One of the nice things about writing for a living is the way you get paid to retreat from the world of real things. I've been in full retreat since about 7.30 on Saturday night. The entry below, "Dark Thoughts", was composed in the hours before dawn when I'd woken up, seething and unable to get back to sleep.
I brought myself down to my office, wrote that blog post, and opened up Scrivener. I started to work on a TV script. I can't talk about it in detail because we're still in the early stages of development. But I can say this. I fucking LOVE writing for TV. I get lost in it. Sometimes I get lost in novels too, but not like this. I've been racking up long hours at the keyboard all week. Not because I'm on deadline or under pressure, but because once I step into the imagined world of this show I find I much prefer it to the real world. I don't want to leave.
Even when I do leave, when I push back from the computer and rejoin the family for dinner, lets say, I find myself repeating long stretches of dialogue without realising that I'm doing it.
"What did you say?" Jane will ask. And I have to mutter something about just talking to myself. To be honest, it's a little embarrassing that it's been happening so much.
Still, better than reality.
I don't think the retreat from an unpleasant outer world explains why I've spent so much time so deeply embedded in this new, inner world. I think it might partly have something to do with the structure of storytelling for the screen.
The irreducible element at the core of a screenplay or a teleplay is the scene. Each scene is a world unto itself, but unlike a book it is an almost bare stage. When writing a novel you make everything bigger. When writing a script, it goes the other way. Everything gets stripped back, reduced to essences. It's fascinating, almost mesmerising.
I've now finished the first draft of the pilot for this show. I have no idea whether it will get any further. But even so, even with a chapter of World War 3.1 to write, and a whole novel in the Zero Day Code franchise to finish, I feel myself being pulled back into the world of the TV show, almost as though I am trapped in a dangerous rip.