Recently, I picked up a play that I hadn’t worked on in nearly a year. Yep. A year. There were reasons for that. I worked on it last summer to submit to the Bonderman Youth Playwriting Symposium, then went diving into teaching work not coming up for air till December. And then dove into Somewhere, Nowhere and didn’t come up till March. Then I found out I didn’t get into the Bonderman, and not only was I grumpy about that, they send the reader notes. Contest reader notes are tricky. Depending on who wrote them, they can be nasty. And disheartening. And make you feel like giving up writing. The person writing doesn’t know me, they only have the play sitting in front of them and are reacting to the work. So I didn’t get in, and I just didn’t want to look at the notes or the play. The play obviously sucks. Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. So there.
But now it’s Summer. And the play’s been calling me. And Craig’s been asking about it. So first, I purposefully set up a workshop. Want to get a play moving toward done? Set up a reading, a workshop, something public. You’ll get that play done once the element of other people is added in. I will anyway, it’s Summer, the workshop isn’t until January and here I am.
Still I’m dragging my heels. I slowly print off the reader notes. I slowly print off the script. I stared at it. And finally… after much dragging…. I dive in. And first, the comments from the readers. (don’t wanna read, don’t wanna read) … were really helpful. They asked good questions, tough ones, but good. Questions I agree with. I love questions as part of the writing process. (I’m sure I’ve only said that a million times) They are tangible. They give you something to chew on. Want to help a writer with their work? Don’t tell them you don’t like their play. Ask them a question. Why does Jimmy burn the letter?
So now, I have something to chew on. And once I start chewing on a play, it’s game on. I am in mode. I am working. And I’m finally ready to re-read the play…. and….. hey….. it’s not bad. Hmmm. Yes there are questions. Yes there are things to be solved. But, hey. Hmmm.
Sometimes, you need a break. A break can be the best thing to move your work forward. The brain can only take so much thinking hours in a row. Time and time again, I’ve been in a hole, thought there was no way out, took some time away and instantly found the answer on my return. Now, I’m not suggesting you take a year (and let’s be honest, some of that was sulky avoidance rather than break) but stepping away from the page is a valid choice.
It’s a new day. Time to get to work…