Writing Anxieties In No Particular Order And Without Much Structure – Follow Along With Caution
I had this deadline. I had until June 12th to submit a new draft of the first act of In the time of the Rosalila. I submitted it at 1:31 am on Monday, June 7th. I sent an e-mail and a text to the director and waited, and waited. When I couldn’t take it any longer I sent a text saying, “Is the silence good or bad?” He wrote back saying, “Sorry I had to attend an event. It’s all good. I’ll prepare some notes that we can talk through.” Agh! My braces currently prevent me from biting my nails! I am meeting with him tomorrow morning. Not sure if that’s a good thing to meet in the morning since I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep since I started doing re-writes. I’ve been waking up a bit groggy and annoyed from lack of sleep.
The characters are constantly intrude my thoughts. I’ve tried laying in bed listening to the sounds of night and counting sheep and inevitably I think about the characters in my play. So then I try turning to one side and then the other and switching pillows and kicking the blankets off and nothing helps in keeping these characters quiet. I had been writing for the past week every day. Living and breathing what these characters will do and say and how they will move and where and what will happen to them and I had to stop for a few days. After I sent the draft on Monday morning I have written about them only in my journal. I’ve talked about them with several people and this has been sufficient.
I was nervous about what the director will say about it so I decided to be critical of my own piece. I wrote down everything that I think is wrong with the piece right now so that I won’t be surprised at how much he hates it or the critiques he has. I am my worst critic. Whatever he says can’t be as bad as how critical I can be about my work. I am nervous. This show is the show we are opening East LA Rep’s new phase with…this is the show that we will be doing after being on hiatus for two years. I’ve been writing this play for years. I don’t want people to walk away disappointed. I want to aim for great but I am afraid of falling short and the disappointment that will follow will be very hard. I think I can take critique but I hate disappointment. I’ve read the works of other people and it seems to me like they hit the ground running…they are great from the start while I seem to struggle greatly with doubt and self-confidence and whether I have the ability at all to tell a good story on a stage. Who says I’m good at that anyway? What if this isn’t even my medium…maybe I’m meant to write narratives or novels or short stories. How will I know? I suppose I just need to do it and discover failure and success in the process. Easier said than done.
Complete change of subject #1 coming up in 1, 2, 3….
Sometimes I also struggle with revealing too much about me but how can I avoid this? The world we live in is constantly pushing us to reveal more and more through facebook or twitter or blogs. And writing and talking about it helps me. But I don’t want to annoy friends about my writing. I fear sounding pretentious or coming off like an attention seeking whore.
Change of subject #2 coming up in 1, 2, 3….
I once heard a personal trainer say, “You are what you eat.” Well for a writer…”You are what you write.” I am currently writing a piece about a Honduran family. Some of it is autobiographical but not all of it. I wrote it because I wanted to show a Honduran family to an audience. I want to put a spotlight on the lack of fathers in this culture because that is what I experienced and most of the members of my extended family experienced this as well. Fathers that were completely missing, both physically and emotionally. I wanted to shed light on what this does to women when they are young and what it turns into when they are old.
Change of subject #3 in 1, 2, 3….
I struggle with this endeavor when I read quotes like Rajiv Joseph’s “The need to tell a very interesting and compelling story makes certain then that my plays are not in the least bit autobiographical.” His play was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. I tend to agree more with what Edward Albee said, ““Your source material is the people you know, not those you don’t know, but every character is an extension of the author’s own personality.” I am writing all these characters so how can I be sure none of my bias is filtering through? I am putting up a mirror and their reflection is how I see them…I’m not sure if I am explaining this correctly.
I leave you with another quote from Edward Albee, “I’m not suggesting that the play is without fault; all my plays are imperfect, I’m rather happy to say-it leaves me something to do.”
I want to keep getting better, no matter how messy and unstructured I am…perhaps success is in the struggle.