I've had my head down finishing (a) quite extensive rewrites of a new novel and (b) a first draft of a completely new play, which is scheduled for a lunchtime theatre production in Glasgow, early in 2010. I'm a writer who hates first drafts but loves to rewrite. My first drafts are always remarkably chaotic, and I don't usually let anyone see them but me. But then, as soon as I actually have something on the screen, the process of playing with the words and the structure, of rewriting many times, of printing it out and looking at it on the page, of correcting and rewriting all over again, is one which I find infinitely pleasurable. In fact I usually have to stop myself from doing yet another draft. Sooner or later, you have to write 'The End' and let somebody see it!
So working on the novel, which has been through more incarnations than Doctor Who, has been a pleasure. But working on the play has been hard. In the normal course of events, I would have written this, let it sit till after Christmas, gone back to it with a fresh eye - spent some time reworking it over the holiday period, let it lie again - and perhaps produced the finished article in time for Easter. I'd have been working on other things, of course. But time is always a factor in what I do. However, this is a play, and it has a schedule. The director has to see it. It has to be sent to actors. Music has to be considered. And all this has meant that the pressure on me to produce - not just my usual slapdash first draft - but something that I am reasonably happy for other people to see - has been a nightmare.
It's finished, after a fashion and it's sent. I worked on it day and night for a spell, until I was - frankly - sick of the sight of it. I had word fatigue. And I'm still not sure that it's any good or that it says what I want it to say, in dramatic enough fashion. Increasingly these days, I find myself walking along the boundaries between poetry, prose and drama.
I've made it clear that it is a working draft only. I haven't looked at it for a few days, and I don't intend to look at it for another week. Then I'll go back to it and wonder what the hell I was thinking about!