Bardsey Island Observational Research Project

In the moment

Sep 9, 2010. So I have my story. It is a story about being there. It came out of being on Bardsey Island as part of my Observational Research assignment for MASW. And yet it is a story about observing, being present, fronting up in the moment and drinking in life. Taking it deep into ourselves, savouring it, letting it make us full with experiences, sensations and our responses to them.

Gull

And the moral of the tale? Is that only then, when we have digested the time and the place fully, can we use it to create, to pass on to others our joys, our frustrations, our fears, to share our experiences. In this world where we are obsessed with instant sharing our thoughts on Twitter, our photos of where we are right now to Facebook and uploading videos to You Tube, even writing on blogs like this, the immediacy detracts from our experience. It stops us from being there. It is the filtered reality of the viewfinder. Just because I have a camera, doesn’t mean I have to look through it right now. I can either live the moment or I can record it. It is better to record it through the wide rich viewfinder of our senses, stored on the glorious Memorex of our memories.

Sure memories fade, but then so does Memorex. Those of us old enough to have entrusted our treasured memories to cinefilm, video tape, cassette tape, floppy disk and inkjet printers can attest to this. Everything fades and yet, while we can still remember them, our memories are rich and glorious. They can record things that no recording device can, like smell and taste. We have more senses than just the five that we are usually credited with. For example to mention just a few, we have a sense of time, a sense of temperature, a sense of balance, a sense of proximity and we have a sense of direction. No recording device other than the human can capture all that. Then there are the crossover of senses which many of us possess, a subtle cross-wiring which gives a taste to a rainbow or a color to the word Tuesday. Only an artist can portray that, whether it is with paint, or clay, sounds, or celluloid. Or words. Ultimately it’s words that the artist uses.

The screenwriter is no different. Many would argue that the screen is the richest experience that can be shared. But it is the writer behind it all that puts the words in the actor’s mouth, tells the director what flavour of light to point a camera at, what sweet sound in the cacophony to focus upon.

And this is all well and good. I am happy with that.

But then I come back to the task at hand – conveying all of that feeling into the meagre lines and pages of a thirty page screenplay. And I’m left wondering if it can be done. And whether I am the person to do it. Can I tell this particular story using this medium? I yearn to write it as a story. To use words in the way I know. Where the reader in mind is the end-reader. Not the viewer. A script seems like a B2B business memo. Do the pretty descriptions of the arena really need to BE there? Will people ever actually read them or will they gloss over to the next line of dialog? Does my observation, my distilling, my choice of words to convey a sense of it really do that at all? It almost feels like a document telling some other artist how to sing a particular note or how to carve the shape I want into a lump of ice. I am using every mental muscle I possess not to wrench the chisel from their hand. Ultimately I’m not sure it is a discipline, an unselfishness, that I possess. I only know how to do it myself.

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