Writing under pressure

So I have know for some time now that I work best under pressure.  My best essays are written in the few days before the deadline, often well into the early hours of the morning.  And it turns out, this is true not only of my university work, but of my writing projects as well.

For some time I have been toying with the idea of a certain play looking at a young girl in therapy dealing with the abuse dealt to her by her father.  I have written the odd scene here and there but nothing much.  Until yesterday.  When one of my lecturers emailed around about Soho Theatre’s Verity Bargate Award for new drama.  The deadline is Saturday.  As in, tomorrow.  So what do I do?  I sit down yesterday and decide ok, two days is plenty of time to write a full length play.  And I start it.

It is going very well.  Except for forays such as this where I take a break to write something else.  But I have every faith in myself that I can get the whole thing written by the deadline.  Not that I’m counting down the hours or anything (just over 30, in case you were wondering) but I’m happy with my speed.  And I’m resigned to an all nighter tonight to make sure it’s done.

For now, I give you a very small scene from the play.  A short story the main character has written.

Once upon a time there was a little sparrow. And the sparrow was happy flying from branch to branch – carefully, because he was only a little sparrow – and playing in the sunshine. Because sparrows don’t have any worries. They can play all day long. They don’t have to store food for the winter or worry about migrating. They just sing in the hedges and fly through the trees.

But one day a hawk came along. She was bigger than the sparrow and immediately was mean to him. She made the sparrow find her food, and make her a big nest so she could be comfortable. The sparrow didn’t have any way to argue because the hawk was so much bigger than him and he was scared.

So the sparrow spent his days hunting for the hawk, bringing her all the food he caught. She never left anything for him, so he became weak and hungry. He found it hard to fly, and couldn’t play in the trees any more. But the hawk still made him do all the work. If he didn’t work fast enough she would peck him until he bled, then send him away.

The sparrow became sad. He didn’t like living in the trees any more. He wanted to fly away and live with the other sparrows. But the hawk had hurt him so much he couldn’t fly any more. All he could do was run along the ground, far below all the other sparrows.

One day, a pigeon arrived. He swooped down to bottom of the tree where the sparrow was crying. The pigeon asked, “why are you crying little sparrow?” The sparrow looked up through his tears and shook his head. He was too scared of the hawk to tell anyone about him. The pigeon asked again, “why are you crying? Little sparrows should be happy because they don’t have any worries in the world.”

The little sparrow began to cry harder. And he told the pigeon all about the hawk. And the pigeon listened very quietly, never asking any questions, until the sparrow had finished talking. Then the pigeon puffed out his pigeon chest and stood up tall. “You come with me little sparrow,” the pigeon said, “and I’m going to take you away from this horrid hawk.”

So together they flew away, very slowly because the sparrow was hurting from all the pecks the hawk had given him, and they went to another tree. And this tree was full of other sparrows who had been picked on, and they helped the little sparrow grow strong again until he was happy to fly through the trees again and play in the branches.

And no one ever saw the hawk again.

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