Miss Americana – review

As a black man, in my early fifties and having grown up in south London, my musical influences and leanings were towards soul and funk with a smidgen of reggae. My clubbing days were solidly soul and funk, moving into house and garage music and embracing the musical mores that surrounded that scene.

That is not to say I did not like other types of music but in terms of purchasing music – I was a bit of a vinyl junkie back then – those were the musical styles that parted me from my hard-earned. These days, with downloading and streaming and my clubbing days somewhat behind me, I can and do indulge in less dance specific music.

That being said, Taylor Swift was never on my list of artist, nor was her music – except for the goat song, you know the one – something that ever came into my world. Of course, I knew who she was – goat song – and what she looked like, especially after Kanye West made her the centre of news broadcast throughout the western hemisphere in 2009 when he interrupted her awards speech to highlight his friend Beyoncé.

Swift, ever the nice girl, tried to play down the incident. Swift’s niceness, not to mention her relentless work ethic, is on display in a fascinating documentary by Lana Wilson, Miss Americana, which not only follows Swift for a couple of years but documents her rise, trials and the tribulations that have beset her career.

A talented singer/songwriter, Swift, hailing from Pennsylvania, began her performing career at an early age, signing her first record deal at fifteen. With a mixture of country and pop, Swift became popular and gained a vast following very quickly.

As she herself admits in the documentary, the most important thing for her was to be liked. Never one to display any of the rebellious traits that have plagued countless young celebrities before her, Swift was an ever-smiling pop princess with a Stepford-esque drive towards pleasing her fan base.

Being a songwriter from such a young age and one whose music touched so many, with lyrics they felt they could relate to, Swift music and writings have always been personal, reflect things that are happening in her life.

It is a hard-hearted and cynical person, a trait that some seem to covet in these times, that does not feel for Swift whilst watching this documentary. She is tearful as she recalls the bile and social media backlash that came after West’s infamous incident, her loneliness at being at the pinnacle of her career but not having anyone to share the moment with or who could relate and, with being a star during a media explosion age, the constant sniping at her with regards to her possible sexual partners.

She also addresses her insecurities about her body, something that many can relate to, how seeing photos of herself could trigger her eating disorder, prompting her to not eat whilst working to exhaustion, as the media took potshots at her and other women lined up to deride her ‘niceness’.

Feeling overwhelmed, Swift withdrew from the public eye and reassessed her life. She knew that her need to be liked by the multitudes of strangers was unhealthy. The dopamine hit she craved from the adulation of fans and critics was, ultimately, destroying her.

She realised that she needed to find true happiness, contentment. Also, as she was now older, she felt that she should perhaps voice her opinion on things that mattered to her. One thing that she felt very strongly about was the rights of women and gays in her home state. A sexual assault case she had to fight after she was sued by a former deejay who had been – rightly – fired for groping her.

Swifts’ pronouncements in social media created an upturn in younger voters in her state and though she did not get the outcome she had hoped for, it showed that she could utilise her influence for something important.

In my opinion – and perhaps I am naive – unless Taylor Swift is one of the planet’s most accomplished actors, it is hard not to like her. Miss Americana shows an extremely hard-working young woman, growing up in the spotlight and trying to find herself in a world that always wants to know more about its celebrities.

Miss Americana is a highly watchable hour and a half of entertainment that may change your mind about that infamous goat song. It made a Swift fan out of me.

