David Storey (1933-2017), the British novelist, playwright and screenwriter, died in March (Parkinson's and dementia) and I made a note because I wanted to remember/honour/mourn him. I knew (some of) his plays, and hadn't realised until I read his obituary that he was such a successful novelist as well. His first novel, This Sporting Life (1960) was made into a movie, for which he wrote the screenplay. Other films followed, notably Home, based on his play, starring Geilgud and Sir Ralph Richardson. He won the Man Booker (then just the Booker) for Saville in 1976. I mean, wow.
I was still married, with four children, and trying to write in my spare time, what there was of it. Bill was administrator of the Stratford Festival by then so we had a rich, busy, cultural and social life. That was when I first became aware of David Storey.
I am not an envious person. My mother taught me how not to be jealous and the lesson has remained with me all my life. I am not jealous of other people for their clothes or trips or leisure (?). I come close to envy when I see other writers' success but I take nothing away from them. Sometimes, though, I wish I were as talented or successful. I didn't even know David Storey. How could I be jealous of him? But when I read that he wrote a play - I can't remember which one - in THREE DAYS, that did it.
I could do that, I thought. I'm just fooling around. I could write a play in three days if I tried. So I tried. Well, you know - I forget now what kept me away from the typewriter: someone's cold, someone's birthday party, an opening night, people for dinner - whatever. In three days I managed to write three pages.
And then Bill died.
Suddenly I had to write. That was all I knew how to do. I couldn't go out and work anyway, because my youngest, challenged child needed a lot of extra help. But I needed income. So I wrote. I thought I could write stuff, prose, journalism, stuff, for a living and try to write plays in my spare time. Hah. No one told me you couldn't make a living as a writer. (Later I actually was offered a contract to write a book on how to make a living as a writer - without even submitting a pitch.) In taking inventory, I came across those three pages of a play inspired by David Storey. They weren't bad. So I wrote the play and it was produced.
Later still I developed a way of preparing a play in my head and on recipe file cards so that when I was ready to write, I could indeed, write a play in three days. First draft, that is.
All because of David Storey. Bless him.