Sunday, December 27, 2009

Blinding Flash of the Obvious

Having re-written my play Birds of a Feather and My Secret Mystery Project, I am once again turning my attention to Book Three in the Theater People series, titled The Jazz Hands of God. Re-reading my draft six months later has been informative to me, so I thought I'd share the insight for those of you who write.

What strikes me most - beyond my relief that it's not total garbage - is how much my process mirrors my personality. What I have right now is full of laughs and cleverness, crammed with ideas and lots of activity. What's still needed is the depth of heart and the clarity of purpose. The first is no surprise to me - I dig for emotion in my work, but usually with great resistance. Feelings frighten me. (To be fair, reconciling emotional truth with a flat-out farce is a difficult balancing act.)

What surprised me most, however, was how I lost sight of what my hero wants. How his goal gets obscured amongst all the activity. As I saw it on the page, making note to clarify it, I thought how I myself suffer from the same condition. I'm an ambitious person, but my goals can get a little fuzzy. And I'm easily distracted by activities along the way.

I know, realizing the your writing reflects who you are is a blinding flash of the obvious, but what surprised me was how my actual process reflects how I experience the world. That my shortcomings as a writer are my shortcomings as a person. Eventually I'll clear away the debris to show what Edward clearly wants. But it would be nice to be the kind of person who knows that to begin with.

Naturally, in my usual myopic obsession, I failed to post my defense of Scrooge last week. Anyone who's seen my play Holidazed knows how conflicted I am about the holidays, but I'm happy to report I had thoroughly lovely day, beginning with reading Christmas cards in bed, having a heart-to-heart with my dad on the phone, then a long drive in the country with the Long Suffering Floyd, admiring the architecture of the bare trees against the cloudless blue sky. Then, because Floyd's Jewish, the sacred Hebraic Tradition of spending the day at the movies, seeing An Education, the best film I've seen in six months.

1 comment:

Jackie Shannon Hollis said...


I think it takes a good level of self-awareness to look at your writing this way. It's one of the cool things about writing... that continual loop of a new insight and then funneling it back into the creative process. And the ability to write about your truths with some humor is a special talent. So hat's off to you.