I’m currently reading Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook’s book Doctor Who, the writer’s tale: the final chapter, which I mentioned absolutely ages ago, and part read then. I’ve just found it in the local library, so I’m drifting through it. It’s essentially just a collection of emails between Davies (main Doctor Who writer for four of the new series- covering Christopher Ecclestone and David Tennant).
It’s also turning into just about the most informative thing on writing I’ve read in a long time, because the emails are as the writing is taking place, and there are some insightful questions on all kinds of writerly topics, some of the answers to which have been immediately helpful. The big thing, and it is a BIG thing, is the sheer chaos you see here. There isn’t some neat, easily followed method the way writing’s self-help industry suggests so much as a collection of suggestions buried in among thoughts on persuading Kylie to act in the Christmas special and some particularly self-destructive writing habits.
I think the candour around those is refreshing, even if it is easy to start thinking the old clichés about writers and suffering. It’s useful not as a template, but because you can see someone working in what even he says is a less than ideal way, and still producing really good work. It’s a reminder that things don’t have to be perfect for us as writers. It’s also a very entertaining read, even if it does currently have me thinking what a pity it was that Penny Carter got largely subsumed into the Catherine Tate character Donna. She would have been such a good companion character. Or maybe not. It’s worth reading, anyway.