Messy work station, complete with print-out of first 30 pages

I’ve slipped a little!  I had three days where I knew I wouldn’t be able to write so I postponed starting the seven-day re-write.  I’ve now read through the whole thing (not too bad!) and have completed two days of re-write.  I’m not enjoying it that much.  I’m also not cutting or altering it as much as I should be.  But I found free software that does the layout for you – – so I’m over the tabs/margins/Word issues.  I’ve printed out the first 30 pages I’ve re-written and they look like a screenplay.
I’m not enjoying it because it’s tedious, I feel like I’m just re-typing it, making a few changes as I go.  I think for me the tweak days will be where I change more.  I think the next five days are going to be a struggle.
I’m not feeling the love so I’m going to drink more tea.


Unbelievably, I’m over the first hurdle: I’ve written a film, a whole two-hour film!  In seven days.  I feel I should be celebrating but it’s just me, the cat and a mug of tea (which I have yet to make).  I feel a bit like I’ve come out of the wilderness, a bit dazed and confused.
Tomorrow is a day of rest.  Day nine is a full read through on paper.  Day ten is the re-write of pages one to ten.  I have a dilemma though.  I’m away for work in Milan Tuesday and Wednesday.  I’m also still not familiar with my style guide.  I may have to postpone the 21 days.  But then I’ll feel like I’ve failed if on the 21st I haven’t done everything I should have.
Am I getting bogged down in the rules of the 21-Day schedule?  It does say you can extend it if you need to spend a day typing it up or whatever.  It’s 21 days of actual work on the script.  But, but …
Definitely tea time/avoiding dealing with the issues at hand time.
But, woo hoo, I’ve written a bloody film!  Check me out!

Bloody Word.  All was going well on day four, pages 45-60.  As per guidelines, I knew what would be happening on page 60.  And page 75.
Then, as I was writing, page 59 as I recall, poised for page 60’s conflict scene, I thought the font had changed.  So I looked at the font box.  It didn’t say New Courier 12 (the ONLY font and size permitted).  It said Calibri 11.  Gulp.  For some reason, I selected the whole document and changed it all BACK to New Courier 12.  Double gulp.  The text grew.  Bloody Word had only gone and ignored my New Courier 12 command and done the whole chuffing thing in chuffing small Calibri (body) 11.  Disaster.  And what the nuts is the “body” bit all about?  59 pages became 71.
So thanks to bloody Word, I’ve been allowed to waffle off-script for 11 sneaky extra pages.  The page 60 conflict scene is now 11 or 12 pages late and I’m not ready for my page 75 disaster scene which now appears to be looming in four pages.  What a to-do, I tell you!
The cat’s snoring, my hands are tea-stained from a 26-tea-bag-stewing experiment (this one may not end up being documented, it’s not going well!) and the bloody telly doesn’t work, and on top of that I’m four pages off a key point in my film that needs fleshing out in way more than four pages.  I reiterate: bloody Word.

I’ve completed day three.  On schedule.  I am extraordinarily puffed up.  I’ve done 45 pages (45 minutes of film).  All my fears have been realised, namely that I am incompetent when it comes to Word (tabs, margins, etc are all over the show – it’s not pretty!) and that I have no idea how to lay out a screenplay (I was given a “yeah, right” look by someone who’s written four screenplays when I announced I was going to write one in 21 days with no prior knowledge of the format).
I read the first two days’ work last night (as instructed in my 21-day bible).  It seemed quite good, if I may be so bold as to say.  I may have flopped horribly with today’s 15 pages in two and a half hours as I inserted two “comedy” scenes.  I thought they were hysterical, but then again I was there when they happened – whoever says scripts and novels aren’t largely autobiographical lies!
I was a nervous wreck before day one.  I overran by about five minutes.  But it flowed reasonably well.  I was quite excited prior to starting day two’s 20  pages in three hours but felt disappointed at the end as I felt the plot was too slow.  Before starting today, I had the sinking feeling that I’d peaked early and that I wouldn’t be able to fill the film up.  But today was actually my easiest day.  I didn’t even break for tea!
By the end of tomorrow’s two and a half hours, I will be half way through it.  I feel confident that I will finish it but I am overwhelmed by how difficult it is (a) to think about what image can portray a few sentences and then (b) describe that scene without waffle and (c) not get bogged down in format.  I think I thought it would be easier than it is.  That said, I’ve written 45 minutes of a script, woo hoo!  Oh, and (d) how all-consuming this process is and how (e) my recluse tendencies are being realised!