Hating On Reality

As an aspiring film and television writer, reality television is an abomination to me. Lazy television, accommodating talentless, fame hungry people and selling it as entertainment. Here in the United Kingdom the latest reality show – it might be in its second or third season, I’ve really no idea and refuse to research it. – is Love Island, a show where a collection of beautiful, single, young people are thrown together on an island and given various task to complete.
The show has garnered a lot of press for a lot of the antics, mostly of an overtly sexual nature, that have transpired. I do not consider myself a prude and an adult is entitled to do as they please, as long as their actions harm no other, but Love Island, a show that is deliberately salacious and is so abhorrent I cannot bring myself to watch even an episode, I have been watching snippets on YouTube and it is as awful as I feared.
Musclebound jocks and dolly birds with too much face paint show off and cavort on a specially created island. At the end of each episode, the watching public gets to vote off one of the participants. The group learn of this by one of them receiving a text and reading it out loud to the rest. The programme is just painful.
Suffering three minutes of this tripe is almost too much for me, with one of the least popular bawling their eyes out, because the other least popular character decided to leave. Utter shite. There are inane conversations and way too much makeup on just about everybody. Looking beautiful – depending on one’s perspective – seems to be the only requirement for getting into the shop window that this show is.
With the modern penchant for social media being seen as viable a career option, with popularity allowing celebrities to earn substantial amounts of money, there is a never ending supply of nubile, attractive women and hunky, gym-loving, vainglorious men prepared to embarrass and exhibit themselves for a voyeuristic and haughty public.
That reality television is so popular, especially in its present, obviously scripted, format is a mystery to me. There was a time when it was the contrast in the characters involved that was what made this type of show interesting and watchable. Now everyone in these shows looks the same. All of the participants fall into the eighteen to twenty-four demographic, all are slim and conventionally attractive or buffed up and pseudo-cool.
The public, however, laps up the show, happy to adopt it as a sort of guilty pleasure that makes them feel better about themselves, not being silly enough to allow themselves to be filmed for cheap entertainment. The feeling of superiority is reinforced by the type of people they tend to choose, who even for all their good looks and fine tans are obviously from working class backgrounds.
That this show is so popular says as much about the viewership as it does the participants, the class system and perceptions of the watchers that they are somehow better than those they are watching because, like spectators at an old Roman arena, they are being entertained. Of course, I see the irony in my rant, how by deriding Love Island, I too am viewing myself as above such fair. As I began, I have never been a fan of reality television. I want to be told stories. If I want to observe real life I can go sit on a bench in my local park. If I want to hear about other people’s mundane love life’s, I can get on a bus and hear any number of less than guarded conversations, people on mobile phones never aware of the fact they are out in public.
Unfortunately, reality television shows are not only initially cheap to make – the cost goes up once any of the participants gets really popular – but they also appeal to the ever important eighteen to twenty-four demographic, the mass consumers of media. As lazy and uninspiring as reality television is, it is not going away.

What Do You Like?

Criticism is a natural byproduct of making one’s work, efforts, available for public scrutiny. If you are a creative artist of any kind, be it writing, painting or drawing, film or sculpture, the only way you can hope to make a living off of your talents or passion is to draw attention to it. These days, every artist, of any description, has an online presence.
Visual artist especially, still tend to have their own websites, a hub where all of their works can be viewed in one place. For the true millennial generation, those who don’t know that the Twitter one hundred and forty character format is the maximum amount you used to be able to text by phone, the building of a dedicated website is pointless. Why would you build a website when you can get just as much traffic – if not more – through existing platforms that everyone is already familiar with.
With the exception of Instagram, on social media platforms, you can link to other webpages where your work can be more fully appreciated or purchased, or more information gained or any number of options. Linking creates a doable action, unlike the passivity of browsing a website.
Join a group on Facebook or a discussion on Twitter, gain a following on WordPress or views on YouTube, your name is out there known by the masses. So anytime you produce a new work or write something it is available for scrutiny. What about when you actually want some helpful critiques, what happens then? Nobody likes to be criticised, no matter how well meaning the criticism is. If your work is at a stage where you feel it can be shown to the world, a caustic critique of said work, true or not, will not be appreciated.
There is always a horrible dilemma when watching the work of a new filmmaker, one does not want to suppress their enthusiasm, yet still, there are fundamental mistakes that should be pointed out. Technical stuff is easily correctable and can be excused when it comes to the inexperienced, but there are aspects that are harder to ignore.
With so many tutorials and blogs, information and behind-the-scenes videos about filmmaking and the creative process, it seems inconceivable that anyone new to the filmmaking process would make rookie errors. Of course, being rookies, they make rookie errors. Scenes are flat or run too long, they look stagey, very little movement, just the camera pointing at people talking or, the worse thing, the actors are not very good.
I recently watched a short film – it was more a scene – where the filmmaker had posted the work for a competition and asked people in the group to watch it. Wanting to like it – I always want to like it – and wanting to support the efforts of any fellow fledgeling filmmaker, I clicked the link to give it a watch, after all, it was only three minutes long. Unfortunately, the acting was wooden and the story pretty much nonexistent, though it was nicely shot.
Even as I write the words, disparaging another filmmakers work, I feel like a condescending prick, having not put anything or any relevance out into the world myself in some years. The dichotomy of being both a film critic and filmmaker is not lost on me. Still, I am torn when it comes to criticising another’s work. Should one’s critique be truthful, explaining every dislike and point of contention? After all, it is just my opinion that said actors are not particularly good, others may view the same film and like the – in my opinion – stilted performances.
Does one say, no matter how well-meaning, if another person’s work is not up to scratch? And what qualifies a person to be a relevant critic? Knowing what is good is arbitrary, a view different from person to person. One person’s love of Citizen Kane does not make them the doyen of good taste and judgement. What is good or not is entirely down to the viewer, that is why films that critics have hated sometimes become massive hits and films that they have loved have gone down the pan. Nobody knows anything.
I suppose one just has to make what one likes and hope others like it, it is all anybody can do.

