Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Late breakfast, bright sunshine pouring in through the windows, cold trees swaying outside in the wind that began yesterday and won't let up. Spent time in the park yesterday afternoon for the first time in months. Pleasant sunshine accompanied some general, aimless conversation, stolen cigarettes and honey, chilli & chocolate ice-cream. Everywhere where cyclists, mothers with off-road prams and dishevelled dogs leading their drunk owners through the trees. Sometimes there are football games at the astroturf, usually fully kitted Turkish teams, shouting angrily and kicking posts when their hopeless air swipes take the ball out of the cage and down the hill into what we fondly call the crater. In the background, a donkey's bray carries into the whole neighbourhood, as it cries out from the next-door animal sanctuary and petting zoo. Odd times, what a place.

Preslav Literary School artwork got finished yesterday, laid out and sent to the label. Today I will follow up by disseminating a few review copies and begin rehearsals for the live set. It's actually been a long time since I played live as Preslav and I'm excited about arranging the new material. Shows are lined up in Paris, Newcastle and Berlin. Truly, it is nice to experience this slight step up in terms of intent – this feels like my first release, it is certainly the first that I thought about conceptually and structurally in its entirety. The title, the song names, the artwork, the insert text all try and elevate the songs within to be taken seriously. And perhaps that is all I want, just a concerned, engaged listen from a few people, the chance to travel perhaps, play out to a few foreign crowds. Beyond that, I hold little aspiration. This was a project I began in May 2006, having learnt how to sample and edit on the computer. I made a track on the computer from slowed piano parts, recorded it onto two dictaphones and played back with the speed slowed once more. It was never intended as a live performance and only became this when I decided to do something other than read poetry at a poetry reading in Newcastle. Just before that I did a radio show and then a lecture at Sunderland University. Entirely atypical showcases, not reflected now in what I do, but I suppose the lineage is there.

Regardless, it is writing that drives me, and it is writing that provides most consternation at them moment. Kundera is helping. Speaking with professional script editors and screenwriters yesterday was illuminating, speaking of arcs, beats, rhythms, stresses and peaks within a five minute scene. We translated the concerns to The Wire, identifying various screenwriting tricks employed by that show to allow it to both provide such a large backstory and allow likeable, flawed characters. The 'save a cat' principle is employed regularly (get a 'bad' character to do something minor but moral early after their introduction) as is the 'pope in the pool' (tell boring but necessary backstories in scenes where unexpected or strange happenings distract the audience from the exposition).

This startled me slightly, as I am due to hand over my novel draft to them soon. What of such basics – I have not thought of these in any way, my plot is a pure vehicle, it does not bear scrutiny. But of course these structures underpin everything. Quality work is not made by omission, experimentation is not a wilful forgetting, but a subversion. Taking that, I head into mid-morning.

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