My scriptwriting area!

     It’s 0837 on Monday, 1st November 2010.  I’m going to write this, make a coffee, re-read some of my script notes, panic about my Word settings and the strict formatting of a screenplay then set a timer for two hours.  I will then write the first ten pages (which equates to ten minutes) of Galloping Fish, my screenplay set in Japan and based very loosely on my two and half years living there.
     I’m absolutely terrified, believe it or not!  The book poking out from the bottom left corner of my netbook is entitled “How to Write a Movie in 21 Days” by Viki King.  I’ve done all my preparation, and to a degree I feel there’s a story waiting to come out.  But my fear is twofold.  First of all, by starting now, I will have a completed screenplay on 21st November.  That’s all well and good but I have never, ever followed something through with a schedule like that.  And I can’t stand the idea of disappointing myself by not doing it this time.  Oh, and I’ve never written a screenplay before.  Secondly, I find the layout and stage direction extremely confusing and unfamiliar.  Those are my worries before I even dare think about the actual writing of 120 pages … IN SEVEN DAYS!  
     The seven days, starting soon, is to write the first draft.  I can’t believe that this time next week will be the eight day, which, according to the book, will be my (well-deserved) day of rest after the seven days of … ugh, I’m feeling even more stressed now!
     I think it’s time for coffee …

{15/10/2010}   Auction challenge
Newly acquired tea sets

I have a friend (CA) who lives three doors away from Greenwich Auctions.  I’ve occasionally walked past during or after the auction and seen cars being loaded with antiques and, well, stuff.  It’s crossed my mind that I’d like to go in.

The idea of auctions has always scared me, particularly a twitching/scratching/fiddling = bidding paranoia.  Then last week I decided to go in.  I felt extraordinarily brave in a way-out-of-my-depth kind of way.  I didn’t go alone though, I was with another auction virgin (CG).

I announced at reception that I knew I needed something to commence my auction experience but that I’d need help knowing what.  A nice, cheery girl giggled then produced a form to be filled out, a bidding number (how exciting!) was handed over and a brochure with 583 lots was purchased (£1.50).

We were in there about 50 minutes before the 11am kick off.  If you’ve never been to an auction before you may not believe how unexpectedly exhilarating it all is!

The lots were displayed around a large warehouse, things piled on top of each other or in rickety display cabinets.  All very dirty and junk shop-like.  But somehow, the matching of the lot number to the catalogue number is a very exciting process, especially because of the guide price.

For example, there was a display of old glass bottles, a ‘vintage’ ironing board, an old wooden child’s seat, kitchen scales and other vintage/shabby kitchenalia.  All that, maybe 30 items (admittedly, some were dustbin fodder), with a guide price of £10-£15.  Two or three of the glass bottles alone could’ve been sold to get the money back.  I asterisked that lot, lot 76, most vigorously.

I then proceeded to asterisk more lots.  Then CG got giddy and marked a load of lots too.

The bidding commenced at 11am.  We were seated, poised and ready for lot 30, the first of our highlighted lots:

“Early 20th century twenty two piece white glazed oriental tea set with geisha girl relief £20-£25.”

By about lot 16 I was a bundle of nerves.  I’d already convinced myself I’d inadvertently bid on a whole range of things because I developed a bizarrely itchy face and my hair kept needing to be fiddled with and I was a fidgety mess.  I couldn’t even look at the auctioneer for longer than a quick look of horror that his pre-hammer-slamming “£20 to the seated lady” seemed to be directed at me after a particularly active scratching session.  I seriously thought I’d bid on loads of things … until I realised he couldn’t have seen my number as it was firmly face down and well hidden from him!

So then I got nervous about bidding.  But before I knew it (auctioneers are so fast!!) it was lot 30.  My hand went up, nobody else bid, and suddenly I was displaying my bidder number as the hammer went down on my £20 (plus 16% buyers’ premium) bid.  It felt like a victory, more so than a closely fought last-second eBay win!  I was shaking and on a real high that never subsided, despite losing (giving up on?) a few lots I’d hoped to get but that went above my budget.