Black There, Not Here

There are terms and phrases that immediately conjure up certain images; period drama, western, sitcom, road trip movie, rom-com, these are all terms and genres that are easily identifiable and which one can think of fare that falls into each category.
Here in the United Kingdom, there is a rich history in film, television, theatre and music. In comedy, drama and serials, there has been a vast output of memorable films and television programmes. The likes of Doctor Who, Downton Abbey and even the comedy, Keeping Up Appearances, are worldwide successes. For such a small island and one that is somewhat set in its way, – more on that later – the United Kingdom manages to hold its own in the highly competitive visual media arena.
The English language being the dominant language of film is a big factor in that, with the top ten highest grossing films of all time all English language films. In the British media landscape, the same country that vocally defends its animal rights record, its lax border approach to immigration, its law enforcement without guns (a good thing) and the general fairness for which the British are famed for throughout the world, things are not as fair as one would like.
For a nation that prides itself on fairness, the image of the British around the world still is of an overwhelmingly white nation. Whereas in the States, a country that is routinely targeted for its lack of diversity and racial inequality, the programming reflects not only the country’s racial complexity but also the many stories and struggles that have faced the various communities, here in the U. K. one would never know that there was a diverse population by watching its television output.
As a British born, black person the scarcity of programmes with black people in them was always noticeable but never an issue as, like anybody, one gets use to what is normal, in this case, very few non-white television shows. The fact that most of the black programmes that were shown were American – The Cosby Show, Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, Different Strokes – one could not help but notice they were all comedies, perpetuating the long-held image of black people as grinning, jigging, entertainment. Alex Haley’s slave drama, Roots, was a big deal in the eighties amongst black people, a programme that showed a history, albeit an unsavoury one, and black people as more than caricatures. Of course, it was an American show.
Here, the paucity of black shows remains. There was a brief spate in the nineties – Desmond’s the standout amongst them – still, all were comedies. With the explosion of social media and every person able to venture an opinion and speak their mind – welcome to my blog! – issues of every ism – sex, race, gender – can be aired and debated. Any social issue can quickly become a cause, careers blighted by foolish utterances or proclamations in the social media world.
Such is the dearth of black shows in the U. K. many a black actor, much to the consternation of Samuel L. Jackson, moved to the States for work. With its rich history in television, featuring black ensemble shows since the seventies, as well as having black actors in a lot of their other shows. As well as television shows, there are also many black films of every genre, going back as far as the early nineteen hundreds, a truly rich history of black filmmaking.
Here in the U. K. even though black people have lived here since the seventeen hundreds, there has been very little television reflecting that with black British films so rare one could be forgiven for believing none were ever made. The few that have been made have not only been poorly marketed, a problem for a lot of British films but are so little known they even struggle to find a cult audience.
It was disappointing that Steve McQueen, the black British director, that when deciding to make a black film, starring the black British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, he elected to make an American story instead of a British one. The production money for 12 Years A Slave was predominantly American, so that may have been a factor, but if a respected director such as McQueen cannot get a British black story made, what Hope is there? The like of Amma Asante’s Belle got so little traction even as a historical, costumed drama, that one despairs of trying to get authentic black, British stories out. Still, I will keep writing until I find the right story to put out there. That’s what a writer does.

