Playwriting

River Sludge

30 Days of Development: Lindsay is writing every day for thirty days, and submitting every day for thirty days, and blogging about it every day for thirty days. Whew! Can she do it? Stay posted….

DAY FIVE

Writing: Spelling Bee Girl Play, or What is Normal, or High School is like feeding your young to the wolves. What?

Thoughts: Sometimes the writing flows like Niagara Falls, sometimes it’s dry river sludge. Guess what today turned out to be? :( Oh there’s nothing worse that feeling excited to write and then the water works dry up. I was out all morning and didn’t get started till late, and I was tired which never helps. And the play has been rolling round my head; am I on the right track, is it too early to worry whether or not I’m no the right track, is it ‘dramatic’ enough, is there enough action – neither of which have anything to do with characters running about the stage with butcher knives. Do I know enough yet about the character and what they want? End of Act One, end of Act One! All of this ends up with me sitting in muck not moving left, not moving right.

I don’t like sitting with a pen in my hand staring at the wall. If I can’t find a path either I move on to another work (I’ve got another non-verbal play like Emotional Baggage rattling around in my head) or I dig a ditch in the sludge. It’s hard slogging and very slow but not impossible.

I play around a lot with questions. Ask a question, try to answer it, write some dialogue, see where it leads. Sometimes it leads to something great, sometimes it’s a dead end. And if I can’t come up with an answer, I ask another question.

It’s purposeful work though because there’s always a question that needs answering. Nothing bothers me more than when I go to a play and there are clear neon sign, mountain sized questions that need to be answered and just weren’t. I always wonder why that is; writer ego? Too focused on the big picture?

I have a big question about my little bee girl and why going to high school is so important to her. Answering that question lead to a bunch of other questions (which lead to a moment of Yay! followed closely by a groan of ‘what do you mean everything I’ve written makes no sense?’ So, I had another crack at the first scene, had a nice development in one of the secondary characters, did some research on Pushkin, and I think I’m ready to move to the computer. I know that moment cause I get tired of writing long hand.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow there will be lots of typing and we’ll see where we are. Moving forward or back to the drawing board?

Submission: Full length Appliance to the Edgemar Centre

Thoughts: I was recently asked if I regret spending all my time on Theatrefolk plays, leaving my other work, my ‘adult’ work for lack of a better term to sit in a drawer. I don’t regret my time with Theatrefolk at all. Writing for youth has given me passion, direction, a road to travel, a future; all things I didn’t always have.

Having said that, I do love my other work. It makes me sad that no one else does. And sure I suffer greatly from grass is always greener syndrome. But I can hardly blame theatres, it’s tough going out there right now and why should they risk on an unknown quantity? Well, I can blame them but I can’t blame them.

Extra Note: I’ve been thinking about yesterday’s post and about not writing eight hours a day. The person who made me feel good about that (after reading about so many writers who were so workmanlike) was Anne Lamott and specifically her book Bird By Bird. If you’re ever thinking about being a writer, read this book. She talks about having a small picture frame on her desk and her task each day is to, metaphorically, fill the frame with words. Whether it’s dialogue or a character description, or a setting, all she has to do is fill the frame. Sometimes she does much more of course, but sometimes not. That image has got me through some tough writing times.

Bird By Bird was given to me by fellow Theatrefolk writer Allison Williams and I passed it along to a friend who was working on her first novel. It’s my favourite book about writing.

About the author

Lindsay Price

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