How a mocking cricket led to a murder in the Karoo

Ideas

How a mocking cricket led to a murder in the Karoo

Our beaming optimism about creating a drama series descended into tiredness, self-loathing and fear

It’s 9.33 pm and I’m in a house in a vineyard in Barrydale on the edge of the Karoo with two other people and we are locked in a battle to the death, partly with each other, partly with a common foe. I haven’t slept in three days. Worst of all, there’s a cricket.

I don’t know what kind of crickets they breed out here but they are wily and loud. They make a shrill, metallic screech: part steam whistle, part swinging metal sign outside a petrol station on a forgotten side-road in the dusty American West, circa 1963. On Friday, when we arrived, I quite liked it.

We are here to map out a drama series. I’m sure it’ll be a good series, with twists and turns and all sorts of good things like character development and ad breaks and so forth, but it’s quite a thing to make a drama series. It’s a great, vast, intricate organism, populated with smaller but no less intricate organisms who have to be real and do things that are convincing but also interesting, and it has to simultaneously surprise you and seem inevitable, but more than anything, when you create something you have to transform the universe we all live in from a place in which this thing doesn’t exist to one in which it does, and that’s not as easy as it sounds. ..

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