Inside the mind of a writer www.scskillman.co.uk

Archive for February, 2014

The RADA Student Who Felt Like Packing Her Bags and Going Back North

The BBC Radio 4 Today programme is often a source of inspiration to me.

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London

And today at 8.20am I heard an item about the party for former RADA students that the Queen will be holding in Buckingham Palace this evening (Monday 17 February 2014)

I’m very interested in the life of an actor, partly because the acting world does come into my new novel A Passionate Spirit (in its final revision stages).

But also the life of an actor has strong comparisons with that of a writer.

And one interviewee on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme put it perfectly. She said she entered RADA on her first day and saw actress Joanna Page, “so attractive and so talented”, and she thought of how great that actress was, and then she started making comparisons…

“I thought that 2 weeks later I’d be asked to pack my bags and get back up north,” she said.

This sums up what we writers may think a thousand times… when we go into Waterstones and see the huge volume of novels on the shelves, with brilliant, stunning covers, and hugely successful names. And this is how we feel when we see another famous novelist win the Man Booker, or see them interviewed on the TV show we can only dream of being on.

What are we doing? Comparing ourselves with “the great and the good.”

If we do that, we will always fall short.

We will always be tempted to pack our bags and go back north.

This particular actress fought that negative temptation, and stuck it out at RADA. She said she had to be thick-skinned, and “take it on the chin”; it was pretty tough, but by the time her course ended, and she came out, she could handle rejection. “Rejection: that was nothing. After 3 years of RADA I was ready for it.”

She had experienced it so many times, it held no fears for her. Nothing could hold her back.

We know her as Maxine Peake, now a celebrated actor.

If you are a struggling author, take heart from this.

Loyalty, Hope and Keeping Faith, in the Greatest Film I’ve Ever Seen: The Shawshank Redemption

We love listing “The 50 Top … Films, Books, Magic Tricks, Comedians”, etc. etc.

Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne and Morgan Freeman as  Ellis (Red) Redding in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne and Morgan Freeman as Ellis (Red) Redding in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

And a list of the top films will always change from year to year. But to my mind, The Shawshank Redemption makes the top of the list. And I saw it again very recently on TV.

I watched it for the first time several months ago when I borrowed it from LoveFilm. Having visited Aberystwyth University Film Studies Department with my daughter during an Open Day in 2012, I heard the Film Studies lecturer list those films which are considered  “the best ever made” or absolute must-see films for those who are serious about film.

So I dutifully added those films to my LoveFilm list.

And that’s how I came upon The Shawshank Redemption.

And this is why I consider it justly deserving of the title ‘best movie ever made.’

Bob Gunton as Warden Samuel Norton in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Bob Gunton as Warden Samuel Norton in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Its themes are of profound relevance to our lives:

The importance of:

keeping faith; having patience; strategic long term planning; a long term plan of action; perseverance; loyalty; hope; persistence; calm forbearance under ill treatment and suffering.

I believe we can find in The Shawshank Redemption a metaphor for all that’s truly important in this life.

I suggest, too, that it’s no accident that I, as a writer, should relate closely to these themes in my own life. For the film is based upon Stephen King’s novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption; and Stephen King, besides all his other books, is the author of the best book for writers I have ever read: On Writing. I’ve heard many other writers give this the highest praise too. I imagine that something of his own understanding of life as a writer may have been uppermost in Stephen King’s mind when he created the story upon which The Shawshank Redemption is based.

Sometimes, struggling through many years without recognition or success, can be like serving 10,20,30 years in Shawshank State Prison. Although the act of creating fiction is in a sense its own reward, and always will be, the fact remains that rewriting drafts and revising a novel line by line over the course of years without any immediate material reward in view, is like chipping away, digging that hole in the wall, the hole which opens the tunnel to freedom, hidden behind a deceptive cover, over years, of slow, patient work.

Keeping faith is the phrase that returns to me again and again, along with patience, perseverance, forbearance, strategic long term planning, and a long term course of action.

And I’m sure you, in whatever circumstances life has thrown at you, can also find parallels here to some aspect of your own experience.

The epiphany at the end of the film has a luminous, spiritual quality to it. To me it is more truly ‘religious’ than anything the Warden Samuel Nortons of this world might delude themselves with.

Watch the film if you haven’t seen it. But if you have – share your feelings about the message of this film.

A Vision of Healing Through The Power of Prayer in Leamington Spa

Over the last few weeks I’ve been taking a few hours of  time out from revising my novel, to do voluntary work for our local Christian Healing Centre, The Well.

The logo of The Well Christian Healing Centre in Leamington Spa

The logo of The Well Christian Healing Centre in Leamington Spa

I help to update the website, assist the Director of The Well, Rev. Anne Hibbert, with her blog, proofread publicity material and prepare leaflets advertising forthcoming events.

What a truly inspiring organisation this is. All those at The Well celebrate 10 years of existence this year. It began with a vision which Anne Hibbert had in a garden in Leamington Spa.

The Rev Anne Hibbert, whose vision led to the creation of The Well Christian Healing Centre

The Rev Anne Hibbert, whose vision led to the creation of The Well Christian Healing Centre

I myself have also experienced healing through prayer at The Well. Truly God has ‘unstopped the ancient wells of healing here in Leamington Spa’ for many people testify not only to physical healing through prayer, but new peace, joy and a changed attitude which transforms situations.

Many people come in through the doors of the Royal Pump Rooms on Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week, to the prayer teams who are waiting to pray with and for them; these may be people who are Christian, or who have no faith at all; they may be adults or children.

The power of prayer in every life-situation has been testified to many times. If you are experiencing a problem which you believe is intractable, I recommend that you too consider asking for prayer.

What a privilege it is for me to play a small part in helping Anne take this vision forward into the future.

Tag Cloud

Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

Come for Adventure. Stay for the Ride.

Hugh's Views & News

A man with dyslexia writing about this and that and everything else!

e-Tinkerbell

Literature, books , sport and whatever intrigues me

The Puppet Show

Your resource for writing thrilling fiction

The Way Station Blog

faith explorers in virtual community

A Brummie Home and Abroad

Part-time Traveller, Full-Time Brummie

Global Housesitter x2

#fulltimehousesitters #worldtravellers #loveanimals #lifelearners #musingsaboutlifeandtravel

Phaytea's Pulse

Everything my heart beats for........

Modern Gypsy

Travels through a journey called life

Lil' Hidden Treasures

We hope you find yours!

A Soul Spun from Ink

Words on the worlds between my ears

All The Things I've Learned and Love

Your source for information, ideas, and inspiration.

You are Awesome

Blog and books of author Angela Noel

lisaorchard

Lisa's Ramblings: Random Thoughts on the World We Live In...

Reading Matters

Book reviews of mainly modern & contemporary fiction

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Echoes of Life, Love and Laughter

The Phil Factor

Where Sarcasm Gets Drunk and Let's Its Hair Down

But I Smile Anyway...

Musings and memories, words and wisdom... of a working family woman

Blues For Breakfast

Just another ginger, gay bloke with bipolar and bad skin