Tilly Lunken’s foreword to UEA’s 2021 Scriptwriting MA anthology, published by Egg Box and available HERE.
Reflection. It’s what writing does. It looks backwards, forwards, inside and out. It distorts or reveals truth, but it contains in essence part of us. As a writer and a reader. Who we are informs how we receive it, how we craft it. It can be a revelation.
The writing I have done most this past year has been entirely for myself. I began journalling at the start of lockdown 1.0 and have continued it as a daily practice since. What interests me as much about this practice as a record, a diary, a witness, as therapy – is that there is no audience. It isn’t for anyone else but me. In fact, it is for me before anyone else. Sure, as an artist I have an awareness that it might get used at some point but actually, if it doesn’t – that doesn’t diminish its importance.
What we have here, of course, is a collection of writing that is for an audience and what a treat it is. I didn’t get to meet this cohort in person – but meeting them through the pages of this anthology has been a delight – and revealing.
Once again, it is impossible to write this without the context of the past year, where most teaching has been online. To those not on the front line of the pan- demic, it’s as if time exists differently – some of us even stopped. Ultimately, I think we’ve all changed. Thematically all these pieces involve choice – a moment, a beginning, a change and a point where there is no return. An anthology of reflections and refractions.
An angelfish – both trapped and free, the sheer joy of the B-side you are sure no one else has discovered, and the moment you see your younger self in the life you will soon dress your own daughter in. A centaur forced into a new suit, a small child forced onto a train clutching her favourite toy and a plate of carrots drops over and over again – before reality breaks through.
A teacher daydreams of consequences and a boy comes to understand them through an unexpected and tempting ally. The train is coming, it’s really coming – it’s really coming, but up on the roof no one can really know how drunk you need to be to stop caring. Dating apps really do age you, right? But who would want to choose a relationship when you can’t even figure out buckets together or finish the easy crossword? There’s meaning in the marks on the walls, the way the river slips by and through London and in the glance over to a beautiful dress and the promise of a different life. Everyone is a liar though, that’s the truth of it and of course everything crystallises in an art gallery.
Nineteen pieces. Little windows to peek through and enjoy, also catching a glimpse of ourselves in the glass.
And so a little reflection.
What you write, however you write, and whoever you write it for – know that you exist beyond an audience. You might this year have co-written an anthology, drafted dissertation scripts over a stormy summer, learned about radio drama and built up a strong toolkit for screenwriting. You also might have twelve full Moleskine journals (no lines, never lines) that contain the most important writing you’ll ever do and have accepted that perhaps no one will ever read it.
How is it August again? How am I again sitting in my room listening to folklore and thinking once more of my time at UEA?
In my mind I can trace the pathway from Norfolk Terrace to the laundry, carrying my big bag of washing. Buying snacks at the Union Shop to get coins/ change and skimping on the dryer, but always doing at least one turn as the weight of sodding washing was not worth it. I can feel the reality of that, and now as I walk down my stairs, less than 20m with my green washing tub, I think of the weight of other things too. The layers of our lives and experience and how we break down, build and grow. How we recover. How we remember. I think of the boy I showed how to use the top loader in freshers’ week and saw weeks later throwing his washing in like a pro.
I don’t know. This year. Change. Choice. It happens when we are stuck inside. It happens when we look out and look in. Reflect. Write. And read.
Inside these pages, I hope you find as much as I have.