2016 in Points

Temptation beckons from the Piggery Books store in Whangarei.

I’ve been putting off this post because… it’s been another pathetic year on the page-turning front: 29 titles. This makes 2015 look so much better (but it’s still not good enough as a Writer).

Stand-out reads:

  • My Name Was Judas by C K Stead
  • The Private Eye by Brian K Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Mutsa Vicente
  • The Walking Dead 150–161 by Robert Kirkman and various artists
  • Mississipi Grind (3 March 2014 draft) by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
  • Lost Dogs by Jeff Lemire

I know.

I know.

Must. Make. Time.

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2016 in Pixels

Okay, I’ve been a bit laggardly on the fitness and health side of things but that’s okay: I’ve been investing those ‘lost’ hours in my televisual research (145 titles totalling 496 hours, up a respectable amount from last year).

Mississppi Grind Poster.jpg
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link

Enjoyed on the big screen were:

  • Mississippi Grind
  • Deadpool
  • 45 Years
  • The Hunt for the Wilderpeople
  • The Nice Guys
  • La Isla Minima
  • Keanu
  • The Accountant
  • Blood Simple
  • 99 Homes

Honourable mentions: Beach Boy Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy, unexpectedly affecting Rocky spin-off Creed, the unlikely and uncompromising Young Adult, the ridiculously fun Central Intelligence, and Florence Foster Jenkins which I was totally prepared to hate but couldn’t because it was so well executed.

The-americans-title-card.png
By DreamWorks Television and/or FX – The Americans, Season one episode five “COMINT“, Public Domain, Link

The small screen offerings held their own:

  • The Americans S01–04
  • The Expanse S01
  • Getting On (UK, 2008) S01–03
  • Better Call Saul S02
  • Low Winter Sun (UK, 2006)
  • Animals Pilot
  • Westworld S01
  • Game of Thrones S06
  • Catastrophe S02
  • The Good Wife S07

Honourable mentions: low key sci-fi robot drama Humans S02, an happy bonus season of Offspring S06, and Transparent S02 which continues to make me scratch my head after each ep but unable to stop pressing the Next button for the next episode.

(I’d actually already watched the first two seasons of The Americans but made the mistake of introducing the Goddess to the pilot. It was a hard slog rewatching those first two seasons, I tell you.) (It wasn’t a hard slog — it’s a damned good show.)

Bring on 2017!

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2016 in Calories

Why I exercise.

I have been derelict in my “body-as-weapon-temple” duties.

Forty exercise sessions, down five from last year. And although I only did two less runs this year, the mileage says it all: 254 kilometres, down 50 from last year.

By some small miracle, my clothes still fit me. So wardrobe-wise, I’m all good, ho ho ho. Fitness-wise, however, there’s work to be done.

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Smoko Time

The Kitten at rest.
The Kitten at rest between… whatever she does between naps.

It’s that time of year when there’s little point in shilling my work around — the Silly Season is almost upon us all and surviving the season intact is a reasonable priority.

I’ve some “2016 by [Screen/Print/Mileage]” posts to begin drafting, there are some loose networking ends to tie up, and sundry writing housekeeping duties to expedite.

The blog may be a bit light on writing-related posts for the duration but don’t worry: there are plenty of animal pictures to go around.

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One More Schmooze

Playmarket Auckland: F5, 99 Queen Street, CBD.

The other week, I went to the changing of the guard at the Auckland Playmarket office: Stuart Hoar is moving on to less reading (of other people’s writing) and more writing (of his own) (which is as it should be), and will be replaced by Allison Horsley, formerly Court Theatre Literary Manager.

There was food and drink on hand, and there were a few more familiar faces than I expected — should be no surprise after being in this writing gig for so long, but still —and the hour I had set aside to pay my respects very quickly became almost two hours of catching up and talking with:

  • Jo Smith, recent Kingswood dramaturg, whose upcoming writing projects I look forward to;
  • Philippa Campbell, Auckland Theatre Company literary manager (and film and television producer);
  • Roy Ward, current freelance theatre director and, although I should let it go, will forever be the person who rejected my application to write for Shortland Street;
  • Murray Lynch, Playmarket big cheese;
  • Sam Brooks, dramatist, critic and man-about-town (I didn’t actually talk to him — but I waved as he flew by);
  • and the very lovely Roger and Dianne Hall — yes, that Mr Hall — and he was refreshingly to-the-point with our brief discussion on writing for theatre and developing audiences in competition with the small, small screen.

This has been quite a year for shoulder-rubbing and such: there was the 2016 Arts Market in Wellington*, and the SWANZ Awards and Big Screen Symposium in Auckland, not to mention a workshop here and there. It might explain why I’m a little frazzled.

There’s going to be more of it in 2017 and, somehow, I’m rather looking forward to it.

 

* I don’t know why I didn’t blog about this. But it was nice to be in my hometoon.

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STILL LIFE WITH CHICKENS: a clinic

The script, post-workshop.
The script, post-workshop.

Last weekend, thanks to the administrations of the indefatigable Salesi Le’ota at PlaymarketStill Life With Chickens enjoyed a workshop directed by Andrew Foster, dramaturged by the redoubtable Stuart Hoar, and with the collective acting prowess of Iaheto Ah Hi, Jess Robinson and Louise Tu’u.

Where the last Kingswood workshop generated the words offensiveadolescentpuerile and crass to describe the play, this latest workshop elicited symbolismsurrealist and existentialist.

Believe me, I’m as surprised as you are.

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Permissions

OS X disk permissions (a considerable stretch, I know).
OS X disk permissions (a pathetic stretch, but hey).

Sometimes I’ll get to an early stage of developing a project and I’ll stop.

It’s not writer’s block, or a gap in character, story and/or background knowledge. You likely already know that at Fortress Mamea, writer’s block is never an issue, the characters write themselves, story is always a cakewalk, and I never let ignorance and incuriosity get in the way of a first draft.

I used to think it was a crisis of confidence — What the hell am I doing, thinking I can write? — but what it really is is a crisis of permission: Who the hell gave me the permission to write about [SOMETHING POTENTIALLY FAINTLY/REMOTELY CONTROVERSIAL]?

With Kingswood, a love play to my friends and our misspent youth, the question of permissions were sidestepped by accident: the acts of writing and development (and rushing to meet deadlines) meant that actual-event-inspired truths quickly gave way to more dramatically efficient emotional truths. At this point in time, I would have no hesitation in comping my friends to a production.

As for Still Life With Chickens, basing it on my mother’s adventures with poultry gave rise to concerns about my excavation of Mamea family history. I don’t actually recall a crisis of permission. And when I wrote the first dozen or so pages in a blur of creativity and read them back, I found I’d repeated what I’d done with Kingswood at some subconscious level: dramatic emotional truth trumped the source material.

Those are terrible examples, aren’t they? I was rescued by circumstance and dumb (creative) luck, respectively.

So. There’s another project I’ve added to my development slate: it’s an all-female four-hander period piece.

Who the hell do I think I am to write four female characters?

I don’t know but I’m not going to let that stop me.

 

Postscript: In looking up earlier thoughts on writing female characters, I found something I posted a few years back. Sometimes, I just surprise myself.

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