Artic Circle Challenge

Excitement of being chosen
For filmscript edit workshop
Near Arctic Circle`

Stress of three-leg flight
To get there
Dublin - Manchester
Manchester - Stockholm
Stockholm - Uluu
And on by minibus

Upset of coffee spilled
down pale blue sweater
Big brown stain
Mopped at with tissues
As strive to read everyone's submitted scripts

Worry of waiting, waiting
As no suitcase on carousel
At flight change
In Stockholm
As other passengers collect theirs
And go
Collect theirs and go

Panic
As ask advice
"Run for it
Or you'll miss your connection
Suitcase will follow"
Run panting sweating
To next terminal
And just make it

Discomfort
Secret embarrassment
Of wearing same sweaty clothes
All weekend
Sweater back to front
Under one light jacket
To hide stain
Till suitcase arrives

Nervous at meeting other screenwriters, tutors
Dutch, German, Swedish, Hungarian
What will they think
Of your script, your baby
The organisers must like it
Or you wouldn't be here.
Would you?

Annoyance
At whining, dive-bombing mosquitoes
Biting relentless
In welcome evening
At town's writers' centre
No warning
Bare skin saved
Only by quickly loaned repellant stick

Comradeship as
Split into teams
Comment on one another's scripts
Appreciation of what's there
A few suggestions
"Liked the wayyou…"
"That made me laugh…"
"Wasn't clear what you meant by…"
"Why didn't you…? "
But tutor says
"I want more than that.
Stronger analysis.
Deeper analysis
We're here to knock these scripts into shape."

Rivalry grows bitter
As learn to rip, tear, bite
At flaws - real, invented -
In others' babies
"That doesn't work! "
"Your hero's not believeable! "
"She wouldn't say that, do that! "
"Cardboard, cardboard! "
"Your plot goes astray when…"
Session after session
Descend into savagery
Red in tooth and claw
No room for politeness now

Desperation
As come to feel not much left
Your baby in pieces
Torn apart
And trampled on
Again and again

Determination
As rise early
In land of no darkness
To computer room
To write new scenes
Rewrite old ones
Modify characters
Adjust dialogue
To send back into the firing line
Try to please everyone

Relaxation
In magic summer green
Of Arctic Circle forest
Pines, birches, moss, still lake, sunshine, silence, solitude
Stroke horns of gentle reindeer
Whose barbecued meat
You eat with pleasure
As Saami campfire smoke
Keeps mosquitoes at bay

Relief in solo session with tutor
As she finds way
To stick it together again
"How about a new opening scene where…? "
"What if the priest character was…? "
"You could end with a lighter tone maybe if…."
Sound suggestions
But is this still your baby?
Viable script maybe
But is it what you wanted?

Comradeship restored
At evening meal
On raft drifting down middle
Or wide slow-moving river
Where mosquitoes do not venture

Satisfaction of ordeal completed
Of a script revised
That can be worked on more
Once home
But others feel
Their babies slaughtered
Dead
All gone

Dispirited
All enthusiasm destroyed
By over-enthusiastic workshop
Designed to help budding screenwriters
Move their careers forward

by Roger Hudson

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