In fact, it's not strictly true to say it's tentative. That was a bit of artistic licence for the hernia line (as was the 'hiatus' reference). The truth is that Tess is back with a vengeance. I probably wouldn't go so far as to say it's personal, but it's certainly progressing with a pace and passion that we haven't experienced before.
In fact, that's not strictly true either. It would be more accurate to say that Michael's musical output is progressing with a pace and passion. I'm merely trying to keep up. Having returned form Down Under in March, he's bombarded me with a veritable cornucopia of compositions, chief among them the all-important opening number, which not only sets the tone for the whole enterprise but also introduces the audience to the key players.
Mind you, in return I've supplied lyrics for a strategically important song in the second act, which I knew I wanted to address before he straitjacketed me with yet another sublime melody. It all harks back to an early blog post trying to work out which comes first, lyrics or music? The answer remains as slippery and unfathomable as an octopus doing quadratic equations.
We can both identify advantages and disadvantages to doing our bit first. Equally, there are pros and cons to filling in the gaps afterwards. The opening number, for instance, has been a joy to work on, not least because Michael has followed our scene-by-scene plan rigorously, leaving me merely to do the decorative stuff with the words. Conversely, I know there's going to be another big second act section that I'll want to construct lyrically before handing to him to compose.
The lesson? It's been vital that we've been on the same page with regards to the way the story unfolds. Part of it's planning, part of it's lots of talking, but the end result has been that there's been no disagreement over how much airtime a character's getting, or the way they're being presented on stage, or any of those endlessly tricky little questions.
I recently read a fascinating post from Wolfblood creator Debbie Moon about the transferability of the scene-by-scene outline from the world of television, where it's pretty much ubiquitous for a variety of sound production reasons. I hadn't considered all of these, but I find myself in solid agreement, and I can't imagine tackling a project these days without including a SxS in the process.
Everyone's got their own way of doing things, of course, but if you haven't used one in the past (or if you have), I'd strongly recommend giving it a try. It certainly helped this cowboy to get tentatively back in the saddle.
Next time... Social media and the marketing minefield.