Building my writing muscles

I'm having an interesting time learning how to write. I thought my ideas would spring fully-formed out of my forehead, but what I'm seeing now is it's more like a pen of puppies in Darwinian combat, tussling with each other, growing bigger and stronger until one of them reaches critical mass and I have to pick her up out of the pen and take her home with me. I have a pretty constant stream of idea coming out - the Madness musical actually set me off with several, and then over dinner last night with J a few more percolated out - but they just seem to need a whole lot more care and feeding before they're actually ready for me to work on them.

Last night's idea - kicked off by the Madness musical - is Space Age Love Songs. It's a romance between a boy and a girl living in a dystopian future where they're being brought up at a school for clones/replicants/meat puppets/"mandroids" - he's a robot in love with this girl who works there as a cleaner. He is being trained for a horrible job in the mines of the moon - I imagine this being Roy Beatty's childhood - then after discovering a horrible conspiracy/saving the world, comes back to Earth to be with his love - only to discover they were both part of an experiment in which human and clone "children" were switched to prove that clone education does actually produce human-normal responses in its subjects. And she's a clone and has to go work off-planet as a prostitute, and is taken away from him forever.

But then I thought I could blend this with another story I've been thinking about, which is about me growing up and being an unloved nerdy goth in Phoenix, my friends and romantic fancies all being gay men, and I'll just switch back and forth between one story and another. The end will be college, or something. There will be lots of excellent 80s music. I'm excited. I think I may be ready to write.
  • Current Music
    Space Age Love Song
Sea dragon

A week of milestones as a playwright

This morning I'm having a meeting of my production team - essentially Jason and Arwen - who are helping me get my playreading together for tomorrow. My housemate, David, the theatrical accompanist, jumped in on it too - enticed in by waffles and bacon, I think.

It's the first time I've ever seen my work rehearsed - on Sunday, the ten minute reading for Blackshaw. It was freaky to have a director talking about the characters (who are all people I knew - or am) as if she knew them herself, but she saw them very differently than I did (and I couldn't help but think she saw them wrong). She said the character that was me was "delusional" - and, in addition, she was played by an actress who was a different race from me, which caused extremely interesting feelings of seeing myself in a very different mirror. The actress was very good, even though seeing her painfully revealed to me what a saddo I was at 23. I just very generally just had to let go, of my life and of the work - and learning to let go is, I guess, part of what I have to learn about how to "be" a playwright.

I've also been learning about being a playwright from listening to the Exeunt Magazine podcast about playwriting, which has given me the opportunity to listen to all sorts of other writers talking about what they do and why and how. I don't really know many other playwrights, so this was a really amazing chance to pretend I did and they were talking to me and warning me a bit about what was to come.

One of the big takeaways from this morning is, though while I really want to get out of the reading tomorrow is some feedback about whether or not the musical bits are working, we're not going to be able to do that - I need to focus on dialogue. I'm dying to know if the scenes with "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," "Don't Think Twice," and "Punk Rock Girl" actually work right. In the staged reading on Wednesday, I specifically asked the audience if they understood what the meaning was of "Don't Think Twice," but sadly because of when the music got cut off I'd be surprised if they even figured out what the song was much less what it meant.

I've been too busy to write about anything much lately but I wanted to hit this. Life is changing. It's all a very exciting time.
Sea dragon


Nearly nine years ago I asked myself, "And would it have been worth it, after all?" I've spend a lot of time the last three years thinking about what I lost, and that my move here has all come to naught. But I've rebuilt, and now I can say ... I will not wear my trousers rolled. I have dared to eat a peach. I'm still waiting to hear the mermaids singing each to each but the way this year is going that'll happen by August. :-)

