New Year’s Revelations

New Year’s Revelations

As December came to a close, the world was filled with “New Year, new me” sentiments. People all around the world make resolutions every year and then, by about August, collectively lament the fact that they are all pretty much broken and the rest of the year is a write-off. But it’s okay! December is around the corner and you can reinvent yourself for New Year! Or so we tell ourselves over and over.

Now I don’t want you to think that I’m being deliberately harsh. I’ve been in the same boat, many times over. I have regularly made resolutions only to see them dashed, by my own error or inaction, by the middle of the new year. We’ve all been there in the past. Probably several times each if we’re honest. I’m not going back down that route this year. Instead, I’m hitting 2016 with a dose of positivity as of yet unrivalled. I will achieve things this year not simply by putting them in a list. In fact, I’m not even going to make a list. I’m just going to work; on the things that make me happy, on the things that can make me successful and on the things that will make me a better person.

I don’t need a list for these things as I already know them all deep down. Also, these things are not rated as either a pass or a fail. It’s a sliding scale that goes from the depths of nothing to the heights of greatness. As long as I’m working toward those things, I know that whatever I do will get me closer to some form of achievement; success, happiness, whatever. I don’t have to succeed at particular things and tick them off a list. I just need to keep moving forward.

I’m in danger of sounding like a pyramid scheme here, I know that. I’m not going to try to sell you anything (although that would tick some boxes in the success and wealth categories of my year). It sounds a bit hippyish but I really believe that being positive can have a profound effect on a person. Let’s do that, people. Stay positive. If you want to do something, go out and do it. If you want to achieve something, work hard at it. Don’t make a list and then be sad when you’ve only ticked one box by June. This year isn’t just about this year. It’s about all of the years that follow it.

Do something this year, achieve ANYTHING this year and no one can take that away from you in the future. You’ve started on a path to something and although you might not reach the end of that path this year, that doesn’t mean that you’ve failed anything. You’re on your way. Never forget that the first step is the hardest to take.

Have an incredible 2016. Go out and make it yours. You’ve got this.

A World of Pure Inebriation

A World of Pure Inebriation

I believe that two whole bottles of inexpensive red wine is the exact recipe for disaster. Personally speaking, I mean. The last time I followed this particular set of instructions, my night ended in a rather messy fashion; literally, figuratively, you name it. When you’re drinking wine and you get to the stage of quaffing rather than sipping, whether or not you notice it, it’s probably too late for you. Too late because earlier in your night the wine stopped tasting like alcohol and started to go down like water. When this happens, you have to make peace with your future hungover self because you’re meeting them in the morning.

This particular occasion was not entirely my own doing. A friend kept slyly topping up my glass, selflessly keeping me well supplied with the increasingly easy drinking crimson nectar. The glass never emptied. How could I possibly have consumed so much wine when I never even refilled my glass? How indeed. By the time I realised what he had been doing, I was too far gone to care. In fact, I found it to be pretty funny (I would not have had I even considered the hangover that had ceased to be a potential and had become a guarantee).

Later that evening, I wound up (as it seems that I do on the occasions when I’ve gotten that sozzled) being quite emotional. I’m a tearful drunk and I just don’t know why. I staggered down the street with my equally inebriated but far less emotional girlfriend (which is funny because when we are sober the tables are most certainly turned) sobbing my eyes out over some perceived injustice or assumed slight. She tried to console me but her patience was wearing thin rapidly. The weirdest thing about this overflowing of the feels is that when it has happened (and I must stress that these inebriated episodes are very rare and only occur after imbibing copious amounts, honest) people always want to ask me things. I can only assume that I don’t look to be a very intimidating figure with tears streaming down and into the matted hair on my face. Usually it’s directions. I just don’t know why people assume that a person in that state is a suitable pathfinder.

I try not to drink that much anymore, anyway. Mostly because I’m not nineteen anymore and am now a sufferer of the full-blown two-day hangover. That is a major part, definitely. The other part is that I just don’t want to give the wrong directions.

The Homeowner’s Club

The Homeowner’s Club

On a blustery November evening, I stood just inside the doorway surveying my surroundings. The ground floor was a study in opposites; the living room was sleek and clean (with a sofa and chair fully assembled and comfortable) whilst the dining area was nothing but cardboard chaos. However, the mess in my immediate vicinity could do nothing to subdue my mood or my quiet sense of elation.

Louise and I had left behind the Chorltonian flat that had been our home together for nearly two and a half years and made the move to a new house; one that could be our home for years to come. A house with gas central heating (I really hate electric space heaters), a backyard (well, a timber-decked area, but it has barbecue space so it’s good enough for me) and a front door that we don’t have to share with strangers.

It’s taken a long time to get here; it’s been five months since we had our mortgage offer issued (the offer only lasts for six months, so the panic had started to build). Now we’re here. A move that we had originally allowed a month to complete was wrapped up in six days. Once the place had undergone a mammoth cleaning job (the previous owner had left it in a less than desirable condition) the pride began to grow. Proud of it not just because it’s our new home, but because it is ours (just don’t get me started on the madness of mortgages). We own it and its condition is a reflection on us. We can’t just blame a slack landlord anymore; the house’s troubles (here’s hoping that they will be few and far between) are ours to solve, but the joy the place brings is ours alone (and maybe to share).