A teacup from lot 30, complete with the concealed lithophane “simple geisha with flower”

I lost lot 76 in a flurry of bids.  It went for £20.  I probably should have joined in the bidding but I had £10 in mind and I was trying not to be too rash or impulsive!

I got two further lots, another tea set (why??!) and an oak nest of tables.  Yes, yes, I know, a nest of tables. But they’re for the market stall challenge, as are the tea sets.

Even CG, a careful planner where purchases are concerned, had a giddy smile on his face and bid furiously and with uncharacteristic enthusiasm.  He came out clutching more stuff than me, including a walking stick for a person far shorter than him … but with the added bonus of a hidden drink flask.  Oh the joy of impulse buys!

I’m going to the preview day of the following week’s auction tonight.  I will mark more things in the catalogue and pay more attention to anything that’s of even vague interest.  There were a few things that sold for £5 with a £10-£15 guide price.  Maybe they could’ve been missed bargains.  I will then google/eBay search things to get an idea of value.

Bidding and being at an auction is fun and not scary (except when something you really want starts quickly increasing above your limit and you don’t have time to faff and dither!).  There’s a lot of rubbish but there are also some wonderful, interesting and unusual things.  Ikea?  Never again.  The next time I want a coffee table, desk, drawers, I’ll go to an auction and get something cheaper that’s made of solid wood and has character.  Seriously, give it a go, I’m pretty sure there’s enjoyment to be had for everyone, even if you have no intention of bidding and only go along to laugh at some people’s hideous taste, particularly where cruet sets and ornaments are concerned!

Recipe and ingredients for Apple Balls (1951)

I’ve done it!  I’ve actually followed something through!  Challenge number one was a success in that I did it AND it was delicious, albeit a bit messy.

I did cheat a little bit though because I used pastry that I defrosted … but it was me who made it.
This recipe was embarrassingly easy and I chose it because I had all the ingredients and I was getting a bit twitchy about not having done my first challenge already.
The recipe:
“pastry as required
1 teaspoon apricot jam for each apple (I only had raspberry – apricot wouldn’t have looked so messy!)
6 or 8 apples (I did four – this recipe is vague and easy to adapt)
1 teaspoon brown sugar for each apple (I didn’t register the one teaspoon thing and filled the apples with sugar!)
Roll out the pastry, and cut into as many squares as there are apples.  Peel and core the apples without breaking them.  Spread each square with jam.  Stand the apple on it.  With sugar fill the holes.  Close up the pastry round the fruit.  Press edges together.  Bake apples on a greased tin in a brisk oven till the pastry is nicely browned.  They will take about 25 minutes to bake, according to the size of the apples.”
This process really doesn’t need photographic help but I was feeling enthusiastic and keen to photograph every stage!
As even distribution of jam wasn’t occurring, I shoved some on top of the sugared centre
Coring, peeling and pastry rolling are, obviously, easy but it’s challenging to wrap an apple in jam-covered pastry.
I’m now having some photo download issues so I may be able to escape revealing the finished product in its pool of raspberry jam (Baking tray still soaking in a potentially futile attempt to salvage it – just re-read recipe and noticed I’d also ignored the bit about greasing the baking tray!).
This is a very simple recipe.  I almost dismissed it as being boring but it was extremely good!  Admittedly most of the jam had escaped but the apple was really soft and it had a lovely caramel taste.
I used dark brown sugar and baked it at 180 for about 30 minutes.
Make it, seal it well, maybe add a dollop of ice cream and hey presto, a pretty quick and easy pudding that tastes far better than you’d expect!
I had visions of writing a witty, interesting and informative blog about creative things.  I’ve started off with apple balls, neither creative nor challenging (beyond the issues of wrapping pastry round a jam covered apple!)!  It can only get better … surely!

My £2, taped together, pages falling out copy

I bought this book in July 2010 for £2.  It’s been a source of entertainment ever since.  It’s outrageous and shocking to read today.  Here’s part of the preface to set the scene:

“The first edition of this book, published in 1928, was compiled with the hope that it would prove of some assistance to newcomers to the Colony, to young or inexperienced housekeepers, and to bachelor settlers in Kenya, who must often find themselves obliged to put up with incompetency on the part of untrained native cooks or houseboys.”