Writing Is Easy ​Until It’s Not

How do you measure productivity from a writing standpoint? If one is getting paid to write, I suspect payment and follow up offers of work would be a good barometer. What about the vast number of would-be scribes who are not employed to write – most of us – who write for the love, the practice and because you feel compelled to? How do you judge your output? Is a blog a day a lot? Not nearly enough, if one has delusions of being a writer of any note? Or is it all just procrastination, a way of avoiding the actual kind of writing – scripts, plays, books – that one ought to be focusing on?
It is probably, depending on why you write, all of the above and a bit more. In the world of blogging, I suspect there are as many reasons as there are bloggers. Not every blogger wants to be a writer, even if by blogging they inadvertently become one. Some are more sporadic than others, writing more streams of consciousness than subject focused blogs. There are many a diarist as well. For these types of bloggers, I suppose the volume of output is not especially relevant. If you’re just emptying your head, twenty words might work one day and two thousand the next.
Approaching it as a discipline, a task that must be done daily, as I do, it takes on a different significance. I like to try and write at least six hundred and fifty words, that is my minimum requirement. I have occasionally gotten really into a flow and ended up nearer a thousand, but the six fifty mark is my benchmark. It is an arbitrary figure with no reasoning behind it except that most of my blogs tend to run about that length.
With something like a script, it is much harder to quantify what constitutes a good daily output. Depending on the scene, with a rough guide of a page being one minute of screen time, two pages can feel like an absolute triumph. Because of the specificity of a script, or any kind of storytelling, you cannot, generally, just write and hope. Story structure dictates that there must be some purpose to each and every paragraph or direction.
Writing opinion is relatively easy in comparison to storytelling. In that way, blogging is definitely my procrastination, as it is more a conversation written down than a structured piece of writing. It is definitely a good practice, forcing me to come up with stuff to write about that is related to the blog’s title subject matter. I still know that I am just avoiding – delaying – tackling several works that would be closer and more beneficial to my goal of becoming a screenwriter and filmmaker.
The thing with writing as a profession, as opposed to blogging, is you have to get it right. With a blog, regardless of your following, you can write whatever you feel like and get it out there, no filters, no edits – though of course I do edits and proofread, still end up missing stuff! – no rigid structure. People will read it or not, but it will still be, in effect, published. If one wants to get paid for one’s writing, not only should it adhere to recognisable structure, but it has to be good, better than what a potential reader could write and entertaining enough for the prospective employer’s audience to want to read.
The initial question of productivity is not so relevant when viewed in the context of who the output is for and to what end. Writing regularly

Writing regularly every day is a good and necessary practice. Whether it the right approach for what one might one to achieve is down to the individual. For myself, the gnawing feeling of not doing the right sort of writing – both book and screenplays remain in limbo – is enough to tell me that it is, in a roundabout way, the best approach for me at this time. Hopefully, I am pretty sure it will manifest in a sudden urge to write one of those long waiting works.

Don’t Speak

Ah Ms. Banks, you really ought to check the filmography of those whose careers you wish to speak of before you decide to besmirch the name of a director, especially a white, Jewish, industry heavyweight like Spielberg.
There has been in Hollywood over the past couple of years a real push for more prominent roles for women and any race that isn’t white. That this is a thing in a country where a black man can start his own self-sustaining film industry – Tyler Perry – or a woman can, as far back as the sixties – Lucille Ball – run a television studio, is a little odd to a black person looking on from the United Kingdom as the U. S. was always the place to look for any sort cultural and ‘people like us’ references.
Blaxploitation, the blanket term used to describe the slew of black films that came out in the early seventies in America, set the tone. Films with black leads, set in black communities and featuring identifiable black cultural references. The films still managed to cross ethnic barriers, appealing to many outside of the black community at which it was marketed. Bruce Lee was the lone voice for Asian cinema with him popularising martial arts in the West.
Since the early days of cinema, it has always been a boys and their toys medium. Early works were made mostly by men, though Alice Guy-Blaché is credited as one of the pioneers of cinema having made a film, albeit only a minute long, way back in 1896.

What was important with regards to her early film, is that it was given a narrative at a time when other pioneers such as the Lumiere’s and Edison were only thinking in terms of a ‘live’ photograph.
Still Elizabeth Banks’ accusatory tweet – social media really gets people in trouble sometimes – dragging Spielberg over the lack of female leads in his films, whilst in some respects true – his films, like most leading Hollywood films, tend to have male leads – he did with his adaption of black author Alice Walker’s The Colour Purple back in 1985, address the issue of colour and a female lead – Whoopi Goldberg starred – more than twenty years before the first tweet or hashtag.
The world has changed over the past twenty years, the biggest shift being in social media and the ability to connect with people, at least superficially, relatively easily and quickly.