All of these thoughts, feelings and more washed over me as I stood on the house’s threshold, the border of what was and what would be. Heavy thoughts indeed after a week of heavy lifting. But I was able to relax afterwards on the first sofa I’ve ever actually owned (always having been a patron of furnished accommodation) as I allowed myself to be settled by it.

We were home, Louise and I, and now is the time to enjoy it (once we unpack all the boxes, of course).

Expectations

Expectations

It was two weeks ago, as the green ‘Publish’ button sat ready to be pressed, that I thought long and hard about what would happen next. Email notifications would be sent and social media outlets would be flooded with our invitations (although to anyone already following our social media, this campaign would be anything but new). Once it had been pressed, I knew that we had done the right thing.

I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve spoken about anything else (this very site has evidence of that here, here and here) but that’s because the film that we launched on the morning of October 30th was a genuine labour of love. Other people getting the chance to see the finished product (whether they love it or hate it) is my primary concern. The level of effort that went in from the cast, crew and everyone else involved was phenomenal. The film is out there in the world and although it might not make us overnight millionaires (let’s not kid ourselves) people can finally see what all the fuss has been about.

I’m so proud of Shooting on the Rim, like a doting father watching his child taking its first steps; whether it walks a mile or falls after three feet, the sense of achievement is the same. It is with that pride that I invite everyone to watch it. It is with that pride that I can say “we did it”.

You can find Shooting on the Rim on Vimeo On Demand here.

The White Poppy

The White Poppy

Jeremy Corbyn. A name that most people outside of the constituency of Islington North had never heard six months ago, but one that is now imprinted on the the nation’s consciousness. The man has amassed a great public following and an even greater sense of outrage from the right-wing and its bulldog; the (mainly Rupert Murdoch-owned) British press.

Why so much panic and indignant sneering? A whole bunch of reasons (Corbyn has been an MP for over thirty years, after all), but for starters here are a few that stand out to me:

  1. The man embodies substance over style and the media can’t seem to understand why he chooses to walk or cycle to work (rather than expensing a cab fare) and why he doesn’t wear sharper suits (prefering comfort with an unbottoned top button and a natural look). The man lets his principles speak for him rather than his appearance.
  2. He has values that he does not wish to compromise, believing instead that honesty and integrity should power the political process instead of bluster and wildly hyperbolic make-believe (as has sadly become the norm in the Palace of Westminster).
  3. He’s ‘Old Labour’, which is to say that he is more left-wing than ‘New Labour’. People are genuinely freaking out that the party that brought about the creation of the NHS and the minimum wage is now being led by a man with a huge conscience of social responsibility. Crazy, right?

The big controversial outrage that I want to talk about, however, is more specific; Corbyn’s decision on whether or not to wear a white poppy for Remembrance Day commemorations instead of/as well as the traditional red poppy. Why is this a big deal for the newspapers and the nightly talking heads? Because the white poppy is a symbol of peace and pacifism and it is seen as a protest to armed conflict. Again, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Corbyn is a self-confessed pacifist who does not agree with the taking of human life for any reason. Wearing a symbol of peace at a ceremony to remember the end of a war and to reflect on those violently taken by it seems to make sense to me.

Let’s think for a moment about pacifism. Why is it a dirty word for politicians? Pacifism is the belief that human life is important enough not to waste it warring with each other. Believing that diplomacy is better than sabre-rattling shouldn’t be something that is criticised or ridiculed. It should be a concept that is aspired to. Jeremy Corbyn wants to live in a world without war. I’d quite like that too, but the usual politicians and media outlets do not. Why not?

It is possible to show respect for those who died without having to respect the war itself. Who honestly respects warfare? It is a truly terrible thing that we do to each other and no one should ever have to go through the traumas of it, neither as a soldier or as a civilian. Corbyn believes that wars should not happen and if he chooses to wear a symbol of that belief there should not be a massive uproar over it. I would rather have that than a Prime Minister who would wish to glorify war. Think about that for a second. The person in this country with the greatest ability to send people into combat wants to make out that battle is glorious and pacifism is a dirty word. This concept does not fill me with confidence of a lasting peaceful future.

Everyone should be a pacifist, really. If everyone in the world was a pacifist, we wouldn’t have wars that slaughter millions. Nobody would want to start one, preferring instead to talk things through diplomatically. Maybe this is a fairytale and people will always want to fight and kill each other. Perhaps that is so, but I believe that change has to start somewhere. Possibly even with just one man.

So, Jeremy Corbyn, I hope you wear the white poppy. I hope that you show up at the Cenotaph in a plain suit, with your top button undone. I hope you maintain another respectful silence whilst David Cameron belts out ‘God Save the Queen’ until he’s red in the face. Most importantly though, I hope you keep hold of the principles that have gotten you this far, because although Cameron is the kind of politician that we probably deserve, you are the kind of politician that we need.

