Sunday, April 26, 2009


sometimes all it takes is the right name or title. I know this. I've known this since I've been a writer. Sometimes a character will just sit there, fully dressed, ready and waiting, but without the right name, he or she will do NOTHING. No amount of poking or prodding will help.

'All in the Family' is now called '(in)conceivable' and suddenly, everything is roses. After days and days of struggling and such, one thing changes and everything is better.

I feel relieved. I told my friend, J.R., the other night that not being able to break through the writing is like having heart constipation. It's like I got something waiting in there, and it just won't come out. And it sucks. And there's nothing but time for it. There's no amount of emotional fiber that can help.

So here we are again. Writing is on fire. Let's take care of business before the fire dies down again.

Monday, April 13, 2009

don't worry, be happy

I've been working on 'All Shook Up'. It's been a couple months since I worked on it, and I was kind of afraid of it. The last couple things I went back through to revise just were in such bad shape that I got kind of stuck. But I picked up 'All Shook Up' after I started working on a new play, 'Almost', and 'All Shook Up' is in much better shape than I remember it being. There's still a few places that need to be tightened (I have a tendency to repeat things and us a lot of 'well's and 'yeah's that are just fat that need to be shaved off), but there are only two major problems I have with the play now. One of them us just a character related thing that needs to be sorted out, but the other was an issue with the time span covered in the play.

Without going into too many details, I talked to one of my favorite dramaturgs ever, Robert, and explained the time frame. I knew that I was really putting myself on a ledge for no good reason, because he gave me some suggestions that will make things work better and also, some fun things to think about for the play that adds to the 'magic' of the play. So this was good. I was just getting all tied up in knots about it, and was so worried I wasn't serving the play in the right way. Robert told me to not worry about that part. But I think worrying about how I am serving the play and the characters is a good thing to worry about. I only marginally (read none) worry about what theatres might think--and that's what really led to me talking to Robert about the time frame issue. I didn't want a theatre to get a finished draft of 'All Shook Up' and read it and be like, WTF is this playwright doing? She has no concept of time in this play.

So that's been solved. Now I just need to find some time to write. I'm glad the block is over for now. And 'Almost' is on the horizon too.

November can't get here fast enough.

Monday, April 6, 2009

move along

when all you got to keep is strong
Move along
move along like I know ya do
And even when your hope is gone
Move along, move along just to make it through
move along

move along
All American Rejects

This won't be the last time I quote lyrics. This will happen a lot. Early in my writing career I would hear a song and write a story (prior to becoming a playwright) straight from the song. It wouldn't be from the music video, but when i would hear a song, i would start to see characters in my head and the work would be born. It's still that way, although not as direct anymore.

This is less about what insprises me and more about how moving along is the best thing to do sometimes.

Yes, keep writing. Yes, write through.

These are good suggestions and often they work.

But they were not turning out anything for me as of late.

So I backed away, got sucked into homework, and suddenly, a play i thought of when I was still at the University of Iowa, after I graduated, came back to me and started to form clearly in my mind. And now I'm thinking and working on it. It wasn't the play I wanted to work on, but sometimes you don't get your choice.

So moving along in my writing life can be two things:

moving along through the rough parts. writing against the tides, the avalanche, and somewhere you will dig out through to the other side of hot writing.


moving along to a different play.

the work will let you know when you need to stop pushing it and pulling on it. And if you don't listen, it can be very bad for you.

Trust me on this.