Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sliding down the razor blade of writing . . .

My new play is titled "The God Girl." When I started it, it looked like a serious, important drama; a little slice of personal history with a message for the masses thrown in for sport.

Now, after four months writing - the play has morphed from drama to comedy, from light musical to mystery, and finally to drama again.

Few people could tolerate this kind of ambiguity with their craft. Consider how frustrating it would be to knit a sweater without a pattern; only a vague, unformed idea about how it will appear when finished.

That's how this process feels - - I know the message I want to convey. I know that, in the end, I will communicate what I believe to be important. Along the way, however, I have discovered a wide variety of vehicles.

When I taught writing, I had many students to complained to me that writing was "painful." I remember one student in particular - a sad, unhappy, overweight woman who walked with the use of a cane; a young woman who long ago gave up on herself and any hope of joy and liberation in her life.

"I hate writing," she told me, "But I must do it. It's the most painful, most awful thing in the world. Like sliding down a razor blade. But I must do it."

I was stunned.

Why? Because I love writing. If I could spend all day, every day writing, I would do so. I love writing plays more than fiction, poetry, social commentary. Play writing allows me the freedom to invite all the people in my head to come out to play with each other. I love giving them voices, form, a setting and a great plot. I am aware that I'm probably crazy - and I don't mind. I'm mad about this stuff. Wild and crazy about writing.

So no. I don't find any pain in this life - none at all. I am not frustrated by the many forms taken thus far by God Girls - nor will I punish my characters or myself as this delightful play morphs into a new shape in the days to come.

Writing like this is a privilege. Never before, never in my life have I been so free, so happy and so able to express what I believe, think and feel.

No razor blade here. No blood. Only enthusiastic appreciation for an audience, a talent, and the time to cultivate both.

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