It’s nice to be beside the seaside…

Today I didn’t write because I went to the seaside.

There’s something in the saying “oh I do like to be beside the seaside”.

There’s something about the air and the sun as it twinkles off the water. 

A cleansing, blow-out-the-cobwebs experience.

It made me feel creative.
 I know us artists and writers can often be indoor types but crisp, clean and fresh air should never be discounted as a remedy for the creative block.

Creative Jobs

It’s hard to look for anything inspirational without coming across a Steve Jobs quote or story.

Love him, hate him. Love Apple, hate Apple.

The guy knew how to connect creativity with the masses.

I really agree with the quote below. So many times a creative line or idea has come to me, and seemed so obvious to me and yet so unthinkable for everyone else.

Do you get that too?

Good Advice Hunting with Matt Damon…

Today we draw some inspiration from Matt Damon.

Perhaps you might think that he’s an unusual choice – I get that.

I mean the impression of him in ‘Team America’ doesn’t exactly paint him in the best light.

But, regardless, Matt Damon’s a bright guy and he pulled one real slick move that we could all learn something from.

As you’ll likely know, the film that launched Matt Damon’s (and Ben Affleck’s) career was ‘Good Will Hunting’. They started writing it when Damon was 22 and Affleck was 20 – by the time they sold it they were 27 and 25 respectively.

If you haven’t seen it, you really should. “Good Will Hunting” made $200 million worldwide. Affleck and Damon picked up the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and Robin Williams got the Best Supporting Actor gong. All in all, a rip-roaring success.

oscarsgoodwill

Miramax Films produced the film. It’s one of the best movies they’ve ever made.

But, they weren’t always Affleck and Damon’s first choice producers. In fact, there were loads of film companies who were courting the script.

Why did Miramax close the deal?

Because they took the time to actually read the whole script.

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But the initial company they were working with, Castle Rock, didn’t quite play to that rule book. They were asking for re-write after re-write, and while Damon & Affleck were happy to oblige…it got a bit tiresome after a while.

And they started to wonder whether anyone was actually reading it.

So, Damon decides to spice things up. He includes a random, gratuitous sex scene right in the middle of the film. It comes quite at random, and includes two characters who aren’t into each other in that way. Williams & Damon. It completely didn’t fit with the story at all.

They submitted this new draft and…

…heard nothing.

No a peep from Castle Rock.

So they decide to circulate their script around a few other companies. And eventually, Harvey Weinstein – one of the guys from Miramax – calls them.

He loves the film. Wants to make it. But, his only question is – what’s with that sudden sex scene, it doesn’t fit in with the film at all…?

What was the reply from the Damon/Affleck camp?

‘That’s the scene that we wrote to find out whether people in your job actually read the script, because every studio executive we went to … no one brought that scene up, or maybe people thought it was a mistake or maybe nobody read it themselves.’ They said, ‘You’re the only guy that brought it up. You get the movie.’

Who knew that actually paying attention and fully reading the things that creatives drop at your door could lead to a $200 million success?

Lost in Manhattan

I didn’t write today because I went to the cinema. One of the things I like about independent picture houses is that they don’t just show the newest films – they often give an audience to some of the classics too.

This early evening showing was the old Woody Allen flick ‘Manhattan’. It’s nice to see that a film made as far back as 1979 can still hold a crowd (a near sellout) in its grip.

While I’m not sure if it’s quite as good as Allen’s most popular film ‘Annie Hall’ – it’s well worth a watch. As seems usual, Woody Allen plays a neurotic writer. In this one he’s dating a 17 year old (he’s 42!), but ends up leaving her for his best friend’s mistress.

allenstreep
(Yep, that’s a young Meryl Streep)

Shot in black and white – this film is, dialogue aside, a beautiful slideshow of artistic frames and sprawling shots of the city of New York.

I’ve been involved in film-making over the years, and have even been in feature length films – I can tell you that finding shots as good as the ones in ‘Manhattan’ is a pain-staking process.

Entertainment aside, I was pleased to see that a good chunk of the audience was made up of under-30s. People who wouldn’t even have been alive when the film came out. Not only that, but from what I could sense and hear, they’d all enjoyed it too.