The internet has changed the way we receive and seek information. It has also become the place where everyone with an opinion can voice it. (I appreciate the irony of putting that statement in a blog!) A person with a degree of social influence – they get a lot of traffic on their blogs, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media platform – can start a topic and make it relevant in an hour, hashtags or shares spreading like wildfire.
That is how a subject you have never heard of makes the news now. Unfortunately, sometimes people like to jump on a bandwagon or wade into a subject that they have very little knowledge of or only know one side of the story. With the anonymity that can come with commenting online, some find a type of bravery that they would not display generally if asked to comment on a subject, whether they liked it or not.

Unfortunately, sometimes people like to jump on a bandwagon or wade into a subject that they have very little knowledge of or only know one side of the story of. With the anonymity that can come with commenting online, some find a type of bravery that they would not display generally if asked to comment on a subject, whether they liked it or not.
What’s so stupid is that it is easier than ever to check facts or stories before commenting on them or giving an uneducated opinion, the only reason to venture an opinion from a position of ignorance is laziness.
This need to call people out on supposed slights or for not stepping up to promote the case of women in cinema, in Spielberg’s case, smacks of bullying. To call out an individual when there are so many other high profile, not to mention more prolific, filmmakers who are not doing anything to further the cause of women or minorities in cinema is spiteful and truthfully, somewhat unhelpful.
It is good that many are no longer required to sit at the back of the bus, metaphorically speaking, but we must always be mindful to not let one sort of egocentric dominance be replaced by another.

X-men? No.

It is rant time again. Normally I reserve my rants for real life, keeping my written rants to a blessed minimum. No one wants to read daily whines, not when you can be entertained by them on YouTube. But as I don’t do vlogs and I would probably forget a lot of my grievances if I did do it as a vlog, it will have to be a normal, written, blog.
My topic for ranting today, in keeping with the overall theme of the blog, are the films of that – close to my heart – team of mutants, shunned by society at large, the Uncanny X-men.

Unlike some of the comic geeks online and forums, I do not claim to be a definitive expert on everything mutant related. I was a comic collector – X-men, Daredevil, New Mutants, The Dark Knight (not Batman, just the Frank Miller series) Alan Moore/Alan Davis run in Captain Britain – over a period of maybe five or six years, when Forbidden Planet was still a basement store, way before anyone cared about comic book movies.
Even though the X-men comic and characters debuted in nineteen sixty-three, it is the eighties Chris Claremont run that made the comics famous. His Jean Grey/Phoenix/Dark Phoenix story arc, encompassing the Hellfire club run – very important in the cannon in relation to Grey’s mind – the original Days Of Future Past comic (spoiler, Kitty Pryde was the lead in that comic. Logan dies.) plus other crucial character arcs.
Logan/Wolverine was always the most popular character and it is easy to see why. He, more than any other character, embodied the freedom, otherness, and injustice many of the readers of the comics identified with. It stood to reason that his popularity would translate to the big screen.
Bryan Singer’s X-men in 2000 kicked off their cinematic journey, followed three years later by the, unusually for a sequel, better X2, also directed by Singer.
As is the nature of film sometimes and it is not something I usually have an issue with, they like to change things so as to accommodate the story.

This is common especially for a book to film translation. Singer’s adjustments were….interesting. I did enjoy the first two films, but that does not mean they were right. The first thing to go, as has been common in most superhero films, was the costumes.

Obviously, brightly coloured spandex was never going to be taken seriously on the big screen. The costume changes were a necessary evil.
Anyone who read my review of Logan – loved it – knows I thought it was by far and away the best X-men film. It was gritty and raw, emotional and gripping. Hugh Jackman was astonishing as the broken Logan.

He is still nothing like the comic book character. Logan in the comics is five foot three, butt ugly and also gorilla hairy. Jackman, as one would expect, nails the manner and attitude, but he could not make himself ugly or nearly a foot shorter.
The other stand out characters in the films have been Magneto, played by Sir Ian McKellan and Michael Fassbender and Professor Charles Xavier, played by Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy. In an ensemble film, based on the eighties best-selling comic, only three characters stand out.

