Very slow, in fact.
I was perusing some of my previous articles looking for something I thought I’d written about the table read of my play “It’s Not Love on My Part.” Alas, it seems I only thought I’d written it. Or perhaps I dreamed it?
I write so infrequently on this blog because I’m usually kvetching about my religious background and the scars I bear (/s) from the experience. Poor me, etc.
In searching back through this site, I found that the only mention of my play was in the Welcome post introducing this blog, or at least its move to WordPress.
At that time I was only beginning act two. Go figure.
Since then I’ve rewritten the damn thing seven times… more, really, but seven really good passes at it between the smaller adjustments. The table read was on draft 3.5 or so. I’m very happy with it at this point. It will be sent out soon in its current form.
I’ve got about 3 more scenes to write in my current WIP, “Stacks,” before sending it to my trusted readers. Interestingly, I didn’t realize I had already put together the basic plot and written a title when I started up this site.
The play is about an older woman, about sixty, who has become a hoarder since the death of her husband six years ago, leading to a confrontation between her and her daughter and son-in-law. The title I had come up with back then was, “A Few Too Many Things.” I’m glad I dumped that title, really. I already did the overlong sentence title thing. I just don’t think one should make a habit out of it.
This one is still too “on-the-nose,” so it will have some rewrites before its ready for prime-time. It’s something like being in the middle of giving birth. You can see it might be beautiful, but right now it’s all sweat, grunting, and groaning. I say that from a male point of view because I can’t claim to be feeling the pain. It’s very close to me, but it isn’t mine.
But there’s one thing I can really identify with from that earlier post.
I’m eager to have the first draft down on paper because I have three other plays looming, battling for attention in my skull.
Such as Unto the Father, a play about a megachurch pastor struggling to see past his religious convictions to the humanity of his worldly daughter and gay son.
Such as Kilroy’s Unfinished Symphony (mentioned in the welcome post) about a brilliant concert pianist whose career had for years been derailed by substance abuse. Teaching a teenage prodigy who has grown too emotionally dependent on him opens the raw wounds of his own childhood trauma.
Such as Verily, about a fundamentalist youth pastor in denial about/struggling to come to terms with his own homosexuality.
Churches, gay people, fucked up abused people… they all feature heavily in my stuff. I want to write it all at once.
It seems like the closer I get to the end of one work, the more the other works are clamoring to get out. It’s annoying, really. It’s also a testament to the mild ADD I’m positive I suffer from but which nobody really wants to hear me complain about.
So I write on around my busy workdays, hoping that some piece of art I produce will be worthy of the name and mean something to someone who sees it someday.
Couple years ago I went in and got diagnosed ADD and have had a prescription ever since that really helps me somehow to stay on track.
These are fantastic stories to tell. They all need telling. I’m interested as to why plays are the thing, rather than novels or short stories. But I don’t really need to ask. That is how you are called to it. Simple as that.
My novel (right, I only have the one) has become a lot more interesting to me since I discovered I could drive my characters with twists on the same issues my real-life people are driven and/or burdened with. As we learn about life and everyone’s unique struggles, we find there are more stories that need to be told … and these, now, really need to be told.
Truth be told, I don’t precisely know why plays are the thing, but I do have an idea or two.
To me, novels tend to be a deep combination of the internal worlds of the characters, that you often get to see very clearly, and action along with extended interaction with the external world.
Screenplays, which I do keep working on here and there, are all about visuals and action.
Plays, on the other hand, are all about dialogue and subtext. Plays are people standing around talking, and dialogue is always what I’ve been most comfortable creating, and I think it’s what I’m best at. You don’t get to see the character’s internal lives. You have to pick it up from subtext. Even when I’m writing a play, I often don’t know what the character’s subtext(s) is(are) and only find that out after I dig in, at which point my writing usually grows beyond the on-the-nose this-is-happening dialogue and figure out what I can leave out and thereby make my characters more real, more 3D.
I also love acting on stage, deeply. I love finding my version of a character. I love the process of acting. And as a writer I love the idea of creating a character with enough space for an actor to own, and to fill with their own unique qualities that will make the play the collaborative work it’s meant to be.
Other than that, it might just be that I’m lazy and don’t feel like writing all that other shit when dialogue is so much fun 🙂