Anyone fancy an egg experiment, as detailed in this book (This doesn’t appeal to me, particularly the toast soaked in milk aspect!):

Eggs Daisy
4 or 6 eggs
4 or 6 rounds of toast
salt and pepper
a little milk

Butter toast and place in oven.  Separate white and yolks of eggs and beat up whites until very light and stiff. Pile them on the slices of toast, which should be previously dipped in milk.  Make a hollow in the white and drop in the yolk of the egg.  Bake in quick oven till yolks are set and whites a light brown, dust with pepper and salt.  Serve very hot.

“Three Hints to Bachelors”:

“(1) Explain to your boy the danger of using damp bed linen and clothing, and see that after ironing, he airs all these in the sun, or by the fire, before putting them away in boxes or drawers.  Many an illness has been traced to carelessness in this matter.
“(2) Tell your boy that socks are not washed in the same way as khaki clothes, but must be washed in warm soapy water, rinsed in warm water, and hung up to dry.
“(3) Avoid chill as you would poison.  If you come in wet, have a hot bath at once, then put on dry clothing, and take 5 grains of quinine, with a hot drink, preferably tea or coffee.  Unless you can sit by a fire, go to bed and keep warm.”

Cure for hiccups:

“Drink 1/2 a teaspoonful of vinegar, and keep the arms in an upright position for a minute or so afterwards.”

“Orders to Servants”

Useful orders to servants (English – Ki-Swahili – Ki-Settler):

“Dust well, do not flick with the duster.”
“Every day the bwana wants hot water for shaving.”
“I do not allow strange boys near the house.”
“Make tea and bring it here now.”
“You are insolent!  You must look pleasant (or) pleased.”

Some Kikuyu sentences (many of which are put into idiom) to give orders:

“When you dig have a basket besides you, into which to put small stones which you find when digging.  Stones may stop a flower finding food or room for its roots.”
“Cut the edge straight like the top of a table.”
“Do not forget to give the poultry much water to drink every day.”

I got sidetracked looking through recipes.  I’m going to choose one, make it and see how it turns out.  Which of the following shall I go for:

Apple Balls, Delicate Cakes, Silver Cake, Lemon Queens or Apple Amber?

My first challenge is set!

By way of blog introduction, I want to explain Green Bottle Tree’s name.

In 1995 I spent a semester at Ole Miss (University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi).  There’s a cafe and bakery in Oxford called Bottletree Bakery.  I loved it.  The food, the drinks, the environment.  It’s the first cafe I ever truly appreciated and it’s one of only a few memorable ones I’ve ever been to.  The name stuck.

I then discovered an African (Congolese) superstition whereby bottles are hung from trees.  The bottles catch evil spirits, drawn to the colours livened up by the sun.  The idea of bottle trees is now quite popular in the Deep South, both to ward off evil spirits and as recycled art.

Traditionally, blue bottles are used.  I like green and I didn’t like that Blue Bottle Tree could be read as blue bottle tree and blue bottle flies are germ spreading, maggot producing buzzy things that I don’t like!

What will you find out about if you read Green Bottle Tree?

I should’ve mentioned in the “About Me” section that I lack direction!  I know that blogs need a purpose but I’m hoping that my pursuit of creative inspiration, experimentation and persevering with a project, ie a regularly updated blog, will tickle your interest too.

I’m not too sure what will come out of this but how about a list of things I want to achieve with this blog:

[Ridiculous, I know, but listing things makes this seem like a very important and significant step.  I’m taking this too seriously perhaps!]

1. Continue having random thoughts and ideas but to put them all in one place: here.
2. Get at least one follower who isn’t a loyal, supportive friend to follow and contribute to this blog.
3. Learn to be concise.
4. Follow things through.  Eg I bought some grey and white stripy jersey material with a view to making a top, without a pattern.  My current self will never even attempt to make this top.  [My current self and future self also lack the skills to fulfil this project but I don’t want to focus on my failings before I even begin]
5. Make this something I look forward to doing regularly and do regularly.
6. Introduce me to new and amazing things.
7. Take lots of pictures to illustrate this.
8. Learn how to use technology, whether the tabs on this website or just general computer things, so this blog at least looks impressive.

It’s getting a bit vague and my purpose blurred.  I feel ready to burst forth … going to have a cup of tea first though!

Feeling nervous about publishing this.  I’m going to do it, not that I have any followers.  Yet?!!!

et cetera