Get up, get on up

The playwriting competition I'm submitting Three Brothers for has the deadline of June 5, not October 5 like I (for some reason) thought. So over the next three weekends - er, two and a half - I need to get the new intros for act one and act two melded into what already existed. Act one will be easy, I think, but in Act two I've got a bit of business about sweet potato casserole and a dog that was sitting at the table but now isn't that I need to clean up. And, actually, re-reading the old bit of act two, I think it needs to take a little more time before it starts getting into the meat of things. But, I don't know, I don't want to waffle around and then not get it done on time. AARGH.
Sea dragon

three questions

I had a date with a guy on Saturday. I had been doing that thing where you keep asking people questions about themselves (and they wind up thinking you're great company but he was interesting). I finally asked him if he had any questions for me, and he got three big ones: what's up with my health, what's the situation with me and my husband, and just how bisexual am I. So
A for hitting the big ones, eh? We'll see how he processes the answers ..  I was quite honestly ..  and if I ever hear from him again.



On my development as a writer

The theater reviews carry on - I don't appear to be posting them here very much. I should fix that, maybe later today. I also do a theater review podcast sometimes. It's recorded on Sunday mornings, and it's like getting together for a coffee with a bunch of other theater nuts, only we're all in our own houses.

Play one, Three Brothers, is being prepared for submission to a playwriting contest (closing date October). I'm making it bigger - I fleshed out act one over Easter but need to add another 10-20 minutes to act 2 as well - and then I need to type it up. I should get this done in May.

Xmas Carol, play 2, is going to need a rewrite after the election since so much of its humor is political. However, I may get a scene of it performed at a political theater evening at the Battersea Arts Center in April - although given the director doesn't actually have anyone to perform it I'm feeling doubtful. I've been promised a slot to do it in December at the Old Red Lion but apparently I'm going to have to pony up the costs to produce it, including paying actors for about 10 rehearsals or so. It was all so much easier in Seattle where fringe theater took place in the evenings, rather than having rehearsals during the day like we do here. It'll probably set me back a minimum of 500 quid. Ow.

Play three, Coffee Bean, is making some progress right now. Scene one is written and I started scene two last night. I don't think it will be done until July or August as I still have a lot of stuff I'm not sure about and I need to think it through. I introduced the character of the Evangelical Christian who runs the place last night. To be honest I could probably easily do a bit more of it today before the picnic I'm going to but given what a lovely day it is I think I'll probably run instead.

I did some timings: 10 pages (Moleskine) = 5 minutes to speak and 1 hour to write. Man! It's going to take ages to get through the next one.
Sea dragon

My life keeps happening; I am along for the ride

I'm still trying to unfuck my life 2 1/2 years since I got sick and everything changed.

I had to quit now a third job due to not being able to handle it physically/physiologically/mentally. It's all the same problem. My body is a pile of fucked-upness and sometimes it plays nicely and sometimes it says it can't cope and shuts down. So on one hand I really believe I'll be well enough to run a triathlon this summer but on the other hand I'm aware I could become homeless if I don't play my cards right because my body doesn't seem to be able to deal with the work I've been doing for the last 15 years and I don't know how to find an environment that won't cause it to shit out. I can be unemployed and in fantastic health but not able to earn a living or even get by in this country. Not sure how to play this out in the long term. Every day I'm making it up as I go.

I'm still not where I want to be emotionally. I've lived a loveless life for several years now - I think it may have contributed to my initial health collapse - and I want that to change. But the only thing I can change is me, and only some bits of me. So I'm working on how I feel about me, and continuing to work to build new friendships, and accepting that I may just be having to do the rest of my life on my own and figuring out how to make that life work as best I can. Mostly I want to try to keep from getting into the horrible depression that makes me want to just stop living as quickly as possible, and I've mostly staved that off for the last six months and more. I haven't cried in inconsolable misery for ages. I'm reading funny books. I have a silly dream of becoming a playwright. I try to avoid thinking about anything or anyone that upsets me. I cut mean people out of my life quickly. I run even though I hate it because it keeps my body from breaking down. I sleep whenever I can for as long as I need to. I try to forgive myself for taking a sick day because I'm having a panic attack and believe that I can almost surely be well enough to work tomorrow. One day at a time, right: one day at a time.