occurs To Me. If you people get on board with it. I might even finally make Bent Coppers: Ian and Simon Bent are brothers and are both policemen. Only one is corrupt and one is gay. Both of them are affected by curvature of the spine. And they're made of copper. They're robots. In the future.
Gemma Chan could be in it.
Anyway, it feels really good to have got this script to this stage, whatever happens next. It’s been a good start to the year. It feels like it might be a good one.
(it was at this point that the blog ended and Richard Herring was assumed to have died)