As I’ve started to get deeper and deeper into the development of my new solo performance piece for The Welders, I’ve felt this urge to invite people into the fretful, revelatory process of being a writer: to show, for the record, a bit of what it actually looks like to live and tell stories, at least from my perspective, in the 21st century. So for the time being, while I’m working on that still-untitled piece (as well as a variety of other projects), I’m going to keep a simple diary of sorts. The effort may be to no one’s benefit but my own, and if so, well… failure is useful. But if you find some use in what I share here, I hope you’ll let me know.
September 1, 2014:Â First public reading of my Welders piece, pictured above, at the Kennedy Center as part of the 2014 Page to Stage Festival. Felt good. Actually, really good. Left with the clear sense that I’veÂ got something and that I can do this.
September 2, 2014:Â Writing date with my fellow WelderÂ Renee Calarco; three full hours of productivity at Zed’s Cafe, my go-to writing and meeting space. Debated whether to upgrade to Final Draft 9.
September 3, 2014:Â Wrote at home for five hours. Later that evening, read a draft of the new text to my first and best responder: my wife. Also: got an email from a potential collaborator who’s shopping another play of mine around. And a second collaborator asking for a treatment to help pitch a project he’s trying to fund. Read a bit.
September 4, 2014: Wrote the treatment my friend asked for yesterday. For the sake of convenience, I wrote at Starbucks, which usually feels miserable; today, though, I got to
listen to eavesdrop on a wide variety of dialects, which always excitesÂ me. Dropped a note to my agent asking her to send a script to a theater that requested it. Worked briefly on my Welders piece.
September 5, 2014: Writing at Starbucks again today, since yesterday was better than usual. Feeling like I’m closing in on a good first draft of the opening movement of the piece. Good enough to think about planning a living room reading of the full thing.
Wrote more later in the day at home, then read the first movement aloud. It’s 24-ish minutes long, which means I need to cut more. Got to get it down around 20 at most.
September 7, 2014: A bit of late-night editing, in order to get a draft in good-enough shape to send to a possible collaborator. A few old episodes ofÂ Taxi playing in the background; this wasn’t serious work happening.
September 8, 2014:Â Had a vision about a big change I needed to make to the first movement two minutes before falling asleep last night. Now trying to start implementing in in the half-hour I’ve got before meeting a director friendâ€”a potential collaborator on another projectâ€”for coffee. It’s a new joint this time, at his request, and I’m not impressed. Modern design and architecture: leaves me cold.
Sudden realization a few moments later: this new piece is letting me more poetic than story-centric than I’ve ever been before. Suddenly, having studied poetry for so long makes sense to me again. Maybe my master’s degree wasn’t a complete waste.
Coffee with my friend was a hoot. (The new coffee shop was not.) Lots of potential work together, I think, and so good to start to reflect with a friend about the development of this piece. Home again now, writing for the rest of the afternoon, save for an afternoon Skype with an old historian friend prompted by my recent disdain for history, which may work its way into this piece. May the hours be productive.
September 11, 2014: I’ve been writing sporadically the last few days, and some of it’s been productive. For the most part, though, I’ve been distracted by various and sundry unrelated matters that have kept me from my desk for more than a few short stretches. It’s agony, not having the head space to write. It starts to feel crowded in my mind.
September 12, 2014:Â Crappy, ineffective writing day. Nothing felt right, nothing worked, so I stopped. Reading and watching a film about Darwin. Research is the refuge of the blocked writer.
September 15, 2014:Â Back at Starbucks again. I’ve decided that it’s the quiet corner in the back with the overstuffed armchair that makes this my happy place lately. From where I’m sitting, it’s almost like I’m not in Starbucks at all. I see almost no one; I hear just enough voices to give me the right level of white noise. And I’m only three minutes’ drive from my house, as opposed to the 10 or 15 it takes me to get to Zed’s. Plus there’s ample free parking here, and places to get errands done in the adjacent stores.
Do I seem defensive? I seem that way to myself.
Doing some organizing and tidying-up this morning. Did some research last night: read some Philip Larkin and watched an episode of LUTHER. (Thanks to Jojo Ruf for the suggestion.) Might put a few new lines on paper (digitally-speaking) in the next couple of hours. A fine day all around.
September 18, 2014:Â Took a few days off, then wrote fairly well–at home this time. The second movement is beginning to acquire a rough shape, which is such a pleasant turn of events. Made a dull day brighter. Anyone who writes knows precisely what I mean.
September 22, 2014: Today was a sort of workman-like day at home. A bit of research, a bit of writing; it came a bit too easily today, which made me suspicious. In fact, I’m suspicious of the entire second movement now. It needs… well, maybe more angst. Or anger. I think I’m too on top of it right now. I need to make it messier.
I did land a big commission today; no, I can’t announce it yet, but I will soon. And I also managed to have a terrific conversation with an absolutely inspiring friend: Sara Chandros Hull, director of the bioethics program at the National Institutes of Health. (Her excitement and interest was a much-needed shot of B12, let me tell you.)
Maybe tomorrow will be more invigorating; then again, I’m also visiting both the dermatologist AND the dentist, so… maybe not.