Playwriting

Writing Reflections: Reaction 1/Reaction 2

If this is Saturday, it must be Birmingham. I’m at the Alabama State Thespian Festival this weekend teaching workshops and hanging with some of my favourite ladies. The teachers and students are always sweet and I always have a good time, but there’s writing to be done. There’s a draft to finish. This week I’ve been furiously working (at home, during my volunteer shift, on planes, in hotels) on the second draft of Oddball, which I’ve returned to after a wee break.

It’s always a good idea to walk away from the first draft. To take a moment to breathe. Particularly when the draft doesn’t gel together completely as you’d like. When you’re so focused on writing, writing, writing, on trying to get something done, on pushing to the end, it’s easy to lose the plot. It’s easy to drown in the middle of a sea of words, surrounded by character and story, and see a play for what it truly is. It’s easy to miss mistakes. You need a moment to breathe.

Luckily, or unluckily depending on the day and the point of view, I had a wack of other things on my plate which forced allowed me to break from the script. It’s an interesting feeling when you return to a play and read it for again. It’s almost like you’re an outsider, reading it for the first time. One of two reactions will happen:

  1. You like it. Hooray! Let’s get down to the work of making it better! I love writing! Wheeeeee!
  2. You hate it. Hooray! Everything is wrong! The seas are boiling! The sun is colliding with the earth! I’m the worst writer on the planet and everyone hates me! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Ahem.

So I opened the Oddball file and then immediately went and did something else. I had to. I wasn’t ready. I did a whole bunch of other things to postpone the moment between reaction 1 and reaction 2 as long as humanly possible. Sometimes when I read my plays I want reaction 1 so bad it’s crushing beyond belief when I have reaction 2. And the bottom line is, there’s nothing wrong with reaction 2. It just means that there’s more work to be done, more than with reaction1. That’s it, that’s all. Better to have reaction 2 before submitting the script. Better that I have reaction 2, rather than the person I’m submitting the script to. That would be so much worse. Reaction 2 is ok. Really. Absolutely. You’re convinced, aren’t you.

All right. It’s unavoidable. The script has to be read. It had to. Time is ticking. Sand is flowing through the hour glass. So many things to do….. and……if…..I….don’t…..read…..this…..right….now………

And……

Reaction 1.

Phew.

Hey I kind of like this.

Oh I want to change that. I’ve got a better idea.

There’s still work to be done.

I should go do it.

About the author

Lindsay Price