One More Can’t Hurt…

One More Can’t Hurt…

So I have done the unthinkable. I have added another two projects on to my pile of already unfinished ideas and concepts. The good news is that one of them is a collaboration with a friend (so I can share the balance of procrastination with another). The bad news is that (along with being yet more work to eventually complete) my newest project is a reimagining of a much-loved property, so it may never see the light of day for that reason alone (as well as the fact that it might be terrible, but you know, positivity and that).

Whereas before I had time and nothing to write about, I now have the very real problem of having too much to write. This is a problem because the work starts to feel overwhelming; their are so many to work on that I contribute to none of them due to not knowing what to do next. It’s a vicious cycle of either having no ideas, or having too many ideas to be able to focus properly so nothing is written at all. This kind of issue is heartbreaking because I have an impressive body of work in the making, but not much to actually show for it.

The solution to this is the same as it has always been; do the damned work. I know others who can focus, complete one project and then move on to something new. I envy these people. It shouldn’t be so hard for me to do the same, but I get to a point where I don’t know what to add to something. I then take a break and a new idea pops into my head. I get excited about the new idea and then I pour my efforts into that instead. A week later, I go back to that first thing and think of something new. However, by that time, I’ve probably doubled the time it will take to complete either of those things. Now we multiply that initial extension by several vague ideas and I figure I’ll have at least one of them completed by the time I’m 65 (if I’m lucky).

It’s important to me as well that I point out here (and I’m sure I’ve said something like this before) that I am by no means bragging. I have some (what I consider to be) cool ideas but the point is less ‘Look how many cool ideas I have’ and more ‘Look at how many things I can manage not to finish at the same time’. You can’t be prolific if you never finish anything. But I’ve also realised that changing this behaviour isn’t really an option. I will always work this way and things will just have to take me longer (unless I’m working on a paid brief, in which case I’ll damn well learn how to focus properly).

Until then, I will simply continue to spin a bunch of plates at once and hope that someone, somewhere eventually cries out for my gender-swapped series reboot (fingers crossed).

Rejection Is Hard

Rejection Is Hard

So I’m trying to be a writer… I think I’ve made that pretty obvious from the start. The one thing that I expected all the way through is that the road would not be easy. How can it be easy to create something out of nothing and have everyone like it? But that’s the goal of a writer; to draw out some fiction from the darkest depths of your brain, put it on a page and then gain the appreciation of others on the way to success. The process itself is mysterious and complex. How could success follow it that easily?

I’ve been turned down for a lot of things in my time; relationships, jobs, credit cards, etc. It’s fair to say that all of these rejections have taken me down different paths which have led me to where I am now (which is to say in a good job with a great fiancé and minimal debt). These negatives have in fact been positives, if you look at them with the benefit of age and experience. Any changes back then would have resulted in a very different me of today (I’ve covered life-altering significance before too). In short, I’m a better person now because of what would have been considered negatives in the past.

But back on the topic of being a writer… Rejection of my writing has been the toughest of all to bear. You might say that because of my earlier life experiences this could work out in my favour, but I know that I still want to write and will for the years to come. There won’t be any “remember back when I wanted to be a writer?!” anecdotes from Future Dave. So these knockbacks have been harder to reconcile myself with. The toughest part of all is when they look like this:

This feedback was for the same sitcom pilot. The first response came from an agent and at least it had some nice comments. The second response, this time from a major television network, took three months to receive and it couldn’t have been more generic. Now this isn’t a sob story. I’m not asking anybody to weep for me because I know that there are a lot of people out there putting in just as much work as I am (more, in fact, if I’m honest about it). I’m just highlighting that rejections like this cause me to doubt myself. I don’t always take feedback as well as I should (it is something I’m working on personally and professionally, I assure you). But it’s something that you just have to work through. Nobody goes through life and just gets whatever they want first time (well if they do, I’ve never met them). The world is full of stories of now legendary writers whom we could not live without being rejected time and again before finding success. It happens to the best, and it also happens to me.

There is a lesson here that is valid for me and many others out there, I’m sure, regardless of which discipline within which you aim to succeed. Obstacles will always be in between you and what you want to achieve. How you deal with those obstacles is what defines you. You have to not let them stop you in the drive for what you want. The feedback I’ve gotten so far is not enough for me to make sweeping changes to what or how I write. What it has told me is that I can be better. What I write can be more engaging, more creative, more gripping than it is right now. If I can take the vague concept of “make it better” and run with it, I will have content that takes hold of people and eventually someone will have no choice but to pass it down the line to someone who can make a simple decision that will have life-changing significance for me.

Someone once told me that you have to keep doing the work. It’s as simple as that. So that’s what I’m going to do and it’s what I’d urge everyone out there to do as well. Keep working at whatever it is until you’re good enough that people can’t afford to say no any longer.

That’s how you make it. Or at least it’s how I intend to make it. You know, eventually…