“The Great Big Quantum State of Maybe”

DrWhoBook_On Sep 15th The Times published some emails which were  communications between Russell T. Davies and Benjamin Cook, a journalist with whom Davies was working on the newly released:  Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale

The first email in the article took my breath away with its description of the story development process. Obviously, Davies had been asked by Cook for notes which might be an insight to his process and Davies’ response is an insight into my own and I’m sure so many others’ process too… I’ve never seen the mud of story gestation and development expressed so clearly.  When I say to you "Sorry, I’m terrible when I’m writing" because I haven’t called in a while or because I’ve been sitting right there but not quite present and it’s been going on for months and yet I don’t have anything I’m ready to show you or even seem to be able to tell you the story very clearly… well, it’s not an excuse but this is why.

From: Russell T.Davies To: Benjamin Cook Sunday February 18, 2007 12:41:59 GMT

There’s little physical evidence of the script process to show you. No notes. Nothing. I think, and think, and think…and by the time I come to write, a lot has been decided. Also, a lot hasn’t been decided, but I trust myself, and scare myself, that it’ll happen in the actual writing. It all exists in my head, but in this soup. It’s like the ideas are fluctuating in this great big quantum state of Maybe. The choices look easy when recounted later, but that’s hindsight. When nothing is real and nothing is fixed, it can go anywhere. The Maybe is a hell of a place to live. As well as being the best place in the world.

I filter through all those thoughts, but that’s rarely sitting at my desk, if ever. It’s all done walking about, going to town, having tea and watching telly. The rest of your life becomes just the surface, chattering away on top of the Maybe…and the doubts. That’s where this job is knackering and debilitating. Everything – and I mean every story ever written anywhere – is underscored by the constant murmur of: this is rubbish, I am rubbish, and this is due in on Tuesday! The hardest part of writing is the writing.


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