I adore a challenge. Let me be specific, I adore a writing challenge. Oh I suppose other kinds of challenge are just fine too. Don’t get all in a huff and think I’m belittling the vast multitudes of challenges. I’m full aware that the mere existence of life for many is a challenge and a half. Let’s let bygones be bygones and agree amongst us that all challenges are in their own way equal and very pretty, and look like they’ve lost some weight. And their peanut allergy is legitimate. And their concerns about red M & M’s are totally justified. What am I talking about?
Challenges. Writing. Got it. It’s just that when I sit down to write something new, I adore the feeling of what can I do that I haven’t done? Can that be done? And if my first thought is – oh there’s no way you can do that! – That’s the direction I want to go in. Frankly, it doesn’t matter if it’s a drama, or something abstract or a simple little comedy. At the beginning, I like there to be a little something-something. Sometimes the challenge I give myself is clear to it’s eventual audience (can you write a musical without an orchestra or a backing track?) Sometimes, it’s clear only to me. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s about reaching within the craft. That’s how you get better at what you do.
I’m a week away from a couple of new play workshops on my latest MS piece. It’s about bullying, which all on it’s own is a challenge. It can’t be preachy. It can’t be rainbows. It can’t be hopeless. It can’t tell lies. It can’t talk down. It can’t talk up. It can’t be dire. It can’t be a yuk fest. And 50% of the play won’t have any words like Emotional Baggage.
I’ve already had to go back to the drawing board once with this play – the first workshop was not successful at all. I feel good about what’s coming up, but still have no idea if any of it works practically.
Dr Seuss was once given a challenge by his editor. Write a book using only 50 different words. That’s the vocabulary he had to draw on for the story (as a comparison, The Cat in the Hat used 225 different words).
The book he wrote? Green Eggs and Ham.
What was the last challenge you gave yourself? When was the last time you reached within your craft?