Even in the sequel, that opened with the fantastic Nightcrawler attacking the White House scene, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is still the lead character.
In the comic, Cyclops is the group leader, with Storm taking over the leadership when Cyclops takes an indefinite leave of absence. The Scott Summers/Cyclops and Jean Grey/Marvel Girl/Phoenix relationship are also very important in the X-men story, not that you would get that from the films. The casting for all of the films, strangely casting two statuesque actresses as Jean Grey – Jean was never a physically imposing character – in Famke Janssen and Sophie Turner, whilst casting underwhelming Scott Summers’ in James Marsden and Tye Sheridan, neither screen couple ever convincing.
I’m not sure I can talk about Mystique. Singer got it so right initially, casting Rebecca Romijn who was perfect in the first two films. After the worst X-men film ever made by, when Brett Ratner stepped in for the risible Last Stand, Singer, who had left after the first sequel, returned to try and save the franchise.

He did a good job as well, even if he did completely change the story and make Wolverine the central character – surprise, surprise – side note: for an openly gay man, one would have thought that an opportunity to have a female-focused superhero film out first would have appealed to Singer. Apparently not.
In the sequel, Singer replaced all the main X-men characters with younger actors, with the exception of Jackman. The mangling of the cannon continued in Apocalypse with Jennifer Lawerence – an actress I like a lot – reprising the role she had taken over from Romijn in the previous film, as Mystique, becoming a….hero.

This is so far from the comic character! Romijn had nailed it, as had Lawerence in the first reboot, but the Apocalypse Mystique is terrible and unknown to this comic book geek. I will salute Singer for what he did with the Sentinels though. Genius.
Even as I am writing this I am realising that it could run on to two or three blogs. There are so many aberrations to the cannon and as I said before, it is expected that there will be differences.

What is so galling is, if they are going to follow or be influenced by stories that have already, for many a comic fan, been movies, in essence, having been paneled in comics, just make a new story. Stop rewriting perfectly good histories and characters and changing their ages and relationships and…argh! Too much. Just stop.

The Smouldering Boats

The performance coach and inspirational speaker Anthony Robbins, says that to move forward in life you have to burn your boats. The boats are, of course, metaphorical. We have not all reached Mister Robbins level of finance, we can’t all own a boat or boats. The metaphorical boats he was speaking of are the safety nets we might employ that prevents us moving forward.
The phrase is actually derived from history and a historical event. Caesar had come, a flotilla of ships in his wake, to conquer Britain. His forces were outnumbered by the British and he knew that if his command felt there was an opportunity for a retreat, they would take it. As his legions gathered on the cliffs, he had them look to where the ships were moored. All the boats were burning. There would be no retreating. With no other option than to go forward and fight, his forces advanced and defeated the British.
If you “burn your boats”, you have no option but to make a life on the island you have landed on. That is sort of where I find myself now, except I am not quite ready to fan the embers, hence the title. The thing is, my ‘boat’ has been smouldering for quite some time now. Years actually. The reasons not to let everything else go and focus on writing and filmmaking is simply fear.
I can come up with many other seemingly authentic excuses – because that is all they are – but the overriding one is fear. Fear of what though? There is fear of the obvious; failure and success. One does not want to fail, even if failure is inevitable on some level. Conversely, success is scary because it needs to be maintained, so is another route to eventual failure. Not that failure is fatal. The oft-quoted lesson of failure is that you learn more from failure than you do from success. Tell that to the practically failsafe J. J. Abrams.
There is also a strange guilt associated with wanting to ‘work’ in a creative industry, coming from a working class background, growing up around people who worked long hours for other people, so as they could pay bills. Even having felt the pressure of directing and making films, the pain of writing and rewriting, it does not feel like work or a chore. It feels like your cheating, as though you are trying to con a living.
There is the fear of disappointing people; family, friends, peers. If you don’t take a risk and stay uncomfortably miserable in your comfort zone, the only person you will definitely disappoint is yourself. Disappointing yourself is doable. You can lie to yourself, keep the reasons coming, the ‘I can’t just’ litany of excuses and stories you tell yourself. Truthfully, you know that those closest to you will support whatever it is that you want to do, especially if you are showing the necessary commitment.
What is difficult, is forging ahead with creative work when no one in your immediate circle – friends, family – has any interest in your thing. Everybody needs their circle. Even though writing is a pretty insular pursuit, having like-minded people around, those you can bounce ideas off and who understand the grind of the creative process. As much as any and every creative person, with writing or filmmaking, has a particular singular view or perspective on what their project or work should be. Still, nobody wants to be alone.
One has to get into the headspace, a selfish, singular headspace. That is where the bravery comes, the overcoming of fears, to forge forward, almost blithely believing that what you are doing is not only needed but will be appreciated and liked.

