Thursday, July 29, 2010

....tries again...

I am still in that weird Sisyphean place with my writing, where I am making progress, but every time I get to the top, well, you know what happens.

I am so impatient. I want to get somewhere else with my writing and I don't know how to get there. I have a reading I am working on for myself at the library in a month, and I haven't quite gotten that bad boy together. But other than that, I have nothing else going on, except writing, and more writing, and trying to get someplace to take one of my plays.

I feel stupid sometimes for complaining about this--of all the silly things to complain about--not getting over that hump. I just want to go there, you know? Ugh, pity party of 1!

I like the LOLcat I put on this point--LOLcats are funny, first of all, and I like that the kitteh is trying again. And that's what I will do, I will just try again. And I will be so happy the day I get that rock over the top of the hill.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

'Sand and Water' back on the back burner

There's still a LOT left to do with 'Sand and Water' but I think I need to pop it back on the stove and let it simmer a bit. I am so not wanting to do this--I can see where I want the play to be and where I think the play wants to go, but there's a big chasm between what it is now and where I see it going. And this is going to require a lot of character work that just needs to simmer. I am impatient about being impatient.

But that's okay, because now I am going to work on the first of my Jonathan Coulton inspired works, 'Blue Sunny Day'.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Laurel Snyder: Be a Critic of Critics

I don't often do this, and maybe I should do this more, but today I was looking at the amazing poet/children's writer/awesome mom, Laurel Snyder's, blog, and this is what I found:

She's says pretty much everything I've ever thought about trusting one's self and voice and listening to critics. This was a BIG issue when I was in college. When I was in the Undergrad Fiction Workshop, I was not very popular with my fellow workshoppers because I was fairly brutal when it came to my criticism of their work. I came from the position of, well, we were all chosen to be here, so why not tear some stories up and help each other make them better? It wasn't personal--but it became personal with some of the other people in the workshop, so I was basically told to back off. That made me a bit more of an egg-shell-stepper when it came to the Undergrad Playwright's Workshop.

Now, out in the real world, I would pretty much give ANYTHING to have any kind of criticism--at least it would mean that someone is reading my work. But I continue to plug on, and when I edit, I try to give it an outsider's eye as much as possible. Being both attached and detached from the work is pretty hard, but somehow I am making it work.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sand and Water, Draft 2, 'finished'

'Finished'. It's never finished.

But I have gone through each of the 7 scenes I currently have for 'Sand and Water' and made some excellent changes and cuts and have a LOT of work to do coming up. I have one particularly difficult scene that I am NOT sure how I am going to write. But I have a good feeling about this play--it's different from anything I've written, and I sincerely hope I get it running along good soon so I can actually submit it next year. 'Sand and Water' 2011!

I am simply amazed at how well this new editing process has worked. What a wonderful new thing to stick in my tool belt. I am humbled at how quickly things have tumbled out since I made my confession of what was wrong. Funny enough, while I wish I had done it sooner, it wouldn't have worked sooner than it did. There's always regrets, because we all are only human, but I feel like the universe has granted me the grace to be accepting of that truth.

In the end though, the regrets are still there, I just have to let it dissolve like solid stone in the song that has given this play it's name--'Sand and Water' by Beth Nielsen Chapman.

I first heard this song on the episode of 'E.R.' of the same name. It was the second episode of the seventh season. I believe it must have been when I was living with Casey, Michael and Jason in college. TNT would should two episodes of 'E.R.' every weekday in the morning and I would be able to watch them before going to my first class three days a week. It's a beautiful song, and it stuck with me all this time. I tried to use it as inspiration before, but it just wouldn't work. Not until this play.

this is a youtube video featuring Beth Nielsen Chapman performing live with different water footage as the video. The quality is kind of eh but at least it's not a 'Charmed' montage.

All alone I didn't like the feeling
All alone I sat and cried
All alone I had to find some meaning
In the center of the pain I felt inside

All alone I came into this world
All alone I will someday die
Solid stone is just sand and water, baby
Sand and water, and a million years gone by

I will see you in the light of a thousand suns
I will hear you in the sound of the waves
I will know you when I come, as we all will come
Through the doors beyond the grave

All alone I heal this heart of sorrow
All alone I raise this child
Flesh and bone, he's just
Bursting towards tomorrow
And his laughter fills my world and wears your smile

I will see you in the light of a thousand suns
I will hear you in the sound of the waves
I will know you when I come, as we all will come
Through the doors beyond the grave

All alone I came into this world
All alone I will someday die
Solid stone is just sand and water, baby
Sand and water and a million years gone by

lyrics by Beth Nielsen Chapman "Sand and Water"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The First Step to Recovery

Apparently admitting the problem with my writing a few days ago has had success so far. I've managed to edit 12 and a half pages of the 24 pages I have so far--half way there!

It's a funny thing about half way there--there's a lot that isn't in this play yet that needs to be. I have italicized notes all over the current draft about bits and pieces that need to be put into the play and a giant one is coming. I don't know how much it will add to the play right now, or even if I will finish it right now, but things are definitely coming together better.

I combined a shorter scene with a longer scene in such a way that it flows together better. I am much happier with the edits so far with this play than i have been in a long time. Pretty soon I get to write about the seductive beauty of implosion--I'm really looking forward to that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In Progress

I am beginning to think a bit differently about the editing process.