It shows us that good style and good storytelling is timeless.

Fashion – whether it be in films or threads – tends to move in cycles, because the fundamentals of success don’t really change.

So, it’s important to soak these classics up and find inspiration along the way.

I’m not clowning around…

So, a lot of my regular readers have said that they want a bit more insight into my day-to-day and why I’m not writing, as well as the usual creativity quotes and inspo.

That’s good – I pride myself on being able to deliver an anecdote, so here we go.

I haven’t written as much over the last few days as I’ve been engrossed in a book. Which is nothing new for me – these days it’s mostly non-fiction, but this one was actually fiction. I’ve bought into the hype of the new “It” film that’s coming out soon, and after I mentioned my excitement to her, my girlfriend was kind enough to buy me this copy:

IT
(Beautiful cover & the fact that there’s a quote from ‘The Guardian’ on the front just makes me like it more)

It takes me back. As a teenager the first real adult fiction books I got into were written by my main man, Stephen King. It made me love the ‘supernatural’ genre. As a creator, and as someone who likes to write fiction, I just love stories that bend reality and take the reader somewhere else. A place where things get eerie and where the usual, ironclad linear quality of life is bent way out of proportion.

So, here I am again – losing myself in one of King’s worlds. Back in the day my obsession started with the Dark Half, then Salems Lot – closely followed by The Stand, Firestarter, Insomnia, Rose Madder, Four Past Midnight and ultimately ending in King’s brilliant non-fiction work ‘On Writing’.

Shocked and entertained in equal measures, those stories were an elixir for my imagination – night after night I’d sit in my teenage bedroom. Tapping away at my keyboard until the dark, quiet hours of the night. Lost in a world of spooky stories and weird encounters – all inspired by Stevey King (and, after a while, James Herbert).

Anyway, back to the case in point.

So, it was the morning after I started “It” and the sun was shining down on another day full of possibilities. My girlfriend and I work at the same place – and as we walked in I ran-over the plot of ‘It’ to her. Taking time to mention ‘Pennywise’ – who, for those of you not in the know, is a villainous clown in the story.

My explanation soon ended, and as is the way of conversation, things drifted to another topic and then to another topic. Until our talk of ‘It’ was far, far away – drifting somewhere in the never-ending labyrinth of the past.

Thus the day ticked away. Some seven hours later we found ourselves walking back – the conversation about my current book far from our minds.

That was until I saw it.

At first I thought it was my imagination, but then we both saw it. At exactly the spot on the road where we’d been having a chat about clowns one had appeared. You can see it in the picture below.

Weird, ey? I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, but it wasn’t there before and had gone by the next day!

clown

It’s tru, man…

I don’t pretend to be any kind of an expert on American politics, but I’m aware that they once had a president called Harry S. Truman. A man who, quite naturally, had a lot of important decisions to make during his time in office.

And, as with the debates in England right now, (and regardless of my personal political views) I can’t help but think about how much of a tough gig it must be as the leader of a country.

The decisions I make during the day are usually as pulse-racing as ‘shall I put a wash on tonight’ or ‘which TED talk looks the best?’. Decisions that, by and large, have little effect on anyone else outside of my small social/family circle.

But I am a fan of accountability. If I do something wrong, and I believe it’s my fault, I’ll hold myself accountable.

This is something I always bear in mind while taking criticism from others. As much as I’d like to one day be the greatest writer who ever did live – I’m aware that what I write isn’t always going to be perfect. Particularly if I’m writing for a client.

So I’m always open to suggestion and if I’ve done something that’s not good or wrong – I’ll change it. Too often I see many of us looking to blame, rather than accepting responsibility.

While I’m all for making my own way, I’m aware that – to progress as a creative – you need to accept that the fact the sun doesn’t shine out of your derriere 24/7 and that your work won’t always be top-drawer right away.

It’s the same if you let people down in project work, or if you mess up slightly in a meeting. As we all like to say “we’re only human”. It’s true…or ‘tru’.

Why do I choose Truman for this piece?

Well, below you can see the featured image for this article again…may I draw your attention to the sign on his desk. Something we should all keep in our heads as we go through our days…

truman