Tuesday 29 November 2011

“What Five Words Best Describe You?”

I hate questions like this one, or “what animal would you be?”, “how would your friends describe you?” or worse “what colour would you be?” I’ve been asked all of these questions and I find them impossible to answer. How do I distill down my personality into such simplest terms? How does anyone? We’re complicated, social creatures, not the one-dimensional caricatures of people that pass for characters in soap operas.

I’m currently job hunting and I’ve been asked all those questions at interviews and even when recruiters call me up about a job. Often, though, when recruiters call me they have a tick-list of requirements for the latest job they have to fill and, no matter what my experience and what I can bring to a role, I get rejected because I don’t exactly match all those tick-boxes, even if I have transferable skills that could meet those requirements. Increasingly, I’m getting frustrated and want to scream back at these people, “I can do this bloody job, if only you’d listen to me!”

I was rung up a recruiter this morning about a job but, just because I don’t drive, she rejected me for it, before my CV or details could be sent to the employer. The job was a community nurse role in Central London, I job I am doing at the moment. My frustration goes beyond irony.

This also made me think as a writer. So often, characters in fiction fall into easy categories, “the hero”, “the cheating wife”, “the corrupt journalist”, “the shy virgin”, “”the camp gay man”, “the bitter old lesbian” etc... These characters can be summed up in five words or less. But how real are they?

At the moment, I’m writing a crime story revolving around the friendship of four people. The more I write this story the more complicated the characters get, the more they behaviour “out-of-character”, one of them is actually a murderer and another character is willingly covering up those murders, and the more I get involved with them. I don’t like any of these four people, I think they’re all corrupt and I’d feel very uncomfortable in their presence, but I’m fascinated by them.

I think that sums up my writing, I want to write about people who fascinate me, and those people will always have their complications and contradictions.


Friday 18 November 2011

Oh Lord Make Me Funny...

Q: What’s white and falls out of trees?

 A: A fridge.

Above is one of my favourite jokes. It’s logical and yet surreal both at the same time, and it doesn’t make many people laugh. Most people just stare oddly at me when I tell it.

That’s been my problem with humour. I have a sense of humour, I enjoy things that are funny, but I’m not that good at telling jokes, I’m not one of those who can have a room full of people falling about with laughter. My sense of humour is very sarcastic and left field. I never thought there would be any place for me to use my sense of humour in my writing.

This summer I came across a call for sketches for The Treason Show, a bi-monthly Brighten satirical review. I checked out their website, which had videos of some of their sketches, and wondered if my sense of humour would fit here. I wrote a few sketches and sent them off and, to my deep surprise, received a reply saying they found my sketches very funny and to send more. I’ve submitted work to the two most recent Treason Shows and had sketches included in both shows, I’m just balled over by this.

It seems I can be funny after all, but I need to find those who understand my humour. So, what next? I don’t think I’m going to be the next, great sitcom writer; but it has re-fired my interest in play writing. I started off, as a teenager, wanting and trying to be a play writer, but for years I thought it was something I’d put behind me, well maybe not.

Watch this space.

The next Treason Show is the beginning of December and Martin and I are going to Brighten to see it. Fingers crossed I get sketches into that show too, it would be wonder.