I used to just think that the editing process was exactly the same for every play I've ever edited. Sometimes I would have to bust out some extra tools--particularly The Dramatic Writer's Companion by Will Dunne This book is quickly becoming a staple I take with me when I edit, along with several pens of different colors, highlighters, sticky notes, a couple notebooks and the draft I am working on.

I already realize that the writing process is not a guarantee. Just because I wrote a play before doesn't mean I will be able to do it. It's starting over every time. You just need to trust the characters and yourself to take you where you need to go. And now I'm starting to realize that the editing process may be just as unique.

Using a beat-by-beat technique for each scene and then promptly entering the edits is very important to the process of writing 'Sand and Water'. There's a lot of ground to cover in this play--there's research on Frank Lloyd Wright, his last design that was never built, at least until this play existed where it's built in the stage world, aplastic anemia, confidence tricks, and building implosion--not to mention the personal stories of each of the four characters. There's a lot that still needs to be crammed into the play, but in such a way that it doesn't hinder the story. There's a lot of editing that still needs to happen. I am assuming that there will be at least three more drafts of this play before it's ready to be sent out. This draft will be significant though. There will probably be one more draft that really works with the structure of the play and then I will work on tightening things.

Of course, now that I committed this to writing that will soon be published on the Internets, I am sure something will happen to ruin it, but I'm not backing down.

It's been three long months of nothing. It's time for some time of something.

Monday, July 12, 2010

winning the war

Yesterday I actually edited an entire scene from 'Sand and Water'--this after pretty much false starts and farting around for three months. I don't know if it means that the lull is over or not, but I am going to keep running with it--you never know when it's going to just up and dry up.

And it was hard. HARD. I sat at Panera, laptop open in case I needed to look stuff up during the course of my work, with the notebook and a hard draft in front of me, and several pens in different colors and I did something I hadn't done since I took Directing I in college--I broke a scene down into beats. I identified what each character wanted and if I had trouble deciphering it, or if everything that was written could be subtext, I corrected it. And I think it made a huge difference. And I put the edits in right after I was done with the scene, rather than waiting until I got done with all the scenes. And that is my least favorite part of editing, so I'm glad I did it that way. I don't think this is going to get any easier for this play--'Sand and Water' is a heavy, dense sucker--but I think it's going to help. And it gives me something to add to my editing toolbelt.

I know this entry makes it sound like I don't like editing, but I have come to grow rather fond of it. It's great fun to lop off parts of the play that just aren't working and making it better, stronger. That's not sarcasm--I truly enjoy it. I don't like having to cut characters or lines, especially if they were well put together--sometimes I save them in a file for other things in case something comes up in a future play and it needs just that certain something. But otherwise, I like editing. The streamlining--it's very enjoyable. And it allows me to get in better touch with how I'm writing this play, because, as we all know, writing one play doesn't mean you will know how to write another--but it's helpful to have ideas of how to approach it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Enjoy the Silence

It's been almost three months since I last posted.

I've been blocked, mostly by my own doing, for the last three months. I've had bursts of writing here and there, bubbles of editing, some new ideas, a bit of scribbling, but for the most part I've been not writing.

I'm trying to think of this as a good thing.

My friend, Sarah, had this to say on the topic in gchat the other day:

I'm really glad I could help
my friend taught me something really valuable a couple years ago...he says he doesn't think of notwriting periods as blocks, but as gestations
that something is forming
5:05 PM and I think things generally come like that, in cycles. if you're not writing you're reading, you're watching things, you're conversing with people, and your subconscious is soaking it all in

And I think she's right, and thereby, her friend is right.

Ordinarily, I usually get WAY down on myself for not writing. I make myself crazy, beating myself up for not writing, but in reality, I probably need a break. I am feeling burnt out when it comes to writing.

I am, however, going to take a good few hours today (later, after I go back to bed and get back up) to write at Panera. For some reason, Panera is usually good to me as a writer. Let's hope that remains true!

Part of the block is this whole getting into Hollins thing, then not being able to afford it, and then trying to figure out, with all the OTHER personal life crap going on, how I will afford it next year, and the odds are looking not in my favor.

Part of me almost wishes I hadn't let myself so easily get talked into applying, that way I wouldn't have gotten in and wouldn't have to deal with the fact that I am good enough to get in, but can't afford it. Hollins is not a cheap school. Todd Ristau, the director of the program, pulled a lot of strings to get me in, and get me a scholarship, but as a wife-to-be, I now have a family to think of, even if it's only a family of three cats and a fiance. The point is, real life has gotten in the way, and as much as I try to keep real life off this thing, keep it positive and uplifting, I can't in this case.

Hence the silence.

So I am going to try and enjoy the silence. It's hard for me, but I have crocheting to keep me creative while things are working in my brain. Everything will come out in due time, and I feel like there's something HUGE in there just trying to get out, that I've reached a plateau of some kind and I can see where I want to go from there, but I just can't figure out how to get there.

So I will write when it's time to do so. I will keep with the false starts and the winding hallways that lead nowhere, or at least seem to lead nowhere right now. I will find the way to the next level, it's just going to be frustrating until then.