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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Keeping Quiet

Even though I've been away for a while, I've been surprised to find that my Live Hotmail correspondence has not let up its constant stream of mail, and that (apart from a few seasonal dips) my feedstats for my blog show that our now one thousand five hundred readership (give or take a hundred) has remained strong.

During my sabbatical, when I or my team haven't updated the blog for a few months, the stats show that faithful readers have still come on through to surf our archives, or just browse a poem or two.

As always, you're all more than welcome. I just hope you enjoy your visits here.

Questions, Questions...

Two major queries that have taken up the attention of most of the mails of late have been divided into those wanting me to write more posts of a personal nature, or to know more about my reasons for being on a film shoot.

Friends have emailed me to suggest I am being mysterious on this point, or wanting to add an air of mystery to my blog, but I have to confess here that my reasons for not giving a full exposition of my life and my works is a very boring one.

What I will say in this post I'm sure will serve to burst any bubble of mystery that might currently be surrounding my works - one of which happens to be a feature-length film script that I've been working on.

The Film Shoot

I was on a film shoot, because I wanted to check out first-hand in what should have been his perfect environment, the director considering my script for the screen.

As I explained before briefly, what I saw that day wasn't to my liking, and I made the decision that, unfortunately, he wasn't capable of shooting the script that I had written. It went deeper than his directorial or artistic capabilities.

The script is based on a hard-hitting subject concerning women being trafficked and abused in the sex industry, and after one day of watching this director shoot, I came under the impression that I would have to compromise a lot of my own artistic integrity if I handed my script over to him. But as I say it went further than that.

I realised not only weren't we on the same page mentally, not even on the same script, we weren't even talking the same language artistically. It was amazing, because off set he is a genuinely nice guy (and I have nothing but good to say about him personally) but professionally, on set, to my limited mind he is autocratic and uninspiring. But again, as I've said, it was more than that.

Naturally, some readers will say, why didn't you just keep quiet, sell the script for some money and be done with it? What's all the fuss for?

Believe me, I don't make any decision lightly, and I was faced with a dilemma. My original work had been seen by many people in the film industry - an industry which likes to cite plagiarism as merely referencing, and won't think twice about stealing other people's ideas.

For me to take a step back at this stage, could mean people taking my script to use as a template with a ghost writer to make a rehash of it, just to make a quick buck.

As I say, I was in a real dilemma.

So, I decided to sleep on it.

The Right Choice

John Steinbeck once said that "It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it."

I find that true. When I am faced with such a dilemma, when possible, I like to take a step back, get a good night's sleep, and distil my thoughts. I think long and hard, and take all options into hand, before I make a decision.

Let's be passionate, impetuous, spur of the moment when it comes to love, but when it comes to decisions that require more of the mind than the heart, let's not.

It took three days for me to come to a decision about my script. Even though there was a producer and an actor-cum-producer who had read my script and raved about it being "career-changing" for all involved (these are the words of the director, not my own) and they had promised that a distribution deal was in place, I felt I couldn't compromise my work for any amount of money.

Those in the film industry reading this post will understand the weight of what I just wrote - what it actually means to have two producers and a distributor interested in a script you may have. I do. I have two notable scriptwriter friends who have guided and advised me during the process of my writing my feature-length script. I didn't take the leap with my eyes shut.

Again, I am sure I can hear some of my readers say even now, what a blockhead!

I'm a Blockhead

Samuel Johnson is accredited as saying that only a blockhead doesn't write for money. I don't write for money, however, and readily own up to being a blockhead. I wrote this script so that all those women and girls working on our streets selling their bodies in our countries that are invisible to us might find a voice, and that in doing justice to their stories (in small way) they might have justice.

I raise my hand up. I am a blockhead.

But, hearing the director talk more and more about making money, and about commercialism, or using this as a platform to get his name heard, increasingly began to worry me, and watching his ineptitude on set was the final nail on the coffin. Discussing it with him afterwards, and realising he had deep-set blinkers on, so that he would never be able to see where I was coming from and only where he wanted to go, I realised I needed time out to think matters over.

So, now, I have amicably pulled my script out of the project. I am still in contact with all sides involved, as I hope I have been fair and open in my dealings with all considered.

I am happy to report there are no hard feelings at all (except perhaps a little disappointment) as there would have been had I let things go ahead simply to make everyone's careers and to make them money.

For I work more long-term than that. I don't think one year down the line, I think fifty. So, I look to a time when the immediacy of money or fame has gone, to what is left, and I ask myself if I would have been happy with what I saw on the screen.

And with the decision I've now made, I can honestly say yes.

Keeping Quiet

So, for a third and final quote in this post, I go to Nisargadatta Maharaj in answer to why I mostly keep quiet on my blog, and why such posts as today are out of character for me.

The quote is this: "Keep quiet. Do your work in the world, but inwardly keep quiet. Then all will come to you."

The thing that can most affect our productivity as well as our peace of mind is our inner chatter. Thinking about all the things I have to do today or could do today, or what will people think if I do this thing, only get in the way of your making a contribution in the world today.

I like to be still. I don't like to burden my blog or my life with chatter. I only want to write down the things that I think will benefit those reading, and I make selections from my life, which I choose to put in these virtual pages, with that in mind.

With you, dear reader, in mind.

So, I hope you'll all forgive me those times when I decide to keep quiet. I'm not being mysterious.

I just feel that sometimes saying nothing can mean that I'm saying the best thing of all.

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