In which he goes from cynic and skeptic to a believer…
Writing hurts. I do love it, I swear, but every choice of word feels like a problem I create, a thousand, no, a hundred-thousand piece puzzle entirely in shades of blue – and sometimes, more often than not, it’s the last thing I want to do.
But I do love it.
I enjoy reading the things that I wrote, at least the things that I cut and re-cut and re-re-cut and sanded down. I like to run my fingers over edges that may not be perfect, but are certainly smooth. So I do it.
This weekend was 14/48, a play festival wherein writers write plays overnight, and actors and directors bring them to life for two performances in the evening. This is a fairly common model, but the novelty of 14/48 is that it’s done a second night and day in a row.
(This weekend was also the Texas Book Festival, which I managed to visit and support some friends.)
I’d never done this thing before. Honestly, I hated the idea. I quietly believed that the benefits are in networking, creating community, and fundraising – certainly important things – but not art.
The reason that I gave was because I’d been to many-a-short-play-festival, but had seen few decent things emerge from them. And I think there’s merit to this – in such a small amount of time, devising often works better than playwriting. But the secret reason is because I felt like this kind of festival, should I participate, would reveal me to be the fraud of a writer that I secretly think I am. It would be revealed that I am a circus act, with a few rehearsed tricks, not a gymnast.
There are tricks, of course, which I could figure out even without doing it. Line memorization is a major hurdle, so avoid monologues, make each line of dialogue trigger the next, streamline the internal logic of the piece, establish early what the hell is going on, and make it make sense. And yet, knowing these tricks didn’t help me plunge into the icy water.
I wrote two plays that I loved, drawing on a mixture of the previously mentioned tricks and my own bullshit. I got to work with amazing actors and one of my closest friends and collaborators. And I was with around fifty other people making shit for the sheer fun and adventure of making shit. And I made art. Other playwrights made art.
God knows why it worked, but I’m a believer now.
AND IN OTHER NEWS….
It will soon be available in print form, too.