Writing to a brief: getting an audience to love an evil person @PipBaines13
By Philly Baines
Gods live among us.
Two of mine are Martin McDonagh and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. They are great writers. Martin wrote In Bruges and Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri and Phoebe wrote Crashing and Fleabag. I’ve recently found out they’re ‘together, together’ and it’s all been a bit of a revelation; their work covers a similar theme: making monsters loveable.
The fact that two of my most idolised writers have collided is like combining Star Trek and Star Wars for a Sci-Fi fan. I’m very excited and more motivated than ever to get back to a longstanding passion project of mine; my first book, that follows in a similar vein.
It’s called 365 days of pain, and it’s all about one woman’s journey to make sense of everyday madness through writing a story every day for a year. I made a start of it last year and then my hard disc corrupted and I lost everything. Should have backed up my work, I know, but still, I think it’s a great preface to my second attempt at writing the collection of short stories.
For this scab, I thought I’d do a writing exercise Waller-Bridge has done in the past: take a news headline about a terrible, horrific story and try to humanise the perpetrator whilst making sure the reader knows what they’ve done. Try to get the audience to like them and deem them not guilty.
Here’s my attempt.
Taken from BBC news Yorkshire:
Man admits attempting to kill four children near Penistone
I was having a bad day. But when I say bad, you know, it’s not the normal bad. You know, not like your back gets all stiff and clicky or ya missus says you’ve got the wrong type of bread. You know, with my bad days, I kind of go somewhere other people don’t.
I never done something like this before. And you know, I take responsibility I did it. I try to kill those kids. But I was having one of those days.
And something set me off that morning. I live with my Ma and now, she shouts at me like, she dun like me much. I try you know. Some kids you know, they lose their ma when they’re born. Well, she says I killed my Dad. He had a heart attack when I was born, on skank somewhere. Got brought in just a day after I came out. Funny that.
Anyway, Ma shouts at me for not having a job anymore. I joined the army and that made her happy. But you know. It’s a lot to deal with when people on the other side of the wire that want you dead. Not much reason them Afghans. And then you come back home and you can’t cope and your ma wants you dead.
And you know, I wash up her stuff, as she don’t take care of herself you know, I try to keep it all clean and together. And she doesn’t see it though. But I make the knives and forks shine. I use polish and everything. She says I cook so much I’m getting fat and I’m a waste of space. You hear it enough, and it drives a man crazy. And I had my friend Mike down the road. And he couldn’t take his bad days anymore. So he bumped himself off.
And sometimes I look at these kids. They are like me a bit. You know, were like me. There’s not much round here but telesales, the army and ASDA. And I know what life has in store for them and they don’t. So I thought I’d do something for me when I was younger, you know? Cos they are the next me. People repeat you see. And I thought. You know, I thought I’d spare them the pain and bump myself off too. I’d researched the quickest least painful way. It wouldn’t have hurt. But I know, you know, I am wrong.
I’m not good at much, am I? But this thing I did. It’s my brain and this bad day. That’s all.