As long as the crutch of the job, other fiscal opportunities, sensible, credible excuses and the mythical peer pressure exist in the mind, the boats will always remain smouldering. It’s getting to the point where I must blow on the embers and push the boats out into the sea to be consumed and sink. It’s time to burn the boats.

I’ll Get To It

Procrastination takes many forms. There is the obvious kind, doing any other unrelated task except the one you should be doing. Or the most common type, favoured by those who know deep down that their jobs are more title than actual, thus their days are filled with endless meetings and email checks. Then there is the worse kind of procrastination, where you fool yourself into believing you’re moving forward, convincing yourself that you are doing the necessary things to achieve your goals. It is similar to the importantly titled procrastinator with one major difference. You have control over your degree of procrastination.

What I am saying is, in the common workplace environment, procrastination, especially in a faux democratic structure, is a necessary evil in the politics of work life. The meeting gives everyone the illusion of having a voice. When it comes to a personal goal or endeavour, the only voice you have to heed is yours.
What about…and how about…then there’s….but I need – all excuses, more procrastination. Regardless of the task or goal, somebody has to instigate it. If it’s your goal, it should be you.
My own procrastination is over filmmaking and writing. I have made a few short films and I have written several more, but that was all some years ago. The same with a book I begun writing, eighteen thousand words in the various characters have remained in limbo for a couple of years, waiting for their next meaningful action. I have hidden my lackadaisical approach to project completion in my crafty procrastinating task, that mimic the true goal, in a roundabout way.
I write a blog a day, post on multiple social media platforms, take photographs and shoot short videos. Like I say, covering the main goal in a roundabout way. So what is the main goal? Writing for a living is the main goal, closely followed by making a film or television show of what I write. So I should get to doing it, right? It is the doing that gets it done. But the buts keep coming.
The litany of excuses not to write the next chapter of my book – I need to rewrite the previous chapters; is it any good? Where is the story going – are all just delaying tactics. Same with making the next short film – I want it to be better than the last one; can I ask people to work for food again? Is the script good enough to make? Maybe I should finish the storyboards before I recruit a crew – more huff and bluff. Reasons coupled with excuses, wrapped up in fear.
The thing is, if you are shooting arrows or throwing rocks at others with your keyboard strokes, happily pontificating on the merits of others works, should you not at least have the gumption to put your own efforts out? Even if it’s for no other reason than to prove that the criticisms you have levelled at others are not just all emotive theorising.
It is a true bugbear of mine; the critic who has never done anything, especially the faceless one. That is not to say every film critic should have made a film – they should have, even a rubbish never-to-be-seen-by-the-public one – but if one is a critic, be fair and back your arguments. Barbed comments, whilst sometimes witty, are just cruel, not constructive.
Returning to the central topic; procrastination. I enjoy blogging, it’s a way to empty one’s head and I can meander – hence the mini critic rant – but it is undoubtedly a method of acceptable procrastination for me. Many creative types embrace procrastination, having – much like this – written or made films in defence of seemingly aimless, unrelated activities to their craft. Procrastination is a necessary part of the creative process, they say. It gets the juices flowing, sparks the neurones, they plead, unconvincingly.
Procrastination is all well and good when you make a living writing. A deadline enforces an eventual end to faffing about; you have to get the work done. The rest of us, writing blogs, reading blogs, going on courses, doing network things, joining online groups, recording ideas and whatever else is used to delay the moment when we have to sit in front of the screen or blank piece of paper and begin, continue or complete that thing we’ve been avoiding as we wait for the ‘right’ moment, or that flash of inspiration, or for the ‘ it was as if it wrote itself’ happening, we need to realise – I need to realise – that it’s not coming.
Procrastinate by all means, but do so knowingly. Then stop and get to work.