Wednesday, 24 January 2018

A change of direction by Tracy Alexander

So . . . writing these blog posts has become more and more difficult because my writing mojo upped and left some time ago. I had made a commitment to the lovely Sue Purkiss to stay for a year so I plodded on but every month the obligation reminded me that I didn't feel like a writer anymore. Gloom and doom.

But, a thing has happened. I was wasting time at the computer, straying onto sites I can't bring myself to name, when I followed a link to the BBC Writers Room - a place I'd forgotten existed. The first opportunity highlighted was a submission window at the BBC - closing in five weeks. My eyes widened.

I am a devoted listener of BBC Radio 4. When I was young I lived in a village and used to come home for lunch. Mum and I would listen to Just a Minute while we ate toasted sandwiches. I liked Derek Nimmo the best. I knew everyone who lived in Ambridge and hated Elizabeth because she was spoilt but laughed at Nelson Gabriel. At university my loyalty strayed but I caught the Archers Omnibus every week. Go back thirty years and the lunchtime episode was earlier so when I started work I ate my sandwich in the car park. I wasn't the only listener outraged when they moved the time to two o'clock. My first maternity leave gave me the opportunity to listen all day, like my mum did. Woman's Hour and the afternoon play at 2.15 punctuated my child-caring.

I have sat in a car, despite being at my destination, to carry on listening to a play on the radio. I have ignored my children's conversation to catch the dialogue at a crucial moment. I have snapped at people eating noisily at a peak of emotion created by listening to faceless voices in my kitchen. Surely, I would like to write a radio play.

I began on 15th December. It was tricky. Where do you say what's happening in between the spoken word? You don't! I was trying to write at the most stupid time of year. I had thirteen people coming to stay. My son was home from uni. My daughter was working killer shifts. There was shopping to be done. The scenes grew in number. For Christmas my middle son bought me two books: So You Want To Write Radio Drama by Claire Grove and Stephen Wyatt and Writing For Radio by Annie Caulfield. I read them in a few nanoseconds. The guest all left. I wrote and wrote. I was enjoying myself.

I recruited actors. (Friends who could read.) We had a rehearsal. I rewrote. I recruited more. I rewrote. Two days before the deadline we had the last performance in The Beach House, South Milton with fresh voices. I tweaked. The play had prompted laughter and a few tears. I sent it off. My demeanour has changed. I am on a new path. I was going to an event last weekend that didn't fill me with joy and one of my friends suggested I see it as a play. The cogs started to turn, got oilier and oilier and before I'd even arrived a new thread was making cross stitch. I'm back at my desk.

Tracy Alexander


Rowena House said...

This is so great to hear! Congratulations on finding this new route. You give me hope! I've been wondering about doing a playwright course at Theatre Royal, Plymouth to get me out of novel-writing doldrums. Hope this muse stays with you.

Joan Lennon said...

This is very heartening - thanks for sharing this, Tracy.

Steve Gladwin said...

Fantastic Tracey. Good luck with the cross stitch.

Lynne Benton said...

Well done you! Nothing like finding a different route to being a writer - good luck with the play/s.

Dan Metcalf said...

Fantastic to hear you have your mojo back!