Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: writing (Page 1 of 2)

Reginald Dwyer

Here’s another product of my writing group. Many of the elements used to thread the story together were prompts. See if you can identify them.

Reginald threw the watch into the disappointingly calm sea. He imagined feeling something huge. Instead he watched as the thing sunk like a stone, and because the water was so unexcited, he saw it plonk on the sandy bottom and stay there, suddenly motionless. He turned and huffed his way along the beach, squinting at the sunset and glowering at the couples looped in each other’s arms and kissing, eyes closed. His twingy hip alerted him to the fact that the beach was sloped, and the fine sand was filling and emptying in his brogues as he walked. Suddenly, and without any warning to himself, he grabbed at his shoes, ripping them from his feet to reveal his beige and brown diamond socks. He hated them the minute he saw them and tore them from his feet too. Everything was thrown into the sea. The socks floating, the shoes sinking slowly.

His slight stutter and small frame had resulted in Reginald Dwyer having a completely sheltered upbringing. Fussed over by a social worker mother and completely ignored by his slightly abusive and competitive, muscular father, Reginald slid through school avoiding blows and spending afternoons in the school library. Mr Collins, the insane school PE teacher knew he was there, and preferred it that way. Reginald was left hand left eye dominant and useless at ball sports. That library clock; its gentle ticking and slow, mechanical second hand had been his first love.

And then he read the Sherlock Holmes novels. The stories kept him awake and intrigued. Moriarty was alluring and terrifying. Reginald fell into a fantasy world that had him fixing clocks, solving crimes and being the world’s greatest cat burglar. He stole and collected his mother’s hair pins and taught himself to pick locks. He listened to the ticks and clicks of safe mechanisms. He practiced saying “the dead never speak” in French and German accents. In case he was ever caught. The fantasy ended in him swallowing a fast-acting poison that he had concocted in his very own underground laboratory. He thought of the pill box that housed his first tooth as the perfect poison holder. He was a loner. Independent. Secretive.

Reginald waded up to his knees. His heart was stuck in his chest. How had this happened to him? He was always the picture of restraint, manners, old fashioned distance.

How had his emotions unravelled so tremendously? The icy water lapped plastic packets against his legs. He felt trapped. His chest constricted.

Mrs Cartwright had started coming to the watch repair shop with silly little requests. She had asked to sit next to him while he worked. Her heady sandalwood incense perfume made him queasy. Fix this link. Change that face. This little watch runs slow. That one runs too fast. And then she had started sending the SMSes. Always the same. Always in caps. “I love you”. It was horrific. She had leaned over. Touched him. He had taken the watch on a chain and strangled her. And run.

The sun had disappeared. Couples had gathered their blankets and bottles and were heading to the parking lot. And Reginald Dwyer walked into the gloomy water.

Like a Friendship

12108727_10153223922241008_7465013988944086042_nComing back here after a long absence is like picking up the phone to call a close friend after weeks of busy stuff has gotten in the way. I have missed being here, and I miss the particular headspace of writing my thoughts out and then sending them into the very public ethers.

I think what happens is that sometimes there is a natural flow between the kinds of writing I am doing and my blog, and sometimes there is a complete disconnect when I am engrossed in a particular writing project (like finishing my screenplay for example, yes, yes I finished a screenplay, and I am very excited). Mostly the writing on my blog reflects where I am in my other writing, and right now I am in a writing hiatus. I have three very strong ideas and only one committed to index cards. I am going to have to ramp it up a notch and start doing the words of it very, very soon.

So I distract myself with everything else that is not actual writing. Yes, there is other stuff, like directing the brand new (and very funny) Violet Online Rebooted (Love Me Tinder) which opens on 18 April, and working with some gorgeous AFDA honours students on a show.

I am in that interesting, illusive, in between world that is before committing and still dreaming and terribly frustrating, where brilliant ideas come to me while I am driving, or sleeping, or feeding the dogs, and they aren’t put down or remembered. Sometimes only the feeling of the idea remains, without anything to attach it to, and sometimes a character appears, fully formed, with absolutely nothing to do.

And I can do really, is wait. But I have decided to keep in practice here.

A few lovely little things on my mind

I always know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged when I have to re-enter my password. That’s this morning. I am not even sure I have one whole thing to write about; it’s bits and pieces. Let’s see.

I woke up remembering last night’s improv show. We had a lovely house (it’s school holidays) and clearly, not everyone went to Grahamstown. There is always that nervousness about running anything theatrical while the festival happens. Pah, I say. But as important as the lovely house was the lovely show. We performed our old favourite format, TheatreSports, and because of all the great scene work we have been doing, and all the other formats we have been working on, the standard and satisfaction of our work last night was really high. Everybody loved us, and we loved each other, and ourselves. This got me thinking again about how lucky we are to have sustained this thing for almost 22 years, proving that we are not only the oldest but also the best improv group in Cape Town. And we can still pull audiences! This makes me extremely happy.

Another thing that is making me extremely happy at the moment is that I seem to have (holding thumbs that I don’t jinx it) broken the creative drought with a spurt of energy for a few interesting possibilities, the latest of which is a secret, but it is a new theatrical collaboration with some of my most favourite people and it is going to be groundbreaking in a hilarious and charming way. Watch this space.

Then there is the weather. I know, we are needing winter rains, but. I walked on Camps Bay beach yesterday, with my friend and the dogs, for over an hour and it was outrageously gorgeous.

And, ladies and gentlemen, I am writing again, not only here, but all over, with a collection of new ideas and things that make me enthusiastic and energised. Who knows what will become with these things, if they are ever to become actual things, but I am enjoying the process.


