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  • Writer's pictureeleanormallinson

Thoughts on Theatre, Music, Books, Scripts, Creativity, Animal Antics and Life in General

Starting a blog should be fairly easy... right?

I read a lot of suggested guides from supposed experts online as to how to do it. Some said it was fine just for fun, others approached it as a serious job that you must be willing to give hours of blood, sweat and tears to, and even then it might not be successful.

Well, that makes it sound 'fun' doesn't it... the thing is, I'm not creating a blog for a job or even just for fun. I wanted to write something that people might find interesting and enjoy. That may of course be my exact first stumbling block. Everyone is different and everyone likes different things, so I'm never going to write something that everyone will enjoy. If you're a football fan and looking for posts about matches or other sports you are in completely the wrong place and I suggest you turn around and go somewhere else as fast as you can, because I know very little about sport and it is highly unlikely the topic will ever feature prominently.

Picking a topic is suggested as the most important starting step, after all, that is what you're going to write about...OK... I can do that... except which topic? How do I choose one from the many different aspects of my life and how on earth can I be sure that is what a reader will find interesting?

Narrowing it down is going to be harder than I thought... unless I don't narrow it down?

I'm a creative person. I've spent most of my life involved in theatre of some sort (I'm only in my thirties by the way, so the phrase 'most of my life' has a way of sounding a bit old, doesn't it? Let's just say that thirty years of performing probably counts for something). Theatre is really important to me and I think I know a fair bit about it, so why shouldn't my blog contain my thoughts on plays I've seen and musicals I've listened too? What about performances I'm in and productions I've directed? I work with youth groups quite a lot and there is always something amusing going on there, not to mention the serious impact theatre can have on people.

Of course, the problem right now is that theatre is in one of the worst situations it has ever been in. With Covid-19 stopping performances for so long the UK could be looking at a serious decline in the arts and who knows if theatre will ever recover? I hope so, because it really does matter so much to our history and culture and also for mental well-being. Having taught theatre for many years I have seen the impact first-hand it can have on a student. It can give them a confidence that stays with them for life, and even if they don't want to pursue the theatre as a career, that confidence and ability to communicate with others can be so important in many different jobs.

Before I completely loose myself in a post about the sad state of theatre in the UK due to the pandemic, I'm going to focus back on my main point which was 'what should I write my blog about?'

I considered the fact that I have been studying a part-time degree in Music Composition and Creative Writing and wondered if my blog could be useful in helping people understand the hard work that goes into doing something like that around a job, but seeing as I've been furloughed for the past few months it felt a little hypocritical. I've had more time to work on my Music Composition course over the past few weeks than I could ever have dreamed of having. You see, not everyone on furlough has been sat binge watching TV. I've actually been very busy (more on that to come). I'm always busy... No, what I considered about my degree was how many interesting things I researched and if people other than my tutor might find some of my research and thoughts interesting. I feel there could be some really fascinating comments to be made, the only problem is that, until my work has been marked for assessment, I don't think I should use it for my blog. I guess the questions of how film music affects the audience and the story might have to wait for a while...

Another topic I will definitely consider is the topic that got me here and that is writing. I said before I am always busy and one of the reasons for this is my attempts to pursue writing as more than just a hobby. To be honest, it has been more than a hobby for a while. When I began teaching theatre eleven years ago, I began writing scripts for the students to perform. I didn't want the less confident students to have only one line and be on the back row of the chorus in the group and never push themselves, so I used to write shows for the children which gave them all as equal an opportunity to be the main focus of the plot at some point. This proved to be very popular and I was amazed at how many parents commented on the story and how much they loved it. In the past few weeks I have been going over these productions and editing some of the scripts to send out to publishers. Of course, I didn't really think I would get anywhere, but I chose one play, 'Heroes', to be my first starting point (the kids always mentioned how much they loved that one), and I sent it out. I was very excited when it was accepted for publication by 'Scripts for Stage' an online website where schools, youth groups and amateur societies can purchase rights to perform the play. Even better, I get a decent royalty for every time my play is used... YES! I am a published author finally!... No... Covid means no performances... oh well, at least it's something for the future and a step in the right direction.

I should probably take the time to plug... I mean mention... the book trilogy I self-published on Amazon and Kindle. 'A Prophet's Quest' has been a labour of love and really I owe it to my best friend Marina for insisting she read book one and convincing me to publish it. I confess I sent it out to a few publishers and book agents seeking formal publication, but the market is so flooded with talented writers it isn't easy to get somewhere (especially when you're an unknown). A part of me might doubt that the book is good enough, and I haven't exactly had many reviews or readers to give an honest opinion, other than my friends, however it is worth remembering how many publishers turned down Harry Potter... I bet some of them are kicking themselves now. I'm not saying my books are that good, but what I am saying, I suppose, is that sometimes it takes a while to get the book seen by the right person. I have had a few offers from publishers, but only on a contract where I pay for their help and I don't believe an author should have to pay a publisher... that's not how the system should work. Not when I'm not guaranteed any more support than I already get self-publishing. Having looked it up, it's often referred to as 'Vanity publishing' - they flatter you, get you pay them a huge amount of money and then you still don't get anywhere. No thank you. I might be seen as a new author, but I'm not going to be roped into something dodgy like that. I'll find another way and be patient. I have other book ideas and I'm determined to get then written, so perhaps one of those will be successful to get my foot in the door.

I've moved slightly away from topic again. What should I write my blog about? There are a lot of other creative elements to theatre, music and writing. I direct shows a lot and often have to be the stage manager, choreographer, musical director, prop master, scenery painter and costume designer and maker all in one. I could probably do some very informative posts about how to make a large dragon puppet from foam and bamboo canes, or a crocodile from fabric, a backpack and a hanging basket, or maybe the cow which I made from foam sheets and a golf cart... you'd be amazed what you can make scenery and props out of. I even have a rule now when throwing out rubbish in my house. The question is, 'could I use this to make something for a show?' and that is now why my dining room is full of junk awaiting the day it will become something else you would never expect.

Another topic which must be fairly popular is animals. I don't work with animals for a job, by my life is full of them. I live in a large old farmhouse with an extensive list of pets: 2 dogs, 8 cats, 6 geese, 12 horses, 2 rabbits, several fish tanks and a fish pond and an axolotl. You can guarantee that one of them will do something stupid or funny at some point during the week, so sometimes I might post something about them on the blog, just for a change. I know a few riding issues will undoubtedly pop up, not to mention the DIY skills required for owning horses. You'd be amazed how good at sewing you need to be! Horse+horse rug (for none horsey people that's their waterproof coats/blankets you see them in) + hedge/fence = sewing a repair... again.

Finally there is just the topic of those bizarre thoughts that pop into your head, or questions which you've always wondered if anyone knows the answers to. Of course, I can't think of any right now, but when I do I'll perhaps post and do a little research in case anyone else was wondering the same question as me.

Well then, it seems I've started my blog. Maybe no-one will read it, but at least I can hope someone might and if they do, they enjoy it.

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