Numerous original plays in our history, too many to count. Craft, Nelson, Which Wolf is Which - Sam Marks. Booty Candy - Robert O'Hara. The Bereaved - Thomas Bradshaw. Open House - Ross Maxwell. Baby Girl, KidStuff - Edith Freni. A Bright New Boise, Sam Hunter. Three by co-Artistic Director Chad Beckim alone: ...a matter of choice, 'Nami, and The Main(e) Play. Not to mention all the plays featured in our annual Welcome Mat Series and summer retreats.
This is a column from the perspective of PCP's writers, an open forum to pique your interest. No rules, just playwrights talking about the page, or productions, or whatever they wish. So we begin with Chad Beckim in anticipation of his play, After, also produced by Partial Comfort. Performances for Chad's play begin September 14th.
I love writing.
I loved it as a sickly little kid, and I love it now.
I love losing myself, looking up from a computer screen to see that that too many hours have passed, that time has shifted, that day has shifted into dusk – or even night (I myself am a morning writer, so for some this may be dusk ‘til dawn).
I love my daily ritual – walking the dog, brewing my coffee, saying my goodbyes for the day, closing out my emails, and hitting “go” in my brain.
I love figuring out how things work, particularly those light bulb moments when something really clicks and threads weave together.
I do not, however, love rewriting.
I actually kind of hate it.
I think the worst part about it is that during the rewriting process, Doubt peeks over your shoulder. Actually, there’s no thinking about it, because it happens. You’re working through a pile of notes – things you’ve noticed, things your director and cast have pointed out, things that actually woke you up in the morning because sleep has indicated that some things don’t work as well as you might have hoped – and Doubt is sitting behind you on its fat ass, reading over your shoulder, slurping tea a bit too loudly or munching something crunchy or perhaps even clipping it’s fingernails.
Because Doubt has a couple of nasty outcomes:
a) It’s distracting. I’ve actually had to purchase some $10 app-jobby that prevents me from using internet from a fixed period of time, my self-control being what it is…although my online Scrabble game has certainly improved because of this bullet point.
b) It’s deceptive. It makes you focus your attention elsewhere – and often makes you think it’s your creative acuity speaking to you. You immediately discover new projects and wonderful new ideas, but these are always far away from what you’re working on and onto something not nearly as immediately important or relevant. Currently, this deception has wielded two new play ideas, a screenplay idea, and an idea on fixing a much older play.
c) It makes you ineffective. I lost two days in front of the computer, forcing myself to sit at the table (much like my father made me sit at the table during Sunday dinners that featured carrots). It sucked and it was fruitless.
And there’s no real solution, other than to keep working. You work and you re-read and you freak out and you work again. This is the process. There are no shortcuts. Each time it feels monumentally worse (although it really isn’t), and it never seems to get any easier.
Yesterday morning, an old playwright friend and I emailed one another. . I LOVE this dude’s work – his most recent play was one of the two or three best things I saw all year. We both have new work premiering this fall, and we are both in the thick of the process, and while our exchange was almost certainly a distraction, he gave me a much-needed kick in the ass without realizing it.
It’s too easy to get lost during the self-exile, to wander around in the labyrinth of rewrites and revisions and fend off Doubt and fear and render yourself ineffective. Yes, you’re surrounded by a creative team, but at the end of the day, it’s just you, the words, and Doubt.
Sometimes, it’s nice to hear that you’re not alone.
During the writing of this, I’ve not only a) distracted myself (and played half an online Scrabble game), b) I’ve come up with a new idea for a new fashion runway show on “Bravo” and c) lost an hour out of my writing time. I hate you, Doubt.