Getting the next play out

What I think will help with this one is to approach the play with an idea that I am not responsible for what people think of it.

Freedom, which all artists – writers – directors – and most of us in our day to day, seek (we secretly hope to at least) implies responsibility.

Freud reckons we are scared of responsibility so we give away our freedoms. The responsibility being too great a burden and even terrifying in some cases.

So, what I have decided (because this work I’m doing has a history) is to say ‘you know what? Art, writing, directing, painting (choose your poison) – can be a place of freedom without responsibility.’ Because then we are free to fail and facing failure is one of life’s biggest responsibilities.

I have something to say – I am creating the positive charge of the story with this current draft. It’s up to you what to do with it when it gets to the stage. I’d be glad if you came to hear it.

The first draft was the shadow play. Not my shadow – the shadow that is sold to us every day. It was a play built on a tabloid mentality – and the story was raw and shocking and filthy and full of detritus and pain.

Yet, and yet, there was one thing that shone through for me. And that was my deep displeasure in writing it. I’ve held on to that for years – it’s a great lesson.

I also found it difficult to deal with the response it brought out of people. Positive and negative. The support for the play was there, I was not there, and I could never accept the kindness – because the writing wasn’t doing what I really needed it to.

What I had written was a story about professionals whose walls between what they reported and what they lived dissolved. Eventually, there was no discernable difference between, and it was a great experiment.

Imagine living the life you read about in the most lurid details in a tabloid – it’s not a trip for happy campers and it could make for a great drama. If you revolt against it. If you push back. If you fight for something a little more edifying…

But it didn’t please me to write. The draft was not where I needed it to be and I wasn’t adroit enough at the time to face the changes – now I can do something about it in a creative way.

I have decided that I am right to explore what happens if those walls between crumble. The characters lives and what they report on and the vanishing distance between them – and having got the shadow draft done I can switch the poles and write the version that I consider mature. The positive charge. The light. The empathy and connection. The cautious optimism that delights.

I am writing a play driven by sex, work, and death – and at the end there will be no discernable difference between the lives the characters document and the lives they live. They will synthesize these things and make them complete.

The method may be the same but the tone and mood is completely different – it is driven by optimism this time and not anger or despair. It is driven by hope and an awareness of the fragility of life and that there is more that unites us than divides us. That makes all the difference and makes it, for me, an exercise in freedom worth exploring.

Tips on writing

Imagine being able to write really badly and its ok…

Imagine a world where it doesn’t matter if people understand you or get you… it’s easy and you don’t even have to try that hard 😉

Imagine a world where you can write something and hate it even if you really really tried hard – you have the right to repudiate your work

Always know, no matter how badly you fail and how badly you think of yourself it was worth it and you should think well of yourself even if you fail utterly and spectacularly

Writing a play is never worth it (sometimes, and you should just carry on)

Those closest to you may well end up hating your favourite bits (for excellent reasons and you should listen)

Sometimes, everybody will have a different dislike and nobody will agree – this could mean its working really well or is genuinely a waste of people’s effort in reading and you have to be able to discern and stick to it once you have

Writing is good for you and may not be good to you

Don’t write about your own life and let what happens in your life be available

Write about your own life if you want to

Don’t get hung up on the truth or the message listen to the characters and be vigourously honest about what they are up to and why

If you get a voice write it down and coax it back if it comes and goes

Enbrace the fact you have no voice and keep writing

The most important thing is to remember only you know and nobody else can tell you why (except genius directors who are always worth listening to and actors who surprise you and delight you and scare you and an audience may want to have a say) and in the end its up to you what to beleive so listen to yourself and have faith

You are not responsible for what people think of your work. If they agree chances are they came in agreeing in the first place and only a few plays in the history of writing have ever genuinely changed peoples minds – so don’t worry about this and stick to a good story.

Good luck in your writing and remember you can do it whenever you like and the more you do it the more it gives you. Let it enlarge your heart

Good luck in your writing and be well with yourself