Ugh, I hate lockdown. Okay, for those of us already ‘home-working’, it’s not that different – I can still put on a wash or drop the forgotten PE kit/homework up to school (when it’s open), and the fridge still beckons every half hour. But I keep hearing about other writers feeling “just SO inspired” (huh!), churning out shiny new scripts (puke), and being “more prolific than ever!” (whatevs). Haven’t they heard there’s a pandemic? Who can concentrate on being creative when there’s so much going on?
Me, I have to go out. Leave the online shopping slots to those who need them, I say – I’ll happily do the Aldi’s run, queuing round the car park in driving rain or fighting in the aisles for toilet roll. I’ve done countless errands for my elderly neighbour – the bank, the pharmacy, even the garage once – all essential trips, of course. And they are essential for me too: it’s only when I’m not looking, that ideas sneak in through the pores of my skin.
Over the summer I was struggling with a new pitch, feeling jittery as the deadline loomed. One morning, queuing by the trolleys, I found myself listening to the woman in front, hissing frantically into her phone, complaining bitterly about what sounded like a horrible situation. I found myself nodding along to her conversation as I remembered facing similar circumstances a while back. The anger and sadness, the frustration and sheer desperation flooded back, and I suddenly knew that that had to be my next project. Emotionally it was fantastic territory, set in a world I know (though I wish I didn’t), with characters I understand, and, most of all, I cared deeply about what happened. I felt my jitters fade and my body relax as the new pitch began to take shape in my head. Pandemic or not, normal service had resumed. Liz John