Here is what I have learned. This is my own story, my personal thing. It is a thread through my writing, both fiction and blog. It is not a generalisation, nor is prescriptive. It is what I have learned. I started out not knowing this and through writing I have learned it.

Just because I demand the freedom to say and write exactly what I want doesn’t mean I am always going to do it. I do not vomit out all my thoughts, ramblings, rages, bugbears, furies, criticisms and abusive thoughts endlessly. I could, but I don’t. I choose carefully, like a surfer choosing which wave, waiting for the right one, the best one, the most appropriate one.

This is why. I have learned that I do not want my writing to hurt anyone. I have written to hurt before and it felt terrible. In fact, that’s how it all started. I said harsh and critical things about other people’s work. I believed in what I wrote, and stood by it, and defended it, but I didn’t manage the fallout of it very well. This does not mean that I will stop myself from taking on a battle when I think it is necessary. It means that I will choose my battles like I choose my words.

I have learned that I need to be very clear and unambiguous. Readers need to understand exactly what I am saying. They need to get the message. Even when I am unraveling stuff that isn’t clear. That needs to be made clear. Here I have learned about the how of saying it.

I need to be trusted. I need to be believed. That takes work, and clarity, and choice.

When I am writing I want everybody to read what I have written and know that I mean it, that there is purity of motive, that I am not bullshitting or being clever, or trying to please someone else. I have learned the what of I am saying.

I am still learning. I am learning to keep quieter about the things I don’t understand or know about. I am learning to listen more and read more. I am still learning the what and how of freedom.

Improv for Life

It’s no secret that I took a big knock to my confidence at the festival of hard lessons. It was a blow to all facets of my creative self; writing, performing, directing, networking, publicising, selling. I knew with the passion of all that I hold dear that the work I had made was absolutely good, and I grew to understand that there was very little audience for it. Hard knocks.

It has taken me a while to recover. Part of that process has been the writing of a new play and a new short story; work I am partly very proud of and partly totally insecure about. Who knows if it is any good? It’s a lot like getting back onto the bicycle after a massive tumble and blow to the head. Actually, I remember coming off my brother’s bike and scraping my knees to shit on the gravel driveway when I was about eight or nine, and never getting back onto one again, so for me the analogy is particularly poignant.

The other part of the recovery process has been improv, and that part has been entirely, magnificently successful. And that is because improv is a positive life force.

On the weekend I was one of many actors involved in the shooting of a developmental movie (to become the pitch for a real, full length feature). What was fantastic about it was that we could come up with our own characters, back stories, circumstances and scenarios, and then we could improvise our scenes. This was right up my alley (and in fact, one of my little scenes was in a kind of alley). I don’t want to give away any of the story or who I was or what I did, but I loved the opportunity to create, improvise and make offers and proposals that were accepted with such a positive response.

And then, of course, there are our Monday (The Intimate) and Tuesday (The Kalk Bay Theatre) shows, monthly workshops, monthly Jam Sandwich experiments at Alexander Bar, and our weekly classes. Improv is mind blowing. It is proper team work. It is absolute creativity. It is hard and exciting, and easy and hilarious and heartbreakingly beautiful, and totally irreverent and rude, and outrageous, and huge and boisterous, and whacky and precious. It is brilliant to watch; last night I emceed a fantastic show where some of the scenes were absolute masterpieces. It is awesome to perform; last week I played in a scene that will stay with me forever, where Leon Clingman and I performed a game called Shared Memory Story and we were husband and wife philosophers on a skiing trip where something happened to an actual rectum apparent. Yes. It was one of those unexplainable little improv miracles. I love teaching improv, and giving notes. I love my response to it and I love seeing it in others. And I love our audiences. I love them. I love improv as a philosophy with its Yes Let’s answer to everything, and its You Can’t Fuck Up theory. I love spreading the word of improv and I love just doing it for its own sake. My little youtube moments are a great example of when improv just comes to me.

I really enjoy the challenge of writing, performing straight (scripted) theatre, and directing. All of it is part of my craft. But I go home to my heart love when I am improvising.

Breaking my own Silence

I can’t believe how long it has been since I jotted down my thoughts here, in this very public way. I confess that certain news events struck me dumb. I found them a bit all consuming, and irritating, and I didn’t want to say anything about them. Also, I have been on a bit of a theatre break. The last thing I saw was 3 Little Pigs (which I completely loved).

I miss writing here and it is amazing how quickly I get out of practice. This feels so self-conscious now. But, I need to break the drought so I will share some of the things I am enjoying and looking forward to.

1. The new improv course. It starts next week and I am amped to get into that head space. I love teaching improv they way I like to learn it; bold, fearless, crazy. Jill Bernard told us to ‘run faster than our fear’ and that’s how I like to do it. Get ready brave course attendants.

2. A clowning workshop. I have signed up for one at the end of March. How cool?

3. Xhosa course 2 with Xhosa Fundis. I love learning to thetha and it has changed how I live in Cape Town. I find it hard to explain how fundamental it is to be able to at least greet people in their mother tongue. I am rewarded with making the effort every day. When I cam e back to Cape Town from Prague I received a homecoming welcome of love, connection and heart, just because I could greet passport control and customs officials in isiXhosa. I can’t wait to gooi it during rehearsals.

4. I have tasted the bitter of disappointment and the sweet of excitement regarding my writing in the last couple of weeks. A short story I entered into the Short.Sharp competition was chosen as one to be included in an anthology of crime stories to be launched at the Grahamstown National Arts Fest, and my novel was finally rejected by the publishers. Life.

5. My puppies have grown into magnificent dogs and I spend far too much of my time loving them, because they are amazing.

Ah. Spell broken. Thanks.


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