"For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea"
- E.E. Cummings
This quote hangs on my bedroom wall. Next to my window, in front of my bed. It is in the form of a print by artist Mae Chevrette. I no longer live close enough to see her from my window, so I have these words there to always remind me of my one true love. The sea. My refuge. Whenever I feel weak and alone, she makes me feel at home.
This past weekend has been somewhat of a triumph for me. After recently berating myself for having done fuck all in terms of writing this past year, I finally finished the first draft of a screenplay that I have been working on for 7 years. 7 YEARS! That makes me sound massively lazy, but it is entirely intentional that it took that long to complete. What the fuck does that have to do with that quote about the sea? I hear you ask. Well, essentially the sea is a running theme throughout the story. Why did it intentionally take 7 years to write? You also ask. Well...
To The Sea is a project that I started in 2005 when I was eighteen. It was always my aim to finish writing it when I was twenty five (It was, however, due to my massive laziness that I only finished it on the very final weekend of me being twenty five). The first part of the story is that of a young and spritely eighteen year old fellow who meets a sumptuous and exotic twenty five year old woman at a train station. They get to chatting and really hit if off. However, once sumptuous and exotic discovers just how young young and spritely actually is, she loses interest and they part ways forever... or do they?
The second part, which I wrote in 2010, takes place in 2009. Young and spritely is now twenty one. By chance he bumps into sumptuous and exotic, who is now twenty eight. Once again, they get to chatting, this time over a coffee. Young and spritely has recently had his young and fragile heart broken for the first time and sumptuous and exotic is engaged to be married. Once again they part ways forever... or do they? (I think you can tell where this is going)
The third part takes place in 2012 (which is when I started writing it. I realise that by finishing in 2013 it has actually been 8 years since Part 1. Damn). Young and spritely is now twenty five and jaded (Do you get the feeling that young and spritely may be based on someone?!?). The hands of fate bring young and spritely back together with sumptuous and exotic, who is now thirty two, at a wedding. Once again they get to chatting, sharing life experiences and putting the world to rights. Will they part ways forever this time?
You have no fucking idea how good it felt to finish something that I have been writing for that long. Those characters are like old friends. Their names are Sam and Nerina, by the way. They live in my head. I know them better than I know many of my actual friends.
The idea behind writing it in three parts over the course of several years was to document my views on life and love and the universe as I evolved and grew as a person. It was really difficult not to write each part before I was the right age. I always kind of knew what I wanted to happen in the end, but obviously could not predict how my own life experiences would affect what would happen in the story. You grow up and change a lot between eighteen and twenty five and it is pretty cool having that change documented. Even if it is essentially fiction.
The actual idea and inspiration for the script came from three different places. Firstly, it is a
rip off homage to Richard Linklater's Before films, which I fell in love with at seventeen and have watched countless times in the past eight years. Secondly, this song. And lastly, when I was eighteen this happened...
I was in a pub, the pub that I always drank in when I was eighteen, and I met a woman. Her name was Cherry, she was twenty five and was from Helsinki, Finland. She was in the UK studying. We got to chatting, mainly about Star Wars (It was 2005 and Revenge of the Sith had just come out). After a few drinks, bold and brazen (and slightly drunk) Martin asked Cherry for her number but she shot me down. She wasn't condescending or mean about it, she simply said "Ask me again in seven years". I never saw her again after that night.
That is where the idea came from. That one line. That little seed that she planted in my head. Ask her in seven years. What if I actually could ask her in seven years? How would that conversation go? That is how Sam and Nerina came to be.
To The Sea is all about life, love, men, women, age, time, expectations vs reality, music, the ocean, trains, books, weddings, marriages, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, sex, hope, anguish, disappointment, blue smarties, red wine and the motherfuckin' dark side.
It is my proudest achievement as a writer.