Friday, May 30, 2008

Things I Do when I have Writer's Anorexia

I'll get to the whole 'Writer's Anorexia' thing in a post or two.

Recently, I've been suffering from a bout of it. It's made it hard to get anything done, so I go and do what I usually do when I can't seem to get the pen or cursor moving: I work on submission packets.

And I realized that I have a month to get 'Squall Lines' together to make a deadline I want to send a package for it to. Luckily it's for 'works in progress', otherwise I would have to choose something else or not submit at all.

But I am realizing some things about the play. And it pertains to killing babies from the last post. I need to cut whole sections and paste things together so they work. And this is okay. It's actually kind of cathartic to do. To not be so attached to something that you can't just hit delete and never look back.

Natalie Goldberg talks about having a spontaneous poem booth at a fundraiser or two, where she would write a spontaneous poem on any subject given by someone, and the person would pay some money for it. She would write the poem and give it to the person, never to be seen by her again. That is the ultimate in letting go. Spontaneously writing something like that and seeing it walk away. That idea is very fascinating to me. It might be difficult to do a spontaneous play booth (I think that's actually covered by improv), but it's a good thing to think about.

I really feel in the end when something needs to be cut or trimmed or tossed completely out, it's for the best of the work. It's only when the ego gets in the way that things get rocky.

Like now.

I mean, when I wrote 'The Rope Swings' in 2003, I had written several different drafts of the play. It was the night before the play was due for 'The Ten Minute Play Festival' and I scrapped the whole thing. I started over, splitting my own argument in my head about what to do about a demand my mother had made on me into two different characters, sisters, linked by family and by emotional damage inflicted by all the mothers in their lineage down to the very first mother. And I just dashed it off, a first draft, and turned it in the next day. I fretted for several days until I discovered I had made it in.

So killing your babies isn't a bad thing. I have to work today from 11 to close. I am hoping that I feel better after I get off work, better than I felt last night, so I can actually rip 'Squall Lines' apart and put it back together again.

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